(CNN) – It’s not every day that you spot a motorcyclist riding along the road with a German Shepherd on the back of his bike.
So it’s no surprise that the scene of creator Jess Stone and her adorable dog Moxie walking around together usually has double scenes.
“Every car that comes up next to us, they are [the people inside] They took out their phones, and almost caused accidents as they tried to take the picture,” she told CNN Travel. “It’s funny.”
Stone and Moxie, who weigh in at around 34 kilograms, are currently spending 10 months on an epic bike journey that will see them travel through nearly 90 countries across Central America, North and South America, Africa, Europe and Asia.
The couple has been on the road since last March, when they set off, with Stone’s husband Greg, riding behind.
“I’m always on top,” Stone explains. “I want to get over the obstacles first.”
Jess Stone and her German Shepherd Moxy ride around the world together.
Originally from Canada, Stone first learned to ride a motorcycle on the side streets of Liberia, where she and Greg were living at the time, more than a decade ago, and she admits it wasn’t an easy process.
“Having your partner teach you how to ride isn’t the best,” she adds. “He wasn’t patient with me.”
Once she finally got comfortable on a motorcycle, the couple, who had been married for eight years, went on an eight-month motorcycle trip together from North America to South. A few years after their return, they moved to Guatemala, and Moxie entered their lives.
“She caught me 100 percent,” Stone says, recounting the moment she first laid eyes on the dog while watching a pack of German Shepherds in a nearby town.
“She was there at my heels just waiting for me to love her.”
While both Stone and her husband were adamant about including Moxie on their rides, she explained that she “didn’t want to have a sidecar or a trailer or something that would change the dynamic of the ride,” now that she’s finally comfortable on a motorcycle.
They soon began designing what would later become the K9 Moto Cockpit, a motorcycle dog carrier that they would manufacture in Guatemala, along with a line of outdoor dog gear, through their company, Ruffly.
“Everyone always asks how long it takes to teach your dog how to ride,” says Stone. Honestly, it took Moxie a weekend.
“It took me a lot longer to get comfortable with that 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 that with a big dog.”
Being able to take Moxie on this particular trip made it even more special for Stone.
Filmed in Guatemala, the couple will ride through some 90 different countries during the intense ride.
“It’s like you’re going to experience adventure twice,” she explains. “You experience it for yourself. 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 straight on either side. Sometimes she puts her big nose on my shoulder and her chin there.
“I feel so excited because she really experiences everything. It’s always new sights, sounds, and smells to look at and experience.”
Of course, traveling with a dog has its drawbacks. They are largely confined to dog-friendly places and rely on wild campsites, and the occasional Airbnbs, on the road so Moxie can roam freely.
“You have to be the kind of person who enjoys nature and the outdoors,” Stone adds.
“Because they’re the places we can bring them to. If you want to be in town and go to all these fancy restaurants, traveling with a dog makes it more difficult.”
While they originally planned to travel from Guatemala to the Arctic Ocean, and through Canada, before traveling to Spain and heading to Africa, a significant increase in cost due to a number of problems, including high oil prices and supply shortages, forced them to change course.
Stone points out that Moxie needs to be shipped in a jumbo box as unaccompanied cargo due to its size.
This means that the total cost for her alone would have been about $6,500, including vet fees, freight freight, and international pet export fees from Toronto to Spain, if they had stuck with their original plan.
Shipping prices for their motorcycles had also skyrocketed by the time they set out on the journey.
They ultimately chose to travel “end-to-end and top-down”, making their way from Guatemala to Mexico, the United States and 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.
According to Stone, having Moxie with her made the trip even more special.
Before setting off, Stone booked some private off-road coaching lessons to ensure she had the skills required to navigate some of the more complex sections of the trail.
“Obviously I’ve ridden off-road a few times, but I’ve never really felt comfortable,” she says. “And I wanted to feel really good about it because I have Moxie on my back.”
She admits she’s particularly anxious about riding along the remote Dempster Highway, a long gravel road in Canada that leads to the Arctic Ocean.
“I was worried I was going to crash and hurt my bike,” she says. “It’s funny, I never think about hurting myself. My bike is what I care about the most.”
Fortunately, they were able to pass without incident, but Stone says she was often plagued by thoughts of something going wrong during the trip.
“My biggest fear is not being able to continue the ride and having something with the stretch of the bike off-road,” she says. “Fortunately, nothing of the sort happened.”
While Stone maintains that her riding skills are improving all the time, that hasn’t stopped her from doubting herself regularly.
“Still worried about the dirt roads that come up? Yes. Do I worry that we’re going to fall and I’m going to break my bike? Yes.
“But I can’t stress enough how important it is to practice those skills. It really makes a difference. It makes the experience more positive.”
Although things have gone relatively smoothly so far, Stone has occasionally lost her balance while riding, causing her and Moxie to “fall off”.
Having her husband, whom she describes as a “gear mule,” behind her was undoubtedly a great source of comfort.
“I carry the shepherd, and he carries camping gear,” she adds, before explaining that they don’t necessarily ride together frequently and sometimes take different routes.
“Sometimes he wants to try a different path or I want to take a different path and then we meet each other afterwards. But I’m as self-sufficient as I am.”
So far, their biggest hurdle has been replacing her bike in May. After experiencing numerous “oil leakage issues,” Stone learned that her 2013 BMW G650GS required an expensive engine rebuild.
She ended up buying a new model of used bike for about the same price as the rebuild.
“This was an unexpected expense,” she says. “But that [new] The bike will take me the rest of the way.”
The main attraction
Stone teamed up with the nonprofit Girl Up on GoRUFFLY’s adventure around the world.
Among the many highlights for her so far were being able to stop at Girl Up clubs and share stories, along with camping in the Arctic Ocean, where they were amazed to see a moose crossing the road, and also spotted a grizzly bear.
“Moxie shudders 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 amazing.”
Currently in Los Angeles, Stone is preparing for the next leg of the trip, which will include a ferry ride to Baja, Mexico, a ride to Guatemala, and then on to Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Panama.
From Panama, they plan to fly to Colombia, where they will cruise 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 and then Greece, before “circling Europe” and riding through Turkey and Central Asia.
The next stop will see them travel from India to Malaysia, where they will ship their bikes, and moxie, to North America and then 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 years. But for now, she’s focused on moving to the next leg of the ride, continually building on her riding skills.
Her four-legged companion continues to be an inspiration, and Stone never gets tired of seeing the way others interact with Moxie, joking that every gas station visit is like a “palooza selfie.”
“People are getting out of their cars,” she adds. “And the first thing everyone says is, Oh my God, she’s wearing goggles.”
“She brings a smile to everyone’s face. Which is what I love. She makes everyone have a good day.”
“Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst.”