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An Interview with...Lois Pryce

Lois is a British travel author, journalist and broadcaster. She is also co-founder of the Adventure Travel Film Festival.  In 2013/14, intrigued by the negative image of Iran and its stormy relationship with her homeland, she made two solo motorcycle tours of the Islamic Republic, discovering the complicated reality of this misunderstood but ultimately fascinating and hospitable country. 

Our second ‘adventurous interview’ was with Anna McNuff back in January. Anna nominated the next inspirational person for us to talk to: Lois Pryce. Lois is a British travel author, journalist and broadcaster. She is also co-founder of the Adventure Travel Film Festival. In 2003 Lois left her job at the BBC in London to ride twenty-thousand miles from Alaska to the tip of South America on a small dirt bike. Her book about this trip, Lois on the Loose, has been published throughout the world. In 2006 she rode the length of Africa, taking in the Sahara, the Congo and Angola, which resulted in her book, Red Tape & White Knuckles. In 2013/14, intrigued by the negative image of Iran and its stormy relationship with her homeland, she made two solo motorcycle tours of the Islamic Republic, discovering the complicated reality of this misunderstood but ultimately fascinating and hospitable country. This is the subject of her next book, Revolutionary Ride, which was published in January 2017.

Here’s what Lois had to say…

1. What are your top 3 places in the world?

Number 1 has to be Iran – it is truly the most fascinating, friendly and hospitable country I’ve ever visited. It’s also culturally very different which makes it interesting – the food, architecture and people were just amazing!

Number 2 would be the USA because it’s so huge and diverse – there’s a bit of everything: mountains, deserts, beaches, forests. I’m also really into music, to the USA is great for that! The American people actually reminded me a lot of Iranians – they’re all so friendly and quick to invite you to share a meal.

Number 3 is the Sahara Desert, specifically motorcycling across the desert in Algeria. I love deserts – they’re so huge and wild, it can be quite intense and intimidating. Camping under the stars in the desert is a very special experience.

2. Where’s the weirdest place you’ve slept?
We slept in some pretty weird places on our honeymoon – a lot of building sites in Croatia!

3. What’s the one thing you don’t go on an adventure without?
I’m an obsessive reader. Before the Kindle was invented, most of my kit was books! The Kindle has been a revelation, so it would have to be that, and a notebook for me to write in.

4. Who was your role model growing up?

I didn’t get into travel writing until my 30’s so it’s hard to pick someone. I wasn’t ever sporty and I’ve never been competitive. We used to go camping and mucked about in the woods a lot. I think I was more influenced my musicians when I was younger. Buddy Holly was a big inspiration, and Poison Ivy – the women from The Cramps.

5. How did you get into going on adventures – what was your first adventure as a teenager?

I didn’t start going on bigger trips until later on, but I do remember a significant trip when I was a teenager. I was 13, and me and four friends set off on a cycling trip around Cornwall on our own. We slept in hay barns and camped in gardens, and we weren’t scared of anything. I guess that was a real eye-opener – that talking to strangers and trusting people wasn’t scary. There must be something about setting off on two wheels that stuck with me!

6. What’s your greatest achievement?

I’m most proud of my books. Each one is a huge project, with a massive amount of time, dedication and research to put them together. The actual trips are easy in comparison to writing the books!

7. Do you have any adventures coming up?anna bike

I have my new book out – Revolutionary Ride – about my trip to Iran, so I’m in book promotion mode! I do have some trips planned this summer, but they are not huge trips. The three books I’ve published feel a bit like a trilogy at the moment, so we’ll see what happens next.

8. This year is our 25th anniversary, so we’re looking for 25 people to go on an adventure for us! What would be your top tip for people who are thinking about going on their first adventure?

Ignore the naysayers. There will always be someone who will tell you it is too dangerous, too hard, too expensive etc. It can really bring you down if you’re planning a trip. Immerse yourself with people who are like-minded and are doing similar things so that you can find camaraderie and support, not negativity.
Also – don’t worry too much or over plan – it’ll work itself out once you get going. Don’t wait until you think you’re ready – you never will be!

9. What is your favourite expedition snack?

I’m a vegetarian, which can sometimes make it tricky. I have had to eat meat out of politeness before – crocodile and camel in Algeria.

I’m very easy to please – bread, cheese and tomatoes are my favourite. I’ve eaten a lot of laughing cow cheese because it seems like you can get it everywhere – it’s so heavily processed that it doesn’t even need refrigerating!

I tend to eat a lot of street food – which was great in Iran – my favourite were lovely vegetarian stews.

10. A question we often end up discussing on camp is…cake or cheese?

As you can tell from above - definitely cheese!

11. Can you nominate someone inspiring for us to interview next?

I’d nominate Austin Vince – he’s a film-maker and motorcycle adventurer

 

Find out more about Lois' adventures at:

http://www.loisontheloose.com/

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