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 Kojii Helnwein of County Tipperary in Ireland. Kojii achieved many things in her life but didn't know what she had been missing until she found motorcycling. Read about her new found love.
We hope you enjoy her story.
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Kojii Helnwein is an Irish actress, musician and Founder of Motowitch Collective.
"I am Kojii Helnwein. I'm from Dublin, Ireland. I live in County Tipperary, in the South East of Ireland where I co-host the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride with my husband, Cyril Helnwein (photographer).
My earliest memory of motorcycles was when I was a little girl. I would hide away in my Granny’s shed, sitting on my uncle’s forgotten Honda 50. I would sit there for hours imagining that I was exploring jungles, cities and mountain ranges. You name it and my imagination and I went there. The hedgehog who lived in an old helmet was my lucky mascot and got to see the world with me.
The first bike I actually rode was a Honda Shadow when I was 17. It was a very brief lesson on a friend’s bike in a car park but it was enough to get me hooked. I spent years fighting with my personal excuses for not getting my own bike; finances, pregnancy, work, travel, relocating from Ireland to the USA, and back again, two more pregnancies.
After the birth of my third child and too many years of wanting it, I'd had enough of my own excuses. I had been a pillion on my husband's Triumphs for 13 years and my love of having control over my own destiny finally won out.
I learned to ride on my husband's classic Yamaha XT550 around our property. It's all gravel, grass, and dirt which was an interesting way to start. The bike was too tall for me though and my feet barely touched the ground. Once I got the hang of controlling the bike, it was time to get my own. I'd always dreamed of owning a Royal Enfield. I spent months scouring the for sale ads for an old one, to no avail. Until, one day, I came home to find my husband parading around the front of the house on my dream bike. A battle green Royal Enfield Classic 500. He had sold his XT550 and snuck out to surprise me.
Four weeks after I got my license we set out on a route known as the Wild Atlantic Way. My husband on his Triumph Bonneville, our friend Walter on his BMW GS and I on my Royal Enfield. We explored the West coast of Ireland from the most Southern point to the most Northern tip of Ireland. This 2400km trip, and being on my bike 9 hours a day awakened something in me that I was quite adept at suppressing. A hunger for adventure, exploration and the desire to keep moving forward. I started dreaming about riding my bike and could not believe I waited so long to start riding! I wasted so many years living in sunny California NOT riding motorcycles.
That's when I knew I was in trouble. I wanted to meet more people with this obsession, I wanted to find more people to explore with. I wanted to live, breathe and work in the biking world.
However, I quickly became frustrated with the scene in Ireland. I couldn’t find any one place where I could learn more about this new adventure I had embarked on.
I wanted to uncover where all the other female bikers were. What gear did they use? What driving courses did they take? What trips did they like best? What did they pack? What luggage did they like? What bikes did they ride? What adventures did they take? Where were the women like me, who don't want pink and neon gear?
Everything I found was written by men, for men. The first time I picked up a copy of the only bike mag produced in my country, I found one short article written by a woman. All the ads and all the gear reviews were for and by men.
I scrolled through websites, Instagram, Pinterest, biker magazines. There was so little that appealed to me, and what was out there for women I devoured in minutes. The #womenwhoride tags on Instagram were becoming filled with lame bot-like accounts. It was clear that these were dudes re-posting random photos of scantily clad "chicks on bikes", few of whom could actually ride.
With all of this in mind, I decided to find my own tribe and to give them a place to voice their stories.
Thus, MOTOWITCH COLLECTIVE was born. At www.motowitch.com I host MOTOWITCH CHRONICLES, a podcast where I interview my fellow female bikers from around the world. We talk about their philanthropic ventures, world records, overcoming paralysis, beating illnesses. Some women were born into the motorcycle culture others came to it as Grandmothers. These women span all sorts of backgrounds and have been incredibly open about their lives so as to inspire other women to take that step.
I also run MOTOWITCH MAG, the Blog, where we feature many incredible guest writers. These women share road reports from their adventures, their humanitarian work and what being a female biker means to them. New riders discuss their new journey into the biking world and seasoned bikers tell us how they paved the way for us in this male-dominated world of motorcycles over the last 30 years.
MOTOWITCH COLLECTIVE launches on May 4th, 2018 to coincide with International Female Ride Day (May 5th). On the 4th I will be riding across Ireland with other female riders documenting our journey to the Irish IFRD. There we'll meet with 200+ women from all across Ireland and the UK.
I look forward to interviewing many of these female bikers at IFRD for upcoming podcast episodes.
Through Motowitch I have discovered a sisterhood within the female biking community that has humbled, inspired and simply, blown my mind. These women have shared their personal stories in the hopes that more women will be inspired to take to the roads on two wheels.
To those of you reading this who are toying with the idea of riding motorcycles, all I can say is, "just do it!". Stop procrastinating. Google "Motorcycle lessons in...." wherever you live, right now and do it.
It's never too late to start but you may regret the time wasted in procrastination.
If you recently started riding, "YES!!" keep at it. Enjoy it and don't let anyone push you harder or faster than you are ready for. Trust yourself.
Always dress for the crash. Wear the right gear and ride safe.
Come say hi to me over at Motowitch Collective, I bet you have a story to tell."
- - - - -Thank you to Kojii for sharing her story and if you would like to share your story with us simply go to the GET IN TOUCH page of the website and fill in the form and we will gladly be in touch.