Category Archives: Riders

Sets me Free. My Motorcycle and Me.

Motorcycle.
And Me.

I grew up smallest in my class. Being the little guy came with a slew of problems, the worst being the target of the class bullies. Needless to say, 9 year-old me wasn’t a big fan of recess,
especially since I preferred drawing pictures and writing stories to organized sports. In fact, athletics was a struggle for this
skinny kid providing more fuel for the ire of the mean boys.

(and some girls ~ I have the scars to show for it…)

My moments of true happiness occurred riding solo on my purple Baycrest hi-rise bike. It had one speed, a banana seat, and the crank creaked when you pedalled hard. I would ride it all day, away from the projects where my immigrant family lived, through a paved path that crossed the hydro field. Taking this path flat out, feeling the wind in my hair, whistling in my ears as I sped to no destination in particular.

How I loved that bike. On 2, I left behind the taunts and fists of the bullies.

Pedalled away from the pressures of getting good grades, and from the rough-and-tumble existence that came with the everyday in an assisted-housing neighbourhood.

On 2, I found me.

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Not the purple person mover, but my second bike – a Crappy Tire faux motorcycle special with front and rear shocks. That’s my bro and sis on their bikes in our Ontario Housing back yard.

Fast-forward three-odd decades and the skinny kid was all grown-up, with a career in design being his everyday. My purple Baycrest was a distant memory, left behind by adulthood,
replaced by responsibilities…and bills, bills, bills of all kinds.
I was no longer bullied, but the drudgery of everyday life became a new challenge.

I now had a big-boy 21-speed bicycle, but it was totally utilitarian – used to navigate the crazy downtown maze to get to work and back.

As an emerging photographer, I realized that I needed a more
efficient way, though equal in utility to get around the urban
tangle of Toronto to photo gigs. I Iooked into getting a small scooter – nimble in traffic, with the advantage of free street parking.

Settling on a rickety 150cc scoot, hitting the streets for the first time gave me a pleasant surprise.

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As I built up speed, the wind in my hair and whistle in my ears brought back the good memories and feelings of freedom that I associated with my purple bicycle. It was back – the peaceful bliss of being solo on on two wheels. The buzz of the motor
replaced the creak of the crank, but nevertheless it was back!

Happiness. Big ear-to-ear grin.

Another few years pass, and I’ve graduated to a full-sized motorcycle, faster, more powerful and providing me with the freedom the open road brings. Now I create pictures and write stories about motorcycling and am a part of a community of enthusiastic riders.

Most importantly, it all can be distilled into that feeling.

Of bliss. Wind-in-hair. Whistle-in-ears.

On 2, I’ve found me again.

Toulouse
My first scoot Toulouse. As in “parts started falling off a week after I bought it.”

Lady For A Day

Once-a-year, I get the opportunity to get my girl on.

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I’d met Ms. Motoress, Vicki Gray at my first Mad Bastard Scooter Rally way back in 2009. Right away,we got along like best high-school girlfriends!

I can be just as comfortable riding bitch ;)
I can be just as comfortable riding bitch 😉

After shooting her and a few test bikes for her website, motoress.com, she invited me to photograph her crowning achievement: International Female Ride Day, where motogrrrls from all around the globe celebrate their LifeOn2 in a synchronized ride of female unity.

Motoress BMW
Riding with Ms. Motoress herself, 2014.

Since 2010, I’ve been documenting IFRD in one way-or-another, whether riding with the pack, or sniping them on-route.

Looking Back On The Pack, 2014
Looking Back On The Pack, 2014
Female Harley rider, 2012
No Caption Needed. 2012

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Post IFRD ride bonding, High, Park, Toronto, 2012
Post IFRD ride bonding, High, Park, Toronto, 2012

While the ride is a celebration of female motorcycling, I’ve always been welcomed with open arms, often in an inclusive group hug. I can’t complain… 🙂

Smack!
The occasional yoink is an occupational hazard.

Did i mention that I love my job?

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2016 Meant the 10th Anniversary of International Female Ride Day. Ladies from around the world came out in force, and it was no different in Toronto. I decided to shoot from the sidelines, at the most dramatic parts of the route, and brought on my fellow photo-geek pal Georgette to shoot while rollin’ in the lovely Adrienne’s sidecar.

Georgie N Adrenne!
My second shooter rode in style!

My pal Wobblycat was also along to shoot the latter half of the route.

Amazing bike photographer Wobbly Cat
I love Wobblycat!

Here are a few shots from this year’s IRFD. Stay tuned for a full flickr gallery coming soon!

Start Of The Ride
Start Of The Ride
#realmadbastards
A Row Of Mad Bastards
New Friends and Old
New Friends and Old
SYR!!!
Syr!!!
The Ladies Downhill, Pottery Road, Toronto
The Ladies Downhill, Pottery Road, Toronto

Pottery Road

Pottery Road

Adrienne, Shelli, Georgie
My Photo Crew
Ride Leaders!
Stylin’ and Motobloggin’!
Shooting the shooter!
Shooting the shooter!
This year's crew on Hug-A-Kawasaki day :)
This year’s crew on Hug-A-Kawasaki day 🙂

And last-but-not-least, here’s some video of the fun:

My Motorcycle Life : Pride On Two Wheels

The Best Way To See A Parade Is To Ride It!

(originally published on Ontario Travel’s Moto Blog in 2014)

Heidi Giblon is an artist, a teacher, and a rider. In 2008, she walked into a scooter store and rode out with a Piaggio Fly 150. Like many of us on two wheels, her spur-of-the-moment purchase changed her life. Bitten by the bug, her bikes got bigger and better, as did her rides. She now alternates between her Honda VLX 600 and her BMW f700GS.

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Every year, Heidi’s biggest rides occur in late June/early July with the coming of Pride Weekend. Joining an assortment of lesbian and trans bikers in leading both the Saturday and Sunday parades, she truly is in her element of rubber, grease and gasoline. To mark her sixth year of participation, Heidi has these words on the parades’ personal importance:

“Riding in the Dyke March allows me to publicly express my solidarity with other women and LGBTQ riders who share similar values as I do. I am proud of how far our city has come in accepting the diversity of people that Toronto embraces. The Pride Parade has allowed me to celebrate unconditionally the woman, lesbian, artist, and motorcycle enthusiast that I am. At 50 it’s about time!”

Since the very first Toronto Dyke March in 1996, Dykes on Bikes have been at the forefront of the parade, revving up excitement within the throngs revelling on the sidelines. This year was special – Toronto was hosting World Pride and there was extra cause to celebrate.

 BEFORE_THE_PARADE

 

 Armed with a media pass, my plan was to shadow Heidi and her cohorts and take photographs of their progress along the parade route. With my partner Sara as second shooter, we hopped on my trusty Aprilia scooter and rode with them to the staging area, where a staggering number of gaily-decorated bikes were already lined up. Cruisers, sportbikers, vintage riders, trikies and a few “Fruits On Scoots” were representing, with the Detroit chapter of the official Dykes On Bikes MC riding the farthest, just to be in the parade.

 

DYKES_ON_BIKES_DETROIT

 

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The air was electric, with nary a biker complaining of the heat and humidity the day had brought. Everyone was mingling, wisecracking and wishing “Happy Pride!”

 

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Being a straight male, I was warmly welcomed as a fellow rider. Right before the parade started, my new friends surprised me by inviting me to ride with them, an honour which I readily accepted. With Sara shooting pillion, we captured moments from a rider’s vantage point—rarely-seen by the media’s photographic eye.

 

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Led by the Amazons Motorcycle Club (the oldest lesbian biker club in North America, according to an article in Xtra! Magazine), the bikes started with a roar. Kickstands up, we fell into formation, horns honking and engines rumbling…

 

REAR_WINDOW

 

As we turned onto Bloor Street, the staggering magnitude of the parade hit me—people as far as the eye can see! Allies, family members and well-wishers screamed their approval as we slowly rode by. It was a scorcher of a day, so those in the crowd with super soakers became our fabulous saviours!

 

Riding close to the front, I could hear Heidi bringing up the rear as she bumped the rev-limiter on her Honda to rile up the crowd. We stopped a few times to let the other 12,500 people in the parade catch  up. Dismounting, we high-fived the crowd, posed for pictures and hugged passers-by. Starting up again we travelled down Yonge Street, between a wall of people 15-deep cheering us on. At parade’s end, I realized that I had never participated in anything so big and so joyful before – truly a highlight of my motorcycling life so far.

 

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All in all, it was the best of times. I’d made new friends, reconnected with old ones, and gained first-hand insight into a subculture of a subculture. We’re all not that different, and it’s human nature that a shared passion like motorcycling can bring everyone together.

 

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Thanks Heidi for letting me tag along, and opening another door to new adventures in riding.


If you feel the need for more hi-octane adventures on two wheels, and the lure of skimming snow-covered trails, ride on over to my pals at  http://whataride247.com