You can see the interview and photos at www.adventuremotorcycle.com
Rider Profile: Becktastic Rides!
Interview by Carl Parker, Photos by Chris Marzonie
The staff of Adventure Motorcycle got to meet Becky Simmons at this year’s Overland
Expo in Amado, AZ. It takes about one second to realize Becky is one of the more
serious and dedicated young women riders out there with great experiences already
under her belt and more to come. We got a chance to catch up with Becky to ask her
how she got started riding and share some stories of her adventures.
Q: What was life like before you started riding?
A: I’ve been really into travel ever since my first overseas trip in 2006. I used to think
you needed to be really wealthy or otherwise privileged in order to travel, but some
friends invited me to stay with them in Spain and I went. I got my passport, bought the
plane ticket and the moment I landed it just opened my eyes; things weren’t so difficult
as I’d been led to believe. After that, I made it my mission to travel someplace new
every year and try everything that piques my interest.
Q: What was your introduction to two wheels like?
A: I bought a scooter a couple years ago and just fell in love with it. I only had it for two
weeks before I sold my car and never looked back. When I went to Hawaii last summer
I brought Lois Pryce’s books, “Lois on the Loose” and “Red Tape White Knuckles” with
me to read on the plane. In those books she rides across the America’s and Africa on a
little dual sport bike and the idea of combining my love for travel with my newfound love
for motorbikes made me giddy. I set about finding a dual sport motorcycle as soon as I
Q: Of all the types of motorcycling you could have chosen, how did you come to love
adventure riding? What is adventure riding in your eyes?
A: I think of adventure riding as long term travel living with your bike. I’ve had some
pretty good adventures just riding dirt in the Tucson mountains though, so that definition
is flexible. I like the independence of travel on a bike, freedom to go anywhere, limited
to only what you truly need and the closeness to your environment you just can’t get in a
Q: What made you initially decide to go for a bigger, heavier bike like the KLR650? How
did you come to ride the DRZ400?
A: I picked the KLR as my first dual sport bike because I thought it looked good. I
didn’t know anything about motorcycles and didn’t realize how big of a difference weight
makes in the dirt. I was determined to ride it anyway and managed to do so more or
less. I was out with a friend one day and he offered to trade bikes for a while. I had
so much fun on his DRZ I didn’t want to trade back and bought my own the following
weekend. The DRZ is a perfect fit for me but I don’t regret starting on a big bike, I had a
lot of confidence right away on the DRZ because of my time spent battling with the KLR.
Q: People say your bike is a reflection of your personality. Your DR-Zebra 400 is no
exception! How did you decide on that design for the bike and what farkles have you
A: I just looked at it and thought it looked like it should be zebra striped. It just felt right.
I do like customizing things and making them uniquely mine. After spray painting all
the yellow plastics white, I cut the stripes from black reflective tape – I’m quite visible at
night! I bought it used and fairly farkled to start with.
The DR-Zebra is actually the dirt model made street legal so it has a better carb than
the S model. The previous owner put an Ohlins rear shock and White Brothers after
market exhaust which help make it formidable for off-roading. It came with radiator
guards, but I added the bash plate after I dumped it on a rock and broke the water pump
cover. I’m a big advocate of crash guards!
Q: Everyone goes down on dirt eventually. Can you talk a little about your worst spill to
A: I’ve had a couple bad ones, but the only one to leave a mark was actually my first
real dirt ride. I was desperately trying to keep up with the experienced riders, came
over a hill to find a sharp right and realized I didn’t know how to turn in the dirt at speed
yet. The bike went down, I flew off and skidded on my right hip bone for a while, giving
me some wicked road rash and a puncture wound from a rock. I got bandaged up and
finished the ride, but I still have a good size scar to remind me to slow down and ride my
Q: Wow! What are some other valuable lessons you’ve learned from dual-sporting?
A: Learn to laugh at yourself. If you let every mistake get to you, you will get
discouraged quickly. Get up, dust off and get back to having fun as soon as possible.
Q: We understand you’ve just finished a big ride! Where did you go and what was the
most difficult part of the adventure? What was your favorite part of the ride?
A: I spent a couple weeks in Mexico and then went up through the Rockies into
Canada, then over and down the West Coast. The most difficult parts were when I
had mechanical failures. Being stuck in one place waiting for parts is excruciating. My
favorite parts were all the serendipitous encounters with strangers who enriched my trip.
You meet the best people on the road.
Q: Any particular characters/situations come to mind?
A: Just after entering Canada and rolling into Lethbridge, a man started pointing at the
back of my bike from his car and flailing his arms. I immediately pulled over and found
oil was hemorrhaging from my bike. I shut it off and set about removing the bash plate
to see if I could locate the source of the leak. A man and his daughter walked up and
asked if I needed help. I showed them where the oil was coming from and the man
seemed very knowledgeable explained it was probably a shaft seal and couldn’t be
fixed on the side of the road. He declared since I wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon,
I should join them for breakfast. He introduced me to his large group of friends in the
diner and, with everyone wearing bike and racing logos on their clothing, I knew I was
in good company. A trials rider rode my bike up the tiny steep ramp into the truck of
one of Canada’s top motocross riders, who gave me a ride six hours north to Edmonton
where a friend helped me make the repairs. I don’t think I could have picked a better
place to have my bike quit on me.
Q: So where to now? What’s in store and on the horizon for Becky ?
A: I don’t know yet, I’m not really much of a planner. That whole Canada/US trip was
spontaneous. I still need to see the whole Eastern United States, but Central America
would be amazing too.
Q: What would your dream adventure ride be? What bike would you have, where would
you go and for how long?
A: I would do a round the world trip in a heartbeat and I would do it on my DRZ. I would
want to go without a time line and take however long it took to see everything I wanted
to see. Ted Simon took four years… that sounds about right.
Q: Lastly, are there any tips or words of encouragement you would like to give other
female riders looking to take to the dirt on two wheels?
A: You’re not alone! I just went to a gathering of women dirt bikers in central Colorado
and I was blown away by how many incredible riders there were. As far as resources
and inspiration, Lois Pryce made a video called Ladies on the Loose that features
many amazing women riders and addresses adventure motorcycling from a woman’s
I got to meet Lois at the Overland Expo, which was a wonderful event with everything
from hands on riding instruction to discussion groups and demos covering everything
dealing with overland travel.
I met a lot of really inspiring women travelers there. Getting out, going to events and meeting like minded people is the best encouragement there is.
Read more about Becky’s motorcycle adventures at www.becktastic.com