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 Alison, a resilient and badass mother of two living in NSW, Australia.
We hope you enjoy her story.
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Hey, I’m Alison. I'm 39 from Central Coast, NSW. I ride a 2017 Harley Davidson SuperLow 883, but I sure as shit didn’t start out on one of those! :)
I’m stoked to share a bit about how my moto story has hugely changed my life and hope it might encourage any other mums and late starters out there, like myself to get out there and join me! x
My moto story starts at age 5 when my big brother Mark used to swear to me that when he grew up and became rich, (lol) he’d buy me a PeeWee and teach me to ride. We were raised by a fearless single mother growing up in Padstow and there was never much money, but there was ambition. The peewee never eventuated, but it planted the goal in my head that when I grew up, I’d ride.
What my brothers did do, was raid scraps from the junkyard and save up for paint to build me my first pushy, a hot little dragster. I rode that little glittery, pink, tasseled beast at full speed over jumps and into trees so many times I lost count, and it proved something to me & my family, that my passion for bikes and speed was inevitable.
I didn’t grow up in a moto family, or on a farm like so many others I’ve met where motorbikes have always been a part of their lives. My first moto experience was in my teens.
A friend asked me to go shopping with her one day, but instead had actually planned to meet up with a guy she was crushing on from school to go ride enduro for the afternoon with him and a mate on some trails close to home. I was furious at first that she’d lied, but that day turned out to be one of the best days of my life. Trail bikes aren’t made for pillions, but my friends and I fanged around through the bush all day. I came home that afternoon with the biggest, sheepish smile on my face, bruised and scratched up, dirty as hell with a whole new idea of what real exhilaration was. Worth it too, my friend ended up marrying that guy after graduation, having four kids and living happily ever after.
My secret desire to ride remained dormant for another 20 years until I met my second husband. A South African who grew up riding dirt bikes and adventure bikes through the lawlessness of Zambia, Namibia and South Africa. I was incensed. I wanted us to be able to ride together and have our own moto adventures throughout the world. I became obsessed.
I booked myself in for Stay Upright at 30 years old, a mother of a 3 year old daughter. I had so many who thought it irresponsible, dangerous and selfish. Shouldn’t I have been doing this in my 20’s, not now with so many responsibilities. But I thought, I’ve never cared what anyone else thought before and what better gift could I give my daughter than a female role model who doesn’t let the expectations of others stop her?
Hilariously, I earned my first moto injury at Stay Upright. I broke my wrist when I dropped the bike and tried to save it. It wasn’t even switched on. I had fun telling everyone the story about my badass 'moto injury’ when they asked about my cast. I won’t say learning was easy for me, I think after a certain age you become acutely aware of your mortality, but I was having too much fun.
My husband bought me a little Sachs MadAss 125 as my first bike. With 4 gears and a top speed of 80 kms/ph it was a good start. I rode it everywhere. It broke down all the time. I loved it, but soon after I fell pregnant with my second daughter, put aside the bike and 8 years later sadly, the marriage. Though we had plenty of adventures all over, we never filled my dream of riding together through the wilds of the world.
After my divorce I had an opportunity to re-think life on my own terms. How did I want it to look? I decided I wanted to see it from the seat of a bike, at full speed. I was a successful businesswoman with my own company, a mother of two extraordinary girls with special needs and I’d never let anything get in the way of what I loved to do or believe in. So, I bought my first bike of my own choosing. A brand new, just released BMW 310GS. A slow entry into adventure bikes. I asked my brother Mark to do the honours of riding it out of the dealership. I was afraid my lack of experience would make a bigger bike a death wish, but it didn’t take long to upgrade to a 650.
I have always ridden alone. I love a solo ride, especially at night. The freedom, experiencing all of life unfiltered, open to the world, sometimes at full throttle, sometimes at a cruise, and always on my own terms. Riding has healed me, challenged me, rewarded me, brought on the judgement, both positive and negative others, inspired & frightened others and given me new friends and experiences that only riders can share.
Two years later I met my partner, Morgan. Our first, blind date was a three hour ride through the Hunter Valley. He on his Fat Boy and me on my BMW. We made an odd looking pair of riders.
It was the first time I’d ridden with someone else and it was the best trip of my life. Pushing each other, sharing that wildness and exhilaration with someone else. We’ve ridden together ever since.
Just before our 1st anniversary he surprised me with my first Harley Davidson Sportster, something I never even imagined. Now, I’d never ride anything else and my daughters love to drop the fact that Mum rides a Harley. My daughters each have challenges of Juvenile Diabetes and Autism, but when they see me ride, they think I’m the biggest badass and it inspires them to go after the goals that challenge them and wear a killer leather jacket while you do it.
I think the fear of bikes I've seen in others and people who tried to keep me from the road comes partly from envy of the courage to go after what inspires you, even if it frightens you, and obviously the very sensible fear of the consequences that can come from a serious accident, the reality that we are out there unprotected against the world.
In September on an anniversary ride with Morgan, I was clipped by a driver while riding through CBD Sydney. They didn’t check for a moto and I don’t think they even realised they had hit me. They didn’t stop, but they would’ve seen me fly through the air over my handlebars, past their passenger window and slide 100 meters across the tarmac. Incredibly I rode away from that slide, thanks to my gear from Black Arrow and Moto Femmes. One month later I was back on a newer, faster, blacker Harley and I’ve never felt more comfortable on a bike. My plan again is to ride the world.
I’m learning to ride enduro with my whole family. Morgan, my brother, my nephew and my daughters so our family can tackle some of the amazing adventure rides throughout Asia, Himalayas, South East Asia and South America together. Dirt is a whole other beast, and I still get lapped by the kids on the tracks for now, but I’m determined!
My advice to new riders is don’t be intimidated and don’t be afraid to seek help from your local riders. I’ve met riders from all over, all kinds of people, all kinds of groups and I’ve never met a fellow rider who did anything except welcome me, lift me up and encourage me. Join a girl gang! Your fellow motobabes are your new family and man, they kick ass! Wear your effing gear… always… and enjoy the ride!
See you out there!
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Thank you to Alison for sharing her story.
You can follow Alison and her moto journeys at @alison_oosthuizen
If you would like to share your story with us simply go to the GET IN TOUCH page, fill in your details and we will gladly be in contact.