If I’m allowed back on a motorcycle – with the approval of my neurologist of course – this helmet looks awesome. I want one! Have you heard about it?
If I’m allowed back on a motorcycle – with the approval of my neurologist of course – this helmet looks awesome. I want one! Have you heard about it?
Sorry, but I don’t know how to get a Vimeo video embedded into my blog. Don’t let that stop you from checking out this invisible bicycle helmet! Brilliant. Seriously, check it out!!
My next guest stumbled across my blog and was totally excited about finding stories about other women motorcyclist! Yay! And she wanted to share her profile too. Fasten your seat belts we are flying to the other side of the world to Puhoi Village, Auckland, New Zealand to meet Polly Whimp a.k.a. Buellbunny … and yes, that is her really named!
How long have you been riding a motorcycle? At least 10 years
How did you learn to ride? We have to go through a learner course to get a proficiency certificate, then a year (I think) learner license, a year on a restricted license (means you don’t have to have the L plate on the back and can ride at night and go over 70 km per hour!) and then finally your real license. It is all a learning experience … the way I learnt to ride was with my best mate and partner, an avid bikist for many moons.
What was your first motorcycle? My first bike was a Yamaha FZR 250… I hated it and thought it would kill me.
How many have you owned? I have owned 4 bikes. The Yamaha FZR 250, Honda VTR 250 (I got rid of the Yammy and got this one … FAB bike to learn on), a Buell 500 Blast and my Buell Firebolt XB9R.
Why did you want to ride a motorcycle? I have always wanted to ride, but my parents said no, then when I got older my mother didn’t want me too, so I capitulated. She was frightened for me … then I had a baby, so I had to put up with the responsibilities rant … and then finally I decided enough was enough and off I went! I actually was a pillion for a while until the chap I rode behind nearly killed us by speeding and almost splatting into a turning truck. That was when I decided that I would rather be in control of my own bike and there was the beginning of my life as a motorcycle addict!
Tell us about your riding. I used to commute because it was the cheaper option, although, even on the bike it was always stressful being in motorway rush hours every day. My main use is pleasure and holiday riding now. My partner and I LOVE heading off camping … loading up the bikes with all manner of gear. The best ride was to the South Island of New Zealand … great roads, weather and places to stop!
What advice do you have for women who ride or want to ride a motorcycle? Go for it … but you have to be confident and make decisions quickly. Its not a thing for women who are timid on the road.
What is the longest trip that you’ve taken on your cycle? It was 3 weeks down to the South Island of NZ. My dream trip is the US and Canada.
Do you belong to any motorcycle groups? I do. Kiwibikers.co.nz and Fat Bikers Motorcycle Club for fun.
Do you have a favorite riding story? Every ride I have is great … but the South Island trip was the best … except for the day after crossing the Cook Straight and the weather turned foul. We got SO wet that we had to find a warm place to just get our stuff dry and warm up … we looked like drowned rats!
What do you do when you’re not riding? I am a designer and illustrator of kids books. We live on a rural property so another cool thing we like doing is getting out on the deck with a wine or sitting in the spa watching the stars.
I’m not sure how my next guest and I connected, but I’m guessing Twitter, @DaiquiriC her real name is Dachary – I really like that name, so unusual! Dachary is from Boston, MA and is also a blogger, Ain’t No Pillion. Follow her on both!
How long have you been riding a motorcycle? A little over 2 years – started in April, 2010
How did you learn to ride? My roommate at the time (now my fiancé – funny how life works!) rode and he was ATGATT and very safety oriented, so I took the MSF class. Crashed my bike the first time I took it out on the street, and that taught me cornering skills and to ride my own ride *real* fast. But I’d say I’m still learning to ride – constantly looking to improve my skills, beef up my offroad riding ability, and now I’m working on mastering a Ural with a sidecar, which throws a whole new wrench into the riding dynamic!
What was your first motorcycle? My first motorcycle was a used Kawasaki Ninja 250 that I bought off my roommate when he got a new bike. Can’t recommend them highly enough – the Ninja 250 is a very forgiving starter bike, and you can get ‘em pretty cheap used which means it’s not a big deal when you crash them! 😉
How many have you owned? I currently own bikes two and three: I upgraded my Ninja 250 to a BMW F650GS, and we bought a new Ural Patrol over the summer to bring our dogs along. Not a bad stable for someone who’s only been riding for two years! Each bike serves a different purpose and they’re very different to ride, but I love them both!
Why did you want to ride a motorcycle? I’ve always had a fascination with motorcycles. When I was a kid, my cousin and uncle raced dirtbikes (motocross) and they had actually won quite a few trophies, but they had also taken a ton of spills and broken a lot of bones between the two of them. Whenever we went to their house, I drooled over their dirtbikes but my family was vehemently against me taking up the hobby. Far too dangerous, and not something that girls did.
Fast forward to 2009, and I caught a ride with a friend on the back of his bike (he was the guy who I eventually moved in with and later we got romantically entangled, but at the time I was dating another guy). We were riding in the city so we never got up to any real speed, but there was one corner we took just fast enough to get a bit of a lean… and I was hooked. I wanted to start riding right then and there, but the guy I was dating told the same old story: too dangerous!
Needless to say, we broke up a few months later, I moved into an avid motorcyclist’s spare bedroom and I was surrounded by bike-related stuff. For a few months that winter, we even had a Stella scooter in the kitchen. It didn’t take long before I gave in to my obsession with two wheels, bought the Ninja off the roommate when he upgraded to a bigger bike (also an F650GS) and took my MSF class.
I wouldn’t say I “wanted to ride” as much as “it became an obsession” – it was like a scratch I couldn’t itch. And the only way to itch it was to start riding!
Tell us about your riding. I ride because I have to ride. If I go for more than a week or two without a ride, I miss it. I ride for pleasure; I ride to run errands; I ride to get places (we’re a motorcycle-only household – Boston has great public transit, but if we wanna leave the city, it’s on a bike or rent a car). We both love bikes so our vacations are moto-oriented. We bought the Ural so we could bring the dogs with us on extended trips. If I had a commute longer than walking across the hall to my office, I’d ride. Basically, any excuse to ride – and plenty of times when I have no excuse but just want to ride anyway.
What advice do you have for women who ride or want to ride a motorcycle? My advice would be: just do it. Don’t let fear stop you from doing it. Don’t let men or family members who are well-meaning tell you that it’s dangerous and talk you out of doing it like I did for so many years. Start at whatever pace you’re comfortable; take a class if there’s one available; buy a cheap used bike to start so you don’t have to worry about dropping it; and gear up.
My first time out on the bike after taking the class, I low-sided at ~25-30MPH just a couple of miles from home. I was running a short errand to a nearby hardware store. But my roommate was ATGATT, so I made sure I had good, full gear before I started riding – and I wore it. It saved me from a trip to the ER and knee surgery. I was able to get up and ride the bike home, although I had to replace the pants because they were badly damaged in the crash. Good gear can save your skin and your life, and you can never predict what’s going to happen on the road, so gear up.
What is the longest trip that you’ve taken on your cycle? The longest trip I’ve taken was Boston to Ushuaia via Mexico, Central America and South America. It was around 18,000 miles, and we were gone for around 4 months. At that point, I had only been riding for like 6 months. It was absolutely epic – we definitely want to go back. We also want to do RTW and we’ve been loosely planning for that in the next year or two, but we really enjoyed the Americas and we keep talking about going back – South America in particular. So I don’t know what the next one will be. In the meantime, we satisfy ourselves with jaunts around the US – we did Boston to Colorado over the summer for a little over two weeks, and took the dogs in the Ural. (That was their longest moto trip, and they loved it! If you ever want to start a “Profile of a Canine Motorcyclist” – sign my guys up! 😉
Do you belong to any motorcycle groups? Yes! I love bikes, so when I’m not riding, I enjoy the opportunity to poke motorcycle forums. I’m a member of the Yankee Beemers, which is a local BMW club based in New England – they do a lot of fun rides, often involving breakfast or lunch at someplace delicious. I’m also a member of F650.com for my F650 (we went to Colorado for their High Country Summit meetup), Soviet Steeds for my Ural, ADVRider for motorcycle adventure riding stuff, and Horizons Unlimited for world travel stuff. Also the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) because I support their fight for motorcyclists’ rights, and they do some cool stuff.
Do you have a favorite riding story? Oh, tons. Let’s see… there was the time I cracked some ribs riding an enduro loop with some guys from ADVRider… and there was the time we lost the bf’s license plate in Colombia… in fact, there was this absolutely crazy road in Colombia… and there was this epic day in Mexico… or the flat tire in the Peruvian desert… or the time we lost part of the bf’s hydration pack in the Atacama Desert in Chile…
Alright, there may be too many to relate here. Maybe I should start on a book? [Yes!]
What do you do when you’re not riding? In my day job, I’m a writer. For fun, I write. I also love to read or watch movies about world travel, in pretty much any form – preferably motorcycle, but also bicycle travel. (Those guys are REALLY hardcore! Nothing but respect for them. But I prefer my bikes motorized. 😉 I also love cooking… and gaming. But not video games. Board games. Mostly European ones. Yes, I know that’s a bit old fashioned, but I find it more pleasurable to gather around a table and have a good time with friends than stare at a screen, which is what I do all day for work.
If I’m not out riding, reading about riding, or writing about riding, I’m probably cooking with my friends or playing games with my friends… or both!
It is amazing all the wonderful lady riders that have joined in sharing their stories. From newbies to iron butts every story is filled with personal experience, wisdom, and the love of two wheels! I am so please to be able to share another story. Friends, I’d like to introduce to you Jayne, female motorcyclist from Portland, OR. She has a must follow blog A Broad Abroad Resources & Inspiration For Women Who Travel (or Want to!) and follow her on Twitter too @jayne_a_broad.
How long have you been riding a motorcycle? I’ve been riding my own motorcycle since the summer of 2009, after being on the back of my husband’s motorcycle all over Europe for eight years.
How did you learn to ride? I took a four hour “sniffer” course in Germany in 2008, to see if I really wanted to learn to ride my own; the instructor was wonderful, and by the end of class, I knew I wanted to ride my own bike. Right after moving back to the USA, I took the basic rider course from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation in the summer of 2009, and got my license immediately afterwards. Then I set riding goals for every month, such as a certain number of miles to complete, a certain scenario to undertake (riding in the rain, stopping on hills, etc.) or a trip to take. I also read The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Motorcycles, a really excellent book that filled in a lot of blanks for me.
What was your first motorcycle? A 1982 Honda Nighthawk 650. I rode it more than 11,000 miles in those two years I had it, including from Oregon to Jasper, Banff and Kootenay National Parks in Canada, Glacier National Park in Montana, Yellowstone, and the Lost Coast in California. It was funny: every time I road it, men of a certain age – in their 50s or 60s – would walk over and start waxing nostalgic about the Nighthawk they had once upon a time. It was a perfect first bike for me – and I lost 25 pounds while I owned it, which meant that, by the time I sold it, I could sit on it and be flat-footed (I’m 5′ 4″). I sold it to a woman rider, which made me very happy – and I wept as it was hauled away.
How many have you owned? Just two. I’m now on my second, which I expect to have for many years. I switched to a KLR 650 in the Fall of 2011. It’s been a big learning curve: the bike is a lot taller than the Nighthawk, and much lighter. My husband, a Honda Africa Twin rider and experienced motorcycle traveler, lowered it an inch and a half, then bought a very expensive seat for it that would lower it another inch and a half. I also bought boots — Irish Setter work boots, size 8 for men (extra wide) — that add at least another 3/4 of an inch to my height. I couldn’t find any motorcycle boots that provided the height I needed, fit my feet properly, and that I felt were safe enough for riding – so glad to have found these work boots!
Why did you want to ride a motorcycle? I had started thinking about it back in the 1990s, when I was in my 30s. I researched Motorcycle Safety Foundation courses – and then never followed up. I had thought of it as a fun, economical way to commute – I was living in Austin, Texas at the time. But I kept talking myself out of it. I so regret not getting a license then. I moved to Germany, met a really cute German guy traveling through Ireland by motorcycle (we’re married now), and he took me all over Europe on the back of his bike. I loved being a passenger (still do), but I also really wanted to learn to ride myself. I knew if I could learn to ride, we could take a lot more stuff with us on trips. I also thought I’d enjoy being a motorcycle rider – and I was right! My husband was super supportive. Unfortunately, to get a motorcycle license in Germany is *terribly* expensive and much more difficult than in the USA: you have to take a written test that is way, way harder than what we have to take in the USA. Also, my German is dreadful – although I could take the written test in German, the actual riding test is in German, and all of the classes I would have to sit through for several weeks would be in German as well. At one point, I was thinking of going back to Kentucky, where all of my family is and which has a treaty with Germany regarding driver’s licenses, staying for five weeks, taking the MSF, getting my license, and then going back to Europe and getting a German license – which, including plane ticket, would cost about as much as getting a license the proper way in Germany. But we ended up moving back to the USA in 2009 – I was in a MSF course just three months after arriving!
Tell us about your riding. Since learning to ride, I’ve put more than 6000 miles on my motorcycle each year. We do one big, two-week trip every year, and as many weekend, overnight and day trips as we can squeeze into our schedule. We like scenic drives, and love to stop at beautiful vistas, historic sites and quirky sites along the way. Camping is a special joy – other campers always come over to say something, to check out our bikes and our gear and to ask us about our travels. I get a lot of men saying they wish I could talk to their wives, because they haven’t been able to convince them to start riding on their own.
I also am ATGATT – after seeing all the photos of road burn online by people that wear shorts and t-shirts while riding, I would never ride any other way.
My husband is faster than me. I told him long ago I’ll go my own pace, and he has the choice of following me at that speed, or going ahead at his own pace and waiting for me to catch up. He usually chooses the former. I am little Ms. Speed Limit. It’s not that I try to go the speed limit – it’s just so happens that the speed limit is usually as fast that I want to go. That’s so much slower than the majority of bikers want to go, therefore, I rarely ride with other motorcycle riders, except for my husband.
Most of the time, I’m riding with my husband. But I sometimes go on my own – to run an errand, to get my haircut, and a few times, on a ride of my own when he’s out of town. I’ve commuted to downtown Portland a few times, and found it absolutely wretched – traffic is horrific, and some of the stops, either because of traffic lights or traffic jams, are quite precarious – sharp hills, steep curves, etc. I also hate trying to park in a city. When I have to go downtown, I prefer taking twice as long via the bus.
We try to regularly practice on gravel roads – I want to be good enough to travel to some remote ghost town somewhere on back roads with confidence. I will never be a real off-roader – I accept that. I ride my own ride, and I don’t care if that’s slower or more careful than others. I’ve gotten a little flack from younger male riders who can’t believe I “don’t do more” with my KLR – I guess they think I’m supposed to be shooting up and dirt and gravel roads most of the time. I’m going to keep practicing on gravel roads, but I’m not aspiring to ride the Dakar Rally!
What advice do you have for women who ride or want to ride a motorcycle? Everyone says this, and I totally agree: take a MSF class, or similar course, to learn to ride. A friend or relative is NO substitute for a qualified, experienced, trained teacher – the reality is that a lot of veteran riders have very bad habits they will teach you. In addition, take a refresher course every couple of years – it will really sharpen your skills and identify bad riding habits. I have a lot more to say about getting started as a female rider, including how to choose a first bike, on my own web page on the subject.
What is the longest trip that you’ve taken on your cycle? We take a trip of more than 2000 miles at least once a year. I think the longest trip was up into Canada, as I mentioned before. We’ve also gone all the way down to the LostCoast in California, and this year, we took two weeks and went all the way to near Yosemite, and then back up through Nevada to home.
Do you belong to any motorcycle groups? I don’t. I’ve been to a couple of P.O.W.R. (Portland Oregon Women Riders) meetups, but since I ride most of the time with my husband or our friends, I haven’t really had time to do their rides as well. That said, I really encourage any woman who wants to ride to seek out such groups – it makes a really big difference to have lots of invitations to ride when you are a beginner.
Do you have a favorite riding story? Not really – they’re all my favorite!
What do you do when you’re not riding? I’m a consultant, helping nonprofit organizations here and abroad with communications, community/volunteer engagement, and management issues. In the last 10 years, my work has taken me to Germany, Afghanistan, Serbia, Australia, Egypt and Hungary. I also am a very slow bicycle rider.
Take a look at this gorgeous candy red 50 cc Vespa!
My favorite son-in-law picked up a Vespa this past year. A real beauty in candy red! And guess who was able to ride a scooter for the first time ever … ME!!
This vaycay just keeps getting better and better!
Happy day! Hubby was off this past weekend. It only happens (mostly) every other weekend. We usually try to pack a lot into those days off together. This past weekend was no different. We knew that Sunday we were having a friend over so that meant Saturday would be our riding day.
We woke to chilly temperatures so we waited until 11 a.m. to head out. Hubby is the navigator – trust me you’d never want to follow me because I get lost in the parking lot! But I digress … we headed out on a new route to our favorite lunch spot, Romayne’s in Taylor Falls.
It started out as a lovely ride. The sun was out, the roads were clear, and the bike was running great! We were about 10 minutes into the ride when I began to notice the wind. I was thinking it was because we were out riding in some open areas, but the further we rode I realized we were riding in some pretty strong wind.
I was never so happy to see the sign welcoming us to Taylor Falls! We parked the bikes and off to lunch we went. After a leisurely lunch we headed home. In town the wind didn’t seem so bad. I was hoping it was dying down, but that was wishful thinking. Not a mile or two out of town I could feel the blast of wind.
It was the strangest wind ever. It came after us in all directions! The cross wind would cause me to feel like I was leaning into a turn on a straight away and then it would suddenly shift to other direction. Talk about needing to be focused while riding.
I’d like to stop and thank the many unknown vehicle drivers around me. There were a few that crept up my backside, but for the most part they had my six and gave me space. One guy in a Cadillac passed us, in my opinion, rather recklessly. Again, he was the exception not the rule. I’m guessing from the rear you could tell I was being tossed around.
Back to the wind. One of our first rides out this year we face some pretty stiff wind, but it was constant and from one direction. The wind we faced Saturday was incredibly shifty and strong. We never seemed to get it to our backs, ever!
When we arrived home I checked the weather and we were experiencing 20 – 25 mph winds. Yup, I concur strong winds. Well chalk that ride up to a new experience. I was very thankful to arrive home safe and sound.
We were planning on heading out again to church since the winds seemed to be calming down. I was pulling my VStrom out of the garage when I lost my footing and fell over. Yes. I kept the motorcycle upright in the 20+ mph winds, but couldn’t back it out onto the driveway. (Why don’t motorcycles have reverse?) Crunch went the left turn signal.
A small bruise on my knee, a $63 replacement part, and an ego that is crushed about sums up the situation as hubby rescued me and the fallen motorcycle. Church will wait until tomorrow morning as hubs is putting the pieces together again.
P.S. We did ride Sunday to church with no incidences and winds were clocked at 3 mph.
We are jumping the pond over to Teford, England (seems appropriate since the Olympics start this week in England) to meet Emilie, or as her friends call her Em! You can find her on Twitter @emilie_rose46 and check out her Facebook page too!
How long have you been riding a motorcycle? Since I was 17, so about 3 1/2 years now.
How did you learn to ride? I bought myself an old 125, took my CBT soon as I hit 17 and then was unleashed on the open road! I didn’t bother with a 50cc when I was 16 as none of my friends had them, and they aren’t too fun when you’re on your own!
What was your first motorcycle? A 1994 Yamaha TZR125 RR Belgrada. Loved that bike so much, it was perfect to have as my first bike as it was a challenge to ride! Things would break on it fairly often, and it did have a lot of quirks, which has meant as I’ve progressed to better bikes I appreciate it more!
How many have you owned? I’ve had 3 Yamahas, my TZR, an FZR400 RR SP which was my first “big bike” that I rode once I’d passed my full test, and my current bike, a 2002 Yamaha R6. Been riding my R6 for a year now and I love it to pieces, it’s a great fun bike!
Why did you want to ride a motorcycle? It’s never been a case of why really, I was brought up with 2 wheels being the most important thing in my life so it was always going to happen! My granddad raced in the GPs and at the Isle of Man TT in the 1950s, and Doran’s Bend on the Island is named after him. So it’s very much in my blood! I always used to go on the back of either my Mum or Dad when I was a kid, so it was just natural that as soon as I turned 17 I got my own bike.
Tell us about your riding. Pleasure these days. Spent two winters commuting to and from work on my bike regardless of the weather, and it does take the enjoyment out of riding a bit. So I reluctantly learnt to drive for boring journeys, so the bike comes out when I want to play now!
What advice do you have for women who ride or want to ride a motorcycle? Just go out there and do it! Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t ride for any reason, and don’t be daunted by the fact motorcycling is mostly male dominated … once you get your confidence you’ll find that it is the best part about it! I’ve met so many interesting people through motorcycling that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. It is the best feeling in the world riding through the countryside in the sun shine, you can leave all your troubles behind and just have the best time. I would always encourage people, especially women, to learn to ride, it really is so rewarding.
What is the longest trip that you’ve taken on your cycle? I’m yet to go on a big expedition to Europe, that’s next on the list as the roads there are meant to be incredible! And also the weather’s better than England’s! Furthest is probably a couple of hundred mile round trips riding in the Welsh mountains … I don’t tend to go for epic distance, just good roads!
Do you belong to any motorcycle groups? Off or online? No, I kinda like doing my own thing when I’m out riding, and socially I spend loads of time with like minded people when I’m away racing.
Do you have a favorite riding story? We rode to Assen for Moto GP a few years back, and at the end of the day, instead of shoving the bikes down random roads to not disturb the locals and the day to day traffic, the police directed us all (when I say us all, there were thousands of bikes that day) straight through the town. Outside every single house, the whole family was outside, picnic tables, bbqs, the lot. They were all cheering, waving, taking photos, and filming the procession, and having these huge gatherings on their front lawns. And people who didn’t live along the streets we were riding down had gathered along the side of the road by the cannel, cheering us all like we were the main attraction of the day! It was amazing, I’ve never experienced anything like it before … the atmosphere is something which is so hard to describe, but it was incredible.
What do you do when you’re not riding? I’m a mechanic for CN Racing in British Superstock 1000 and British Supersport Cup. So I spend most of my weekends away at racing, which has been my dream for as long as I can remember, I’m so lucky I’m getting to do what I’ve always wanted to so young.
Sometimes I wish I knew more about technology than I do because right now I would be playing a soundtrack for you that sounded like a pig squealing with delight! Unfortunately, my tech skills lack, hence the ugly blog, and so you’ll have to use your imagination for the soundtrack.
Regardless, I am so happy >squealing< to introduce to you another female motorcyclist, Mary from Milwaukee, WI. She is also known as @Murphdak on Twitter. That’s where I connected with Mary (hint, hint: follow her on Twitter)! I offer to you another fascinating lady rider for y’all to meet!
How long have you been riding a motorcycle? 13 seasons
How did you learn to ride? I bought my first bike, a Suzuki GZ250 in 2000, got my learner’s permit and practiced in the church parking lot next door.
What was your first motorcycle? Suzuki GZ250
How many have you owned? 1 Suzuki, 3 Hondas, 2 Kawasakis, and 1 Harley, so seven! I bought my Harley Sportster 1200 Low in 2008 and have been riding it ever since.
Why did you want to ride a motorcycle? I have since I was a little kid when my male cousins had them. I was always fascinated by vehicles so I would drive whatever I could, whenever I could. That came in handy when my father started farming. I was always willing to ride the tractors, snowmobiles, Bobcats and other various machines.
Tell us about your riding. I have been a commuter rider for years with one or two rides of about 200 miles roundtrip a year to my family’s houses. I have since been riding more, yet still commute to work. What beats a ride in the morning and a ride going home from work five days a week?
What advice do you have for women who ride or want to ride a motorcycle? If you really have an interest in riding, pursue it! I also suggest taking the training course offered by many establishments. It is invaluable and you will use it every time you get on the bike.
What is the longest trip that you’ve taken on your cycle? This past Memorial Day I went on a four day, 750 mile trip to and from the Mississippi River and around WI from Milwaukee.
Do you belong to any motorcycle groups? I am one of the founding members of RockerFoxMC. You can find us on Twitter and Facebook. We are a riding club mainly to encourage female riders to have a comfortable environment to ride in with other female riders. I will ride with anyone, however!
Do you have a favorite riding story? I do. The first time I went on a long trip to my sister’s house (100 miles) I was riding with my husband’s co-worker and my husband was tailing us in the car. My husband is very protective so the two of them had walkie-talkies hooked up between each other to monitor my progress … Oh, brother! Anyway, one thing that I did not expect was a giant hedge-hog to come waddling right into my path as I was riding 55 mph. I saw it just as it made it safely to the side of the road. Whew! It was a good ride even though I was a little nervous, but my husband was told that I was a very good rider by my riding partner. He’s been supportive of my hobby ever since.
What do you do when you’re not riding? I am a graphics services manager for a printing company in Milwaukee. I love music, books, travel, animals and, of course motorcycling.
I’m excited to be adding another profile of a female motorcyclist! I was introduce to Joanne through a gentleman that stopped by the blog to let me know that a blogger was plagiarizing my posts, as well as his and others! Glad Geoff James let me know because after contacting Google about the incident the post has been taken down. I recommend that you check out Geoff’s blog too, Confessions of an Aging Motorcyclist. Back to my point, Geoff knew of a couple of lady riders and I asked if he’d pass along my information to them. He did and Joanne responded!
I’m thrilled to introduce to you Joanne, a.k.a. Jo from Christchurch, New Zealand. She recently emigrated there from Kenilworth which is a little town in Warwickshire, England. She’s doesn’t blog yet, but says she’s coming around to the idea! (Jo – do let us know when that happens!)
How long have you been riding a motorcycle? Just had to check that one – my licence says I passed my test in 2002 but I was riding a 125cc bike on a provisional licence for about a year before that. That would have made me 33 years old when I first threw my leg over a saddle. Hey, just realised! Missed my ten year anniversary!
How did you learn to ride? This is a familiar story – I was a pillion passenger on the back of my husband’s bike. I’d never even considered riding a bike earlier in my youth, despite the fact that my older sister had a short lived but eventful experience with her own bike. Maybe her not so pleasant experience put me off? Anyway, hubbie is a lifelong biker and I was an occasional passenger until he bought a bike that would tolerate carrying a pillion in comfort for a few hundred miles (that was a 1200cc Suzuki Bandit). After many journeys and many hundreds of miles on that marvellous machine I realised that firstly, I had a numb backside and a terrible view of the back of his helmet and secondly, he wasn’t doing anything that I couldn’t. I’ve since learned that actually he can do stuff that I can’t but I was ignorant of that at the time! In the UK, you had to do something called a CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) before you could get a provisional bike licence. That was basically a bit of theory followed by basic manoeuvres in a car park on a low power machine and then a brief road test. Anyway, the very first minute I revved that little 125 and let out the clutch I knew I’d found my vocation!
What was your first motorcycle? I bought a Suzuki GS125cc with an electric starter because I couldn’t always kick start my husband’s leaky old Honda CG125. That was what I learnt my trade on and meanwhile I was taking lessons on the riding school’s 650cc bike which I think was a Honda NTV. As learners we were only allowed out on a ‘big’ bike whilst being supervised by an instructor in radio contact. Imagine the disappointment of having to ride home on the 125 after a lesson! After I passed my test, I bought a Honda CB500, a parallel twin engine, beautiful red paint work and the only machine I have ever really loved!
How many have you owned? Not many. When I realised I kept hitting the rev limiter, the CB500 was followed by a Honda CBR600F, and that was followed by a Honda VFR800 when I realised I wanted a bit more ‘grunt’. Now I’m in New Zealand and looking for the next bike – might not be a Honda this time!
Why did you want to ride a motorcycle? Initially – speed! But after that there was the thrill of being in control of a machine that transports you with ease past all the traffic. That wonderful feeling of having tackled a series of corners or overtakes with poise and control is what I ride for now. There’s also the joy of having a connection with the landscape you’re riding through. You can feel the wind, the sun, the rain, smell the countryside, see over the hedgerows into the fields and watch the horizon unfold all around you. All of that is difficult from inside a tin box!
Tell us about your riding. It’s been mostly a leisure pursuit for me although I did commute in the early days when I needed as much practice as I could get. I joined the Institute of Advanced Motorists when I bought the CBR600 because I realised I needed to up my skill level. I passed their advanced test in 2004 and became a volunteer observer with the local IAM group, helping other riders achieve advanced standard. It gave me a great incentive to get out on my bike in all weathers. I was the only female observer at that club until 2011. My husband and I took a few holidays on our bikes and I have also been on a track day, but that wasn’t really my thing.
What advice do you have for women who ride or want to ride a motorcycle? You’ll love it, just do it! Do get some good tuition from a reputable organisation or instructor. In terms of some useful specific advice:
What is the longest trip that you’ve taken on your cycle? I regularly did 300 or 400 mile trips on ride outs in the UK. My husband and I also took the bikes to France a few times and our furthest trip was from Leamington Spa in the UK to Annecy in the French Alps, about 800 miles over a few of days. I have to say I don’t have an iron butt!
Do you belong to any motorcycle groups? Off or online? I was a member of the Coventry and Warwickshire Advanced Motorcyclists group which was a subgroup of the Institute of Advanced Motorists. We provided coaching for motorcyclists wishing to improve their skills and arranged social rides and social nights for bikers of all abilities. It was very rewarding to be able to impart some wee nuggets of information and instantly see a huge difference in a rider’s skill and safety.
Do you have a favorite riding story? I suppose the most ‘educational’ episode was the one when I fell off whilst on an advanced level social ride. We try not to make a habit of it but now and again it does happen! On this fine, sunny day we were riding through some tiny, rural lanes that were really only ever used by farmers. Most of them had grass growing in the middle of the tarmacadam. This winding road dipped and went under a bridge and to get a better view ahead I moved from one side of the road to the other.
Unfortunately, there was a damp microenvironment under the bridge where mud had gathered and remained wet and slippery when the road elsewhere was dry. Although I had noted the dry line on either side of the road where the traffic had passed, for some stupid reason I still thought I should change my position for better visibility. Well, the front wheel hit the mud and slid, then the back wheel hit and did the same and I watched in slow motion from midair as the bike went down the road on its side. We were going pretty slowly down these little lanes so I was probably doing no more than 30mph. I was thrown onto the verge but not without bruising my knee on the handlebars on the way and cracking a rib on landing.
I can honestly say that my first thought as I watched the bike slide along for quite a few yards was, ‘This is going to be expensive to repair!’ Luckily the guy behind me was a trials rider and, although he was on a big Pan-European that day, his superior skills meant that he managed to avoid making things worse by running over me or colliding with my bike. The last thing I heard over my helmet radio before the power lead was pulled out of the socket was, ‘Man down, man down!’ Oblivious to the panic that my husband would be feeling when he came up from behind and saw my bike on its side, I got to my feet and went to apologise to the run leader for spoiling his ride out.
When the dust had settled, we realised that my gear lever was broken but any other damage was cosmetic. The rest of the group continued their ride whilst my husband rode my bike home using second gear only. That meant I had to ride his bike, an 1100cc Honda Blackbird, for the first time and in shock after losing control of my own bike. Bless him for trusting me then and continuing to trust me now! We made it home without further incident and I used that event as a teaching aid many times afterwards.
Never forget! When positioning your motorcycle, ‘safety, stability, and then sightline’ in that order is the rule of thumb to follow!
What do you do when you’re not riding? I earn a living as a scientist; I manage a biological containment facility and coordinate research projects in microbiology. In my leisure time I like to travel (not always by bike!), read, spend time outdoors hill walking or gardening and I also spend a lot of time on the internet!