Her Story. A series of blog posts telling the stories of 'women who ride' from all corners of the globe. We hope that by sharing these stories we can help encourage other women to build their confidence, learn from others and inspire others.
This month we have an incredible story by Danielle Franks, from Melbourne, Australia.
Danielle's moto journey started on a trip to Indonesia. She quickly evolved from being a pillion, to a scooter rider, which of course lead to her riding her own motorcycle around South East Asia.
We hope you enjoy her story.
I'm Danielle, 27 years old and writing from Melbourne, Australia. And as my story unfolds, you'll see that this is not where my love for riding began.
The first time I ever rode a motorbike was during a semester abroad in Yogyakarta, Indonesia at the age of 20. I first experienced riding 'bonceng' (a local phrase for riding pillion) and it was so much fun, I was instantly addicted. Not long after I swapped in my bicycle for an automatic scooter, wobbling home from the rental shop an absolute liability. Under the guidance of a local, I quickly adapted to their way of life, purchasing fuel in plastic bottles and beeping my way through traffic, utilising side walks for easier passage.
It could be near or far, rain or shine, a quiet village road or the bustling city chaos, the bike was an integral part of my life for a brief moment. I liked getting around fast, by the end of the semester I was awarded the title (and literal certificate) of 'Miss Speedy Racer', which is something that still applies today. The rest, as they say, is indeed history...
During a backpacking trip through South East Asia three years later, I met another guy to ride with. I knew from the start of the trip that I wouldn’t be getting on my pre-purchased flight home. Instead the new plan was to enter Vietnam (not previously on the cards) and ride from Hoi An to Hanoi where we could teach English in an attempt to prolong our time abroad. At this point I'd also had enough of sleeper buses despite the help of easily accessible supplies of valium. Withdrawing the maximum amount the ATM would allow, I suddenly became the proud new owner of my very first motorbike, a Honda Win 110cc. With less than sufficient experience to complete the 1000km's ahead, we set sail on a journey we were hardly prepared for.
The road trip was everything you'd expect yet more than you could ever image. Language barriers when you leave the tourist track, getting utterly lost when you leave the tourist track, bikes breaking down, then being rebuilt, losing contact, saving face, finding new places, seeing strange things, eating strange things (I found a heart in my soup), moments of reflection, almost riding blind, certainly riding hungover, freezing to death, literally almost dying, and overcoming every curveball that came our way before finally reaching our destination. The surroundings were spectacular, the experience unforgettable and I don’t exactly know how I did it all with only 110cc's!
By the time we left our jobs in Hanoi, I needed the kind of replenishment only returning home could provide. I eventually sold the bike onto the next backpacker as her adventure was just beginning.
A year on and apparently I took the plunge to travel through India. My previous experiences somewhat prepared me for the what India was about to bring, especially when I found myself passing through the far north town of Menali in Himachal Pradesh on my 24th birthday.
I decided to rent a Royal Enfield 350cc for the day to celebrate and it was the fastest bike I'd ever ridden at the time. The additional cc's felt exhilarating and I got a step closer towards finally owning a bike back in Australia.
I started a new-city new-me life in Melbourne, where I am today. I opted to purchase a retro style Suzuki TU250x instead of a car in the busy city. Although I had even yet to obtain a riders licence, I could already see myself snaking through traffic and shopping for only what can fit inside my backpack. At first the bike was an easy way to get around, then it slowly started to shape more of my life as it became a significant part of my identity. I love the instant connection I feel to other riders and hope to inspire girls and guys alike to consider stepping into this world.
Vroom vroom, see you on the road.
Thank you to Danielle for sharing her story. If you would like to follow Danielle's journey you can find her on Instagram here.
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