Lara Annie is a biker known for her West African tour, which involved covering an impressive 5000 kilometres. We caught up with her recently, and she told us all about her passion for biking, how it makes her money and her advice for intending female bikers.
How long have you been riding bikes?
Two years. I started in 2020.
Take us back to how you started.
I fell in love with bike riding and explored it during the lockdown in 2020. I got a bike, used it to commute to the office and shared pictures on Twitter. I became popular because people wanted to know more about my biking adventures, even requesting that I post videos. This made me consider having a YouTube channel; I thought it would make a great income stream.
I haven’t made a dime from YouTube.
I’m yet to fulfil the 4,000 watch hours requirement.
What does that mean?
So before becoming eligible for the YouTube Partner Program, which enables you to get paid, your videos must accumulate 4,000 watch hours. I currently have 1,300 watch hours.
What about biking? Have you made money from that yet?
So before I became a biker, I was selling puppies and was very successful at it until the lockdown happened. I now had more competitors, and sales weren’t as profitable as before. As a result, I jumped on the idea of selling bike items once I mastered biking.
Since people already knew me as a ‘bike chick,’ selling bike gadgets and accessories made sense. Thankfully, I’ve been able to make an insane profit as my prices are friendlier than others.
Also, producers sometimes reach out to me to feature me as a female biker in their videos. I earn an average of ₦50k – ₦70k per hour from this. In 2021, for instance, I featured in Indomie’s independence-themed advert.
Interesting! Are you into biking full-time, though?
No ooo [Laughs]. I work as an accountant at a medical diagnostics firm.
Yeah! I have to foot my bills. Biking isn’t enough to help with that.
So how do you balance accounting and biking?
When I first started, balancing the two careers was easy because I worked remotely. Right now I’m back in the office, so I mostly bike and make videos on weekends, public holidays and leave periods.
A multitasking queen!
[Laughs] Thank you.
What’s your greatest achievement as a biker?
I attempted a 5000-kilometre West African tour.
That must have been one hell of a ride!
Tell me about it.
I had already visited so many states in Nigeria, so I decided it was time for a change. I chose Ghana as my next destination. I toured from Lagos to Benin Republic, Togo, and finally Ghana.
From Ghana, I then went to Burkina Faso and down to Niger. Due to insecurity issues from Burkina Faso directly to Niger republic, I had to ride back to Togo then to Benin republic before arriving Niger republic covering over 1,000km’s in less than a day. Then from Niger republic back to Benin republic before returning to lagos also covering over 1,000km’s in 14 hours
You bet! I enjoyed myself and didn’t even realise I had covered 5000-kilometres.
How many days did the journey take in total?
The journey took 10 days in total. 6 days of riding and 4 days of exploring Ghana
Should we expect more tours like this in the future?
Totally! I hope to embark on more adventurous bike tours before the year runs out.
Are there any challenges you’ve faced that made you realise biking, especially as a woman, isn’t easy?
Could you give me an instance?
There was a time I was biking from Abuja to Ilorin, so I passed through Ekiti. A policeman stopped and harassed me at a particular checkpoint. I explained what I do as a biker, but he wasn’t having it. I’m grateful my partner was with me that day. Else, the situation would have been messier.
You take your partner along with you on your tours?
I go love.
[Laughs] Nigerian roads aren’t safe, especially for female bikers like me. I’ve heard rumours of certain female bikers getting harmed or worse while touring. For this reason, I try to be careful and take my partner with me on some of my trips.
I also conceal my gender identity by ensuring my helmet covers my hair fully. This is because some Nigerians can be quite misogynistic.
Right. Do you think you’ll ever delve into biking full-time?
I don’t think so. Biking is more or less my passion project. It’s also my favourite mode of transport. As a result, I’d most likely bike even when I’m old. But making it a full-time career is not on my to-do list.
What advice would you give any female intending to bike today?
Have the courage to start, and stop waiting for approval. Learn from a certified bike trainer, save up to get a bike and start biking, whether for fun or money. Life is too short not to bike because you care about gender stereotypes.