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.
To celebrate Mother's Day we have a story from Claire Hodges from Queensland, Australia.
Claire is currently 5 months pregnant and has been riding her whole life. Read about her experience on two wheels with a baby in the belly.
We hope you enjoy her story.
Riding for Two. My life with motorcycles and becoming pregnant.
I grew up with the iconic hum of a BMW Boxer engine sounding the arrival of either Mum or Dad home safe from a ride, from work, from the shops.
It's a sound I can still pick from kilometers away and it gives me that belly-settling kind of peace only happy childhood memories can.
You would think my first bike would be a BMW but, as is often when children become teenagers, I wanted to rebel against my parents. I fell madly love with Japanese Sports bikes, my first bike was a 1990 Honda CBR250RR. I never looked back and have ridden many different bikes, owned many and fallen in love with more!
Motorcycling was never a finding myself moment, never a gateway to freedom or an escape. It was just simply part of life. Like breathing or eating.
As I got older and found out other peoples parents didn't ride motorcycles and in fact other people didn't LIKE motorcycles! I came to realise I may not have grown up in the most ordinary of families.
I still never tire of hearing the stories of how women from all different back grounds came to find the thing I was lucky enough to have in my life from birth. I now know I am very privileged to not only have had motorcycles in my life but to have had a father who always encouraged me to explore and a mother who always supported my decisions. I met my husband early in life. He was elbow deep in an engine by the time he was a teenager and he took to motorcycles like a duck to water.
He has never told me a "I can't" has never held me back and together we have built a life full of motos and cars and constant encouragement. I know not everyone gets this safe space to start from and I am very grateful. I try to give to others, especially women, the kind of support and encouragement I have had the fortune of having. Sometimes the biggest battle people face is simply their own self doubt. When no one has told you that you can, and no one has told you it actually doesn't matter if you fall, self doubt can be very overwhelming.
Fast forward and I am now 33 years old. I am happily married to a wonderful man, I work in the moto industry and I enjoy being involved in our very active female motorcycling community here in Brisbane, Australia.
My husband and I decided to start a family together and as I write this I am 5 months pregnant with a baby girl.
I was always very confident that I would ride when I was pregnant. Unless of course something specific to my pregnancy stopped me, such as illness, or vertigo etc. But as all things in life there is how you think you will handle something and then there is how you actually handle it. I have come across a few things I had not realised would be hurdles.
Gear is probably the first hurdle. My Draggin jeans openly mock me for even thinking about squeezing them on. I have been SQUIDing (riding without proper gear) a bit. However, even though I am not 100% in the ATGATT camp I have always been more comfortable in full motorcycle gear.
I worry about how an accident while pregnant may affect her. Even a small fender bender is likely to break my hand or an arm and I can't get xrays. (Edit: I have since found out that you can actually have pregnancy safe xrays) which would seriously hinder my recovery. You can also rule out CT Scans. So, although a small incident probably won't harm my very well insulated fetus, the medical treatment of my injuries could do great damage. Not to mention how many pain killers you can't have.
I am fortunate to be in a situation where I ride all most exclusively for pleasure. I do commute on a bike but I don't have too. I am very confident commuting and deal with my daily "obstacles" fine. A month or two into the pregnancy however, I did get a fright after making a bit of a rookie mistake and it rattled me more than usual. I had a huge rush of guilt for my husband, for my family, for all the people who are so excited about this baby coming along. Arguably that is an unfair burden for me to carry but it doesn't change the feeling I experience and the sense of responsibility to myself, to my baby and to the life we are trying to build.
Where I live it has been very hot and I seem to be running about 10 degrees hotter than normal. It takes me 20mins to get home and when I do I am a sweaty, gross mess. I feel a bit sick and I have to strip off my uniform and wash it daily or I will smell like an old potato. This kid is generating more heat than a Panigale. Butt sweat, boob sweat, its all sweaty. Its super nasty and puts a bit of a dampener on the whole riding for pleasure thing.
On the mountains I do feel safer and its cooler up there but nothing is more distracting than growing a human. I can just tune out for huge chunks of time thinking about what she will look like and what her lap times will be, whether she will like avocados...
And bam.. I'm not sure where I am, what the speed limit is... did we stop for coffee yet?
I am a spirited rider. I have tried to slow down the pace but for those corner-hunters out there you will understand that is not always the easiest thing to do.
I started hesitating to ride my bike in the first trimester. I have never been scared of a motorcycle, and all of a sudden doubt was starting to affect my decisions.
I rode my bike after the scan and I could feel her hanging out in there, listening to the rumble of my motorcycle. All at once it hit me; Just like I once did with my mother and her daughter may one day do with her, I knew she was in the safest place in the world. With her mumma on her moto.
I hold no judgement to women who are pregnant and choose to ride or not ride. It is a very personal choice and one only you can make. I will keep riding for now and that may change tonight, it may change next week and that is okay.
~ Claire Hodges
1990 CBR 250 RR
2014 Triumph Street Triple 675R
2006 Triumph Daytona 675
1995 BMW R100R
Thank you to Claire for sharing her story and giving us some insight of what it's like to ride pregnant. We wish you all the best with your new family member on the way!
If you would like to get in touch with Claire you can follow her on Instagram.
If you would like to share your story with us simply go to the GET IN TOUCH page, fill in your details and we will gladly be in contact.
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