“In life we all have dreams, but do we ever attempt to make them happen?”
Have you been on a Big Trip?:Share your story with us
Zoë Cano asks the rhetorical question out loud, well aware she’d probably be firmly in the ‘no’ camp but for a breakfast meeting with a friend at London’s Ace Cafe.
Fuelled by coffee, surroundings and real riders, she and a college pal compiled a bucket list of ‘impossible, crazy’ goals that needed crossing off.
Months later, with no previous experience, no satnav and no backup, Zoë set off on a 6,000-mile trip across America on a Triumph Bonneville T100 during the hottest summer on record.
She made the dreams real and captured the life-changing experience in her first book Bonneville Go or Bust – On the Roads Less Travelled.
But back home in her native London, England, reality dawned that doing was better than talking about doing… and she realised there were more dreams to be caught.
This time it would be fewer miles – only around 2,000 over a fortnight – with different scenery but the same trusted Triumph model.
“My first and only motorbike is the Triumph Bonneville because it’s a true British classic. I saw it for sale, second-hand with 10,000 miles already on the clock,” said Zoë. “I knew that was the one for me, so when I did the trip I just had to loan one that was a carbon copy.”
From the tropical Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coast in Florida, through to the forgotten back roads of the Florida Panhandle, Alabama and Georgia, her ‘Southern Escapades’ tour was shorter but no less diverse.
“It’s often the little things, the extraordinary people and hidden gems that you see or hear that stick in your memory on trips like this,” she said.
“I saw areas of extreme wealth and poverty, music venues lost in time and some truly amazing people as I really got under the skin of America.”
She began building fresh dreams in October 2014.
After picking up her borrowed ride from Lakeland in Orlando, she and riding buddy Mike headed the 392 miles on day 1 from Lake Wales in Florida to Panama City.
“Beautiful ride along the Gulf of Mexico Route 98, hugging the coastline, and through the stunningly picturesque Apalachicola National Forest to Panama City on the Redneck Riviera!”
“We covered 346 miles meandering up over into Alabama on deserted, cool, misty morning roads, but the heat soon comes and we arrive just in time as the famous Alabama cotton fields are being harvested – good timing!”
“A stopover in Birmingham, Alabama, meant an amazing couple of days spent at the famous racetrack and Barber Show, where I was invited by Triumph America to book sign with them.”
“Created a mini adventure travelling to lost and hidden Bessemer outside Birmingham to hear the most amazing blues music in one of the last remaining juke joints in the country, ‘Mr Gips’.”
“Privileged to visit the famous Barber museum and see floor upon floor of the world’s largest collection of bikes!”
“Back on the road going through tiny villages lost in time until we got over into Georgia and the sky opened up just before we arrived at our destination in Valdosta. A true-life rainy night in Georgia.”
“We set off cautiously on the wet, sodden, truck-laden roads after the storm and couldn’t resist stopping off at a fruit and pecan store selling alligator heads of all sizes. One just about fitted on mine!”
“Took off on my own leaving Mike in his home town of Lake Wales. And what an incredible ride south down Route 64 through the cypress swamplands, pine flatwoods and 1,000-year-old oak trees, with occasional sightings of black bears and Florida panthers, as well as alligators, turtles and deer.
“Then over the large bridge from Bradenton to Anna Maria Island and on to the sublime high of perfection that is Long Boat Key, where it was time to put my toes in the sea while watching the famous sandpipers run down the beach.”
“Another world from the poverty I’d encountered a few days ago. The beautiful town of Sarasota oozed a luxury lifestyle and a fascinating history for being famous as a circus town. Its Main Street was also originally part of a golf course.”
“My first thought was how the town had changed on my return. Just before Halloween it was filled with ghouls and gardens looking like cemeteries.”
“I’d been invited to visit the bike show in Orlando, but navigating the heavily congested highways through Disneyland into the city made us wonder why people live in cities after what we’ve just experienced, particularly as we can’t filter through the traffic sitting in the sweltering heat, with feet on the asphalt waiting for the cars to move.
But like a horse, I always pat my bike on his tank telling him he’s been a good boy not letting me down. Which he never has.”
“Exciting day. We’d been invited to visit the site for the new Ace Cafe in Orlando, planned to open later this year, so we rode down to this incredible site, which used to be a famous music concert venue and church.”
“Being my last day I literally biked and raced down to the east coast of Florida to Daytona racetrack, beach and ‘experienced’ the Daytona Bike Festival, which was crazy. The little Triumph did a brilliant job and certainly turned a few heads.”
“An incredible two weeks on the road finally came to an end riding the Spanish moss-laden back roads to Lakeland, just outside Orlando, to leave the bike… for someone else wanting an adventure.”
Zoë’s second book ‘Southern Escapades’ is out now and is available through amazon.com (paperback and ebook).
She will also be at the MCN London Motorcycle Show 12-14 February in the Adventure Zone on Stand A52.
Catch up on her latest adventures at www.bonnevilleadventure.blogspot.com