SA Where do you currently live? Why do you live there?
JS I’m from Toronto, Canada but I’ve lived in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala for the past 2+ years. My husband and I discovered this gem is Central America during a North and South America motorcycle trip a few years ago and we decided to return when we had the opportunity to work remotely and consult for a U.S. based nonprofit that supports women with microcredit, business skills training, and reproductive health services. We wanted to move to Guatemala in part because of the opportunities for riding and outdoor activities. The other reason we have stayed and fallen in love with the region is because we discovered the traditional textiles and decided to launch a handmade dog apparel brand called Ruff on the Road in which we work with indigenous artisans to combine traditional techniques with modern materials to produce apparel that is ‘runway ready and built for the outdoors’.
SA What or who inspired you to ride a motorcycle?
JS I learned to ride while in Liberia, working as an aid worker when my then boyfriend, now husband, informed me that he was planning to do a motorcycle trip after his assignment in Liberia ended. He invited me to come but was clear that I would need to ride my own bike.
SA What bike(s) do you own?
JS I ride a BMW G650GS onto which we have mounted a dog carrier that we built to carry my German Shepherd Moxie.
SA Are you part of a women’s riding group? If so, which one(s)?
JS No. There are very few women who ride larger ADV bikes in Guatemala and certainly no groups where we live at the lake.
SA Where is your favorite ride and why?
JS My most memorable ride was ascending from the Peruvian coast into the Cordillera Blanca mountains for the beautiful and twisty road, the scenery and climate change, and the excitement of starting the day in one place and ending it in a very different other place.
SA Why do you ride or want to ride on 2-wheels?
JS At first because I felt I had to in order to join my boyfriend but later and especially now because I am a rider and I love it. Even when it’s not love at first sight, at some point it sneaks up on you and it becomes who you are and it is a part of you.
SA Have you always been drive to explore adventurous activities?
JS Despite running off to Africa after university to work in development aid, I wasn’t particularly daring or adventurous. It’s only been in the last few years and especially more recently riding with my fearless dog that I am learning to embrace the challenge and discomfort that makes something an adventure rather than a hardship.
SA What would you like to see more of when it comes to the women’s riding world?
JS More variety in riding apparel and especially longer women’s riding pants!
SA What gets you out of bed in the morning?
JS Knowing that I get to go riding with my dog – it helps that I work remotely and can steal away for an hour if mental health requires it!
SA If you could ride anywhere next year, where would it be and why?
JS Maybe it’s not the most ADV-obvious destination and maybe that’s because I ride fulltime in Guatemala, but I’d love to ride through Europe to experience the art, culture, history, and cuisine as I explore on two wheels.
SA Do you personally operate or work at a women owned/operated moto related website, blog or business that you would like to tell folks about?
JS My husband and I started a web video series called ‘on 2 Wheels + 4 Paws’ in which our German Shepherd Moxie narrates our motorcycle travels and outdoor adventures in Mexico and Central America. We also slip in some fun product placements for our Ruff on the Road brand and for our partners through Moxie’s cutesy narration and lessons learned through traveling. www.ruffontheroad.com
SA What was your worse day on a motorcycle?
JS My first proper off-road day was on Federal Highway 5 in Baja California after Puertecitos. The road was torn up and extra sandy from the racers practicing for the Baja 1000 which would be held several days later. It was blazing hot, it was my 30th birthday, and I crashed three times in the first 15 minutes on the sand. But the really BAD part was that my boyfriend had insisted that we purify tap water rather than fill the hydration bag from bottles. The purification made the water potable but did nothing to mitigate the taste of warm, rusty pipes, which we didn’t discovered until after my second crash!
SA What is your favorite food?
JS Cheese fondue – my parents are Swiss
SA What age did you learn to ride a motorcycle?
SA Funniest thing that ever happened to you while on a ride?
JS While learning to ride on a 160cc bike in Liberia, West Africa, a young, local hothead thought it would a giggle to jump on my bike while I was waiting at an intersection. He leaped off and disappeared into the crowd before my boyfriend had his kickstand down. I thought it was funny but he was in a rage.
SA Favorite post ride beverage?
JS Spanish red wine, which we carry in a pigskin wine sack with the camping gear.
SA Name 3 immediate things you would like to accomplish in the world of riding.
JS Become more confident off-road through the technical bits, put my bike on the center stand by myself, and enjoy – rather than fear – the water-crossings
SA Name 3 long term things you would like to accomplish in the world of riding.
JS Support a community of riders who use the K9 Moto Cockpit (our motorcycle dog carrier) to ride with their dogs, enter one of our ‘on 2 Wheels + 4 Paws’ episodes in a travel film festival, and bring Moxie on an RTW trip