Grace McDonald and her KTM 690 Enduro R, affectionately known as “Beastie” have just rolled out of town to begin an epic adventure. Riding solo from Sydney to Paris, Grace’s parting statement:
“Now it’s just Beastie and I! I am officially an unemployed, homeless motohobo and I’m leaving town tomorrow. I am elated.”
This is one cool chick.
We caught up with Grace before she left Dodge – – and found out what inspired this solo adventurous journey.
Bike: My partner in crime is a 2012 KTM 690 Enduro R. She’s not the prettiest girl in the world, but she’s got a safari tank, scratched up barkbusters, a bad attitude and she kicks like a mule. It was love at first ride. The first time I got on a 690 Enduro and felt that kick, I knew this was the bike I wanted to wake up to every morning. Her name is Beastie.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I’m a girl from the bush; a commercial lawyer by profession; I’m a woman obsessed with motorbikes and I love a good bad idea.
Motorbike history – – when did the obsession begin? When I was a kid growing up in the mountains, we always had motorbikes. My first was a little pee wee 50, then a Yamaha 90 and a Honda XR100R. They were always nice quiet bikes, and us kids used to go roaming around all sorts of places we were not supposed to be. My father always said, ‘never ride a motorbike you can’t drag under a fence’. We’d be riding around in the bush and come across the rusted remains of a eucalyptus still from the 1920s, or meathooks in the shade of granite boulders where bushrangers were said to have butchered stolen cattle. Other times you’d tape your fishing rod to the handlebars and ride off to find the best fishing spot at dusk, which always made for an exciting return trip across the river on a motorbike with no lights.
After I grew up, moved to Sydney and set out to become a lawyer, motorbikes and misadventures faded into the past for a number of years until I realised that I was having no fun. So I got my road licence and was immediately intoxicated all over again. I haven’t looked back.
There’s not much better in life than that thrill and sense of physical, dangerous perfection as you get your knee down through a perfectly calculated corner on a road bike; except, perhaps, for that feeling of freedom when you strap your swag to the back of your dirt bike and just leave town.
Favourite Riding Destination? On bitumen, the Victorian Alps are an addiction. The Omeo Highway is just this mesmerising utopia of endless twisties. But I might love the road from Falls Creek down to Anglers Rest even more: up on top of the range, you’re in this clear narrow space between the mountains and the clouds.
On my KTM, I love desert: red dirt, blue skies. There are some dirt roads in Queensland, north-west of Charleville that make me very happy.
Best ‘Riding Moment’ so far: I was fanging along a dirt road from Springsure to Tambo, watching a storm build over the hills and wondering if I’d get cut off somewhere along the road when the creeks came up. I looked to my right and saw a wild dingo loping across the hillside. It stopped to smell the air, just as the scent of rain hit my nostrils too. And in that moment I realised that I didn’t care at all if I ended up camped beside Beastie for three days between flooded creeks, because wherever you think you’re going is never the point.
Sydney to Paris on a 690 Enduro – – how did this come about!?
Well, first of all: I literally cannot think of anything I’d rather be doing with my life than riding my motorbike halfway around the world for fun – and also to see what I learn and where I end up.
For me, riding is freedom and joy; and the worst part of every ride is knowing that you have to turn around and go home again. Back to work, back to normal life where you work hard to earn money to get things you don’t need to impress people you don’t like. So I’m solving that problem.
Of course, that isn’t a complete answer: there are lots of things that we’d all like to do, but we don’t. I think mostly that’s because we are afraid – afraid to forgo comfort, or security, or afraid that if we don’t conform and something bad happens to us, that we’ll deserve it. However, life so far has taught me that comfort doesn’t make me happy and that (aside from Beastie) I don’t really need that much. It’s also taught me that living in fear can never make you safe, but it can take away your autonomy and your chance to live. If you’re not living your life, what are you trying so hard to preserve it for?
So Beastie and I are heading for the horizon. For the Himalayas, the Karakorams, the Pamir Highway; for those gnarly cliff roads that seem to run so close to the sky. I’ve been dreaming of them for a long time.
How can we follow your adventure: I’ll be detailing all of my misadaventures on my blog at bikehedonia.wordpress.com along with photos and video. You can also follow on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. I leave town in February 2017.
Grace & Beastie were able to attend the 2017 KTM Adventure Training Series in NSW, where she made us all jealous with her plans of adventure. With her trusty 690 Enduro R and witty repertoire, we will definitely be following Grace’s journey!