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 from a gal who started riding at just 4 years old, Rosie Tong. An inspiring story from someone who has been around bikes all her life and is a big part of the female riding community in NZ.
I really enjoyed this story and I hope you do too!
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"I am 23, born and raised in a small-ish coastal city, Hawke's Bay New Zealand.
I live almost an hour from town, with my dog, my husband and a few animals. I haven't decided on a 'career' yet, and have actually just quit my job because 8.30-5 in aircon is actually nothing alike to doing a skid or seeing how fast your bike can go. So now I can spend the whole day doing epic shit, learning some stuff, chasing some dreams and doing what makes me happy, while only working part-time to keep on top of the boring stuff. Other than that, when I'm not riding or in a workshop of some kind, I dabble with a camera, spend a lot of time outdoors, hiking, hunting and camping, or renovating my house because I like to try make shit look cool, mostly in black.
My Dad is a motorcycle mechanic, so I have been around motorcycles my whole life. He would pick me up from school on whatever bike he had together at the time. I learnt to ride in a flat paddock at home, where my Dad would run around after me. From age four I was racing motocross on a Yamaha PW50 and raced solidly for ten years, rain or shine, broken bones and all. My best national placing was at age 15 where I came 3NZ in the Junior Women's class. A short while later, I had a massive crash on my Honda CR125 (two-stoke) and broke both of my wrists. After some surgery, titanium plates, hand therapy and a lot of recovery time, I am back seeking the next adrenaline rush.
While I was in high school, Dad found me a Suzuki FX-r150 which I spent a small amount of time on. I didn't end up getting my motorcycle licence until a lot later so that got sold and I got distracted by cars - handbrakies, reversies, keybangers and standstills. But I still have the jacket I bought back then so at least that got some decent use.
I then rode dad's BSA a bit, being a classic British made machine all the gears are fucking back-to-front and the gear lever is on the opposite side of the bike, needless to say I came flying down a straight once and didn't give myself or the old girl enough time to brake for the roundabout intersection, locked up front and rear brakes, she stalled, so my options were let the clutch out and lock up, or just use the brakes to try slow down. I chose the latter, kept as far off the road as I could and gave the driver of the oncoming car a hell of a fright. Everybody lived and I learned that old girls need more time. Dad still doesn't know about that and he will probably read this - she doesn't even have a scratch mate.
My next bike, a 1980 Suzuki GN400, was a bit of a project. It was in average shape when I got it, so with help from my husband, I stripped it down in my lounge at home and tidied as much as possible on a low budget. The tank colour changed a lot from rust, to pink, to camo green. I loved the single cylinder and kickstart, but my need for speed wasn't quite catered for.
Currently I am riding a 1977 Honda CB550f Super Sport in almost original condition. She is nameless. I have made a few trips on her and am loving the extra bit of power, learning more about throwing the bike into the corners and feeling fucking free. I also have a project on the go, Audrey. A 1982 Honda CB750four. Audrey is getting chopped up to become a bit of a bogan, rat racer style bike. I have done as much of the build myself as my skill permits, like stripping her down and chopping the frame. My husband has been doing a beautiful job of tig welding the new parts of the frame in. I am practicing, so by the time my next project comes around, I plan on welding it all myself. I need to spend a few more hours working on her, but am hoping to get her skidding before our Summer rolls around.
The Litas began over in the states and kindof snowballed because who doesn't want to be part of such a supportive, non-judgemental group of bad ass babes. It is a collective of women who like to ride motorcycles. Period. That is the only criteria. I became involved with The Litas after seeing another New Zealand Branch pop up earlier this year.
Creating a group of sorts had been on the cards for some time. Around our region there are plenty of bikers, and more specifically, plenty of women who ride.
My older sister, Hana, also dabbled in motocross for a while. Hana rides a Yamaha Virago which she's had for years, at some points it has been her only daily transport. There's this super rad chick I met at high school, Brooke. She rides a Harley Davidson Streetbob and is probably the fucking coolest girl I know, and ride with most often. Through the custom bike building side of things, I have met a lot of other like-minded people, one in particular, Chelsea. Chelsea rides the shit out of her custom brat-style Suzuki GN250. My mum is also plucking up the courage to get out of the paddock and on to the road. Her little GN125 does epic doughnuts much to her disgust (picture my dad standing there yelling 'give it some more gas' and my mum 'don't wreck my bike', this is my upbringing in a nutshell).
We started our Litas branch in January this year, have 17 females who have signed up with us, gone through some stages of getting our licences together and more who have come and ridden with us from time to time. If you are a female and haven't been cruising amongst an all-female group before, you should. It is one of the more empowering things you can do with your time. As the Litas Hawke's Bay we are going to set up a few rider training days, to teach women to ride because there has been a lot of interest on that front; and some rider skills training days, to give those who already do ride some more skill and confidence in their riding. We are also going to hold a few workshop days so women can not only be bad ass bikers, but they will understand how their machine operates and be able to carry out some basic but all important maintenance.
Because of The Litas, we have met so many women around us who ride, and had some of the best times. I rode about 3.5hours North on the CB550f to meet up with the girls from The Litas Auckland. We camped out at the beach and have made some awesome friendships. Us Hawke's Bay Litas then got to hang out with the girls from The Litas Wellington on their roadie up here to Hawke's Bay. We have many more trips planned for the future and the hope of creating an all-female camp out in New Zealand.
Overall, I find that being busy with a project or being completely focused on the road are my own version of time out or therapy. Being on the bike is good for the soul, and getting to share that with a group of rad women with their own stories is one of the best experiences."
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Thank you to Rosie for sharing her story and if you would like to share your story with us simply go to the Contact Page of the website and fill in the form and we will gladly be in touch.