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 Matilda, a professional firefighter & Gridiron player from NSW, Australia.
From a 250 Virago to a 650 V Star, Matilda found her true addiction to bikes after purchasing her first Harley, from then it was game on!
We hope you enjoy her story.
My name is Matilda Wand, I’m 30 years old and I live in Newcastle NSW Australia. I am a Professional Firefighter, Brain Integration Coach, International Retreat Facilitator and the director of The Litas Newcastle motorbike group.
I started motorbike riding around the paddock when I was a young kid with my dad and brother. I grew up on 25 acres of bush land with horses, cows, dogs and chickens. I had an old Kawasaki (Kwaka) that was no clutch and three gears straight down, it was slow but it was fun to ride. I mostly rode horses though, with my mum. Until I was about 19, I rode horses competitively in show jumping, dressage, hacking and cross country.
When I was 21 I decided I would return to motorbike riding and get my Learners License. My first bike was a 250cc Yamaha Virago and it was the best bike I could have had to learn on. I practiced and practiced and enjoyed the thrill of being on the bike.
One night I was heading into night shift when I was working in the mining industry; operating 242 tonne dump trucks. It was dark and cold when I turned the second last turn off before the mine and I noticed a large kangaroo (roo) down an embankment on the left side of the road. I throttled off and moved as far to the right as I could. The roo took three massive jumps and landed in front of my bike. We crashed into each other and I flew over the handle bars and over the roo. I broke my leg in three places, two of my fingers and damaged my knees. I spent weeks in a wheel chair and unfortunately ended up with blood clots. I was having to inject myself with Clexane injections. Yuck.
After this accident I bought a bigger bike. A 650 Yamaha V Star. It was this bike that I really started to push my limits with. My mates who rode at this time were all dudes. They rode hard. I remember how hot my breaks would get because I’d be accelerating and breaking as fast as I could to try and keep up with them. It was here that I learnt many routes and loved taking my bike out after work.
Soon enough I was on my black licence, I bought a 1200cc Harley Davidson 72 Sportster. It stole my heart! The noise! The vibrations! The peanut tank, mini apes and 21 inch front wheel. This bike taught me so much, about decisions, personal responsibility and on the flip side of that, about how fun it was to do tricks! Standing up on the seat with one hand up in the air and one foot on the handle bars is my favourite. I started doing week long trips. Down to VIC & up to QLD. I’d strap on my swag and a duffle bag and away I'd go. Because of the 8L tank I decided it would be a great idea to carry a 5L jerry can, which I put onto the sissy bar so I have extra fuel in case I run out.... 8L isn’t that much. I rode over 20,000kms in one year.
In 2017 I found The Litas Newcastle. I contacted Madeline Moiste who was the first ever international founder of The Litas groups. I organised a ride within the group and it turned out to be the first ever group ride. Madeline and I met for the first time on this group ride and got on like a house on fire. We rode our Sportsters together as much as we could. Finally a female rider! I had never ridden with women before and this was such a great experience to have a group of supportive women who have a common love for motorbikes.
In 2018 I started riding to motorbike events, The Sheila’s Shakedown & Mudgee Meltdown were the two standouts out of all of them. I even got a tattoo at the Sheila’s Shakedown! The people that I have met along these rides and events has given me friends for a life time.
The motorbike community is one that I have never experienced. Such a level of camaraderie and mate ship. Even more than the football team I was in when I represented Australia at the 2017 Women’s World Cup in Canada for Gridiron. There’s just something about motorbikes and our community. I feel so blessed to be a part of it.
In 2019 I bought a Yamaha WR 250cc dirt bike. I had the seat lowered and lowering links put in, in an attempt to be able to touch the ground. Learning how to ride this was so different from the Harley. In June 2019 I went on a trip to Cape York with my husband and some friends. My hubby doesn’t ride, so his pride and joy is his 2018 '79 series LandCruiser dual cab ute. We took my dirt bike on the trip and I rode it right up the top end of Australia. The corrugations in the road were intense, I had to get the bike to a speed where we were skipping over the top of them! Along the Old Telegraph Track we visited Fruit Bat Falls. It was amazing, jumping off the bike and getting right under the waterfall to try and wash my pony tail of all the red dust from the roads.
Just recently on the 31st of December 2019 I signed the paperwork with Frasers Newcastle to buy the brand new 2020 1868cc Harley Davidson Lowrider S! It is due to arrive late January and it’s getting fitted out with V&H Mini Grenades and a Stage 2 upgrade meaning I’m redoing the cams as well. This will increase torque and horsepower to an already wicked and powerful motorbike. I can’t wait to get it between my legs!
I am surrounded by an epic group of mates who have a similar riding style to me, mostly of which are men. So I would love to see more women take up motorbike riding and ditch whatever excesses they have had previously in relation to getting their licence. I love the saying “You can have results, or excuses, but you can’t have both!” So just take one step. Whether that step is googling riding groups near you, going to your local dealer, asking around for advice, booking in your L’s or buying your first bike. Just take one step! Today. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be out there. See you on the road!
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