Candida Louis has been an inspiration to me for a long time. I started following her journey on Instagram when I was riding in India myself and now I had the opportunity to ask her my 10 questions!
Could you introduce yourself to us?
My name is Candida Louis, I am 28 years old and from Hubli, South India. A craving for adventure is something I was born with. I've been riding for 12 years now but as far as I can remember I started really young, going on rides with my dad. I started as a pillion rider but I always knew I wanted to be on the front seat. My father gifted me a motorcycle on one of my birthdays and from then onwards, it's been an incredible journey. I've always had a passion for riding motorcycles, because it gave me the freedom and independence to go everywhere. That's when the travel bug got to me and ever since then I've been dreaming of riding around the world.
Can you tell us a little bit about the different bikes you've been riding throughout the years? Do you have a personal favourite?
I'm lucky, because I've always had friends who were lending me their motorcycles. That is why I have ridden almost all sorts of motorcycles! I was also fortunate to have worked with a motorcycle rental company as a motorcycle tour guide for 2 years. This job helped me ride every new motorcycle that came into the market and I also got to do a lot of touring on bigger bikes. After riding in South Africa on the BWM 1200 GS I really loved the ease and control on this motorcycle, and with heated grips and other fancy stuff, it was all luxury to me. But I can't wait for the new KTM 390 Adventure to launch in India. This is the only motorcycle currently in my budget..
In 2015 when an opportunity presented itself to me, I hopped on my Royal Enfield (Blue) and rode almost three months across North and South India covering a distance of 16,400 km. I went back to work, but only to quit my job and continued riding for the next 4 months. In total, I rode across 22 states of India and around 32,000 km.
Before you embarked on your big India to Australia adventure, you already rode 32.000 kilometers through India. What was the biggest difference for you between riding in your home country and riding abroad?
Growing up in India, with so many traditions and customs, it was really tough to convince my parents and relatives to let me go on an all India solo ride. At that time no Indian girl had ever done what I was about to do. At that time the news channels were always spreading negativity about India being unsafe and there were many rape cases. It was very difficult for me to take that first step and just go on the ride because everyone was trying to stop me. But once I was on the road, I proved them wrong. I came back safe, so most of my family and people that followed my journey now believe that India is a safe place. It took time to prove that I can take care of myself and can handle difficult situations that come my way. Now it's much easier to just go on any ride! Another difference with 2015 is that not many people knew I was riding around India. So It was very random and nothing was planned. I would interact more with locals and find all sorts of places to stay, eat and visit. But now with such a big social media following, I always tend to run into someone I know and then I don't get to do the normal local stuff like I used to.
It is easier for me to ride in India since I understand most of the languages here. Especially compared to riding through tiny towns in Thailand and Laos, which were slightly more difficult to communicate. But I really like how people in other countries follow the rules of the road, lane discipline and also wear proper riding gear!
The process of (temporarily) importing a motorcycle into Australia is extremely difficult. Can you tell us about your experience with preparing your motorcycle for Australia?
Australia has very strict quarantine laws, where a motorcycle is considered to be “High Risk”. So a motorcycle entering the country needs to be almost brand new. The motorcycle should be free of any dust, dirt, soil, insects, grease and so on. But when you're on a half-a-world ride, and especially after riding a motorcycle continuously for months through 9 countries, my motorcycle was extremely dirty. So I had to open up the motorcycle, take out each and every part, clean it for the next three days, put it back together and somehow manage to get it on the ship in time.I was glad that even though the shipping (Bali to Perth) was delayed by a few months, the inspector in Australia informed me that it was one of the cleanest bikes he had seen. So I did pass the Quarantine test! If not, I would had to pay a fine and the motorcycle would have been with the customs department indefinitely.
If you have to think of one memory of the India-Australian odyssee, which one stands out?
This is a tough one, being on the road for 8 months there were a lot of incredible moments and quite a few hurdles as well.
From meeting incredible people on the way, to riding through crazy weather and torrential rain and floods, to battling tough terrains and trails, to doing good as I rode by teaching children English in Lao and help a community build a school, to luckily missing the tsunami by a day and to seeing a ghost when I was lost in a forest. This ride was a once-in-a-lifetime journey and opportunity. I am ever so grateful to have completed it.
Which country in the world is highest on your list to explore by motorcycle and why?
Iceland! My love for waterfalls and mountains has me going crazy over Iceland. I've been drooling looking at all the pictures and videos from there. I would really like to visit the heritage towns, ride through the twisty loop roads and experience the beauty that Iceland has to offer.
Can you describe the feeling of reaching Sydney, which was your goal after so many months and kilometers on the road?
I was selected for the ‘Change your World' travel project and I chose Australia as a tribute to Alistair Farland and his family. Alistair Farland, who had the same age as me, was on a world tour when he got an accident and passed away in North America. Every parent wishes that their son or daughter comes back home safe, so I thought it would be right for me to ride from Bangalore to Sydney and finish his ride for him.
Being part of this project, I was not just traveling but travelling to make a change by talking at different schools and colleges along the way. So when I arrived in Sydney after all these months, it was a very emotional day for me. Riding the last few kilometers to reach the Sydney harbour bridge viewpoint where my friends and family were waiting to receive me, but also Alistair's mom who followed my ride ever since I left India. It got even more emotional when I actually stayed in Alistair's home for a week and visited his grave. Along the way it truly felt like I was finishing the ride for him.
What is your advice to aspiring young women that want to follow in your footsteps?
When I started riding a motorcycle 12 years ago, the only support I had was from my parents and a few close friends. The others would always tease me and say that women should not ride a motorcycle, or it's not safe for women to ride in India. Through my all India solo ride I was able to meet a few lady bikers who inspired me and kept me going. In a way I gave hope to women that our beautiful country India is in fact safe for women to explore by themselves. There are so many inspirational women bikers from India now, who are breaking barriers and teaching more women to ride and help get more girls on the road.
We are all here to support one another so the community grows. Everything is changing now and it's becoming easier for women to ride motorbikes. Most men are being very supportive and encouraging to their girlfriends and wives to buy motorcycles and join them on rides. Also if motorcycling is your passion and something that you really want to continue doing, then dream big, work hard and you will definitely achieve it!
What are your plans now? Is there another adventure coming up soon?
With 5 years of continuous traveling, I realized that I have so much content and information I didn't do anything with. So I'm finally taking time to sort things out. Publishing more content and launching a lot more motorcycle tours for the next year. But most importantly, I've always dreamt of riding from India to London. So hopefully that happens next year!
Where can we follow your story?
We’ve been following Candida for a while - she’s such an inspiration! Check out Candida’s Tales - her book about the trip through India. It’s great 😊