(CNN) — It’s not every day that you see a motorcyclist riding along the road with a German Shepherd dog on the back of his bike.
It’s no surprise, then, that the sight of content creator Jess Stone and her beloved dog Moxie browsing together usually prompts viewers to do some double takes.
“Every car that comes up next to us, they [the people inside] pull out their phones, almost causing accidents because they try to get shot,” she told CNN Travel. “It’s hilarious.”
Stone and Moxie, who weigh around 34 kilograms, are currently 10 months into an epic cycling journey that will see them travel around 90 countries in Central America, North and South America, Africa, Europe and Asia.
The couple have been on the road since last March when they left, with Stone’s husband Greg following them.
“I’m always ahead,” says Stone. “I want to go through the obstacles first.”
Jess Stone and her German Shepherd Moxie travel the world together.
Originally from Canada, Stone learned to ride a motorbike on the side streets of Liberia, where she and Greg once lived, more than a decade ago and admits it was not an easy process.
“Having your partner teach you to ride a bike isn’t the best thing,” she adds. “He wasn’t very patient with me.”
Once she finally felt comfortable on a motorcycle, the couple, who had been married for eight years, embarked on an eight-month long motorcycle trip together from North America to South America. A few years after their return, they moved to Guatemala and Moxie came into their lives.
“She 100% chose me,” Stone says, recounting the moment she first laid eyes on the dog while watching a litter of German Shepherd puppies in one of the nearby towns.
“She was there after me, just waiting for me to love her.”
While Stone and her husband were determined to include Moxie on their trips, she explains that she “didn’t want to have a sidecar or a trailer or something that was going to really change the dynamics of the ride” now that she was finally comfortable on a motorcycle.
They soon began designing what would later become the K9 Moto Cockpit, a motorcycle dog carrier they manufacture in Guatemala, as well as a line of outdoor dog gear, through their company. Ruffley.
“Everyone always asks how long does it take to teach your dog to ride,” says Stone. “Honestly, it took Moxie the weekend.
“It took me a lot longer to feel comfortable with so much weight on my back, because I had never ridden with a passenger.”
“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 take Moxie on this particular trip made it even more special for Stone.
The pair, pictured in Guatemala, will pass through around 90 different countries on the long journey.
“It’s as if you live the adventure twice,” she explains. “You experience it for yourself. And then you experience it from her perspective, because she’s right behind me.
“I see her [Moxie] in my mirror all the time. His head is right against my side. Sometimes she even rests her big snout on my shoulder, chin up.
“It makes me so happy that she really experiences everything. It’s always new sights, sounds and smells that she sees and experiences.”
Of course, traveling with a dog has its drawbacks. They’re largely limited to places where dogs are allowed and rely on wild camping and the occasional Airbnb, while they’re on the road so Moxie can roam freely.
“You have to be the kind of person who loves natural spaces and the outdoors,” adds Stone.
“Because those are the places we can take him. If you’re looking to be in town and go to all those fancy restaurants, traveling with a dog makes it a little more difficult.”
While they originally planned to ride from Guatemala to the Arctic Ocean and cross 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 them to change routes.
Stone points out that Moxie must be shipped in a jumbo-sized crate as unaccompanied cargo due to her size.
This meant that the total cost for her alone would have been around $6,500, including vet fees, freight shipping and international pet export fees from Toronto to Spain, s They stuck to their original plan.
The price of shipping their motorcycles had also increased significantly by the time they started the journey.
They ultimately chose to travel “end to end and top to bottom”, making their way from Guatemala to Mexico, the United States, Canada and all the way to the Arctic Ocean.
From there they started rolling to the top of North America, before turning around and heading back to South America.
According to Stone, having Moxie with her made the trip even more special.
Before heading out, Stone booked private off-road training lessons to ensure she had the skills to navigate some of the trickier sections of the route.
“Obviously I’ve been off-roading a few times, but I never really felt comfortable,” she says. “And I wanted to feel really good because I have my Moxie on my back.”
She admits to being particularly anxious about driving along the remote Dempster Highway, a long gravel road in Canada that leads to the Arctic Ocean.
“I was afraid of crashing and hurting my bike,” she says. “It’s funny, I never really think about hurting myself. My bike is what worries me the most.”
Luckily, they were able to cross without incident, but Stone says she’s often plagued with thoughts of something wrong during the trip.
“My biggest fear is not being able to continue the journey and something happening with the bike on the off-road sections,” she says. “Fortunately, nothing like that happened.”
Although Stone points out that her driving skills are developing all the time, that hasn’t stopped her from regularly doubting herself.
“Am I still worried about dirt roads going uphill? Yes. Am I worried that we’ll go downhill and 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 that much more positive.”
Although things have gone relatively smoothly so far, Stone has occasionally lost her balance while driving, causing her and Moxie to “fall over.”
Having her husband, who she describes as the “geared mule”, behind her has undoubtedly been a great source of comfort.
“I carry the shepherd, he carries the camping equipment,” she adds, before explaining that they do not necessarily ride together continuously and sometimes take different routes.
“Sometimes he wants to try a different route or I want to go a different route and then we meet after that. But I’m on my own the way I am.”
Their biggest hurdle so far has been having to replace their bike in May. After encountering various “oil leak problems”, Stone learned that his 2013 BMW G650GS would require an extremely expensive engine rebuild.
She ended up buying a newer used model bike for about the same price as the rebuild.
“It was an unexpected expense,” she says. “But this [new] the bike will take me the rest of the way.”
The main attraction
Stone has partnered with the Girl Up association for the GoRUFFLY Around the World adventure.
Among the many highlights for her so far have been getting to stop by Girl Up clubs and sharing stories, as well as camping in the Arctic Ocean, where they marveled at the saw moose crossing the road, and also spotted a grizzly bear.
“Moxie trembles with anticipation when she sees these creatures on the side of the road,” she adds. “She’s so excited. We fished along the way, which was really, really spectacular.”
Currently in Los Angeles, Stone is preparing for the next leg of the trip, which will be to take a ferry to Baja, Mexico, then down to Guatemala, then Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama.
From Panama, they plan to fly to Colombia, where they will ride to the “tip” of Argentina, and then fly to South Africa.
Once in South Africa, they will travel up the east coast of Africa to Egypt, then Greece, before “circling Europe” and crossing Turkey and Central Asia.
The next stage will see them riding from India to Malaysia, where they will ship their bikes, and Moxie, to North America, then back to their first and last destination, Guatemala, which Stone describes as his “adopted home. “.
Stone reckons they’ll be on the road for at least another two and a half years. But for now, she is focused on taking the next step in the journey and constantly developing her driving skills.
Her four-legged companion continues to be an inspiration, and Stone never tires of seeing how others react to Moxie, joking that every visit to the gas station 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 makes everyone smile. And that’s what I like. It makes everyone have a good day.”