Hang on while I take off from here in Minnesota [wish I could get airline miles for all this cyber travel] over a few thousand miles to Lincoln, UK to meet my next guest Zoe or on Twitter @Splodz! I am so glad Zoe found my blog and now I have another one to keep up with because she has one too! Splodz Blogz is her “everything blog” so there’s a lot of different topics she covers – book mark!
Side rant: Google Reader is going the way of the dinosaur as of July 1, 2013. Any replacement recommendations? I follow a lot of blogs and Reader has been so easy for me.
Back to Zoe and her story!
How long have you been riding a motorcycle? Around eight years.
How did you learn to ride? I did CBT first followed by just under a year of riding a 125cc on L-plates before taking Direct Access the following Spring. I learnt to ride together with my husband (LincsGeek) after my and my father-in-law’s enthusiasm for biking rubbed off on him. I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive the weather on test day – he did his test first and they cancelled the rest of the tests for the day thanks to thick fog in the city. I had to wait a whole week to take mine!
Of course I know that even eight years on I am still learning – my confidence comes and goes depending on how much opportunity I have to ride at the time. Right now I’m feeling pretty good thanks to preparations for a long trip at the end of the month.
What was your first motorcycle? My 125 was a Motoroma Virage – it was small, light and the perfect riding position for my first few months on the road. Once LincsGeek and I passed our bike test we bought a Suzuki Bandit 600. I had to get the seat cut away for that so I could better reach the floor – being short and riding can be a pain sometimes!
How many have you owned? Four now, but actually my current bike is my first “all to myself” bike – before that bikes have been shared with my husband. After the Bandit we bought a Suzuki SV650S which we had lowered and kept for a few years. But I really wanted my own bike so LincsGeek and I could ride together – whenever we went out together I’d go pillion as he was a much stronger rider than me (I’d never be able to take him pillion!), I felt like putting a sign on my back saying “I can ride too, we just share a bike”!! I got my BMW F650GS about 18 months ago now. It’s the factory lowered model with the low seat, just right for me, I love it.
Why did you want to ride a motorcycle? I’ve wanted to learn for as long as I can remember – I used to look at the custom Harley with gorgeous purple paint job parked outside the house at the bottom of the road with awe, vowing one day I would ride one just like that. It looked completely out of place at the end of the Terrace Street I lived on in Devonport, Plymouth, but the lifestyle that it represented appealed. Even at age six or seven I longed for the freedom, the wind in my hair, the adventure. It took me a while to get there but it’s exactly what I wanted. I might not have the custom Harley (I couldn’t be doing with the amount of polishing it would require courtesy of the British weather), but I’ve got the rest. Maybe one day I’ll complete the picture.
Tell us about your riding. I ride for pleasure. I don’t actually long for super twisty roads or long superfast highways – I enjoy simply pootling about on country roads enjoying the views and freedom. It’s a form of relaxation.
I prefer longer trips, riding with a purpose to see someone, something or somewhere, and so I love to go on biking holidays. We’ve toured Ireland, Scotland, and of course England – sometimes as a couple and sometimes with friends and family. We are now planning our ultimate trip to the USA to ride Harley’s through the south-west on one of the Eagle Rider guided tours next summer – I simply cannot wait (although I have just over a year to get so much fitter and stronger so I can manoeuvre my Fat Boy where I need it to go!).
What advice do you have for women who ride or want to ride a motorcycle? Riding is all about you. No-one else. So ride the type of bike you want, on the type of roads you like, in the style that you like. You don’t have to go fast, you don’t have to scrape your knees along the floor, you don’t have to keep up with the rider in front – unless you want to! Enjoy the freedom that biking provides, let everything else other than the bike, road and view escape your mind and relax.
Oh, and don’t worry about helmet hair. It’s really no big deal.
What is the longest trip that you’ve taken on your cycle? At this moment the longest trip I have done was Top Down – a charity motocycle ride taking me from my home in Lincolnshire up to John O’Groats, down to Land’s End, and back home again – well over 2,000 miles and raising £2,300 for charity. It was quite an experience; being a charity event we had no option to ride whatever the weather threw at us – and boy did it throw stuff at us! I was loaned a Harley Davidson Sportster Nightster 1200 for the week from a local dealer (because it was in the days when LincsGeek and I shared) which made the week even more special for me.
I say “at this moment” because in less than two weeks we’re off on a slightly longer charity ride taking us to the four compass points of Great Britain. We sadly lost my father-in-law to cancer last summer just a couple of months after diagnosis, and so in tribute to him and in an attempt to recreate something of Top Down we are raising money for two UK cancer charities. I’d love to give the Memorial Ride blog a plug. [Of course! Let’s kick cancer’s a$$!!)
I often read these profiles and am a little jealous of the 10,000 mile / six month adventures you write about – now that would be awesome!
Do you belong to any motorcycle groups? Nothing official, no, but I do enjoy riding with a group of friends from my Church in Boston, Lincolnshire. I enjoy chatting about riding on twitter but am not in any clubs or societies.
Do you have a favorite riding story? One thing I love about riding is there is always a story to tell – so many memories.
I think I have to go back to Top Down in 2009 when I rode that loaned Harley for 2,000 miles. We were riding through Devon along the Jurassic Coast Road when the rain was so very heavy the road was just flooding in front of our eyes and we were soaked through to the skin in an instant. I could see the biggest puddle ever seen ahead of me – a pond in the road. I watched LincsGeek ride through and the water was high, so I stuck the Harley in first, relaxed my shoulders, brought my legs up onto the seat and sat crossed legged as I rode through. I wonder what the car drivers going the other way thought? We stopped just up the road at a McDonald’s, emptied our boots and gloves of water and used the dryers in the loos to dry off a little. Awful awful weather but part of an experience we have not stopped talking about since. That same evening we sat outside in Penzance, Cornwall, eating fish and chips out of the paper in the sunshine. What a difference a few hours makes! (My boots never did dry out.)
I’m rather hoping the weather is much kinder at the end of the month!
What do you do when you’re not riding? Life is busy but it’s all good. Work wise I’m a marketer for a University in the UK. Leisure wise I run Splodz Blogz and have loads of fun testing all sorts of stuff out to review as well as writing about my life. Music is important to me – I play trombone and bass guitar, and I enjoy walking and generally getting outdoors. And in true British style, I love to relax with a nice cup of tea.
Thank you Zoe for sharing your story! Ladies! Let me know if you’d like to share your story too! Email me at: pamela(dot)court(at)gmail(dot)com < Trying to keep the spammers at bay!