I call my freedom liberté

Rhine On a sun soaked autumn afternoon I took the Harley for a run, took it because I can.

It might sound slightly obamaesque but that was the main reason apart from warm weather and time on my hands.

Yes, I can.

border to FranceI took it for a run as a statement because statements need to be made just now. Now more than ever, especially statements about freedom.

Normally I would probably have taken a route through France; not only because it is picturesque and quiet but also because it is close and I do the trip to France often, be it for cheaper petrol, tastier cheese or just the fun of being in another country. After all, France is just a 20 minutes ride away.

France is so close

But I didn’t enter France this time, too many controls at the border and a distinct feeling of unease after the terror attacks. I did not want to face police and military all geared up with deadly weapons checking me out. I wanted to celebrate life, feel joy to be alive on the bike after the death toll of Paris. I wanted to get the pictures out of my head, people dying, panicking, and desperate to escape. I wanted to feel free.

To feel free is difficult these days

borderI turned round and shirked France. Only to be stopped in my own country soon afterwards (I was already well away from the border at that time) by the police. Random vehicle checks they said but they didn’t even bother with the exhaust or possible illegal parts on the Harley. That was a first!

Terror throws its dark shade over all of us these days. Fear and retaliation is part of any news item the tv channels broadcast, everybody talks war and the politicians all sound like Churchill to me: “We shall never surrender.” Just like Winston Churchill 1940. We all know how deadly and brutal that war was. There are wargrave aplenty along the Rhine.

Freedom has become fragile

selfie with FranceHow often have I written about riding my motorcycles, how it means freedom to me. And now I am aware how fragile joy and freedom can be, and how importat freedom really is.

All it takes is a massive terror attack just across the border and it is threatened. The retaliation has started, bombs fall over Syria and France is somehow not abroad anymore. It is here and everywhere the terrorists can fire bombs.

The bike now hibernates under white sheets for winter. Strange thoughts of burial and death sheets went through my head as I made her ready to rest for a few months. In France they bury the dead but they do not bury in what they believe: in freedom.

France is everywhere and this is why I call the freedom I got on my run liberté: Out of anger and defiance of anybody who kills at random, subdues women and tries to take away our freedom.


I fear a new age is dawning and it is not a happy one. The fight for freedom has begun. I am just not sure if everybody is aware of the other thing Churchill said 65 years ago. That they would fight “…whatever the cost may be.”

sunset over France


There might be a high price to pay for La Liberté.


riding bitch

I have been thinking about the order of things lately, especially when it comes to man and woman doing the same things; like riding a bike. They never do it side by side, do they?

riding bitchIt started out with one bike, the man in the front, the woman riding bitch.

Now there are a lot of women riding a bike of their own but they still “ride bitch” or have you ever seen a couple on their bikes where the women is at the front? No! We always follow.


follow the manI guess even I would, if the man in my life had a bike. That not being the case, I am usually out there on my own. I follow my own instincts and need to make my own decisions. But given the chance, I do it, too. Just like those poor Arab women walking a few steps behind their men on the streets. It is not different. It is about feeling inferior, isn’t it?

Is making decisions the problem for most women on a bike? I mean we do it in cars as well, the man is driving (unless he wants to drink) and the woman isn’t.  Why? Guess because a lot of men out there feel the need to tell the women how to drive properly. Do we shirk that? We shouldn’t, should we?

We should stop following, start taking the lead occasionally. It takes guts but then that’s what is needed on a bike, isn’t it?

up front

TdF (25)TdF (14)About ten years ago I experienced my first Tour de France as a journalist. This mad cycling event is a very complex thing when it comes to driving and parking, there are a lot of different car accreditations about, different routes you can and can’t take accordingly, different parking areas, in different places every day. You get a huge book that tells you how everything works and as a newcomer it can be pretty overwhelming. So what did I do on my very first day?? I followed a male colleague who had been doing the Tour de France for years. He had a car with the same accreditation as mine.

TdF (36)I ended up in a police convoy (2 bikes front, two bikes at the back, all four sirens and lights flashing) being (embarrassed as hell) taken over the bridge at the Ile de Noirmoutier. Lost and on an illegal route where the only way back was the fact that the French police had pity with the daft and lost German blonde.

That never happened again in the 7 following years because I started following my own instincts.

This is what I wanna shout at all those women I see on the roads riding behind their men:

Stop riding bitch!

Start riding, bitch!





Freedom is the absence of what if

summerI wonder if it is a German thing or if it is a general attitude?

I do not know. But I know that the concept of freedom seems to scare people more than it seems to make them happy. Most people don’t want it, some even shirk it. Why does freedom scare them so much?

The bike is my idea of freedom in perfection, no matter where I am, no matter which bike I take, no matter where I go.

Most German bikers seem differ.

Last summer I walked into one of the big motorcycle shops, I had to work round the corner and had half an hour to waste and money to spend so I decided to have a look at half lids, I fancied a new one, the strap on my old one had come a bit lose.

While I perused the helmets on display I couldn’t help but overhear a German biker giving advice to his son who obviously bought his first bike and needed a lid. And took his dad along to the shop, maybe his dad took him…

See son, the guy said, this has EU norm …. and a safety badge from ….. and it has been tested by ….

He went on and on and on discussing the security aspects of just one helmet.

Better be safe than sorry, son!

Better grow up soon, son, I thought.

Then I spotted my favourite one, a US police helmet remake, Electra Glide in Blue style that would go nicely with my blue sunglasses. I put it on and (since I had come in the company car I had a handbag with me) checked what it looked like with my make-up mirror, looked great from the back as well, so I bought it.

I can still feel the German father’s shocked eyes upon me as I walked away, completely flabbergasted because I had never even checked the security features once.

How could I be so free?


Just because I can, man! I want wind in my face!


But I have another story to prove my point.


It has been rather hot here lately, often way over 30° Celcius. If you wear black leather in this heat, you are more likely to faint at the next set of lights than arrive safely at your destination of choice. I set off on a trip (200 km, minor roads) with denims, trainers and a T-shirt. How great to feel the wind caressing my skin and the sun shining on my face, no heavy gear to restrict my movements, nothing to make me sweat more that necessary, it still felt more than riding through the desert but that was ok. It felt right, it felt Californian.

When I arrived at work my colleagues looked at me with reproachful expressions because I didn’t wear any protective clothing. They (no bikers) felt the need to point out the dangers you face when you are riding a bike without a jacket.

Why do these people always assume they know more about the danger of riding a bike that the biker. I have been on one for more than 25 years now. Believe me guys, I have seen dangerous moments aplenty.

And then they said….. But what, if you have an accident???

What if?

Forget you “what ifs”!

This is what freedom is about. It knows no restrictions. Freedom is the absence of worries, it starts in the head and it makes your heart burst with joy. Freedom is happiness and it is the choice you make despite the danger that comes with it.

All things come at a price. Of course they do.

Why do you car drivers think we do not know that?

We do know and we choose to do what we think is right for us because we want freedom. We know what it feels like.

You can have all the “what ifs” and keep them!

Scotland the brave


Suzuki Intruder VS 1400The Scottish Highlands can be ferocious, relentless and dangerous even on a bike. Storms are battering the West coast of this Northern beauty, heavy rainfall and flooding block roads, low temperatures make you freeze even in summer.

Scotland’s for the brave indeed.

But on a day like this it is just breathtakingly beautiful.

Castle Tioram, Highlands, Scotland

Is there a better country to ride a bike in?

Isle of Skye, ScotlandScotland asks you to be brave, you need to be prepared to fight: the roads, the climate, the tourists. Bikers are getting killed every week here in summer and still they come here like hordes seeking the enemy, from England, Germany, France, Holland and Norway, drawn by a magnet of incredible magnitude: the beauty of the wilderness and the strength you draw out of coping with its adversities.

Scotland is a county for heroes, always has been and still is, on the bike.

In a way it is like one of these adventure holidays people book to get the thrill of their live.

On a bike you don’t need to book anything, adventure follows you wherever you go.

When I come back home from a drive through this magnificent part of the world I do feel different, stronger, braver, more self-assured. And any time I am more in love with this country.

Scotland the brave indeed.

Castle Tioram. Highlands, Scotland


amazing encounters

Funny, how a motorcycle can form an immediate bond between perfect strangers, I have encountered that a number of times lately.

Kirschblüten Ortenau (7)I work for television and have taken up writing as well. My next book, a travel guide for bikers to the Black Forest (Southern Germany), is due to be published in autumn and I am in the middle of research and photo shoots. On the Harley of course.

Seelbach (13)The more people I meet, the more I am fascinated by the power of my bike as a common denominator; it immediately establishes trust because you know, you share an experience, a dream even.

Even in places that have absolutely nothing to do with bikes or bikers, I find them, those who have the same passion.

Seelbach (15)

In a pottery in Seelbach I met a wonderful guy called Georg the other day. Turns out he used to have a bike as well. And his bike (him being German it was of course a BMW) was the reason why he was able to train as a potter all those years ago.

He took his future boss out on a ride, who enjoyed the run so much, he gave George the apprenticeship. Now he runs his own beautiful pottery. Thanks to his BMW.

Do we not all know stories like this, where the bike has really made a difference and has even changed the course our life was taking?

Seelbach (19)I guess this is what I love most about this book project – meeting people, hearing their stories, taking pictures of their work and finding out more about the power of  riding a bike.

What absolutely and utterly amazes me is the fact, that even though you seem to have nothing whatsoever in common with some people: you have, the minute you start talking bike.

when the season ends

20141101_151243newThe autumn sun had sent rays of intense golden light and the vibrant forest colours just seemed to wait to be enjoyed.

An unusual warm spell and the even more unusual event of a Saturday free of work coincided.

I just couldn’t help it.

I needed to take the Harley for a run.


20141101_151348Lucky bikers who live where winter never hits. I don’t and I know, on this very spot, there will be snow soon, maybe in a few days. It is always early up on the mountains.

20141101_150343I wasn’t the only one today who felt compelled to ride since it could just be the last day of the year you could. Bikers were everywhere and so were tourists; complete and utter mayhem.

Guess I wasn’t the only one who felt it might be the last chance today.

The last ride of the season always feels very different from the first. Now the bike is a long and trusted friend moving smoothly in the rhythm you want.

In spring it will feel like meeting your lover after you have been apart for a long time. You need to overcome a certain shyness and restraint first.

But now, at the end of the season, the closeness is complete and you don’t want it to end.

Why is it that we always want the things we can’t have most?

20141101_151332I just know I will think about my bike all winter, counting the days until spring.

The motorcycle cycle is cruel to addicts like me.