Two women, two ridiculously small monkey bikes, one kickass goal: to ride across Morocco in just seven days
Kicking off a new series of interviews with gutsy female adventurers ripping up the rule book, Nicola Moyne speaks to actors and writers Georgia Maguire and Molly Beucher, who embarked on a gruelling seven-day motorcycle tour across Morocco in partnership with Education For All Morocco
With its endless sun-drenched horizons, labyrinth-charged Medinas and sea of scarlet dunes, Morocco is a country that continues to incite wanderlust and demand exploration. Unless you happen to have a vagina, apparently. Despite Elspeth Beard circumnavigating the globe on a motorcycle – yes, all by herself – back in 1982, the biggest hurdle Georgia Maguire (pictured above, left) and Molly Beucher (above, right) faced before tackling the Sahara desert on monkey bikes (that’s smaller-than-your-average motorcycles to you and me) wasn’t mapping out the route or overcoming their zero mechanical know-how. It was gender discrimination.
‘A lot of people’s responses to what we were doing surprised me,’ says LA-based Beucher. ‘People being concerned because we’d never ridden a motorbike before –thatI could understand, but people were mostly concerned that two women would be travelling alone through Morocco. It definitely turned into a self-empowerment project; a tangible reminder that women are capable of doing anything they set their mind to, even if that is riding a ridiculously small motorcycle across a foreign country.’
‘It’s fair to say that neither of us had any real experience riding motorcycles before we set off. Actually, I’m terrified of motorbikes,’ admits Maguire over a coffee back in London. ‘But that was one of the reasons we really wanted to do this: we were sick of people telling us we couldn’t do something that was out of our comfort zone, so we started from the viewpoint, “Whatshouldn’twe do and where shouldn’t we go?” That’s how we hit on riding monkey bikes through the Sahara desert. Without men.’
Here, the @monkeybikemafia duo recount their experiences of traversing 1,000km from Merzouga on a route that took them over punishing terrain through the Atlas Mountains and ended in exultation at 12,000m in the rocky peaks of Terres d’Amanar.
Molly Beucher: ‘The Skyteam Minis we hired, otherwise known as monkey bikes are 49CC motorbikes with a 4-stroke engine, 8-inch wheels, and a seat height of a little over 2ft. Basically, they’re tiny, which actually came in handy every time we fell off.’
Georgia Maguire: ‘Thankfully, we had some basic motorcycle training in the UK with Chris Salt at Dockland Riders first, who was brilliant, and we decked ourselves in the best protective gear from Knox. But we realised that we really didn’t know what we were doing quite quickly.
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