Many Adventure bike riders have probably considered, or dreamed about, chucking up the daily grind and riding their bike around the world. I certainly have! Some of us actually have the gumption to just do it! So it was with Kinga Tanajewska.
Kinga was born in Communist Poland in 1981. She grew up in a pretty town called Suwalki and confesses to being “a bit of a Hippie” in her teens. Growing up in a new, free Poland, probably helped to get her dreaming of a world filled with adventure and possibility. She got bitten by the bike bug at around 16, with her first bike, a Honda CB450 Nighthawk coming along soon after. She echoes what many of us bike “lifers” have said; “from that moment, life was never the same again!”
After completing an Engineering Degree in Poland, she emigrated to Australia. Sydney, to be precise, where she saved up and bought a Yamaha FZ600. It was not long before her spirit of adventure flared up again and she bought a BMW GS800 with the idea of doing a circumnavigation of Australia, or “Tour de Oz”, as she called it. She did this in stages, working in Western Australia before completing the journey by returning to her home in Sydney. She raised funds and awareness for a children’s charity called Shepherd Centre during her trip.
This is when her life took a dramatic turn, first for the worst and then, I would argue, for the better. She had a “head-on” collision with a car, totalling her GS and breaking a hand and leg. During her subsequent convalescence, she went through a terminated relationship and got treated for depression, probably as a result of having her wings clipped by circumstances. When she received a sizable payout for her accident, she decided enough was enough, bought a new GS800 nicknamed “Chilli” and departed Sydney in April 2017 with a loose plan to “ride around the world”. The charity beneficiary for this trip is a little Polish boy named Franek, who suffers from Cerebral palsy.
4o odd countries, and a whole lot of time later, she finds herself in SA and riding out from Bikers Warehouse with over 40 other bikes for a breakfast at the Aviator Cafe in Hartebeespoort.
This is where our intrepid photographer, Bjorn, accompanied by his way better half Meredith, caught up with Kinga to chat about her adventures. It is not all as it seems to be when you think about travelling the world by bike. First of all, for Kinga, it is not about trying to see as many countries as possible, it is rather about really seeing those countries. She plans to travel in Africa for almost two whole years. She loves spending time in the countries through which she travels and really engaging with the people.
Interestingly, she also explains that her “holiday” time, is in fact, time off the bike and not riding. We may have thought that it was the other way around. But here’s the thing. Whilst her first couple of years of travel were funded by her accident claim payout, her subsequent costs have been covered by her Social Media presence. She has a YouTube channel called ON HER BIKE, where folks can follow her travels. I watched a couple of the episodes and they follow a video type travelogue as you travel along with her.
The impression is of a wild and carefree existence, particularly because she is not bound by a time schedule. Documenting your travels in this fashion is hard work though. Planning your route, charging and setting your cameras, thinking about suitable footage and editing that footage is hard, time-consuming work. She has effectively created a “Brand” with her Social Media presence, attracting sponsors who have products which can gain wide exposure through Kinga’s travels.
“Everything I use and wear is sponsored, which saves me a ton of costs”, she says. This is why it is the time off the bike that is the chill time. What I find interesting, is that it is possible to fund this Gypsy lifestyle totally via Social Media generated funds. Yes, it takes work, but hell, what a day job!
We live in a world which is striving to be ridiculously structured and sometimes just brain dead in the way it does things. We quarantine the world for a virus which has less impact and a lower mortality rate than the flu! Stock markets crash, tourism grinds to a halt, airlines are grounded with catastrophic consequences, trade ceases, small cash strapped businesses fail and headlines are dominated by this “gogga” in the air. In China, the infection rate has peaked and died away, yet the rest of the world runs scared.
SA would save more lives if we simply quarantined our taxi drivers! In the midst of this madness, a Polish girl with a huge spirit of adventure is just cruising the world on her bike.
You just gotta love that!
You can find out more about Kinga at – www.onherbike.com