While holed up in one of Victoria’s winter lockdowns of 2021, I spoke to various women that contacted me about their love of motorcycles… one of the stories that stood out was from Linda, a lady in the Hunter Valley, NSW who has multiple bikes and has done, for as long as she has been riding.
Linda’s lived her life to the fullest on motorcycles, never been without a bike and quite often more than one at the same time. She’s owned a rare 1929 OEC, swung sidecar, appeared in a Hoodoo Gurus film clip and is involved with classic British bikes. Sadly she’s recently sold her beloved 1950 AJS.
Here is just a wee part of her story…
“I’ve had well over 20 bikes; my first bike was an XL 175 about a 1974 model. Back then, not a lot of women rode and one day sitting at the lights, I hear someone in the car beside me say, ‘That’s a girl on that bike!’ I’d be thinking, please don’t stall it, please don’t stall.. with them hanging out the window going, ‘Whooooeeee, hey girly…’
“I became addicted to British bikes at 20 years old. The purple-coloured BSA was my first British bike… it’s the only bike I’ve physically attacked. It was such a bitch to kickstart. Once after too many failed attempts, I tried a downhill clutch start but that didn’t work either… so I’d give it a few smacks with my helmet.
Of course, it still didn’t go, but I sure felt better.
“This beautiful little girl, my 1970 T120 Triumph is the bike I love the best. I’ve had her for over 41 years.
“She was bought from a big brother friend. On the way to a party after the pub one night; I didn’t get into the party because I sat on her instead. My friend, John, brought my drinks out to me all night saying, ‘Get off it, I’ve already sold it; come inside.’ At the end of the night, she was mine.
“He finally broke lol, gave the guy his money back and sold her to me, cheaper.
“She wasn’t original, so I went about finding bits where I could. Two horns I found separately, were $300 each. The original tank, I got off another big brother friend, Mully, who wouldn’t sell it to anyone previously… you gotta love those big brother friends.
“It took a few years to get the authentic bits and bobs back into her and get paint and chrome up to the original glory. In the meantime, she lived in my bedroom.
The frame sat behind my dressing table, gauges were protected in my underwear drawers and other bits were all through my wardrobe.
“She’s what I call a rider’s bike, not all sparkly and usually a bit of oil pumps out. She’s also a very naughty bike, easily passes the lads… she just doesn’t understand slow.
“If you watch the Hoodoo Gurus film clip, The Right Time I’m the one with really short hair and the only one on a Harley. In the middle of filming, we had to meet the film crew in Morpeth so it was decided to meet outside the pub. It was stressed to us girls we were not to have a drink. Well, that’s like waving a red flag at a bull… so we all stood out the front with schooners of beer, just because they said we couldn’t.
“I have followed short circuit bike racing, which is on a dirt track, but unlike speedway, the track has a snake and goes in the opposite direction. I’ve held my track licence and swung sidecar.
“My first time on the sidecar I asked the rider to just take it easy to see if I liked it or not. He’s gone rev… rev… rev… rev… rev!!! …then turned and looked at me and said ‘Fucken hang on because you’re either going to do it or you’re not!’
“He took off around the track and when he pulled up at the end, I couldn’t talk. I was so out of breath, but it was such an adrenalin-fuelled experience; I loved it. A couple of the blokes decided to have a go coz they saw me and reckoned, ‘Awww if Linda can do it, so can we!’ They ended up screamin’ ‘stop, stop, stop!’
“It’s not like a girl or guy thing, it’s more like… you’re either dumb enough to swing off a sidecar or you’re not.
“My main love affair is with vintage and classic motorcycles. My OEC was hand change, built originally for racing in 1929 and had duplex steering. That one is now in Tassie.
“My beautiful black 1950 AJS, was the last of the saddle seats.
“Sadly I sold this little girl at the beginning of 2021 as it was getting too hard for me to start. Singles are harder to start than twins and I couldn’t ask my partner to start it for me as he’s already replaced one knee.
“I currently have my 2007 1600 cc Harley Dyna Superglide, my beautiful 1970 650 cc T120R Triumph and the 1969 750 cc Norton Commando. They all have different gear changes… the Harley is one down and five up with the left foot, the Triumph is one down, three up with the right foot, oh and non-existent brakes… and the Norton is right foot, gears go one up, three down… sure can get a bit confusing sometimes.
“On one of my Ulysess rides, about 15 years ago, they’re all on their modern bikes, but I’m riding the Triumph and they asked me why I go around them when they stopped and I explained because their bikes stop, mine doesn’t… well, not as well. I need to use the gears more and put the brakes on earlier, hoping I’m not going to collect someone.
“My wonderful man, used to often complain, my Triumph led him to drink… well personally I think he just likes to drink because he surprised me with my Norton, 5 years ago; the first time anyone has ever bought me a bike. So instantly he was a keeper.
“I’ve always ridden with the boys. It was common to go away for long weekends and I was the only girl. It was often mentioned, you can’t tell a girl with her own bike, that she can’t come.
“Although there may have been other women riders back then, we really didn’t know about each other, which is where Facebook and the women groups of today, have connected many of us.
“I have met so many lovely people through bikes. It’s something that unites old and young, rich and poor. It’s an addiction that takes over your life.
“20 years ago I found myself on my own with 3 children. A hospitality position had me working weekends, so when I was introduced to the local Ulysses and found out they did a Wednesday ride, I knew that was perfect for me.
“It gave me one day a week when I could forget the world.
If it was a Wednesday, I would turn up, even in the pouring rain.
“As long as I had my Wednesday ride, I could handle the crap the rest of the week threw at me. I’d pull up and if it was pissing down rain, they’d say, ‘What are you doing here Linda; it’s too wet to ride!’ I’d reply, I don’t care; it is Wednesday; on Wednesday I ride.
“That is the stuff that pulled me through my divorce. My motorbikes saved me; if I didn’t have my bikes, I don’t know if I would have survived. Couldn’t imagine my life without motorbikes.
“I met my adopted grandfather through British bikes and bought my pretty OEC from him. I became part of his family so much, his granddaughter thought I was her Aunt. Len Seach from Curlewis NSW, was the nicest man I ever met. He had a heap of old bikes and was happy to share and let anyone ride them at the vintage and classic rallies.
“I have been riding bikes for 50 years… I’ve been flung over cars and slid along the ground, usually on hands and knees, but I’ve had the best time and met the best people. The body is complaining a bit now; got a push start for the Norton, but I still kick-start the Triumph.
“How is it when we’re younger and don’t weigh as much we can kick these bikes over without a drama, but when you’re older and weigh more… mmmmmm, that’s how it is.”
Linda, is a wonderful, extraordinary woman with focus and a strong mind and it was an absolute pleasure to talk with her… she left me with this thought…
A lesson learnt:
Don’t let anyone stand in your way, just do what you want to do
Just after publication of this article, I was in contact with Linda and she informed, me after 30 years she has been reunited with beloved her 1929 OEC. It was in need of a lot of work, including new paint.
The blade is to honour the memory of her Pop, Len Seach.
I reckon there may just be a sequel to this story…