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Brave Woman Wandering the World Alone on Her Bicycle: Helen Dainty

Could pedaling be a claim?

We know cyclists only with news headlines saying 'traffic disaster' or 'a woman has attacked in the visited city.' But what we do not know is cyclists are fighting for their rights in most parts of the world.

The effort of athletes and travelers is undeniable; women's bike tours, the solidarity of teams from different countries, meetings for awareness actions are great examples. However, this struggle has not yet been reflected the public and has not made a sound in our country.

Being on a bike is still seen as a 'male act.'

Pedaling has no gender!

Cycling women exist, and they are blowing the gender roles with their wind! Let's be 'aware' in traffic for the safety and rights of 'everyone' on their wheels and stand by their demands.

As the song says, "If I could only give you two things, one would be roots and the other wings."

We want to introduce you to one of the bravest women traveling by pedaling:

World traveler Helen Dainty also set out from her roots in Australia in 2016 and started a world tour by pedaling with her bike, which we can call her wings. She came to Turkey via Edirne on August 25, 2021, and traveled the country for months.

We had a pleasant conversation with Helen during her transition to Lebanon. Let's get to know Helen Dainty #HelsOnWheels, whose courage we think will inspire all women who love cycling.

Enjoy reading!

How did your friends and family react to your lifestyle? They must have been surprised when you decided to hit the road by bike.

Not really, I’ve been on the road since 2004 so when I took up bike touring in 2016 it wasn’t too much of a departure from what my friends and family were used to from me. My family is so supportive of my travel lifestyle, and completely understand this way of life is the right one for me. In fact, my brothers and I were raised by our parents to have ‘roots and wings.'

In your Instagram bio (for those who want to follow, let's leave it here: @hels.on.wheels) it says that you have seen 7 continents, 75 countries. How are you greeted at the places you go and the places you stay? What is the reaction of people when they hear that "a female" has traveled this far and traveled alone? Do the reactions you get differ across cultures? If so, can you share two opposite examples with us?

Yes, as a solo female traveler I’m often met with “but aren’t you afraid?” And I suppose the answer is probably not much more than your average solo male traveler. I’ve come to realize it’s the traveling solo part that one has to be careful of. Being a woman I think I receive more acts of spontaneous hospitality than a solo man would because I’m not perceived as a threat.

Equally, it’s easier for me to receive hosting on sights like Warm Showers for the same reason. I don’t have specific contrasting examples but certainly the further east I travel, the more unusual my presence as a solo female cyclist seems to be.

What do you think should be the first step to be taken for women in the world to be free and equal?

Gosh, that’s a big question that I don’t have a good answer for! I see incredible academics & feminists working across social media fighting the good fight, raising awareness, and doing battle with the patriarchy. For my part, I just try to be a role model for other potential solo female travelers. In this way, I hope we can continue to help each other.

Can you tell us about the examples from the countries you've seen that are close to or far from gender equality? Can you tell us about the examples from the countries you've seen that are close to or far from gender equality?

The further east I go the more women I see covered up for religious reasons but I try to be cautious about making judgments about the choice (or lack thereof) to wear hijab for example. It’s not my lived experience so it’s not my place to weigh in on the subject. In Albania, Azerbaijan, and North Macedonia I saw very few women in the coffee shops, so in Turkey, I was very pleased I had the opportunity to meet and talk with many more women than I had in the southern Balkans.

Dear Helen, you don't have a fortune like Jules Verne's famous character Mr. Phileas Fogg, nor do you have a sidekick.

Moreover, you have been pedaling on the male-dominated world for hundreds of days, not just 80 days. What was the biggest challenge?

I enjoy traveling alone - it is my preference - but staying in contact with home can be hard. Sometimes on birthdays and Christmas, I have to put things in place to ensure I’m not lonely. But these days the bigger challenge to travel is covid; you can read seemingly current yet conflicting information about entry requirements, border statuses changed with little or no notice this year so it was very difficult to keep on top of, and also impossible to look too far ahead.

Let's talk about the beautiful country, Turkey. How is it to be a cyclist/traveler in Turkey? What do you think are the shortcomings we need to improve?

Cycling Turkey has been a revelation to me! I’ve never been met with such repeated warmth and hospitality. To be a traveler here is a real treat. As a cyclist, I captured lots of people’s interest (especially as I was wearing an Atatürk jersey) which was wonderful.

Turkey is of course lacking in a lot of cycling infrastructure but it was encouraging to see so many cyclists in Alanya, the bike paths of Izmir, and the superb Lüleburgaz Bike Academy.

There are wonderful travel photos on your social media accounts! Could you share your favorite place and photos from Turkey with us? We would like to show them to our followers through your eyes.

The Aegean coast region has to be my favorite; Datcha, Dalyan, Didim they’re all stunning places!

What you've accomplished is incredible! We think it is an important action that takes courage and perseverance. Do you have anything you would like to say and any advice you can give to young women who want to take the road or need a bold step in their life like you?

I would certainly encourage women to travel solo by bike. My experience as a foreigner has been a wonderful one around Turkey, I hope Turkish women can experience the same kindness that I have received cycling here and further afield.

I travel on a very small budget which requires wild camping and that can be scary for some, but the Warm Showers network is very big in Turkey allowing women a safe and cheap place to stay between hotels and campsites if they don’t feel comfortable wild camping.

Would you like to talk a little bit about your plans with us? What points are on your route if you're going to continue to pedal?

I would like to continue through the Middle East to Africa. I’ve just arrived in Lebanon which is an over-landing dead end, but Iran had recently reopened to tourism. Saudi Arabia now welcomes tourists too so I hope I can continue by bike in that direction.

HelsOnWheels profil fotoğrafı
Brave Woman Wandering the World Alone on Her Bicycle: Helen Dainty

At this point, we know you are raising funds for your journeys with your Patreon account. If Awen for Us followers wants to support you, you can share with us how they can help.

Yes! I depend on a combination of savings and Patreon Subscriptions to fund my adventure.

If your readers would like to subscribe to my Patreon account there they will find additional content such as photos, videos, and interviews on top of what I give for free on regular social media platforms.

If you would like to support the HelsOnWheels world tour:

If you want to follow HelsOnWheels social media accounts:

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