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 Renee Thompson of Melbourne, Australia. The self titled 'queer party starter' takes us through her life and experiences in the Melbourne moto community.
We hope you enjoy her story!
Hi dolls, my name's Renee Thompson AKA Renee the Celebrant, Renee Russo or Renee from Tomboy haha. I'm a queer party starter, Celebrant, LGBTQ community advocate, performer, DJ, writer and member of Dykes on Bikes Melbourne. My place of origin is Northern Ireland, but I've been calling Naarm home for twelve years and I've been riding for about seven years now!
CREDIT: Lekhena Porter
CREDIT: Dean Arcuri
My earliest memory of chicks on bikes was watching Steph rolling up on neighbours in the 90's. Oooft, that defs gave me a wee tingle lol. I personally got into riding after enviously watching my mate Tamara Tusia get her moto licence around ten years ago. She was one of the OG King Parrot Campout legends, which began with twenty women, later becoming Sheila's Shakedown! Tam invited her non-riding crew along to the Yarra Junction Scout Camp for the second proper Sheila's Shakedown. The moment I witnessed Sheila's tearing up the dance floor, doing burnouts on their motos, getting their tits out and going full 'girls gone wild' I knew I'd found my people. To really seal the deal, Tam let me ride bitch (it's OK if we say it lol) for International Female Ride Day and that was it, I was addicted and off to source my first bike. Her name was Black Betty, a 1993 Suzuki GN250. I chopped her a litte into a cafe racer and gave her a rude as hell megaphone muffler. Full ratbag mode.
One of my most loved things about the women's riding community is that we're all supportive from the beginning of someone's riding journey. We don't hide our fear, we embrace it. I was shitting myself at the start and Tam offered to come along and check out Betty with me. The previous owner was also a woman and she'd only been ridden by females prior to that. I knew THIS was my bike! Tam rode her to my house for me, then we headed straight for Albert Park so I could re-learn to ride after forgetting everything I'd learned during my Learners course months prior. That was back in 2016 when it was a single day course, thankfully now there's a bit more to it. At first, I got scared and didn't get a bike immediately after passing my L's. Many of my loved ones tried to talk me out of it and they almost succeeded. When I got Betty, I spent the next five weeks intensively riding every day to build up my skills and confidence so I could pass my check ride. The longer between rides, it felt like going back to scratch, so I rode in the rain and cold and it bloody toughened me up. Another mate, Katie, came over and would pick me up to help me get my confidence to do blockies around my hood.
CREDIT: Em Jensen
This 'hobby' ended up becoming my preferred mode of transport, and to this day, my moto is my main form of commute around Melbourne and the increasingly shite traffic conditions. The best investment of my life was good wet weather gear and heated gloves! My latest ride is a Royal Enfield Meteor Stellar. I wanted to continue riding classic bikes, but due to most of my riding being city based, I needed a bike with ABS brakes that could handle the bonkers city drivers. Royal Enfields 350cc bikes really ticked all the boxes as far as safety, style, price and size went. I knew I didn't need anything too big for city riding and for my short irish ass lol. The Meteor is brilliant for city riding, but can also handle a freeway beautifully when I need her to. I haven't done any customisations to my bike apart from further lowering and a muffler upgrade, so now she growls and folks can hear me coming.
CREDIT: Dean Arcuri
I didn't realise the profound impact motorbikes would have on my life, not only from a community perspective and the feeling of freedom that comes with riding, but I've met so many rad sheilas in the process. I host the 'Sheilalympics' annually at Sheila's Shakedown, I'm a proud member of Dykes on Bikes Melbourne Chapter and ride in pride marches and during rallys to show community solidarity and protection.
CREDIT: Shannyn Higgins
Proudly riding with my girl as a pillion is as erotic and empowering as it gets. I have ridden my bike into wedding ceremonies and married other moto enthusiasts. I've ridden in the Hollywood Hills, Bali, Vietnam and soon Thailand. I'm the most present when I'm riding, it's when I process and connect with nature. For anyone curious to start, just do it! Yes, it is scary, but once you find your confidence there's no better feeling than hooning up a highway with your girls; engines roaring, hair flapping and a full heart!