Saturday, 26 November 2011
Another Evening with Lois Pryce
Lois, sitting on a fully-kitted XT550, owned by my mate Alun.
I wrote back in February about going to a talk by the two-wheeled adventure rider Lois Pryce, which was highly enjoyable, and ended up with my getting a wet arse when it rained during the evening, and I had vainly gone out on the XT clad only in jeans and a leather jacket.
Tonight I went to Garlands Motorcycles in my car. Well, it was drizzling, and the XT is freshly serviced, and it was late, and ...
OK, I was lazy.
The talk earlier in the year was about Lois's ride down the Americas from Alaska to Ushuaia at the southern tip of Argentina, the subject of her first book, Lois on the Loose. This time it was the second big trip, from London through Africa to Cape Town. I had read the account of this trip, Red Tape and White Knuckles, but it was good to hear all the stories first-hand. I was particularly taken by her account of being ordered to take a train through part of her journey through Congo, because the road to Brazzaville was over-run with bandits. She spent nine hours on a flat-bed railway carriage with her bike, surrounded by wild teenage Congolese soldiers, all drinking whisky and smoking cannabis, and trying to avoid their attentions. It's a truly chilling passage, and she admitted tonight that it was the most terrifying experience of her life, but brushed it off as a life-experience thing ... you know, "every time I have to make a difficult phone call, I think ..." But she's not very big, and she's pretty, and she was totally alone on that train (apart from the soldiers, drunk, stripped to the waist and carrying Kalashnikovs), and I dread to think how that night could have turned out.
If you ever get a chance to listen to Lois, make the effort and go. She's not the most polished speaker (a bit breathless and chatty for a good delivery to a large room), but she's highly entertaining and you will be in awe of her sheer persistence and good humour.
And you'll be thinking if you could possibly get six months off work, because we only live once.