Zoë Cano: Adventure riding across America

A couple of weekends ago, The Bike Insurer visited the famous Ace Café in London on its adventure bike day.

Hundreds of adventure bikes and tourers were present but so was Zoë Cano, a self-confessed adventurer and rider who’s done a lot of what we’d love to do ourselves.

Zoë crossed America on a Triumph Bonneville T100, riding almost 10,000kms solo, without a satnav and without any assistance.

Zoë documented her travels in a book, ‘Bonneville Go or Bust – On the Roads Less Travelled’ and we spoke to her about that adventure and some of her other highlights (which includes another jaunt across the US).

The Bike Insurer (TBI): How come you’re here at the Ace Café for Adventure day?

Zoë Cano (ZC): I was invited to come to the Ace and tell everyone a little bit of my story, and that’s why I’m here with my Bonneville T100 to tell people a little bit about my journey across America in the hottest summer on record in 2012.

I never intended to do anything after that trip, it was really just a dream to do something that I thought at the time was totally impossible; I hadn’t done much more than 100 miles before and I’d only ever ridden scooters when I was living in Paris.

TBI: When did you start riding on two wheels then?

ZC: I moved to Paris from Hereford when I was about 18 and I met a friend who worked on Peugeot’s factory floor when the Peugeot had just started making scooters again.

I probably started riding at about 20 and it was a few years later when I actually got a full licence in 2008.

I didn’t take the test to go travelling across America, I took it because I was trying to downsize and I thought the best way of getting around was to get on two wheels.

TBI: What was your plan once you had your full licence?

ZC: The vision was to go across America using old National Geographic maps that I found in my Dad’s suitcase. I very naively plotted a route from East to West on the roads less travelled.

The main problem was, as anyone who has done a motorcycle trip will tell you, is how you’re going to get a bike over there. The Bonneville I had in the UK was my only form of transport so I told my story online.

I used social media to spread the message and some people in Los Angeles saw the story, loved the idea of me travelling across America via the quirky places, so got in touch. They shipped the bike over to Boston for me.

Zoe Cano Triumph Bonneville Go or Bust books lined up at the Ace Cafe Adventure Day in 2016
TBI: So you got straight over to the States then?

ZC: It actually took me about five years to get the bike ready and enough money together. I took part time jobs, had a lodger, sold my wedding dress; lots of stuff to be able to support myself.

My Bonneville arrived in a massive shipping container (that usually carries about 25 Harleys) about six weeks before I did so it was kept at a Harley dealership until I arrived.

The people in the dealership did not believe me when I said I was the rider who was going to take the bike across the States.

TBI: So the journey began and you wrote a book all about it?

ZC: I never intended to get a book out of it, it was just a dream come true and the book outlines the adventure I went on, the people I met and the experiences I had.

It was the people I spoke to about my adventure that told me I needed to write it down. And I’m glad I did because I think the book will appeal to anyone out there who has a dream. I made it possible so you can too.

And fulfilling that dream has helped me do more still because Triumph got hold of my story and sent me back to the States for two weeks riding across the Southern States of the US.

There’s a book about that too!

Learn more about Zoë Cano and her American adventures.