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.

Why?

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!

 

 

 

 

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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_141039

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.

women at war

I have fought against stereotypical images of woman since I can remember. That was one of the reasons, why I bought a Harley-Davidson, I guess.

It is not only the woman I am but the woman I was perceived to be, that made me want to change things all those years ago.

I bought my first bike, I was nineteen then, with the revolutionary spirit of a student ready to fight all odds. Especially the machos who tried to impose their views of how a woman should be. I was determined not to let that happen.

And it didn’t. But it was a hard fight.

Many women on wheels will know the feeling. They might have fought the same battles. Some did decades before I did. Real battles, too.

The female dispatch riders, common in World War II and not unknown of in World War I.

What amazing women they must have been. A life at war, much harder than it is today of course but the gender roles seemed easier to transgress at a time when nothing was as it should be and the men were fighting far away.

Celebration of the Centuries 2014

In the UK women started their Enfield bullets and rode through wind, weather and war. Truly spirited and very brave females.

Inspiration that still exists and quite obviously so in historical re-enactment: female performers with costumes and bikes of the forties proved that this weekend in Fort George in Scotland.

http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/celebration/events/event_detail.htm?eventid=26900

 

Celebration of the Centuries, 2014

To re-create the past is what historical re-enactment is all about.

Sometimes the past seems more modern that the present, at least where women on wheels are concerned.

wherever the road may take me

What is joy?

When the sun sends sparkling calls in the morning, when you have time to spend on what looks like a warm lazy summer’s day, and the road outside just seems to wait for you.

Joy is, when you have time to take the bike for a run and the weather is kind.

 

You get your gear together, that in itself is joy because you are anticipating what is to come, the smell of leather seems like the memory of past miles driven.

I can’t stop smiling. I take the bike for a run, I say.

Where are you going?

Now that is as philosophical as it can get.

Where am I going?

The most amazing fact about the solution to this quibble is – there is no need to know.

Utmost freedom is the answer. And that is pure joy.

I do not need to know where I am going. I don’t need a plan, a map a schedule. There aren’t many roads to take here and I know them all. I can’t get lost. So I can give the answer that includes all the freedom you can have on a bike.

I go wherever the road may take me.

Simple as that.

 

900 miles (part2)

Why had I chosen the night ferry?

So I could get enough sleep for the second part of my long trip.

on the way northI was tired and fell asleep the minute I lay down, even though my whole body was aching and tense. I woke up half an hour later. An alarm had went off on some car on the deck right underneath my cabin. Somehow I managed to go back to sleep, only to be woken up again around 4 am. More alarm!

I cursed cars, engineers and ferry companies alike and went back to sleep. The Intruder has no alarm system, no need to be alarmed.

There were about 12 bikes on the ferry. All racers. A small English group who did not look left or right never mind greet and a Manx group talking races. We were all crammed together in a line, bikes secured with the straps provided. Considering the wobbly sidestand and my fear of my bike falling over I had strapped her tight, real tight. So tight, I had to muster all my strength and I still couldn’t get that bl**y thing off. The lock had jammed.

I turned round and said: “Hey guys, can one of you give me a hand?”

They were at it with the speed of light, started pulling and poking and cursing but they would rather have lost a few fingers than admit failure. It took some time but they managed to get my Intruder free. I thanked them and looked into two big grins. My need for help had made them happy.

I had not liked to ask. A matter of pride I guess. But staying behind, strapped tight to the ferry, wouldn’t have looked much cooler, would it?

But still I felt more “girlie” than I was happy with.

ScotlandThe rest of the long journey was smooth and uneventful. I took several breaks for petrol, coffee and toilets and arrived early and with a sore bum at my final destination.

night on the roadSoaking in the bath I pondered why I had found it so difficult to ask for help.

Does independence mean, you have to manage everything yourself?

Does emancipation mean you have to manage without men completely?

I doubt both.

Real independence and emancipation leaves freedom to ask for support.

I would never hesitate to help somebody who asked me for help. Maybe it is because male bikers never do ask female riders for assistance, that it felt so strange and uncomfortable when I had to. Which it shouldn’t, actually.

Men and women on bikes do the same things but they are not the same.

Or to say it with George Orwell…

All bikers are equal but some bikers are more equal than others.

 

900 miles (part 1)

early startThere was no time to worry about it. After two days of travelling back from South America to Europe (a bus, two flights and a rental) I arrived home late at night, had a beer, repacked and went to bed. The jet lag would disappear somewhere along the 900 miles I had to go I hoped.

Next morning I woke up at 3, got up at 6 and started the engine at 7am sharp. The sound made my heart jump. I was on my way North; 900 miles just me and my new Suzuki Intruder. We had to go on this run north because I need a bike where my partner lives, which is unfortunately rather far from where I live.

The Harley stays at home.

I know my VS1400 is not a touring bike, far from it but all the more reason to feel great about doing it and about doing it alone. I like to have the freedom of riding alone. Yes, sometimes I miss the thrill you get out of riding in a posse. But my trip was different and personal.

I had got a lot of amazed incredulity when telling people what I was going to do – ride a chopper in two days from the South of Germany to the Scottish Highlands. Alone. Most women looked seriously shocked at the mere thought. Men mostly looked uncomfortable.

every 100 milesI wonder why? I have a credit card I can use; the bike is insured and has road coverage. My route takes me along busy European motorways, no deserts to cross anywhere, hardly an adventure, really.

So what is the problem? The only one I encountered on the first part of the trip to Rotterdam was my bum. Yeah, the seat looks great but it doesn’t feel it after two hours.

I must admit I was a bit nervous about going up the ferry with that long fork but it turned out no problem whatsoever.

There was a group of racers from the Isle of Man on the ferry with me. We gave each other a nod, no more. They must have thought it weird as well, that woman all by herself. So they rather didn’t talk.

nothwards boundHad I been a man, I am dead sure they would have been over in two seconds.

If a male biker is on a trip alone he is either cool or independent.

A woman on a bike, alone and unattached is strange and awkward to handle, it seems.

As if there was a difference.

No matter how far I travel, women still have a long way to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daughters of Anarchy ???

Are you watching the Sons?

I have seen five seasons of Sons of Anarchy so far, but I still have rather ambivalent feelings towards the whole idea of portraying club life for a wider audience.

Who is watching it and why? Can’t be all bikers and guys wearing colours. I for a start am a woman and do not wear colours.

But it remains a rather odd choice of soap opera for ordinary people.

And why on earth do I like it?? Finding the true reason for my choice is surprisingly difficult.

Sons of Anarchy For a start, it is not really about bikes at all. Do you ever see a model in detail or close up for a longer shot? No studies in customizing, So it can’t be the bikes then. Because I have strained a few neck muscles trying to catch a glimpse of a handle bar or a fork, a riser or a foot rest.

The actors? Do their faces draw me in? No.

I still think of the ugly monk in The name of the rose when I look at “Clay”. I still see Peggy Bundy from Married …. with children in “Gemma”.

And it does not look like the real thing to me either. In my world, bikers do not wear white trainers. They have dirty hands from working on the bike. And they do not drive around in cars around all day and they certainly do not kill a man a week for drugs, women or revenge. Sons of Anarchy Kurt Sutter’s done a touch too much.

How can an outlaw drama series appeal to so many? I guess it is the touch of danger, action, the temptation of evil. Insight into a life very different from the nine to five with a semi and 1,4 children. It is more like watching a crime movie or a thriller. And it is very retro.

Why it appeals to a wider public is, because it is all about “family” in the end.

Sons of Anarchy – sometimes a true copy of club life, sometimes not.

I jut wish the women were a bit more anarchistic.

Gemma, the queen of the horde, the magna mater, the alpha female who gets raped and beaten by her husband, who kills to protect herself and her family, who rules from the background. She is in no way an emancipated women, not in the way she dresses, she behaves, she acts. She has no voice in the club but still people listen. An integral part without being allowed to be one. A part apart.

No colours for women.

Gemma

 

Women in the middle ages used their powers like that. Ancient queens like England’s Elisabeth I or Scotland’s Mary Stuart. More than 500 years ago.

Have we not come any further than that in the meantime???

We certainly need more Daughters of Anarchy!