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 by Tanya Koch from the Central Coast/Sydney. Tanya speaks very openly about her struggles growing up and how she found love and acceptance in motorcycling.
We hope you enjoy her story.
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"I would have started riding when I was slightly older than 10. Just on a small 100cc paddock basher out on the farm where my sister and I learnt to ride horses, the motorcycle was ancient, clunky and downright rude, however I really enjoyed riding it. Even though all I would do is chase cattle around or land flat on my face in a paddock.
I got my motorcycle license as soon as I was legally allowed to and got myself a Kawasaki Eliminator and welcomed myself into the world of motorcycle riding. We bought it from Queensland and my Dad went and rode it back to NSW. It was so beautiful, I could have sat and stared at it for days. I never felt so much adoration for a vehicle than I had with this motorcycle. Something that I realised would eventually become one of my biggest passions in life.
Growing up as a queer person of colour on the Central Coast was a really big struggle. I was a severe target for homophobic and racial bullying, and coming out to my parents was really traumatic. It created a lot of isolation, and I had to become accustomed to being alone. One thing I adored about riding was that it gave me the ability to disassociate myself from the stress of real life and focus my energy into the binding of human and machine. It allowed me to leave my issues, strain, fear, pain and grief at the door, because once I threw my leg over that seat, my motorcycle soon became an extension of my body, unlike being trapped to the confines of the car, it creates a more adrenaline fueled, single minded existence. I was no longer all those horrible things that people made me believe, but I was a faceless entity, no gender, no skin colour, no sexuality, just an engine and operator.
Several years later, I was struggling with very bad mental health issues and I really relied on my riding to bring balance and sanity back into my life. Being a constant that wouldn't change, I took my biggest road trip with my Dad. I bid farewell to my beautiful old bike and bought a brand new Kawasaki Vulcan S. I picked it up on the Central coast and that very day we rode out to Lightning Ridge. That was ten days of flat out riding and I couldn't have been happier, I never wanted that trip to end. The long open space, the winding roads, I could see the horizon for the first time in a very long time. The pressures of real life melted away as I realised I had no one I needed to impress, or anything to prove to anyone but myself.
Riding has always been a very solitary thing for me, I am not very good at making friends, and I am not the most sociable person. I rode with my Dad every now and then, and I used to have one or two friends who would ride with me, but never very far. I moved to Sydney when I was 19 years old, and I spent a lot of time messing around clubbing since I had my newfound existence which was a lot more accepting of my queer identity. It was incredibly hollow however, I was so excited by the concept of people not insulting me that I romanticised that this idea of heavy drinking and gay clubbing was a good idea. I was so very wrong, and I still yearned for that country that I grew up in. I didn't have my open roads anymore, I felt trapped inside this city. I grew to despise it. There was traffic, the people were selfish, the roads tight, but I was horrified by the concept of going back to the Central Coast.
Several years later, after slowly finding my footing in Sydney, I discovered a women's riding group called the Litas (they have groups all over the world too), and tentatively I summoned up enough courage to head out with them on a ride. It was very jarring at first, to be around other motorcycles, following a formation and all that, but they were all so friendly and welcoming that I felt very quickly at home and it felt like I had known them for much longer. Also finally I had the opportunity to take photos of other people riding bikes, I love taking photos (I am still only learning) and suddenly I was with this awesome empowering group of women who were all smiles, laughs and more importantly motorbikes.
Soon after that every weekend was spent with them, even sometime during the week, its incredible. I still love riding by myself but now I feel I have finally managed to make friends after all this time with a common interest and who actually care for me. I have been accepted for everything that I am without fault and I have managed to fill a hole I had gotten so used to having that I thought would be a permanent fixture.
This year my partner finally got a motorcycle too, a beautiful sprightly blue Sol Invictus Nemesis, so now we both ride together which is even more brilliant, all the people I know and love in my life ride around me, and share that same adrenal passion that I do. My partner proposed to me on my birthday and we went riding with the Litas and I had to stop myself from crying the whole weekend. It was the first time in years that I had a drama free birthday and actually enjoyed myself.
Life has it's ups and downs and for everyone they are different. Motorcycles has been a consistency that I have clung onto since as early as possible. I had faith in them and they led me to the happiest I have been in a very long time.
The advice I would have for women who are looking to start riding is just get out there and do it! It is super daunting, and it appears on the surface that it is a very male dominated industry but don't be deceived! The women riders are badass and look after each other like we are family. Hunt for a riding group, learn to ride with someone. The Litas always welcome new riders and soon to be riders. It is safer to ride in groups when you are learning, you can follow other riders and see how they take corners and they can give you constructive criticism and advice. I always love having learner riders and helping them become comfortable and fall in love just as I did.
To us a motorcycle is more than just a machine, and it's more than just a vehicle to get us from one point to another. It is a vessel for the ingrained part of us that has that romantic zeal for freedom. It is our escape."
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Thank you to Tanya 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.