Riding gives me a sense of peace I don’t find elsewhere, and it is no longer something I choose to do, it’s something I need to do.
Growing up, motorcycles were always the coolest thing that I had no idea how to get into. My first experience coming face-to-face with a bike was at age 16, and I still remember the sound of the engine as I looked upon it with awe.
However, my first opportunity to go pillion wasn’t until I was 31, a month after returning from maternity leave. This was Halloween 2018, and the next day I booked my CBT for the end of November. Nine months later, I booked my DAS course to get my full licence and get a much bigger bike. This was my Honda CBR600FS, which was named War after the bike War rode in Good Omens. (They were both red. Yes, that is the only reason.)
Personally, I did not find getting my licence easy, as I don’t like tests, but it was rewarding and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Not only does riding make me feel like I’m flying, but I call it the literal embodiment of freedom. It has also made me a better car driver as my awareness of other road users, and my focus and my attention have increased since passing my test.
My situation has changed, and I no longer need a bike. Before I had to commute to work (riding all year, in all weather), but now I work remotely. And although I don’t need a bike, I need a bike. There have been several times over the last three years when I have gone months without riding (health issues, COVID, etc.) and I missed it in my bones. An old friend called riding soul food, and I’m inclined to agree.
I am not fast, but riding makes me feel alive. Give me a day with sticky (dry) roads and few other road users, and my mind completely clears. As someone who is neurodivergent, it’s not often I get that level of peace.
There is a school of thought that the meaning of life is to live. And to me, riding is living.
The best piece of advice I can give any woman (fem-presenting) rider is if you think you want to ride, but you’re scared for whatever reason, do it anyway. Push through the fear and do it. At least try a taster session.
It took me two attempts at my CBT, my Mod 1 and Mod 2. All of this I did in winter because I could not wait until spring, and it was completely worth it. Learning in winter and terrible weather made me a better and safer summer rider. Don’t wait for spring, you can learn all year round.
I also did my training with mostly women. They were of various ages and it was for a range of reasons. Even the men I learnt with were supportive as we were all learning together.
Most of the critical voices in this community took their test when it was significantly easier or didn’t need to take a test at all. They would probably fail if they tried today. You may also find yourself in conversations with that person. That person tells you all the motorcycle horror stories they’ve heard, but have no intention of learning, and no will to change their mind. This is the same person that would tell you surgery, pregnancy and life horror stories. Just stay away.
Riding a motorcycle has never been safer. You legally have to wear a helmet and the technology in the bikes and kit will blow your mind. There’s racer-level technology in the road riding kit. From helmets to airbag vests and jackets, and casual-looking clothing that is up there with a set of leathers. Go to your dealer or motorcycle clothing store and get fitted correctly. Don’t end up with a supermarket motorcycle jacket like I originally did. Not all kit is created equal.
There are trends, but riding isn’t just about going fast on a bike that looks like it’s been pulled from a comic book, it’s about enjoyment. It is a purely personal experience. I love riding a sportbike in a pair of riding combats, and I like my trousers tucked into my boots, which apparently makes me a philistine. But riding is personal. If you’re 5ft nothing, but want a massive tourer, get it. As long as you can ride safely, it doesn’t matter what you look like and seats can be lowered.
Follow your heart.
This is one hell of a community. You will always remember your first biker’s nod, and you will always have support from other riders. You don’t have to ride in a group if you don’t wish, and you don’t have to spend your weekends doing long journeys.
I am significantly more introverted than I appear, and the thought of riding in a group makes me anxious. I’m not a fan of long, pointless rides either, but I do take the long way home. I love those roads where in a car you always get caught behind a lorry or tracker, but on a bike, you can overtake on corners and filter through traffic. This offers the freedom and speed that car drivers are jealous of.
You may come off your bike. It has happened to all of us. I’m not too proud to admit I have toppled (came off at low speed) my bike six times, including in front of a group of my peers twice.
Albeit my ego was bruised, I am always impressed by the kindness of strangers, especially anyone that has ever ridden. One of the benefits of being a woman on a motorcycle is that if you end up standing over your bike looking sad, someone will come and help. I have played the Damsel in Distress more than once. However,
there are tips for lifting your bike alone.
Riding gets under your skin in a way that nothing else has for me. So, if you’ve made it this far, you’re obviously tempted, so go and book yourself a taster session.
We interviewed some people at Women in Moto and Motorcycle Live on their thoughts about Motorcycling and their first time riding. Here's what they had to say...
How to get a Motorcycle licence and the steps to get you riding
Different types of motorcycle licenses have different restrictions. Use the flowcharts below and discover how to take the next step on your journey.