Interview – solo female cyclist
Rubina Soorty – London to London
Rubina was born in England – 30 years ago
She cycled across 21 countries so far, pedalled 38.000km and is already 2 years on the road.
England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Azerbaijan,Iran, UAE, Oman, India, Indonesia, East Timor, Australia, New Zealand
I was working in London as a physiotherapist but although I loved the job I found I was getting a little tired of the fast pace and monotony of city life. So I am cycling around the globe, as by cycling the pace of the world seems much slower and it gives me more time to enjoy the special moments and appreciate the nature and the beauty of the world again.
— Australia – Devils Marbles, long ride through the Outback, but always special due to the different things you come across —
1. Your mum died of cancer shortly before you left. Did the trip help you to overcome the pain?
It did, it has given me peace. It made me see that although someone may no longer be in your life, you carry them with them in the things you have learnt from them and the experiences you share. People we meet help create our path and my mum being such an important person in my life has really helped sculpture part of my journey so I feel her with me as I pedal.
— Bosnia, staying out of the rain to make some pasta in a ligthening storm—
2. How do you cope with loneliness?
I feel I don’t really get lonely anymore. I think cycling teaches you that you have everything inside you that you need for happiness, it doesn’t come from the outside world but within. Although that being said when being on my own for a long while and meet up with people it can be so invigorating.
— Indonesia – Ancient temples in Java, near Yogyakarta. The spiritual journey of cycling —
3. If you had the chance to carry anything you like – no matter how bulky, heavy or expensive it might be. What would you love to have on board?
A sailing boat, so I could cross the seas by the wind.
— A cold morning in the United Arab Emirates desert —-
4. Have you had moments where you wanted to pull out?
Yes, but seldom. When my grandma died whilst I was a way it made me realise how I am missing out on seeing my family grow and my relationships with them.
— Staying with some farmers in Australia who kindly took me in and showed me some salt of the Earth hospitality —
5. What was the silliest question anyone ever asked you?
When I was in Indonesia I stayed in a jail one night as it was the safest place around. At 2am a prison guard came in and asked me if I wanted an egg. Half asleep and thinking I was dreaming I said “no”. Again the same happened at 4am in the morning. At 7am I woke up to find a hardboiled egg on my pillow.
— Sleeping in a jail in Java, a safe place to stay when on the road —
6. What is different about you now compared to the girl who left London 2 years ago?
Physically stronger but the main difference is mentally. I realise that anything is possible with an imagination self belief and determination. I now stop thinking why I cant do something and look to how I can do it.
— Tired after climbing up a seeming to never end steep gradient in the heat of Indonesia —
7. What is the longest you’ve gone without seeing another tour biker?
6 months travelling through Oman, then India and half way through Indonesia. I think it was by chance as I heard about so many around where I was we just never crossed paths. When I saw a couple touring I got so excited and don’t think I let them get a word in for the first five minutes as could not contain my enthusiasm.
— Stopping for a cup of tea in Oman with a local in a dish dasher—
8. What was the most generous thing anyone ever did for you?
I think the most generous is definitely not the most expensive as I have been offered $500 and $1000 for my trip, not that I would accept it but I think the generosity has come from usually the poorest of families, Where they share food, a bed or a room and this has just come so frequently to make me realise generosity is everywhere. We just often miss it when we are caught up in the normal routines of life and realise life is not routine and should be appreciated.
— In Hormoz, a landscape that is like an artist’s palette due to all the different colours of the earth —
9. Have you ever had a cultural misunderstanding on your trip that you regret?
I often give the thumbs up to car and truck drivers when they pass me with lots of space. But in Iran I was doing this and did not realise it is the equivalent to the middle finger in the West.
— In Iran, friends of the mayor. The mayor put on a 7 car escort with each car leading me about 30 kilometres through the 200 kilometres desert because the mayor was scared for my safety being a female on my own. He then met me at the end and put me up in his friend’s home. Later I found out he has taken up cycling and has completed the same route he was scared for me to do —
10. Have you found any answers to the questions you had when you left home?
The biggest one was can I do this. Now I realise it’s not about if I can it’s about if I want to.
— Outback Australia – lots of flies – they get a little annoying when they keep trying to enter the eyes, nose and mouth. —
11. If you had one message to give to the world about tour biking what would it be?
Don’t ever think you can’t do it, If you would like to do it that’s enough, It is fine and normal to be scared to set off, all things you care about can be scary but never let it stop you living your dreams. Dreams are there to inspire our realities. Whatever your dream, whether touring cycling or something else take steps towards that dream instead of thinking ways to take you away from it.
— Indonesia (Sumatra) , just had a coconut water to rehydrate and then came across this beautiful beach —
What an inspiration. Thanks for sharing your adventure and how your philosophy and mindset evolved along the way. Carry on…