For as long as motorcycles have been around, women have always been perceived as an accessory to a man’s back. Not anymore. Those stereotypes of women are long outdated. I am a woman, and for me, being able to control the bike rather than being a backrider makes me feel empowered.
I’ve been riding for two years now. I started because I was enticed by the thought of controlling, which looks so intimidating and difficult. Imagining it as my source of transportation also attracted me. Then there was also that time that one of my friends brought me home on his bike. My friend was a fast rider. Adrenaline rushed over my body as he took me home. I liked the feeling.
Little did I know that he rode with all that speed to scare me off the idea of riding. I was a passenger then, but feeling all of the forces rushing with and against us during our ride home was inexplicable. As soon as we reached my home, I had no second thoughts. I was decided, and very determined to learn how to ride at that very moment.
How was I going to begin my riding life? I was raised into a family that had this image of bikes being unsafe. Even most of my friends had the same notion and were very reluctant with the thought of me, a girl, being on a motorcycle. It felt like the world was against what I desired. But that did not stop me from pursuing it.
I search for a riding school in Manila, and the first result that came out was Honda Safety Driving Center (HSDC). I enrolled in its two-wheel manual course and finished it, but never rode outside because I had no bike back then and felt that my skill level was inadequate.
Still, my desire to ride was overflowing. I usually go to a lot of bike fairs and events whenever I can to gratify my love for bikes. In one event, one of my car racer friends introduced me to the head coach of Zero2Podium Riding School, Joey ‘Storm’ Rivero. Because of my ceaseless thirst to gain more riding knowledge, I availed of the training course at Clark International Speedway.
Riding on the track was a different experience. I had a hangover from it for over a week. I couldn’t forget the feeling—I had to go back. There was this deep fire in my belly, just like when I first began my piloting career. I was in love with riding just as I was with flying.
Anything that gets your blood rushing is probably worth doing, in spite of the demands of being a responsible adult. Being a single mom and a commercial pilot, I still make sure to train on the track at least once a month. I try to bring my son and my colleagues along with me whenever time permits. You can always make time if you really want to
I’ve never experienced anything so close to the feeling of flying an airplane as riding a motorcycle. I think it is the challenges and complexities that make it very fulfilling and satisfying. Learning to get the techniques right while training on the tarmac takes a lot of understanding and effort, just like learning how to fly and land a plane. But when you get all the pieces together—concepts, theory, knowledge, discipline, and experience—you get that very high sense of accomplishment.
Let’s talk about cornering on the track. Approaching entry to a corner, you have to set the right entry speed for your bike. The simplest way to do this is to apply pressure on the brakes and downshift. This then changes the speed of your bike, affects weight transfer, changes the chassis geometry, and also affects how much countersteering you should put in and how far you should lean out your bike.
One input (applying brakes) resulting in multiple outputs from your bike, just like in flying. During takeoff, you apply full throttle which accelerates the plane and once you have the right rotation speed, you pitch up to continue your climb, then your airplane starts to pull you to the left (read up on left-turning tendencies if you’re interested) which affects how much rudder input you have to give to set the right heading.
Again, one input (applying full throttle) resulting in multiple outputs from your airplane. You must be able to interrelate all aspects in both pursuits because they play against one another.
My track sessions helped me a lot in my career as a pilot. I find myself reverting back and forth from my flight and track training sessions, since the two bear a lot of resemblance. The safety checks before mounting your bike, for example, could be compared to a pre-flight inspection.
Even the physics behind controlling a motorcycle and flying an airplane are alike. High situational awareness, good judgment, and decision-making definitely play a big role. Why? You always ride solo, so it is like being the PIC (pilot-in-command) of your own equipment. When you are in charge, every input is your responsibility.
Both riding and flying demand consistency and multidisciplinary competence. You need to practice, again and again, expect to make mistakes, go through bad days, seek self-improvement, but understand and take time to analyze the procedures and concepts before you can say you have reached the skill capability you desire.
Because of my riding passion, I must say I am very surprised to see where I am right now in my riding life. Three years ago, I just wanted to learn how to ride. But as I engaged in it, I craved for more adventures, and now find myself teaching what I know about as a coach.
Sharing everything I know is satisfying. Looking at your students’ improvement and being an inspiration to other people, especially to other women, is contagious and self-sustaining. By teaching, I also find myself improving on my own riding skills even more.
I am still a far cry from the other great riders I look up to, but what the heck? Everyone has to start somewhere, and I am not planning to slow down anytime soon. More often than not, I still view myself as a kid who glows up and gets excited with the thought of motorcycles.