#THEWORLDADVENTUREWEEK STORIES – “MOTORCYCLES CHANGED MY LIFE”
One of the illuminating and cool repercussions of the 2021 THE WORLD ADVENTURE WEEK – where people were encouraged to get out on and ride their bikes with various riding challenges throughout a week – was the discovery of riders’ stories and lifestyles in the saddle. For Tuğçe Akbayar, biking was an entirely transformative experience…
Someone who caught our eye for the sheer joy that she takes in travelling and accumulating kilometres with her KTM was Tuğçe (pronounced ‘too-chay’) Akbayar. The 28-year-old Turk’s character shines out from almost all her Instagram posts where rugged landscapes and scenic territories are frequently enhanced by a massive smile.
We’re already envious of her energy! The Pilates teacher and fitness specialist clearly revels in her adventures that have involved several lengthy trips and should encompass another world jaunt where she lives with the bike and for the bike.
“Oh, the northern lights!” she tells us of the most treasured sight she’s witnessed on the road. “It was in Alaska. It was winter, cold and snowy. We had stopped close to the highway and pitched our tents. At one point in the evening, we looked out of the tent and saw the aurora borealis. It was unbelievable. It felt like something magical. It’s hard to describe the feeling.”
A conversation with Tuğçe (with her excellent English) is interspersed with her giggles down the phone. Again, we’re envious of the undoubted joy she takes in describing how and why she loves biking. Although she’s lucky to have the possibility to indulge her passion as half-profession (her Ride2World account has over 32,000 followers) it’s also clear that she’s making it happen with limited means, and by maximising the most of her resources. We wanted to know how she got to this point…
You’re Turkish but based in Poland. For people who haven’t ridden in Turkey, what’s it like?
“I’m from Istanbul, where motorcycles have become very popular in the last few years because the traffic can be crazy. If you have to rely on a car or public transportation, then you can say goodbye to two hours of your day. The motorcycle changed my life over 10 years ago, when I was 18. I had been using a bicycle a lot for sport and also getting around and was looking to upgrade. I ended-up getting a sporty 125. It looked quite racey but it was very much for beginners.”
When did you discover KTM?
“The first KTM I tried was a KTM 690 DUKE and I also had a go with a KTM 1190 ADVENTURE. After the 125 I had moved to a 250, to a midweight naked bike and with three different brands until I used a 125 to make my first around the world trip! I was on a tight budget, so I had to sell my current bike for an affordable one to do the job. When we came back, we moved to Poland and that was when I was able to buy my first KTM, which was a KTM 790 DUKE. Riding in Poland is quite different to Turkey! Some of the scenery is equally beautiful but the traffic situation is much calmer.”
As you mentioned, riding became a way to travel. It seems like you are creating quite a bit of content from your adventures. Was that an instant attraction? Or did it take some time to embrace the idea that the motorcycle could be used for exploration?
“It was quite quick. Also because I met my husband, who was riding a KTM 990 ADVENTURE. He changed my mind – and my life – when it came to riding. He showed me what it was like to travel. A bike didn’t only have to be for getting from A to B. As soon as we hit the road then I loved it straight away. It didn’t matter if I was tired or soaking wet from rain: I just loved the idea of riding and arriving somewhere new.”
Your Instagram seems to be full of many unforgettable moments…but were there any dark or scary times?
“One comes to mind. We were in Mexico and passing through a remote mountain village and we didn’t know that the police were not entering this area. There were a lot of protesters gathered, wearing masks and carrying sticks. They tried to stop us as we went through. My husband and I had an intercom and he said to me ‘whatever happens, just keep the throttle open and don’t stop’. There were some scary moments but luckily nothing went wrong. Later on, I did think I was in big trouble.”
What does the future hold? Another trip?
“Another round the world trip is a dream because there are so many places we’ve haven’t visited yet and others where we have been that are changing all the time. I think travelling is like a strong addiction: once you have tried it then it’s hard to forget about it. I’d like to do a long journey, not a short ‘holiday-style’ trip.”
What’s the dream territory?
“Chile. It’s the most beautiful. Scenery, people, food, the roads.”
What about somewhere new?
“I would have to say Iceland. I’ve never been and would love to see it. Then also Japan. I’m really curious to go there.”
Lastly, what’s the current KTM of choice and why?
“I have the KTM 690 ENDURO R and it’s the best bike I’ve ever had. I’m not planning to change it.”
-Isn’t it a big tricky for long road trips?
“Kind of, but for me it was a good option because I’m not the tallest person! I also love the light weight and I find it very easy to control and handle. I know other bikes might be more comfortable for certain types of road but I’m totally fine with it because when you are travelling you rarely need to go very fast anyway.”
More information about THE WORLD ADVENTURE WEEK and the final leader board can be found here.