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 Miss H, currently parked in NSW, Australia. In 2014, after 17 years as a single mum, Miss Heather became an empty nester! Since hitting the pause button for marriage and family, she wanted to reconnect to her gypsy soul and pick up where she left off, Miss Heather loaded up Fat Bob and Mr T and hit the road combining her three passions, motorcycling, travel and people.
We hope you enjoy her story.
”Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well reserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up. Totally worn out, and loudly, WOW! What a ride” – Hunter S Thompson
The above quote pretty much sums up my attitude to life. The fact I visualise motorcycling is an added bonus. Motorcycling is my great love; my happy place – my think tank, my escape, my freedom, my living in the now.
Hi I’m Miss Heather, or Miss H for short. I’m 52 years young and currently parked up in Coolamon New South Wales (NSW).
So who are Fat Bob and the Blonde. Well, Fat Bob is the 08 Harley Davidson model I ride and I’m the peroxide enhanced blonde.
I developed a love for motorcycles early as a young girl growing up on a farm in central western NSW. I don’t know where it came from. We didn’t have motorcycles on the farm. I didn’t know anyone who rode a motorcycle. Never the less an intriguing love affair started in early childhood.
It wasn't until I left home and moved to Sydney, NSW, aged 17 that I got my motorcycle licence and bought my first motorbike, a Yamaha DT 175. My parents wanted to kill me. “Good girls don’t ride motorcycles” was Mum’s response. Dad threatened to cut it up with a chain saw if I ever brought it home.
I didn’t know how to ride it. I recruited help from male friends and neighbours at the time. They picked the bike up for me and rode it home.
I spent the following weeks stalling, bunny hopping, and revving the hell out of the two-stroke engine as I went around the loop street where I was living. That street was a blessing, as I didn’t have to come to a stop; which was a challenge at the time. I just kept going around and around as I taught myself to go up and down the gears.
Determination and persistence paid off and before long I was venturing off on road trips outside the city limits.
Over the next four years, I changed my bikes as often as I changed my jobs and towns I lived in. I had a Yamaha SRX 250, Suzuki GS 750, and a Honda CB 900. Ohhh, I almost forgot, the Postie bike. While not my motorcycle, tearing around on it chasing sheep over limestone rocks and through four-wheel drive territory at Wee Jasper NSW really enhanced my riding skills.
I didn’t own a car—I was a biker. Sunshine, rain, or hail I rode.
In 1988 I sold the Honda to travel overseas. I left Australia with a backpack, tent, and sleeping bag, not returning until 1998 with three children, fours bags, and about $400! I don’t remember reading that chapter in Lonely Planet.
I spent the next 17 years as a single mother back in Wagga Wagga. My focus shifted to raising my children and building a career to support us.
In late 2010, I brought a Suzuki GS500. My eldest son told me I was being very irresponsible. I said, “good!”
Towards the end of 2012, I bought Fat Bob. My first cruiser. It was strange at first, having my legs out on forward controls; having only ridden Japanese bikes, I was use to my legs and feet controls underneath me. But I quickly adapted.
In 2014 I became an empty nester! My three fabulous kids went off chasing their dreams. They had survived my parenting. I had survived motherhood!
I figured it was the perfect time for me to reconnect to my gypsy soul and pick up where I left off when I hit the pause button for marriage and family. I was craving freedom and adventure.
When a suggestion was made to tow a trailer, I was mortified. I dismissed the idea immediately. “I’m not old enough to be a grey nomad biker,” I laughed.
To cut a long story short, I ended up with a Cub Kamperoo Junior camper trailer – Mr T. My mobile cubby house.
I didn’t spend too much time reading the fine print on the, ‘how-to-tow’ instructions; I figured I’d work it out as I went along. Nothing beats experience—right?
In May 2014, with Fat Bob and Mr T ‘locked and loaded,’ I hit the road, combining my three passions—motorcycling, travel, and people.
I loved riding through all the amazing Australian landscapes; immersing myself in nature – sleeping out under the stars. The more remote and isolated the better. I loved the outback - its raw beauty, ancient landscapes, big horizons, sunsets and red dirt. It got into my skin, heart and soul. The sense of freedom was addictive.
I met the most wonderful people along the way; their conversations, laughter, friendship, generosity and stories were priceless.
On 23 September 2016 I suffered a limb threatening injury when the headlight on a borrowed motorcycle failed as I crossed a bridge at night at Yungaburra, Far North Queensland, where I was living at the time. Blessed to have my left leg!
With Fat Bob parked up, physiotherapy became my new best friend!
It has been a looooong recovery – physically, mentally and emotionally. And, well, as I have discovered, things will never be quite the same again. It is a permanent injury!
I used my recovery time to self-publish a book: Fat Bob and the Blonde – Girl Torque. An entertaining memoir about my travels. However, important messages of resilience, adversity, thinking big and creating a life you want are also woven into the story line.
I am pumped to be back riding my beloved Fat Bob out on the road again with Mr T in tow. I recently completed my first solo trip just to prove to myself I could still tour by myself despite my mobility impairment.
It didn’t take me too long to test that theory out – Fat Bob lost rear brakes on a bloody steep descent on a dirt road between Comboyne and Wingham NSW. Though it was white knuckled ride at times, it was freakin awesome to reconnect to my adventurous spirit again. And, more importantly, feeling that overwhelming sense of achievement and confidence that comes with handling ‘hard things’!
So what’s next for me? Well, I’m keen to put some more kilometres on Fat Bob (currently he has 153 299km on the clock) as I continue to combine my three passions – motorcycling, travel and people.
However, things are a little different this time around, as I reinvent myself and transition Fat Bob and the Blonde from a travel blog into my work. It’s just not sustainable being a busted up biker lol
I use my motorcycling and travel experiences to empower people, in particular women, with the courage to live their ‘life @ full throttle’!
My author talks, motivational speaking and workshops can best be described as entertainment with passion and purpose.
My greatest wish is for audience members to gain inspiration, courage and motivation to go out and do what makes them happy. Create their journey and follow their own road map!
And if more women are encouraged to take up motorcycling – well, amen to that!
What’s my advice to new riders? Just ride. You’ll only gain confidence, experience and get ride fit from riding your motorcycle. Need a bottle of milk or loaf of bread from the Supermarket. Ditch the car keys and ride.
Ride your own ride - choose a motorcycle that best suits you. Doesn’t matter what make or model it is. If you get that Goldielocks moment – ‘arhhhhh yes, this motorbike feels just right’, buy it.
Always ride to conditions and don’t confuse your ambitions with your abilities. I learnt that ‘ego bruising’ one the hard way in my early riding day’s lol.
Carry a pair of rubber washing up gloves with inner cotton gloves (available at most supermarkets) along with plastic bread bags and spare pair of socks. Best emergency wet weather gear ever!
Always carry cable ties – they fix everything!
And my parting words! Please, ‘Don’t barter with time you think you have’ - Ignite your spark, grab hold of your own handlebars, kick into gear, listen to the sound of your own engine, and live life @ full throttle - NOW!
Thanks so much for taking the time to read my story. I hope to meet you out on the road or at an event one day. Be sure to come and say hello. I’d love that :) x
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Thank you to Miss H for sharing her story!
Click here to purchase the Kindle Edition of Fat Bob & The Blond - Girl Torque
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.