She dropped her bike before she had even paid for it, then rode it across two continents; now Jessica Zahra is sharing her adventure riding passion through her Open Roads Rally next month.
The 29-year-old long-distance adventure rider and Royal Enfield ambassador from Melbourne has launched the affordable rally from 18 to 20 October 2019 in Gippsland, Victoria. Tickets cost from just $7.42 for kids to $74.94 for the three days.
She expects up to 350 participants to try their skills on three tracks ranging from beginners to intermediate.
Riders navigate via a digital road book to find checkpoints. Other activities include an enduro course, barrel racing, presentations and live music.
“I started my journey around the world when I was 24,” Jessica says.
“My first bike was a Honda 125. I owned this bike for two months while I learned to ride.
“Then I flew to Europe and bought a BMW 650GS Funduro. It was a bargain, but I had no idea what I was buying. I didn’t realise how heavy it was.
“I dropped it outside the shop – before I had even paid for it!”
Jessica encounters drama
Her Funduro took her to almost every country in Europe over two years, then to Morocco and down the continent of Africa.
“Then my personal life was turned upside down,” she says.
“A family member passed away and my relationship went south. Grief was hard on the road alone. So, I turned home.
“On my way to the airport, I slipped on an oil spill at 100km/h and fractured my back.
“I picked myself up, fixed my bike and carried on. It’s important to always cry after, not before, you fix the problem. One of the many lessons I learned the hard way during those years.”
Since then, Jessica has ridden through America, Australia, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka.
Open Roads tours
She is still riding around the world and documenting her experiences or her guided tours through her Open Roads business.
Her first documentary is due next month and she is hosting a 35-day, free tour of India in November that anyone can join.
Next year, Jessica returns to lead tours in a new area of Nepal, plus Colombia, Mongolia, Canada, Kenya, India and Vietnam.
“Somehow, in between all of this, I will start preparing to enter the rally racing circuit in Europe,” she says.
Jessica will pass on some of her travel tips at the OpenRoads Rally for men, women and kids.
She kickstarted the rally because she found there were no affordable, convenient events for intermediate riders in Australia.