“Oh… you ride a motorbike?”
That sentence – accompanied by the raising of eyebrows and a thinly-veiled expression of judgement – is invariably the response I face when people find out about this pastime of mine.
People also throw around words like “butch” and “masculine” when they hear of my motorbike, apparently figuring I must have persisted with this most macho of hobbies because I want to be a man. Sometimes, I also get brownie points for being a “tough-as-nails” woman who’s too much of a thrill-seeker to be satisfied with sitting on the back of the bike.
And very occasionally, I’m asked why I have a death wish and persist with a hobby so dangerous.
Don’t get me wrong – I know the statistics. I know that motorbike riding is roughly 30 times more dangerous than driving a car. I know that last year in Australia the motorcycle fatality rate spiked with 72 riders losing their lives. I also know it’s pretty damn unusual for an inner-city girl with a penchant for baking, writing and yoga to cruise the streets of Sydney atop a Suzuki GN250.
But what most people don’t know about me, is that I never got to meet my grandfather. And while motorbike riding isn’t the reason his life was tragically cut short, it sure was something he lived for.
My family remember my (aptly-named) Grandad Speedy as a real lover of life and a go-getter, who was taken from the world too soon. My mum was just 16 when she lost her dad.
And although I grew up not knowing much about who Speedy was or what he did, there were always two things of which I was certain: my grandad loved his family to bits and he loved motorbike riding almost just as much.