Sometimes we deny our parents’ influence. We think we’ve constructed ourselves, as if godlike we created something from nothing. Perfectly imperfect, but failing to acknowledge the part the parental units played in the process.
Zoë Cano is not such a person. She admits to being adventurous and independent…but readily acknowledges the influence her father played in both helping further and give credence to those characteristics.
“My father, Alan Matthews, was an amazing influence on me in terms of finding freedom and exploring. Although he didn’t have a bike when I was growing up, I did see the old black and white little photos in his albums of him on one. He instilled in me the passion to explore and to be inquisitive of all things new and different.”
That independence showed itself early on and played out in a string of events that eventually led Zoë to a long distance solo ride across America and a subsequent book (Bonneville Go or Bust) about that journey. (She since has written two more books about her travels - Southern Escapades and Chilli, Skulls & Tequila.) But the two-wheeled element first came into play when as a 17-year old Brit living and working in Paris, she had scooter-riding friends who were able to get her hooked up with a bright new Peugeot 50cc scooter.
We think traffic is bad in the U.S., but a common theme between everyone who has commuted in major cities in Europe is that it’s absolutely brutal. And such brutality, and the cost of keeping a car, eventually drives one to something cheaper and more nimble. Zoë was no exception, and despite having three scooters stolen in a nine-year period while living in Paris, she continued to make two small wheels her primary mode of transportation.
Throw in some horses.
Zoë eventually made the move from scooters to motorcycles, but not without a slight detour via endurance horse riding. For the uninitiated, that means you get on the back of a horse and ride 50 or more miles in a day. And we’re not talking a nice casual trot through the park. This is the equivalent of riding an Iron Butt on dirt roads! And in Zoë’s case, over some serious mountains.
“I guess it’s that spirit of independence and wanting to go where a car can’t. I’ve ridden and trekked in some incredible places – the Andes, through Kenya, and the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. Going from horses to motorcycles didn’t seem like that big of a stretch.”
And when she says trekked the Andes, she means a several hundred mile journey lasting a few weeks, most of which was atop a genuine Peruvian Paso Fino.
But about eight years ago, wanting to get on something bigger than a scooter and less finicky than a horse, Zoë bought herself a 2001 Triumph T100 and proceeded to ride throughout England, Wales and parts of Europe. Some of her favorite routes have taken her through France into Normandy and through mid-Wales including the Elan Valley, the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains. All the while she’s making a living in the film industry and planning major sporting events around the world – including equestrian and rugby. Which eventually brought her to the United States.