Last year, I wasn’t in a happy place. My marriage was slowly falling apart; my mum had declared a second breast cancer, more aggressive than the first one. And, I had the feeling that my life was slipping through my fingers.
FORTUNE FAVOURS THE BRAVE
The year before, I had gained my motorcycle licence and was mostly riding alone through the forests and countryside wilderness. This was, and still is, a way of clearing my brain of negativity and gaining back some sort of independence. When I felt the weight in my stomach wouldn’t go away, despite the efforts I had put into making it all work and solo rides, I decided to turn my life upside down and took a risk. Starting all from scratch.
I took the courageous decision to end this doomed relationship and started to do more and more things for and by myself. Including riding to events. I started to chat and network with people who were also into motorcycles via social media. I travelled to meet some of them in person at events such as ‘The Bike Shed Show’, in London or the ‘Bikes at C-Mine in Belgium’ and that’s when I heard about ‘The Petrolettes’.
TURNING THE PAGE ON THE PAST
When I read about this all-women motorcycle event, I thought it would be a great opportunity to connect with other women who developed the same passion as me for bikes, who were keen on sharing their knowledge, and above anything else, affirm their freedom.
It became a kind of initiatory journey and it soon transformed into the focus of this year of changes. I saw it as a milestone, a goal to reach, in order to go forward and turn the page on the past.
So two weeks ago, after waiting patiently for half a year, the moment arrived. I decided to take to the road one last time with my old VW van T3 (named Ozzy) which would soon become the sole property of my ex-husband (yep, divorce deal…) and my light, but so much fun, 125cc Mutt Motorcycle (named HellMutt) attached to a trailer.
The trailer that I rented and had absolutely no experience on how to strap the bike to, never mind drive with it! But I managed to do it on my own, like a grown-up girl, and I drove for 11 hours at an average speed of 80km/hour, which gave me a lot of time to think about life in general – and what I want for the next chapter.
I arrived at the awesome site of Ferropolis on the Friday afternoon. Very impressive; kind of a Mad Max movie set. I saw the entrance of the event and all the bikes aligned and I thought; “Holy shit, this is so cool to think all these belong to women”! You could find everything from Triumph Scramblers, to Harley Davidson 70s choppers, to old vintage Yamahas, Royal Enfields you name it!
“Holy sh*t, this is so cool to think all these belong to women”!
I parked my van, unloaded my motorcycle and went for a tour of the site which was again fabulous. This old industrial site is surrounded by a magnificent lake where you can bathe or chill on a sandy beach. I saw a few women over there, busy following a lesson on how to pick up your bike from the ground if you drop it. It was actually a full workshop on motorcycle balance training given by Astrid Althoff.
Then I went to the area of the event where the main stage was. The ‘One Woman, one motorcycle, one world‘ was in progress. This, a discussion led by Lea Rieck; a woman who has travelled the world alone on her motorcycle. I stayed there, listening and dreaming about all the adventures she experienced and thought that this was going to be next on my list.
Soon after this conference, concerts started and I was thrilled because one of my favourite bands called ‘Thundermother‘ from Sweden was playing! Just before them, ‘Velvet Two Stripes’, from Switzerland opened the gig and it was awesome. Such a cool musical discovery.
‘Thundermother’, followed, and these women I can tell you know how to rock. I danced and sang, surrounded by women of all ages, with different styles and sexual orientations but all with one thing in common, motorcycles.
I went to bed exhausted from this first day, but ready for the next, as a ride-out was planned at 10.30 AM.
READY FOR THE RIDE OUT
This ride-out on the Saturday was perfect. Well organised, secure and led us through the beautiful half of the island where the site is situated. We, three hundred and fifty women on bikes, passed through villages and forests which provided a bit of shadow and well-needed coolness, considering the 40 °C temperatures.
It felt good for once to ride with a group of people and not just by myself. There is a sense of belonging in the motorcycle community which I’ve never found anywhere else.
After the ride, the afternoon was very quiet, so I went shopping in the little marketplace, where I found some handmade treasures by pretty cool artists, such as my new riding leather jacket from ‘Bikers and Babes’, that I am completely in love with and my gloves from ‘The Throttlesnake’.
Around 4 PM, the 1/8 mile sprint races started. We got some show over there but I thought it would have been great if more people registered, including a wider range of engines and bikes. That is maybe one of the little disappointments since the riders were mostly sponsored, Instagram famous and not many ‘regular women’.
The day continued with a pretty relaxed evening including a raffle draw where I actually won my first ever prize. A t-shirt from the ‘Amazon’s Women’s Motorcycle Club’, which is a non-profit, 501(c)7 woman-only motorcycle club based in North America.
Membership is open to ALL women regardless of age, race, colour, creed, nationality, sexual orientation or brand of street-legal motorcycle. Their purpose is to provide support and encouragement and promote and foster friendships between and among women motorcyclists.
Concerts and shows followed with ‘The Gasoline Freak Show’, ’24/7 Diva Heaven’ and ‘Badass Bitches on Bikes’. However, I missed all of them as I spent the evening with the super rider Bella Litinetski, known on Instagram as “thebella.lit” and her partner and photographer Idan J Grünberg “Idangrun”.
I would have loved to be in a place still organised by women, promoting motorcycles women enthusiasts and artist but open to all.
Let me tell you that she is far from just being an ‘Instagram girl’, showing off. She is the real deal; she can ride, she can wrench, she’s an industrial designer and most of all she is friggin’ cool and fun. So is Idan. You know what? That’s the exact moment where I thought, it was a shame that it was a “women-only” event, as Idan couldn’t join the party as he was a man.
I thought I was sad, as he is actually supporting Bella in her everyday job, taking her pro pictures, encouraging her in what she does, providing help and guidance on her wrenching when needed. Well, basically, being a super awesome partner.
This made me think that actually, any event being too exclusive may not be on the right track. I would have loved to be in a place still organised by women, promoting motorcycles women enthusiasts and artist but open to all.
After all, it’s only when you share it, that the word spreads and men get to know what the community of women riders is about. Keeping them out of the door is maybe not what will change the mindsets.
But hey, don’t get me wrong. This event is still a great idea and should go on. Just maybe with a little twist to it, since diversity comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes and genders.
Because after all, you meet the nicest people on motorcycles; including Vinnie, my new boyfriend who I count on to travel the world with.
Thank you to Jen, the editor at WRC (where this article first appeared), for the permission to republish here with edits. You can find out more about WRC and read about other riders’ stories on its website.