(CNN) – It’s not every day that you come across a motorcyclist riding along the road with a German shepherd behind his bike.
So it’s no surprise that content creator Jess Stone and her adorable dog Moxie are seen walking together, usually doing a double-take.
“Every car that comes to us, they [the people inside] take out their phones, almost cause an accident because they’re trying to shoot,” he tells CNN Travel.
Weighing in at around 34 kilograms, Stone and Moxie are now 10 months into an epic bike journey that will take them through nearly 90 countries across Central America, North and South America, Africa, Europe and Asia.
The pair have been on the road since last March, when they set out with Stone’s husband Greg walking behind them.
“I’m always up front,” Stone explains. “I want to get through the hurdles first.”
Jess Stone and her German shepherd Moxie travel the world together.
Originally from Canada, Stone first learned to ride a motorcycle with Greg more than a decade ago on the back streets of Liberia, where he lived at the time, and admits it was far from an easy process.
“It’s not the best thing to have your partner teach you to drive,” she adds. “He wasn’t very patient with me.”
When he finally felt comfortable on a motorcycle, the couple, married for eight years, embarked on an eight-month motorcycle trip from North America to South America together. A few years after their return, they moved to Guatemala and Moxie entered their lives.
“He chose me 100%,” Stone says of the moment he first laid eyes on the dog while looking through a litter of German shepherd puppies in a neighboring town.
“He expected me to love him.”
While both Stone and her husband were determined to bring the Moxie along on their travels, she explains that she ultimately “didn’t want to have a stroller or a trailer or something that would really change the driving dynamics.” comfortable on a motorcycle.
They soon began designing the K9 Moto Cockpit, a motorcycle dog carrier they made in Guatemala through their company Ruffly, and a range of outdoor dog gear.
“Everyone always asks how long it takes to train your dog to ride,” says Stone. “Honestly, I needed Moxie over the weekend.
“Having that much weight on my back took me longer because I’ve never ridden with a passenger.”
“Obviously, I wanted to travel the world,” says Stone, who aims to raise $100,000 for Girl Up’s global empowerment projects. “But I also wanted to show people that you can do it with a big dog.”
Being able to take Moxie on this special trip made it even more special for Stone.
A constant companion
The couple, pictured in Guatemala, will visit nearly 90 different countries during their extensive journey.
“It’s like you’re having two adventures,” he explains. “You experience it yourself. And then you experience it from his point of view, because he’s behind me.
“I see him [Moxie] always in the mirror. His head is right at me. Sometimes she even lifts her chin up and puts her big nose on my shoulder.
“It makes me so happy that he’s really experiencing everything. There are always new sights, sounds and smells that he’s looking at and experiencing.”
Of course, there are downsides to traveling with a dog. They’re mostly limited to dog-friendly places and rely on wild camping and sometimes Airbnbs while on the road so Moxie can roam free.
“You have to be the type of person who enjoys nature and the outdoors,” adds Stone.
“Because they’re places we can bring him. If you want to be in the city and go to all these fancy restaurants, traveling with a dog makes it a little more difficult.”
Although they initially planned to travel from Guatemala to the Arctic Ocean and beyond to Canada before flying to Spain and then on to Africa, a number of problems, including rising oil prices and supply shortages, forced them to do so due to significant cost increases. to change their routes.
Stone points out that due to its size, the Moxie must be shipped in a giant-sized box as unaccompanied baggage.
That meant that if they had stuck with their original plan, the total cost alone would have been about $6,500, including vet fees, freight, and international pet exporter fees from Toronto to Spain.
The cost of shipping his motorbikes had also increased considerably when he started the journey.
They eventually chose to travel from Guatemala to Mexico, the United States, Canada, and the Arctic Ocean, traveling “end to end and top to bottom.”
From here they began to ride over the top of North America before turning around and heading for South America.
A difficult route
According to Stone, having Moxie with him made the trip even more special.
Before setting off, Stone booked in for some personal off-road training to make sure he had the skills required to navigate some of the more challenging sections of the route.
“Obviously, I’ve been off track many times, but I’ve never felt comfortable,” he says. “And I wanted to feel really good about it because I have Moxie behind me.”
He admits to being particularly nervous driving along the remote Dempster Highway, a long gravel road in Canada that leads to the Arctic Ocean.
“I was worried I was going to crash and damage my bike,” he said. “It’s funny, I never think about hurting myself. My bike is what worries me the most.”
Thankfully, they made it through without incident, but Stone says she is often plagued by thoughts of something going wrong during the trip.
“My biggest fear is not being able to continue the trip and something happening with the bike off-road,” he says. “Fortunately, nothing like that happened.”
While Stone insists his riding skills are always improving, that hasn’t stopped him from doubting himself on a regular basis.
“Am I still worried about the dirt roads going uphill? Yes. Am I worried about going down and breaking my bike? Yes.
“But I can’t stress enough how important it is to practice these skills. It really makes a difference. It makes the experience more positive.”
Although things have been going relatively smoothly so far, Stone occasionally loses his balance while riding, causing him and Moxie to get “crushed”.
Having her husband, whom she describes as a “mule with teeth,” behind her has certainly been a source of great comfort.
“I carry the shepherd, he carries the camping gear,” he adds, explaining that they don’t necessarily ride together and sometimes take different routes.
“Sometimes he wants to try another way, or I want to go another way, and then we meet each other. But I’m content as I am.”
Their biggest hurdle so far has been changing their bike in May. After experiencing various “oil leakage issues,” Stone learned that his 2013 BMW G650GS would require a very expensive engine rebuild.
He bought a newer second hand model of the bike for about the same price as the rebuild.
“It was an unexpected expense,” he says. “But he [new] The bike will take me the rest of the way.”
The main attraction
Stone has teamed up with non-profit organization Girl Up for the GoRUFFLY Around the World adventure.
Among the many highlights for her so far have been being able to stop by Girl Up clubs and share their stories, camping in the Arctic Ocean, marveling at the sight of passing moose and also seeing a grizzly bear.
“Moxie trembles with anticipation when she sees these creatures on the side of the road,” he adds. “He’s just so excited. We caught some fish along the way, which was really, really awesome.”
Currently in Los Angeles, Stone is preparing for the next leg of the trip, which will involve taking a ferry to Baja, Mexico, then Guatemala, and then Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama.
From Panama, they plan to fly to Colombia, where they will board the “tip” of Argentina, and then fly to South Africa.
After reaching South Africa, they will travel along the east coast of Africa to Egypt, then Greece, and then “circle Europe” through Turkey and Central Asia.
The next phase will see them take their bikes from India to Malaysia, the Moxie to North America, and then back to Guatemala, their first and final destinations, which Stone describes as her “adopted homeland.”
Stone estimates they’ll be on the road for at least two and a half years. But for now, he’s focused on getting to the next stage of his journey and constantly improving his riding skills.
Her four-legged companion continues to be an inspiration, and Stone never tires of seeing how others react to Moxie, joking that visiting each gas station is like a “selfie palooza.”
“People just get out of their cars,” he adds. “And the first thing everyone says is, ‘Oh my God, he’s wearing glasses.'”
“It puts a smile on everybody’s face. And I love that. It just makes everybody have a good day.”