Anna Grechishkina

Ukrainian motorcyclist Anna Grechishkina is two years into a solo motorcycle ride around the world on her KTM Adventure 1190. She started from Kiev, Ukraine, and has made her way across Asia, Australia, North and South America. Global Women Who Ride caught up with her to find out about her mission, her motivations, and life on the road. [Rashmi Tambe, Editor]

Women Who Ride: Ukrainian motorcycling legend Anna Grechishkina

Ukrainian motorcycling legend Anna Grechishkina

Please introduce yourself. I am Anna Grechishkina. I was born in Kiev, Ukraine. I started to ride ten years ago although I still don’t know what motivated me to first get on a bike. I didn’t have any family members or friends who were motorcyclists. I never even rode as a passenger on a bike. But my desire to ride was very strong and I enrolled into a motorcycle riding school to learn how to ride and get my license.

I bought my first bike, a Kawasaki Eliminator 125, and continued learning to ride on it. That first year I only rode around Ukraine but I felt that it was my passion. The next year my bike was stolen. I got a loan from the bank and bought my second bike, a Kawasaki Vulcan 900. That was the bike I owned for seven years, on which I traveled a lot. I rode through Eastern Europe in Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and Georgia, and some of the old Soviet countries like Russia, Belarus and Moldova, and some of the Middle East through Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon.

Each time I wanted to go further and longer. I took every chance I got to escape from work and go for a ride. Slowly I started to feel like I was not meant for a desk job. On one rainy day I thought about quitting my job and riding around the world without any time limits and responsibilities. I realized that it wasn’t going to be easy to just pack up and go. That’s why I initially tried to forget the idea. But it kept coming back to me again and again. I thought that perhaps it was a sign that I had to at least try. I finally decided not to resist what my heart wanted and set off on my world tour. I haven’t had any regrets about my decision.

Motorcycle touring in Georgia

Motorcycle touring in Georgia

Motorcycling in Georgia: Stopped near a mural in Georgia

Stopped near a mural in Georgia

Tell us about your mission. My plan is to travel around the world on my KTM Adventure 1190. Initially I was planning to be on the road for one year, then it got obvious that one year was not enough so I extended it to two years. But it has already been more than two years since I left and I’m still on the road. I don’t want to make any speculations on when I will return to Ukraine.

Once you hit the road, it’s hard to stop and settle down. It’s hard to imagine a day when you can stop, so you get to the point where you find more and more excuses to continue your journey, to see more places, to meet more people. It becomes a sort of addiction and obsession, you realize that there can be nothing more exciting than traveling and exploring the world, the people around you, and yourself. Don’t get me wrong, there are many exciting facets of life, and I am eager to have a family one day and get involved in some other activities besides traveling. At the moment though, I’m still not ready to think about finishing my adventure and directing my attention to anything else.

Riding through Mogocha, Russia

Riding through Mogocha, Russia

Women Who Ride: Anna Grechishkina rides in Malaysia

Anna Grechishkina rides in Malaysia

Women Who Ride: Anna Grechishkina reaches the United States

Anna Grechishkina reaches the United States

Women Who Ride: Anna Grechishkina in New York City

Anna Grechishkina in New York City

My journey’s name is I Have A Dream. Yes, it was inspired by Martin Luther King, one of my heroes and role models. He’s an example of how one man’s dream can change the world. I truly believe that everybody can change the world around them in some sense. This is my biggest dream – to encourage and motivate people I meet on the road to follow their hearts and dreams. With this aim I try to visit schools, orphanages, hospitals, and colleges and meet any groups of people interested in listening to my story, and convince them that there is nothing impossible in this life.

Women Who Ride: Anna Grechishkina visiting kids at a hospital in Mexico

Anna Grechishkina visiting kids at a hospital in Mexico

Women Who Ride: Anna Grechishkina with children in Singapore

Anna Grechishkina with children in Singapore

What were your worst fears before the big ride and have any of them been realized? My biggest fear was the lack of financing for the trip. I did not imagine how long and how far I could make it. I started a two year journey with a thousand dollars in my pocket. I was so stressed that I lost my appetite and sleep. But I told myself that I would not abandon my dream. I would start my journey no matter what, and if it’s meant to be, it would be.  Now it looks like it was meant to be.

It has been more than two years on the road now. There were difficult days, hungry days, days of despair and hopelessness, days of loneliness and uncertainty. But every time a problem arose, a solution showed up too. I met amazing people willing to help, and circumstances just came together to show me the way. I feel assured that if you really want something, the universe will open its doors for you.

This magic of my journey keeps pushing me to share this story with other people to let them know that they should not be scared to take the first step towards their dream.  They should start doing something even if they don’t have enough resources for the whole way. Opportunities to continue will appear once you start moving and doing something.

How do you handle feelings of loneliness on a solo ride? Well, it’s probably a bit easier to handle loneliness because I’m an introvert. I’m often surrounded by people I meet on the road. But of course, being alone and being lonely is not the same thing. You may not be alone but feel extremely lonely, and this definitely happens to me once in a while. These moments are not easy to deal with. Sometimes I even cry, but it helps to remember what I have gone through to reach this moment, to remember all the things I encountered and all the difficulties I managed to overcome.

A mural in Bogota, Colombia

A mural in Bogota, Colombia

Street art in Bogota, Colombia

Street art in Bogota, Colombia

Ukraine went through some politically turbulent times while you were away. Did this affect your journey? Unfortunately, Ukraine is still going through difficult times and I feel very sad because of it. When it all started, I even felt like going back home to support my friends and family but then I decided that it would be better to convey a positive message about my country all over the world.

First of all, this situation affects me emotionally. It’s like a nightmare which seems unreal. I remember Ukraine as a peaceful and safe country. Even now after all that happened and is still happening, I cannot believe my ears and eyes. It’s devastating to know how many people lost their lives trying to protect our independence. At the same time I feel very proud of my people because they also have a dream that they are fighting for. I am sure that this dream will come true sooner or later.

If you could go on a ride with any of your motorcycling heroes, whom would you pick? I cannot say that I have any particular hero. Everybody who finds courage and freedom within themselves to start riding, to start traveling is a hero, especially if it’s a woman. Moreover, I prefer to ride alone. (smiles)

If you could travel in time and go ride your motorcycle at any time on Earth, what era would you pick? I would probably pick the time of Jesus Christ. I would definitely like to ride in the areas where he walked. It would be great to witness and to live during the most important era of history on Earth.

If you could change anything about the world of motorcycling today, what would it be? I’ve experienced many frustrating moments with so-called “keyboard warriors” who spend most of their time on the internet on motorcycle forums rather than riding their motorcycles. What makes it even more annoying is that they judge and comment negatively on people who are actually riding and trying to do something. I don’t know how to change this and if it’s possible at all.

It feels like in the past there were more real motorcyclists with a true understanding of riding and exploring. Nowadays it seems like owning a motorcycle is more like a fashion statement and a way to show off.

What is your favorite Sunday ride to do when you’re back home? There are so many gorgeous places near Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine, which are perfect for Sunday rides. One of my favorite places is a small town called Bila Tserkva, which is about 100 km away. It’s a nice ride from Kiev, and the town itself has a spectacular huge park where you can walk for hours and enjoy nature. Close to the town on the highway there is a monument to motorcyclists who died on the road. Whenever we ride that way, we always stop near the monument to remember our friends.

What was the last great book you read? I am Malala, a really inspiring story of a Pakistani girl who dared to stand up for the rights of girls in her country to have an education. It shows how an ordinary person who is not afraid to follow her dream can make a difference.

Any good music you have discovered of late? When I ride I tend not to listen to any music so I can fully concentrate on the road. Other times, my tastes differ depending on the mood and circumstances. I like different music styles from classical music to hard rock. Since I was very young, I found the music of Michael Jackson very inspiring.

The last great meal you had? I am not picky and I treat any food with great appreciation. Food became very precious to me after I learned what it feels to be hungry and to try and sleep on an empty stomach. I try to taste local cuisine in the countries I visit. I’m really in love with Mexican food, especially the way they cook cactuses and avocado. In Colombia I enjoyed varieties of arepas – flat cakes made of corn. I really miss Ukrainian food too.

What kind of legacy do you hope to leave? I stay in touch with my followers and friends and share stories of my adventure with them. I try to make them inspiring and informative so that people reading them feel like starting to travel as well. This is my mission. After I finish my trip, I would like to write a book which could be a source of inspiration for all kinds of people, not just travelers or motorcyclists.

Any thoughts about the Global Women Who Ride Project? I think it’s a great project and I wish it success. There are still many women in parts of the world who are underprivileged or scared to follow their heart and go beyond societal stereotypes. They need to see examples of other girls and women who go towards their dreams. favicon


Liked what you read? Listen to the Moterrific interview with Anna here. And follow Anna’s adventures at I Have a Dream.