‘Not just for men’ as 10,000 women ride across the world

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Posted September 06, 2019 06:21:22

Days before an international pilgrimage of female bikers was set to begin a world tour of more than 80 countries, one woman was still to sign on.

But 55-year-old grandmother Colette Tindall Edeling wasted no time in remortgaging her Brisbane home so she could join in.

“I saw it 10 days before it started, and I said to my daughter, ‘You know what? I’m going to try and do the whole thing’,” she said.

After a visit to the bank for the funds, Ms Edeling then needed a motorcycle, so bought one in the UK on her way to joining the group of what would become 10,000 female riders in possibly the largest recorded world-wide motorbike relay.

Women Riders World Relay

The Women Riders World Relay (WRWR) began in February in Scotland, before moving through Europe and Asia, and now they are in Sydney.

Carried along with the group, a baton has so far made it to more than 50 countries, in the hope of encouraging women to take part in motorsports.

Ms Edeling, who has travelled with the relay for seven months now, said it had been an empowering movement to witness.

“After the UK, I then did 39 countries across Europe,” she said.

“I tried to get into Iran but couldn’t get my motorbike across the border, so ended up getting sponsorship to make it to Asia to keep going.”

She landed in Perth in late August, and with 100 other women, will pass through Sydney on Thursday before flying to New Zealand to continue the relay.

“Then I’ll go to Canada and there I’ve bought a BMW GS700,” she said.

“After that, I will go to America and then 19 countries in South America.

“In January we go to South Africa and do eight countries though Africa and end up in the United Arab Emirates on the February 5, so it’s 343 days altogether.”

‘He assumed I sat on the back’

Helga Hernandez Taylor, also known as Helga Purple Possum, has been riding for 38 years.

As the organiser of the Australian relay leg, she hoped the event would change the stereotype of women riders.

“I’ve always liked bikes, and I’ve had a couple of accidents, but that can’t stop me,” she said.

“I love going quick and I love cornering and to me, that’s what bikes are for.”

Even on this trip, Ms Taylor’s position as a female rider has been questioned.

“A couple of days ago I went for a ride on this back road and when we got to the shop, I said to the guy, ‘Oh, that road was so good’,” she said.

“The guy behind the counter responded, ‘Oh, I’m sure your partner rode slowly for you’.

“He assumed I sat on the back, not that I was leading. That’s pretty frustrating because it’s not just for men.”

Feeling sense of belonging

Ms Edeling said, while she had not felt any pressure from stereotypes about riders, teaching other women to feel comfortable on the road with men was important.

“When the girls first come [on the relay], sometimes they’re scared, and I say ‘Follow me’,” she said.

“And then they walk away, and they feel like they belong. They don’t feel like they’re trying to compete with the men on the track.

“We are giving them a place to ride and a place to learn.”

The Women Riders World Relay is due to end in February 2020.

Topics: lifestyle, lifestyle-and-leisure, women, travel-and-tourism, brisbane-4000, sydney-2000, united-arab-emirates, united-states, perth-6000, canada, scotland, portugal, united-kingdom