I call motorbiking my mental equalizer – it takes the stress away and allows me to sort out all the cobwebs in my mind – you, the 2-wheeled machine between your legs, your thoughts and the open road – mental and physical freedom!!!!!!!!
I always wanted to ride a bike but was too scared. Ever since I can remember, when I saw a bike, I would admire it, or when I heard a bike, my head would swivel almost 360 degrees to find it!!! Then, when I reached my mid-40s, I realised that I am not getting younger and I really do not want to sit one day in my dotage with regrets of things I have not done while younger!
So, in the middle of 2006 I decided to do some window-shopping for a motorbike that takes my fancy and I liked the look of one bike. Then I bought my first bike – a brand spanking new 2006 Honda TransAlp XL650V with helmets, gloves and all other riding gear!!!
They did not have the colour I wanted here in Cape Town and my bike had to be ordered from Johannesburg. So, two weeks later my bike arrived and Honda Cape Town phoned me to fetch my bike. Now, don’t laugh – I asked them if they can deliver? Why asked the sales person? I told him I cannot ride a bike! Kudos to the sales person who did not ask any further questions, but they arranged for my bike to be delivered on one of their bakkies to my flat. At my flat the guy pushed the bike off the bakkie to the front of my garage and told me I can pull the bike into the garage. I told him he had to do it. He asked me very surprised if I really cannot ride and I told him “No, I cannot ride, but I am going to learn how to now!!!” He just shook his head and pulled the bike into my garage and I thought to myself “Amanda, now you really jumped into the deep end – it’s going to be a case of sink or swim”!!!
The next day, my next door neighbour showed me where everything was on the bike, i.e. brakes, petrol, gears, clutch, etc. I got on the bike and practised pulling away and stopping, then to the side streets where, boy oh boy, 15km/h an hour felt like 400km/h!!!! LOL But, as they say, practise makes perfect.
A month later, I went for my learners licence – got it first time round and then booked a lesson with a riding instructor. Went for a 2 hour lesson (their bike, not mine 😊) and when I wanted to book my next lesson, the instructor told me “Girl, you are a natural, just practise what I taught you today”.
Needless to say, all the biking people I met when I got my first bike told me the bike is too big for a female to learn on and that I must start with something smaller – I proved them wrong, didn’t I? 😊
4 months later, still with only a learners licence, I made my first solo trip (okay, my mother followed me in her car just to be safe LOL!) from Cape Town via Du Toitskloof Pass to Oudtshoorn and back again. Another month after this trip, I got my big bike license at the beginning of 2007.
Then I had a double fusion in my lower back in 2007 and the upright riding position on the TransAlp caused too much discomfort. I then tried out the seating position on a Suzuki TL1000S belonging to a friend and loved it – no more discomfort in my back. April 2009, I traded the TransAlp in for a 2008 Honda CBR1000RR (aka “Rooikat”). If my memory serves me right and I stand to be corrected, I think I was the first female rider in Cape Town with a “Blade”.
Again, some guys in the biking fraternity said – that bike is too big and too fast for a female!!!! I decided to prove them wrong and over a few months, went to 4 track days at Killarney to learn how to handle my Rooikat. End result, I proved the “nay-sayers” wrong again so much so, that could ride better than some of them big mouths!! LOL
I did a trip to Walvis Bay in Namibia on “Rooikat” and then the long distance riding really bit. Did 2 trips to Graaff-Reinet on her but ended up at my end destination with my kit in the kit car only arriving the next day – I refused to put a luggage rack on the Blade! Decisions had to be made.
End of 2014, I sold “Rooikat” and bought “AnneKat”, a 2013 Honda VFR1200 complete with panniers and a top box – I’m not going to sleep another night without my kit with me! LOL
During 2013 and 2014, I was the organiser of the BAT (Bikers Against Tolls) monthly protest rides here in Cape Town. Needless to say, organising this on a monthly basis with permits and all was absolutely nerve-wrecking but I managed to do it – still don’t know how though!! LOL
Serious long trips started to happen then ….. Upington, Kimberley, Durban, Botswana, Clarence, Eastern Transvaal, Mozambique, 2 trips to Swaziland – I’ve done them all!
My longest solo ride was from Kimberley to Cape Town, a whole 970kms of open road all on my own. My shorter solo rides were to Sutherland, Oudtshoorn, Port Elizabeth and Graaff-Reinet.
My longest ride in continuous rain was from Colesberg to Cape Town!
Biking brought me into contact with like-minded people and I love doing these long distance trips with them and getting to know them as persons, provided the group is not too big. A big group takes too long to get going, especially when you need to fill up in these small little towns and there is only one petrol pump available!
My advice to newbies, even regular riders: No matter what the people tell you, you can do it – when you get a new or secondhand bike, just take it slow for a few months (don’t mind them laughing – I didn’t) – get to know your bike, how it reacts and trust your gut feeling (that feeling in your backside) when you get on your bike. If that little voice tells you go slow or you feel uneasy about something, then dammit, go slow and take it easy. No bike rides or reacts the same, even if they are the same make, model or size.