It’s not every day you see a motorcyclist riding along the road with a German Shepherd on the back of his bike.
So it’s no surprise that the sight of content creator Jess Stone and her beloved dog Moxie cruising together usually has onlookers doing a double take.
“Every car that drives by us, they [the people inside] take out their phones, almost cause accidents because they’re trying to get the shot, she tells CNN Travel. “It is funny.”
Stone and Moxie, who weigh around 34 kilos, are currently 10 months into an epic bike ride that will see them travel across around 90 countries in Central America, North and South America, Africa, Europe and Asia.
The pair have been on the road since March last year, when they set off, with Stone’s husband Greg riding behind them.
“I’m always in the front,” Stone explains. “I want to go through the obstacles first.”
Originally from Canada, Stone first learned to ride a motorcycle on the back streets of Liberia, where she and Greg lived at the time, over a decade ago and admits it was far from an easy process.
“Letting your partner teach you to ride a bike is not the best,” she adds. “He wasn’t very patient with me.”
When she finally felt comfortable on a motorcycle, the couple, who have been married for eight years, went on an eight-month motorcycle trip together from North to South America. A few years after they returned, they moved to Guatemala, and Moxie entered their lives.
“She chose me 100%,” says Stone, recounting the moment she first laid eyes on the dog while watching a litter of German Shepherd puppies in one of the neighboring towns.
“She was there on my heels, waiting for me to love her.”
While both Stone and her husband were determined to include the Moxie in their travels, she explains that she “didn’t want to have a sidecar or a trailer or anything that would really change the dynamic of riding,” now that she was finally comfortable on a motorcycle .
They quickly began designing what would later become the K9 Moto Cockpit, a motorcycle dog carrier they manufacture in Guatemala, along with a range of outdoor dog gear, through their company Ruffly.
“Everyone always asks how long it takes to teach a dog to ride,” says Stone. “Honestly, it took Moxie’s weekend.
“It took me a lot longer to feel comfortable with that much weight on my back, because I had never ridden with a passenger.”
After deciding she was ready for another big adventure, this time with Moxie on the road, Stone reached out to global nonprofit Girl Up—a girl-centered leadership development initiative—and the GoRUFFLY Around the World adventure was born.
“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 bring Moxie on this particular trip has made it that much more special for Stone.
“It’s like you get to experience the adventure twice,” she explains. “You experience it yourself. And then you experience it from her perspective, because she is right behind me.
“I see her [Moxie] in my mirror all the time. Her head is right at my side. Sometimes she even rests her big snout on my shoulder with her chin up there.
“It makes me so happy that she’s really experiencing everything. There are always new sights, sounds and smells she sees and experiences.”
Of course, traveling with a dog has its disadvantages. They are mostly confined to dog-friendly places and rely on wild camping, and the occasional Airbnb, while on the road so Moxie can roam free.
“You have to be the type of person who likes natural places and the outdoors,” adds Stone.
“Because those are the places we can take her. If you want to be in the city and go to all these fancy restaurants, traveling with a dog makes it a little more challenging.”
While they had originally planned to cycle from Guatemala up to the Arctic Ocean, and across to Canada, before flying to Spain and heading to Africa, the significant cost increase due to a number of issues, including rising oil prices and supply shortages, forced the move. them to change the route.
Stone points out that Moxie has to be shipped in a giant crate as unaccompanied cargo because of her size.
This meant that the total cost to her alone would have been around $6,500, including vet fees, shipping and international animal exporters from Toronto to Spain, if they had stuck to their original plan.
The price of transporting their motorbikes had also increased significantly by the time they started their trip.
“It’s just gotten really expensive,” says Stone, who documents the journey via Instagram as well as a weekly YouTube series.
They finally chose to travel “tip to tip and top to bottom”, on their way from Guatemala to Mexico, the USA, Canada and on to the Arctic Ocean.
From here they began riding to the top of North America, before turning around and heading back towards South America.
Before leaving, Stone booked some private off-road training lessons to ensure she had the skills required to navigate some of the more difficult sections of the route.
“Of course I’ve ridden off-road many times, but I never felt comfortable,” she says. “And I wanted to feel really good about it because I have my Moxie on my back.”
She admits to being particularly anxious about cycling along the remote Dempster Highway, a long dirt road in Canada that leads up to the Arctic Ocean.
“I was worried I was going to crash and damage my bike,” she says. “It’s funny, I never really think about hurting myself. My bike is what I care about the most.”
Fortunately, they were able to pass without issue, but Stone says she is often plagued by thoughts of something going wrong during the journey.
“My biggest fear is not being able to continue the trip and that something happens to the bike on the off-road sections,” she says. – Fortunately, nothing like that happened.
While Stone emphasizes that her riding skills are constantly evolving, that hasn’t stopped her from regularly doubting herself.
“Do I still worry about the dirt roads coming up? Yes. Am I worried that we will go down and I will break 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 so much more positive.”
Although things have been going relatively smoothly so far, Stone has occasionally lost her balance while riding, causing her and Moxie to “flop over”.
Having her husband, whom she describes as a “gear mule”, behind her has undoubtedly been a great source of comfort.
“I carry the shepherd, he carries the camping gear,” she adds, before explaining that they don’t necessarily cycle together continuously and sometimes take different routes.
“Sometimes he’ll try a different path, or I’ll go a different path, and then we’ll meet after that. But I am self-sufficient the way I am.”
So far, their biggest hurdle has been having to replace her bike in May. After experiencing various “oil leak issues,” Stone learned that her 2013 BMW G650GS would require a hugely expensive engine rebuild.
She ended up buying a newer used model of the bike for about the same price as the rebuild.
“It was an unexpected expense,” she says. “But it [new] the bike will take me the rest of the way.”
Among the many highlights for her so far have been being able to stop at Girl Up clubs and share stories, along with camping by the Arctic Ocean, where they marveled at the sight of moose crossing the road and also spotted a grizzly bear.
“Moxie shakes with anticipation when she sees these creatures on the side of the road,” she adds. “She’s just so excited. We did some fishing along the way, which was really, really spectacular.”
Currently in Los Angeles, Stone is preparing for the next leg of the tour, which will involve taking a ferry over to Baja, Mexico, then cycling down to Guatemala, and on to Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama.
From Panama, they plan to fly to Colombia, where they will cycle to the “tip” of Argentina, and then fly over to South Africa.
Once they reach South Africa, they will travel up the east coast of Africa to Egypt and then Greece, before “looping around Europe” and cycling through Turkey and Central Asia.
The next leg will see them ride from India to Malaysia, where they will ship their bikes, and Moxie, to North America and then head back to their first and final destination Guatemala, which Stone describes as her “adopted home.”
Stone estimates they will be on the road for at least two and a half more years. But for now, she has focused on getting to the next leg of her journey, constantly building on her riding skills.
Her four-legged companion continues to be a source of inspiration, and Stone never tires of seeing how others react to Moxie, joking that every gas station visit is like “a selfie palooza.”
“People just get out of their cars,” she adds. “And the first thing everyone says is, ‘Oh my God, she’s wearing glasses.'”
“It brings a smile to everybody’s face. And that’s what I love. She just makes everybody have a good day.”