I've lost count of the number of times I've pulled up somewhere, taken off my helmet, and heard: "Oh it's a girl!” They sound so surprised. Especially the older generation, although it's not just them. I remember we stopped at some services once and I overheard a little boy, must have been six or seven, say to his dad loudly: "But Daddy, you said that girls couldn't ride motorbikes, but there's one right there and she looks cool." Ha!
I'm often asked why I ride and what got me interested in motorcycling. Why I put up with all the unflattering kit and helmet hair. For me it all started when we moved to a terrace in Devonport, Plymouth. One of my school friends lived in the house right at the bottom of the street, which was on a hill. One day I noticed the most beautiful shiny cruiser sat outside their house. It was her mum's. It was big and fat and purple and had leather tassels. And I wanted it. I never got to ride on the back but I was allowed to sit on it a couple of times. I knew at the age of seven that I was going to ride one day. And while it wasn't possible for me to be one of those kids who had bikes and spend my weekends on trails or at the race track, that feeling of longing to ride never went away.
When I was old enough and had some money, I took my CBT (on the same day as my husband) and bought a little 125CC bike to ride around on for a year or so. Then Direct Access and my full license meant I could upgrade to something a bit bigger – a Suzuki Bandit and then an SV650S, both shared with my other half as it was only a toy rather than anything else.
Eventually we gave in - after touring Ireland on a hired BMW F650GS for a week I started looking for one of my own. Being short, I was after the factory lowered version, and one was delivered on my birthday a few years ago. Since then, I've ridden a few thousand miles around the UK and Europe, exploring some awesome places, riding some particularly twisty roads, and having some great times. I've never been interested in going super-fast as for me it's the adventure, the feeling of the journey being as important as the destination every time I push my bike out of the garage.
But why actually ride? A car is safer. You can carry more things in a car, such as plenty of clean clothes to last a whole two week trip. And you can eat and drink while you're trundling along in a car. But for me, riding offers that all-inclusive experience that you just can't get on four wheels. Road tripping on a motorbike is a true adventure.
It’s the old cliché – riding a motorbike provides a sense of freedom, the wind in the face, a feeling of being at one with the road. There is a huge difference in the things you can experience when riding as opposed to driving. In a car or camper van you would never notice the subtle (and not so subtle) changes in temperature as you climb to high altitudes or descend into valleys. You would also never notice the different smells as you sail past ranches and farms and through parks – such strong whiffs of pine, lavender, the ocean, and other perhaps more questionable scents.
This summer I am looking forward to our biggest motorcycling adventure yet. I'm flying my own bike over to North America to do a few miles over there. I can't wait. The adventure is definitely calling, and I am looking forward to a new kind of routine that's all about the road and the scenery and the bucket list. I can't wait to explore just a small part of Canada and the USA, revisiting some places I know I already love and discovering some new places that will make it into my all-time favourite list. It's about doing whatever takes my fancy at any given moment. I love that riding a motorcycle is giving me that this summer. Owning a car just doesn't do the same. I've come a long way since my seven year old self that fell in love with that purple monster at the bottom of the street.
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