Written by Liz. Posted in Who Are We?

I was born in London and spent most of my childhood living in Finchley a suburb in North London.  I went to University in Plymouth, where I met my husband Matt and we both now live in Bristol. 

I spent several years being a pillion on Matt’s bikes and really enjoyed it and always toyed with the idea of perhaps learning to ride myself. I finally went ahead and tried to do my CBT in 2010 – it was a disaster as I really couldn't get to grips with riding a bike and using one with a kickstart really didn't help due to my muscle weakness (I am a manifesting carrier of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, which means that I am a little weaker than most people so it can take me a while to get to grips with new things that use muscles I am not used to using and tire quite easily so a long day in the saddle is not the easiest thing for me to do).

I was ready to give up the idea of riding motorbikes after my disastrous CBT, but something an instructor said to me kept coming to mind every time I thought about it ‘promise me you won’t give up trying to learn to ride.’ I decided to try doing my CBT again about a year later in August 2011, but this time with my own bike Matilda a Yamaha SR125 and got through it.

About a week after, however, I had a collision with a car (partly due to being a new learner and my back break not working properly), no one was hurt but my confidence took a really big blow and it took me about two months to summon up the courage to get back on my bike. I have now been riding solidly since November 2012 and got my full A2 motorbike licence on 11th June 2012 - which means I need to ride bikes restricted to 33bhp for two years and then am free to ride whatever I want. 

I have been suffering from depression and anxiety for a long time and only admitted it to myself a few years ago, I have had a few ups and downs and since about January this year but have realised that am better off without medication/therapy and this is where bikes have come in to play. I guess they are my therapy, I may not always be motivated to get on a bike and have had a plenty of rides in nasty conditions, but most of the time something changes in me and I forget about everything and smile/sing to myself in my helmet. 

At the beginning of April this year I had a knee injury (The Importance of Plan B blog has the full details of what happened) which ruined our plans to leave for our big trip on 21st April. My knee is healing up well but it has been a tough  month and a bit for me and it has triggered my depression and anxiety. In order to combat this it has been decided that I won’t go back to work before our amended trip starts in September so that I can focus on sorting my head out, getting ourselves reorganised for our amended trip plans and intensive physiotherapy to avoid problems with my knees on the road (both my knees have had surgery to remove loose bodies now, which I believe this is due to two factors: most of my joints including my knees are hypermobile and my genetic condition). We did also deliberate over me maybe getting knee braces before our trip initially but decided against it as I couldn't find any off the shelf ones that fitted well and custom made ones were really expensive, but since my injury in April we have decided that it is a must regardless of cost.

I still haven’t dared to get on any of my bikes since the injury but am aiming to get back on over the next week and will hopefully be riding to the Horizons Unlimited meet at the end of this month.