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Why I learnt how to ride a motorcycle (& why other women should consider it too)

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Our Editor, Vuyi Mpofu shares her reasons for learning how to ride a motorcycle, courtesy of Honda Motorcycles South Africa.

After years of driving motorcars, I decided to earnestly peruse my curiosity about riding motorcycles.  I had attended a couple of beginner’s motorbike riding lessons in the past but had never actually followed through with biking on my own.  All that changed in 2019 when I wrote a list of the things I had, in previous years, promised myself I would do but had let fall by the wayside.

Women on the other hand are generally raised to be demure and delicate – characteristics which obviously don’t quite play out well in relation to straddling a motorcycle.

– Vuyi Mpofu, Editor – heels & horsepower magazine

I went about obtaining my learner’s license, but didn’t tell anyone, least of all my 75-year-old mother for obvious reasons; the culture of motorcycling doesn’t harmonize well with the traditional expectations of who I am preordained to be and what I am predestined to do with my life as a Black Woman.  

Sadly motorbiking is still considered as the domain of tough, fearless and in some instances, rebellious men – which is not necessarily who male bikers are. Women on the other hand are generally raised to be demure and delicate, characteristics which obviously don’t quite play out well in relation to straddling a motorcycle.  

My venturing into motorcycles had more to do with silencing a loud voice within me that demanded to know why I was trying to fit into a societal cage.  By allowing myself to explore the world of 2-wheelers I not only fulfilled an life-long dream but also discovered many reasons to remain in the saddle.  Here are a few:

I ride a Honda NC750x DCT which I’ve christened “The Blue Wildebeest” because it is short, stocky, powerful and well – blue!

– vuyi mpofu, editor – heels & horsepower magazine

REASON #1:  FREEDOM

BENEFIT: I discovered that the ‘she-must-be-rebellious’ hype about being a female motor biker worked to my advantage.  Rather than explain myself to those people who were determined to misunderstand my rational, I proudly plastered the proverbial ‘rebel’ sticker on my forehead and used it as an excuse to push self-imposed cultural & societal limitations about who I am (or not) as a Black Woman on a motorcycle.  Thanks to the world viewing me differently I have embraced the courage to become more of the woman I have always been inside, but have never been encouraged to express.

REASON #2:          ADVENTURE

BENEFIT:                I ride a Honda NC750x DCT which I’ve christened “Blue Wildebeest” because it is short, stocky, powerful and well – blue!  It is the vehicular equivalent of a soft off-road SUV and allows me to go off the beaten track to explore places I would otherwise need a bakkie to get to.  Being light on fuel, (approx. 350km out of its 14litre tank) allows me to go on adventures without the burden of hefty fuel prices.  Plus, it has a handy luggage compartment which can store up to about 5kg of clothes, cosmetics and gadgets for my trips.

When I ride, I can feel the wind all around me as Blue Wildebeest whistles along the road.

– vuyi mpofu, editor – heels & horsepower magazine

REASON #3:      INDEPENDENCE      

BENEFIT:            Face it ladies, there are times you would like to just leave everyone and everything behind and be completely on your own.  Nothing gives you more cost-effective independence than being able to strap on your helmet, crank up the engine and ride away to collect your thoughts.  When I ride, I can feel the wind all around me as Blue Wildebeest whistles along the road. I am more in touch with nature than when I am in a car.  When you ride (even when riding in a group) you are completely in the moment, without distractions from a phones, radio or talkative passengers.  

REASON #4:          COMMUNITY

BENEFIT:                Speaking of group rides, being on a motorcycle has opened my world to people of all walks of life and I have formed friendships with folk I may not ordinarily have met had I not on a motorbike.  I have developed a network of ‘biker-gals’ across the continent and it has been interesting to share and learn from more experienced riders who relate to my ‘newbie’ biker experiences.  For instance, helmet hair is a real problem (that’s when your hair just flattens against your head or spikes up in all different directions when you take you helmet off) as is finding protective gear that comfortably fits my build. 

The saying “there is nothing to fear except fear itself” is absolutely true. 

– vuyi mpofu, editor- heels & horsepower magazine

REASON #5:          CONQUERING MY FEARS

BENEFIT:                The saying “there is nothing to fear except fear itself” is absolutely true. I have discovered that what I had perceived as reasons not to ride (e.g., traffic, the weather, speed etc.) are what makes biking exhilarating.  Unfortunately, motorists tend to drive as if bikers are invisible beings, however the sun, wind and rain all make for  memorable experiences.  As for speed, well, I ride as fast or as slowly as I feel comfortable and keep a strong sense of self-preservation high on my list of priorities. 

Motorcycling has become a large part of my self-love process and I wouldn’t hang up my riding boots for anything in the world.  I would strongly encourage women to give biking a try, bearing in mind that you can’t write something off until you’ve determined what it is about. Who knows, the biking bug might bite you and open you up to a life you never knew existed. 

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