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  • Writer's picturePaddy Tyson

Riding Africa solo - and no breakdowns...

Claire Elsdon is going to be at The Overland Event this year!

She is a recovering banker who, in 2012, quit her City stock-broking job to ride her Suzuki DRZ solo the length of Africa. You could say it changed her life…

Having lived for the best part of a decade immersed in the highly competitive, often brutal world of the trading floor, Claire was keen to re-examine her beliefs about how the world really worked and what her role is within it should be.

She ended up in Malawi on a voluntary placement and was confronted by the shockingly high casualty rate of motorcycle taxi-riders and their passengers. This led to her running motorcycle maintenance and road safety classes for a microloan charity which had a fleet of 80 knackered Yamaha DTs. By the end of that the running costs of the charity had been reduced by 60%.

Ultimately she moved to Tanzania and established the Pikilily movement, a community-based organisation empowering and training local women to ride motorcycles and earn an income by serving their communities as safe motorcycle taxi riders. In addition, these women voluntarily now run training sessions for the community in safe motorcycling, reducing crash rates and gently challenging gender stereotypes.

Although Claire moved back to the UK in 2019, and is still working on international road safety, the fine women of MJ Piki (which stands for “brave motorcycling woman” in Kiswahili) continue their work and to date have trained over 3000 men, women, and children, in motorcycle safety.

At The Overland Event Claire will be talking about her time riding through Africa, but will doubtless mention the importance of good motorcycle maintenance and why her DRZ never broke down…


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