The Girl on a Bike in the Media

Women Adventure Riders

My chat with Women Adventure Riders

I spoke to Women Adventure Riders about my life, how the accident changed, how I’ve learned to live with pain and also discovered that motorcycles breed! Check out the full article here

 

There’s Something about Vanessa: The Girl on a Bike

“My goal is to make the most of life, because in a moment, it can change.” Vanessa, The Girl On a Bike

Vanessa speaks the truth of her experience when she states this fact. Throughout her life, she was active, riding a bicycle to work, kite surfing on the weekend, mountain biking whenever she could until one fateful evening in March 2014 when everything changed.  In one thoughtless moment, a car ran a red light. One moment Vanessa was riding her bicycle through the intersection, the next she was on the ground [read more here].

Girl On A Bike

Her injuries were not life threatening, at least from a medical perspective. But they have been slow to heal and without a doubt, life changing.  Shoulder surgeries, hip surgeries, every therapy imaginable.  She literally last week faced another painful surgery, number 5, yet if you talked to her, you wouldn’t know it. There’s something about Vanessa with her positive outlook and hopefulness.

Girl On A Bike

Vanessa grew up with horses.  With horses, when you fall off, you just get back on. She’s been frustrated by the fact that she physically hasn’t been able to just hop back onto a bicycle, but during her recovery, she did discover she could ride a motorcycle. “I realized I can use that to commute to avoid traffic.”  Vanessa started riding as much as she could. She loved the freedom, the acceleration, the wind in her hair. She admits that at times, she feels vulnerable on a motorcycle. “Seeing cars coming from my right still freaks me out, three and a half years later.” But that does not stop her from riding, whenever her medical procedures allow.

On Breeding Motorcycles

When asked about how she got into riding dirt, Vanessa laughs. “No one told me that motorbikes breed!” One night, Vanessa had spare time. She was poking around on the internet, probably watching some YouTube when she said aloud “We need a dirtbike!”

Girl on a Bike

Photo: Adrenaline Images

Her husband looked up from his book “ok.” They bought a WR250 to share, to see if this was something they’d even like. She was actually recovering from a surgery at that time, so she wasn’t even able to find out. She spent her time watching over it, cleaning it and daydreaming about riding dirt.  When she finally could ride, two things quickly became obvious. She loved riding off road, and the WR was not the right bike for her. She upgraded to a two-stroke KTM and spent as much time “green laning” as she could. “This was the new thing!”

Girl On A Bike

On Self Confidence and  Being a Gal

Adventure truly is attitude. All of her life, Vanessa has enjoyed male dominated activities. “What has given me the self confidence to do what I do?” she reflected. “My parents never said ‘you can’t do that’. I grew up with an older brother and two older male cousins.  I had to keep up and defend myself and stand my ground.”

Girl on a Bike

Vanessa’s first bicycle

These days, Vanessa finds it satisfying to be in front of a “group of blokes, and able to roll up on a bike as big as theirs or talk engines with them.”  She has run into her fair share of skepticism.  At shops, sometimes she gets the question “Oh, which bike would you have if you could have a bike?”  She realizes that she doesn’t look like a typical motorbiker with the blond hair and long eyelashes. So, she’s just honest, and shows up as a rider, a snowboarder, a surfer. Her husband chimes in “you’re quite credible in the knowledge you have, that helps you stand your ground.”

Girl On A Bike

Girl On A Bike

“I’m not a girl rider. I’m just a rider.”  The enduro scene seems to have created its own challenge around gender. “At a practice racing event, I am one of 2 or 3 women out of 300 bikes. I am a novice, and honestly, this is the most vile group of guys I have run into. They see a girl, and the most important thing is that they get in front of you.” She just carries on, doing her best, knowing that she is going to progress and someday, they won’t be getting around her.

She also noted that “Sometimes girls don’t help themselves.” She encourages women to ask questions and to do research so they can talk intelligently about the sport. “Just trying to be pretty and sexy, you may generate the wrong sort of attention. Go into it like a real biker.”

Girl On A Bike

On Learning to Ride

Vanessa obviously knows her way around a motorcycle. We wondered if she grew up around them. Vanessa told us that her dad had a motorbike when she was a kid.  She knows it’s true because there are photos, but she doesn’t remember it at all! Her dad was into cars “so I was always a petrolhead. I learned how to drive at 13, and I bought my first car when I was 16. I woke up the day of my 17th birthday to tremendous fog, but that didn’t stop me from driving my car.  My parents hopped in with me, and I drove up the highway. Why wait until the morning!”

She later got her first motorcycle when she was working in the Bahamas. “I ordered a bike from China, and it came in a box in pieces. I traded a box of rum to someone to build my motorbike. It didn’t bother me that I didn’t know how to ride, I just figured other people can ride, I can do it.”

Girl On A Bike

She and her husband rode Harley-Davidson’s on their honeymoon.  When her husband returned from active duty, she planned an anniversary ride for them, and she realized “We need Harley’s.”

Girl On A Bike

photo: Vicky Bowers

So, what is The Girl On a Bike?

The Girl on a Bike is Vanessa’s  Instagram account. Vanessa shares that “this has been a huge emotional roller coaster and I’ve had to learn to deal with pain.”  In the process, she has learned mindfulness and how to choose to be positive. When she was at home recovering from major hip surgery in 2016 and wanting to connect with people, “The Girl on a Bike” was born.  “It’s pretty much just following my life. I just post shots of me doing my life, getting out and trying to make the most of things. I don’t do anything special for it.”

Girl On A Bike

Through this, she has found that there are other people struggling, and her own struggle, attitude, and sharing have inspired them.  “I love helping inspire other people to do more with their lives.” She has had the opportunity to work with brands that she connects with. “If it’s on my site, it’s because I use it.”

Vanessa is also starting a “The Girl on a Bike” YouTube channel.  It is going to focus on her working on her bikes.  “There’s so much out there that the normal average person can do on their motorcycle.” She wants people to see that you don’t have to be special to work on a bike, and “there’s a lot of satisfaction in doing what you can at home.” She’s an account director in business to business marketing – it’s fast paced, challenging and pays for her fun, but has nothing to do with motorcycles. “If I can work on my bike, anyone can!”

On Spirit

There’s something about Vanessa.  We asked her about her spiritual path. “I’m spiritual in a way that I don’t even know what it is. There is so much more to life than we actually know. I don’t have the vocabulary or understanding to describe it.” She told us that her mom works as a spiritual healer, and is an excellent example of how much more there is to life than meets the eye.

Girl On A Bike

photo: Vicky Bowers

“Our mind has so much power; there is so much that is unconscious, but we can consciously change so much. When we go out in a bad mood, we are actually making a choice to be in a bad mood. Kick that out and put a smile on your face. You are going to get back what you put out.”   This has been true with pain. “I try to focus on the fact that I’m not in pain.” She is also an incredibly grateful person, who notices the smallest joys and beauties.

Girl On A Bike

What’s next?

The moment Vanessa is cleared to ride from her next surgery, don’t be surprised if you see her on a plane to Morocco to ride off road. She’s launching a website to continue to share her story, to help her stay motivated in her recovery, and to continue to inspire and encourage others who are struggling.

Girl On A Bike

Vanessa leaves us with one important thought

“More girls should ride bikes!” Vanessa, we agree.  And, we think you exemplify #adventureisattitude !

The Girl on a Bike in the Media

Floating Point Ambassador 10% Discount Code

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Uncategorized

The Bikes

My bikes and how it started

Don’t wait for live, ride to meet it!

My motorbike days started in my teens when we had a family quad bike. Not a motorbike, but the combination of this and my love for cars and adrenaline was enough to spark motorbike enthusiasm.

How it started

As soon as I turned 17, I was off driving; passing my test just 16 days after my birthday and within the year I had my IAM Institute of Advanced Motorists qualification. In these early days, my world was all about cars. This all changed when I lived in the Bahamas in my early 20s for 1.5 years, here on a remote island transport was difficult. I couldn’t afford a car, so I bought a Chinese Lifan Enduro 250 motorbike and had it shipped in. I’d never ridden a bike before, but that didn’t faze me. However, I was rather shocked by it arrived part assembled, Yikes. Thankfully a trade for a bottle of rum saw a local bush mechanic put it together and I was on my way. I was very soon found exploring the remote island of Eleuthera, where I lived, with my spear and fins strapped to the side for spearfishing beach adventures. So my first bike was quite an adventure, lots of sand and track riding. I then came back to England and realised that it was about time I actually got my full licence…I immediate passed my full access licence but years went by without having a bike. I guess early in my career and post-university I couldn’t see the financial commitment of a second vehicle as feasible when a car was vital.

MY FIRST BIKE
Lifan Col
Then post accident, I was unable to do my commute cycling and thus was driving in our 3.5 litre V6 Mercedes-Benz Viano….which drinks petrol back and forth to work. I decided to get a bike, the Suzuki Bandit, to skip the traffic and save money….that was a few years ago and we now have more bikes! 🙂 haha I wouldn’t say I am a stereotypical biker chick, but I am definitely a biker chick.

Harley-Davidson’s

The love for Harley-Davidson’s started on our honeymoon when we hired two bikes out in Texas and racked up 1,000 miles across 5 days exploring Mid-point café on Route 66, Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, and the breathtaking scenery of the Palo Duro Canyon. It was an amazing adventure [read about it here]. On one of our wedding anniversaries, we hired two Harley-Davidson’s in England and that was it. Within a few weeks, we decided to buy two, and the Harley adventure began. In the first three years, around my numerous surgeries, we managed 10,000 miles, countless weekend adventures, wild camped, explored 6 national parks in the UK, enjoyed sunrise rides over Tower Bridge in London and generally had a blast on two wheels.

Dirt bike enduro bikes

Following the accident, I was off work post the hip surgery, I was bedridden, but I woke up one day and turned to my husband “Please can I have a dirt bike?” I’m not sure what sparked it by let’s just say he was more than thrilled by the idea. As soon as I was mobile enough, we started the hunt and found a Yamaha WRF250 4-stroke. From what we had read it was a great beginner’s bike, friendly and reliable. That is was! We started with this, and once I was able, always following medical recommendations, I was blasting around on her, named Whizz. However, I soon realised she was just too heavy for me at 125kg. A bit of research and introducing Smokey, a KTM 200 2-stroke at only 85kg. Having fallen in love with the fiery power and such each of maintenance of a KTM 2-stroke, I’m confident I won’t go back. I’m now on my second EXC, but this time slightly younger with the ‘hip saver’ button AKA electric start.

Cruising and Enduro

The combination of the two bike types gives so much freedom. On the Harley-Davidson, you have the open road, the distance and the ability to strap a bag on the back and disappear for the weekend. It’s all about the freedom and the adventure. However, it’s rather sedating, and with my inner thirst for adrenaline, it doesn’t fully satisfy me. This is where the dirt bikes come in! On the KTM you can travel across epic terrain and explore the countryside in a totally new way. It’s fast, technically demanding and physically exhausting, whether it’s green laning or entering enduro races.

But, both of these types of riding have one great thing in common, and that is the ability to travel.  I’ve now ridden in Texas, UK, Wales, Scotland, Spain, Andorra, The Bahamas, Dominican Republic and next year I’m off on a 13 day Alps adventure exploring 8 countries across Europe with Tour 1 . The scenery you can explore on two wheels is incredible. I’m looking forward to making many more adventures, most likely in countries I wouldn’t have landed in if it wasn’t for the bikes.

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There is always space for bikes in your life!

The Girl on a Bike in the Media

Built Magazine

Built Magazine

After a fantastic long weekend at the 2017  Camp VC girls only camping weekend, I was lucky enough to chat to Built Magazine about how I got into biking.

 

Buy your issues here: Built Magazine

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If you'd asked me a few years ago if I thought I'd be featured in @Built_Magazine talking about how I got into bikes I'd probably have laughed. However, I'm insanely chuffed to say that it's a reality. A lot has changed in my life since the accident in 2014, but finding motorcycles as a way to fight back in my recovery has been an incredible positive that's brought me to places I would never have even imaged without the accident. I'm mean, TheGirlOnABike wouldn't even exist! Life can throw some storms but I honestly believe that with the right drive there can be a silver lining to every cloud! I want to say thank you toa young all for the energy you give me and for sharing my journey. > If you want to read about my first bike and how I strapped my spear and fins down the side in The Bahamas then grab yourself a copy! > PS – if you buy four copies like me the check out girl will give you really strange looks 😝 . ——————————- Magazine by @built_magazine Mag shots by @raisehellbill Interviewed at @vc_london ride out Bracelet by @rebels_ring Bike by @harleydavidson_uk with kit from @vanceandhines @memphisshades @crusherperformance @mageurope @dragginjeans @hdfootwear ——————————- . #builtmagazine #builtmotor #motorbike #motorcycle #motorbikes #motorcycles #custombike #model #magazinecover #magazinefeature #bikemagazine #HarleyDavidson #mystory #vclondon #HarleyDavidson #ukbikelife #campvc #vccamp #bikergirl #everycloudhasasilverlining #thegirlonabike #womenwhoride #girlswhotravel #tomboy #CrusherPerformance #mageurope #vanceandhines #memphisshades #bikemodel #motocross

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The Girl on a Bike in the Media

View Ranger

View Ranger

Living in England, we have a vast array of byways available for exploring on the enduro bikes. However, the tricky part is knowing how to find them and plotting a route navigating across the country using them. This is where I use View Ranger, and following my love for the system I met up with the guys at View Ranger to talk about how I use it.

A day with @TheGirlOnABike, the biker getting her life back

The Girl on a Bike in the Media Uncategorized

Republican Bike

Republican Bike

Republican Bike

After a wonderful trip to the Dominican Republic [read about it here], I chatted to Republican Bike about my time in the sun with Harley-Davidson’s and horses. Sadly, Republican Bike no longer exists – but it was fun speaking with them.

Click to read about The Girl on a Bike riding in Dominican Republic
The Girl on a Bike with Republic Bikes