I’m so excited about introducing my next lady motorcyclist! We “met” via Twitter her handle is @harrieharpist a.k.a. Katherine. She says she is also known by her school/bike/racing friends as Harrie (from her surname) and hails from Glasgow, Scotland. Katherine is a harpist (how cool is that ?!) and has a blog Strings Wings and Things! You know the drill … check it out!
How long have you been riding a motorcycle? Since I was 17, so 18 years this September.
How did you learn to ride? My first time riding a motorbike was actually on a speedway tryout course, but I took my UK road licence in the normal way – a day’s CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) first and then I took weekly lessons and rode everywhere on my little Honda H100 until I was ready for my full bike test. Some people do an intensive training programme and do the whole thing in 3 or 5 days, but I needed a bit longer to build up my confidence.
What was your first motorcycle? A beautiful blue Honda H100
How many have you owned? 11 altogether
Why did you want to ride a motorcycle? My dad has ridden since before I was born (and my mum has a licence too although she no longer rides) and I’m a daddy’s girl so wanted to go out on the back of his bike. I was hooked! He is really into speedway so he used to take me and my brother to watch a lot when we were younger. Now I take him to watch British Superbike races whenever I can.
Tell us about your riding. Commuter, pleasure, vacation, racing, or ? All of the above! I started riding when I was at (high) school but couldn’t afford the beautiful bikes I saw in all the magazines. When I started again in 2006 after a long break from riding, I had a good job so could pick and choose a bit more. I quickly moved from road riding to trackdays and then to racing. My bike was my main mode of transport for a while and I rode all year round. I still ride on the road although I haven’t ridden very much recently as I’ve moved and my road bike is still at my old house. I can’t wait to get it back!
What advice do you have for women who ride or want to ride a motorcycle? Just do it. Find a sympathetic instructor (doesn’t have to be a woman) preferably who isn’t a close friend/partner/related to you. Accept that if you want to have a good choice of bikes to ride, you may never get both feet on the floor. Don’t take no for an answer. If you fall off, get back up again with a smile even if it hurts. Ignore any stupid sexist comments you get in shops or on rides, just go elsewhere until you find somewhere that suits.
What is the longest trip that you’ve taken on your cycle? I rode to France once with my ex husband and a big group of fellow Ducati riders. The mission was Ashford (in Kent) to Omaha beach (one of the sites of the D-Day landings in Normandy in France) and back in a single day – more than 500 miles on bikes that weren’t renowned for their touring capabilities. We had a further 100 miles each way to ride from our house to get to Ashford, but we did these outside the 24 hours thank goodness. It was one of the most amazing adventures I’ve ever had. I came back with a bent bike and a severely bruised foot after pulling away with my side stand down, getting my foot stuck under the bike and taking out my front brake lever, but I’ll never forget the experience and the friends I made. There was torrential rain for the last leg back from Normandy to Calais for the Eurotunnel, then delays in the rain when we got to the terminal, but we all made it home with some great stories. By the time I got back to my bed, I’d been awake for 24 hours.
Do you belong to any motorcycle groups? Not any more, although I met most of my bike friends via internet forums in the UK.
Do you have a favorite riding story? I have so many! The French trip is up there, but I’ve also had some brilliant times racing. One of my favourite stories is from when I first started riding aged 17. I worked at a supermarket to earn the money for my insurance etc, and one of the other girls rode as well. One Sunday, we went for an evening ride after work. I was on my H100, she was on a really ratty AR50 so although we didn’t ride far, it took a while as we couldn’t go very fast. I think it was February or something.
Normally my dad hid my bike keys if it was icy as he knew I would try and ride regardless, but on this day I don’t think he had banked on me riding after work. It was so cold out, and when I got home I made the mistake of getting into a hot bath to warm up. When I got out of the bath, I passed out on the floor and came round to find my dad trying to help me up. For his troubles, I was sick all over his feet. It was my first experience of what extreme cold can do to your body and I am much more careful now!
Another favourite was my first ever time racing, which was a 3 hour moped endurance race. I was in a team of 3 with 2 other of my friends (both girls) riding a Honda C70 moped and it was brilliant. Another time I borrowed a friend’s R1 for a test ride with 5 other girls, all riding sports bikes. We stopped for lunch at quite a smart restaurant and caused quite a stir with our shiny bikes, leathers and helmet hair!
What do you do when you’re not riding? I’m a musician – I play the harp and have just returned to full time study, so I’m normally practicing or playing in a concert somewhere. I have two greyhounds and love spending time with them. Other than that, I love running and cycling, although they don’t quite give me the speed buzz I get from my motorbike. I haven’t ridden in a little while, but riding a motorbike is part of my identity and is my greatest passion.