LLois on the Loose

About Me

It’s hard to say how it all started, but it probably had something to do with a bicycling holiday I took at the tender age of thirteen… 

It seems almost unthinkable now but in 1986 I set off with three school friends on a week’s ride around Cornwall… WITH NO GROWN-UPS! We wobbled our way around the Cornish lanes, slept in farmers’ barns and lived in fear of nothing except the spiders that crawled out of the hay bales. The following year we repeated the experience in France, although my hazy memory recalls that we had discovered alcohol by then and that our enthusiasm for Malibu & Coke combined with the seductive efficiency of the SNCF made for an altogether less wholesome holiday…

Fast-forward fifteen years and I found myself working in the music department of the BBC in London. I had spent the intervening years as typical music-obsessed yoof, collecting literally tons of vinyl and working in record shops and at independent labels. Somehow I ended up as Product Manager at the BBC’s record label but I spent most of my time wondering how I had washed up in this jargon-infested cubicle hell! OK, sometimes it was fun – rifling through the Radio One archives and producing weird and wonderful CDs – but when it came to topping the charts with the Bob the Builder single, I knew it was time to go…

2003… Lois on the Loose! Alaska to Argentina… 

I was 29, with itchy feet, a newly-minted motorcycle licence and an office job – a potentially explosive combination! I knew I wanted to get out there, hit the road, have an adventure… but I didn’t know where to start. At this stage my motorcycling experience was limited to my vintage British bikes that I used for nipping around London but I had never even ventured outside the M25! I didn’t know anyone who had ridden a motorcycle around the world but my initial investigations led me to Chris Scott’s legendary Adventure Motorcycling Handbook, and after that, there was no going back. Here was the proof – normal people could do this stuff. And if they could do it, I could too. I sold my BSA, bought a small trail bike – a Yamaha XT225, jacked in my job and set off to ride 20,000 miles from Alaska to Ushuaia – the southernmost town in the world, at the tip of Argentina.

2006… Red Tape & White Knuckles – Africa beckons… 

When I returned from Argentina, my friends and family predicted I would never want to sit on a bike again. In fact, the opposite was true, As anyone who has returned from a long-distance ride will tell you, the first thing you do is to get out the map and start planning the next one. For me, it had to be Africa, a continent that has always represented the greatest motorcycle adventure available on this earth. I took the advice of all those well-meaning BMW riders I kept meeting, and opted for a bigger, more powerful machine for this trip – the Yamaha TTR250. Oh yes, those extra 25cc make all the difference! I couldn’t have asked for a better, more reliable bike for what turned out to be a truly challenging ride, crossing the Sahara and tackling the punishing terrain of the Congo and Angola. Four months and ten-thousand miles later, I rolled into Cape Town, just about in one piece and with the most incredible adventure behind me.

2013… What now?

The best thing that came out of my journeys was that I discovered what I wanted to be when I grew up – a writer! At last, I had found my calling. I wrote two books about my trips which have been published around the world. I have since scripted and presented a DVD guide to adventure motorcycling for women and I now work as a freelance journalist, and speaker, contributing to various motorcycle and travel publications in the UK and the US, and giving presentations about my adventures to all sorts of organisations across the globe – from blue chip businesses to schools, charities, motorcycle clubs, and even the Ministry of Defence! And in 2012 I teamed up with leading tour company, Compass Expeditions to host an all-women motorcycle trip in Brazil.

Oh yes, I also married fellow motorcycle adventurer and film-maker, Austin Vince, and together we run dirt-biking navigation events in the Spanish Pyrenees and have launched The Adventure Travel Film Festival in the UK, USA and Australia. In 2009 Austin and I even managed to do a trip together – riding a Ural sidecar outfit 6000 miles across the USA.

What next?

November 2013 – I have just returned from a solo ride around Iran…. so watch this space for a full report and pictures. In the meantime you can listen to me talking all things adventure on BBC Radio 4′s Midweek programme and check out this short promo film for my first book…