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Rene

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Stacey Levitt

Stacey Levitt began motorcycle life as a passenger on her husband Steven Levitt‘s bike. After their two daughters were born, she realized it wasn’t something he was going to give up. Especially when the love of riding was passed on to the next generation.

 

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SSL our daughter learning to ride with honda jr red riders

 

With weekends and vacations increasingly spent touring, they needed more luggage space. Ten years ago, at age 40, Stacey learned to ride. Her current Honda VTX 1300 is a perfect fit for her 5’4” frame.

 

SSL moving along the outerbanks on a ferry
SSL stacey getting ready for mud

 

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Stacey and Steven try to rent motorcycles wherever they travel. It helps them get a better feel for the country, its people, and its history. Like the time the Jewish couple stood inside a German bunker on Omaha Beach.

Five years ago, they wandered into the Renedian booth at the Toronto Motorcycle Show. “Rene was standing in his safari-style clothing, beside his infamous 650cc BMW against a backdrop of Africa,” she recounts.

“As a kid, I’d been fascinated by Africa and wanted to go on safari. It never dawned on me you could do it by motorcycle!”

 

SSL stacey and rene in maun
SSL stacey GDTRFB

 

An upcoming Waterfalls and Wildlife safari in the summer of 2014 grabbed her attention. It would be flawless, she reasoned, especially since the publishers of Motorcycle Mojo Magazine would be on it.

Her enthusiasm, however, was premature.

Rene read through her excitement to her underlying trepidation and explained why she wasn’t ready to travel to Africa yet. If you’re not 100 percent on board, he told her, you’re not going to have a good time. You’ll be ready one day and I’ll be here. Africa will be here.

That day came in 2017.

Feeling the energy of the place is one of the things she appreciated most about her time in Africa. “The fundamentals of life are the same,” she explains. “People have families, go to work, and attend school.”

Bonding with others in the group, none of whom knew each other previously, allowed them to enjoy the space they were in.

 

SSL stacey rolling down the gravel road
SSL stacey explains a polaroid

 

“The trip wasn’t about making a beeline to our destination. It was about immersing ourselves in the culture. About BEING in Africa.

 

SSL rene steven stacey and rob Riding the Gravel Road to hoba
SSL pitstop

 

“Ride through a small village on a bus and no one pays attention. But when 12 motorcycles ride in, the people smile, wave, and come running out to greet you. They want to know where you’re from and were particularly intrigued by the pink tips on my hair.

“African people don’t need other people to feel sorry for them. They don’t feel sorry for themselves. Just because we may think they’re unhappy and sad doesn’t mean they’re unhappy and sad. The things we may think they need aren’t necessarily what they think they need.”

 

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Steven and Stacey, who works with special needs children, are huge on being mindful and appreciating the perspectives of others. “We don’t know what people have been through. Our approach is to be good to others, regardless of their religion or any other arbitrary differentiators. Good will come back to you.”

Coming home was a tremendous culture shock. A month after returning, Africa was still on her mind and she didn’t feel they’d landed back in Toronto yet.

Time and budget permitting, Steven and Stacey have set their sights on Mongolia next June. Between now and then, they’ll tour closer to home, and continue their involvement philanthropic rides, like Toronto’s B.A.D Ride and the Holocaust Ride to Remember.

 

SSL stacey and steven's anniversary shot

 

Photo Credits: Steven and Stacey Levitt