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 a story by Natalia Hernandez from Melbourne, Australia. Natalia was born with gasoline in her veins, always crushing on motors and speed. After putting herself out there in the motorcycle scene she co-founded an all women's riding group, The Leatherettes.
We hope you enjoy her story.
My name is Natalia Hernandez and I am a co-founder of the Leatherettes here in Melbourne, Australia. I am a graphic designer and I ride a 1994 Yamaha SRV250 called Derek.
I used to ride dirt bikes as a kid with my cousins on their property up in Whittlesea. I was really into BMXs in the late 80s/90s, and dirt bikes seemed like a natural transition. As a kid, I couldn’t believe you could even have a bike with a motor.. it seemed too good to be true, and somehow illegal to have so much fun on an engine powered bike. It blew my mind.
After much begging, and continuous refusal from my parents to buy me my own dirt bike, I vowed I would get one when I was an adult.
Years flew by and I got into cars. Anything manual and old I was in love with. I had a crappy old 1980 Mazda 626 as my first car, but to me, it was a Corvette. I was obsessed with manual cars because I wanted to drive sports cars. I loved speed.
Eventually my Mazda died. I was crushed as I knew I would miss driving manual. Reluctantly I got another car which was auto, but I knew this wouldn’t satisfy me. But now as an adult, I could now do whatever I wanted. I could finally get my motorbike.
I was 30 and I was making some big life decisions in my personal life. What better time to try something new and tick something off the bucket list. I had been inspired by the David Fincher remake of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and recently saw a Stories of Bike article on Tassie rider Katie Abdilla. Her story was so impressive as she had been through a big motorcycle crash and vowed to get back onto her bike, Billie. She would fix Billie up, overcome her fear and be a better rider than ever. That really spoke to me, so I decided to hunt for my perfect bike which I would love as much as Katie loved Billie.
This is how I found the love of my life, Derek. My beautiful, British racing green SRV.
I considered him a rescue as his previous owner was known as “Crash” and used to ride Derek around with no mufflers on. Derek spent his days outside and exposed to the elements. I had to look after him. The first few things I did to him was to put on club/ace bars, Daytona indicators and bar end mirrors. Recently I was able to upgrade his mufflers to Lossa mufflers. Finally he sounds like a big boy and not a lawn mower. He’s a small bike, but I love how zippy he is for city riding. I have ridden him to Adelaide (over 2300km round trip), so even as a small bike, he’s had some big adventures.
Photo by @jasonlphotos
The empowerment I felt from riding bikes helped me navigate some pretty difficult years. It exposed me to like minded people in the Melbourne motorcycle scene. It was incredibly humbling. Through Facebook, I found All Womxn Riders Melbourne as well as the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. I also met my future partner, Kano, through Melbourne Cafe Racers (MCR), which I became heavily involved in and still help admin to this day. My life changed to all things motorcycles.
Getting to know the motorcycle scene, I saw and experienced a fair bit of misogyny unfortunately. And looking overseas to some of the very inspiring female “girl gangs” such as The Velvets in Los Angeles, and The Mild Ones here in Melbourne (who I love dearly and had first met at DGR), I started to float the idea of starting my own group with my moto wife, George Fitzgerald.
I was running “MCRGirls” on instagram which was fairly successful, but with its direct association to MCR, I wanted something of my own. I wanted a chance to be creative, make t-shirts and patches and feel bad ass while being quite dorky and true to myself. George and I wanted to keep the group more inspired by vintage motos and cafe racers, while involving close friends to keep it active and tight. It was a great dream, we just needed a name.
One morning in November 2016, Kano and I were listening to Grace Jones’ song “Warm Leatherette”. Instantly I knew this was it, this was the name. And the Leatherettes was born. George and I started rounding up our nearest and dearest gal pals and started the Facebook group. The rest as they say is Herstory.
We now have over 70 members who are all amazing and inspiring women. We all cross over to different women’s groups in Melbourne, but ultimately we are all one big family. The Leatherettes is just one part of a rich motorcycle tapestry here in Melbourne, which I feel completely lucky to be a part of. It’s a welcoming and supporting community where no question is too silly, and no bike is too old or low powered.
If you’re looking to ride, I suggest to seek out some Leatherettes and have a chat. Call up Moto Femmes and get the low down. If it’s a daunting prospect, don’t stress, the people are lovely and it’s easier than you think.
Photo by @jasonlphotos
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