Blue Mountains rider Chris Keeble, 59, sent us her story about riding her bike, Calamity Jane, in the hope of not only inspiring more women to ride, but also empowering them to ride big bikes like her Indian Chief Vintage.
Calamity Jane rides again
I started riding way back in my very early 20’s. My husband at the time had a motorbike and I really disliked being a pillion. So, I decided rather than miss out, I’d get my licence and ride alongside him, not behind him. Something about that philosophy works for me to this day. Life is about working and walking alongside people in all its forms!
My first bike was a little thing that was made of bits and pieces but was the legal size for a learner. It did me just enough and fell to bits virtually the week I became able to go up to larger size bikes. It was like it knew its time had come. Funny how bikes seem to have their own personality!
I then jumped on a Harley Davidson Sportster 883 Custom. That was such a great bike. I threw it around like a BMX. I thought for a moment I could be part of the Crusty Demons show! ( a touring motorbike show of stunt riders). I was also a responsible mum.. so settle down!
Like most motorbike riders, you start to get a bit of an addiction, and you want bigger, faster, fancier things. I then upgraded to several larger Harley Davidson Bikes for the next 30 plus years. I loved them all and all were very different. I’m a bit of a creative soul and I tend to bespoke my bikes to within an inch of their lives. So they become a talking point. Which I love.. I love seeing people admire the bikes and the work I’ve done to them. I’m self-taught in most things.. But I’m clear and focused with how I want it to look.
The past few years I’ve had a bit of a dream to own an Indian Motorcycle. I’m not sure what it is about them, but I like the backstory to them and the look of them. However, I was intimidated at first with just how big they are. Much bigger than anything I’ve ever ridden. Well after 3 years or so, I jumped on over and now ride a Chief Vintage Classic. It’s a dream to ride. The more you ride the better you become, and you are never too old to improve and learn. It’s a big bike and has tested me at times with its power and handling in tight spots. I test rode many Indian motorbikes and while I think there are a couple there that were more comfortable for me. I went with the Vintage because I had a clear idea of what I wanted to create. Meet Calamity Jane. It’s a showstopper and a talking point wherever we go. I LOVE her.
It seemed a natural thing for me to look at life and a transition to retirement and I believe Calamity Jane and myself will ride off and do great things together. She is my passport to travel, people, places and music. My other real passion is music and writing, producing shows, supporting artists and creative folk. I’m joining the dots with these two areas of my life. I enjoy riding by myself or with a small group of riders. I’m not one for those big groups and clubs.
I ride all over Australia and hopefully the world. I love riding in the US. It’s like when they built the roads they were thinking of motorbike riders! The roads are in great condition there. Australia has a bit to learn with that. Some of roads are death traps and shockers. I’ve had some serious close calls that have made grown men pull over, go ashen white and wonder how I managed to stay upright! However, there are some magical places still for me to discover in Australia. So much to do! I’m now nearing 60 years old. Can’t believe it and I feel I’m just getting started. I have more energy than when I was in my 30’s!
I have two grown daughters and two beautiful granddaughters. I want to be a role model for them. I don’t want to be pigeon holed into being an expectation to anyone. If you set your mind to it, you can make anything happen.
Someone said to me the other day.. ‘Chris, You are a way finder’ That made my day. I want to live my legacy and I hope I can inspire and help others in all sorts of ways. Calamity Jane and myself…the two of us.
I have a couple of sayings. “There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”. A Leonard Cohen song that to this day helps me out when things don’t always go to plan. Being a high achiever and a perfectionist at times. I need to learn to give myself some slack and everything always leads to something great. Some things just need to go wrong before you get to right!
The other saying is. ‘Well behaved women rarely make history’. A quote from Eleanor Roosevelt. I love reading about women and how brave they are and the things they do. we are such special creatures. I’m so happy I’m a woman! I love breaking down stereotypes, pushing the boundaries and being brave and crazy!
For any lady wanting to learn to ride, start with something small (even a scooter, for they are so much fun, I still have one and I LOVE buzzing around on that too). It’s not about size, really it’s about becoming road smart.. once you feel a connection with being so open and free. Then you can look at upgrades. Gain confidence with the road and the environment. Then go for it. Never say a bike is too big. It’s not about size, it’s all about technique. Learn, practice and watch videos. And always ride within your comfort zone and don’t let anyone force you to be faster or take risks. I ride with a few guys who are very fast… I say; “Off you go.. you bloody posers.. see you at the other end, have a drink waiting for me please!”. I’ll take in the scenery and enjoy the moment. I don’t need to be tearing it up around corners etc.
I’ve developed a thing called The Aussie & The Indian… we are on Facebook and Instagram.. I blog, tell stories, meet people, review products etc. If nothing else my daughters and granddaughters will have that to look at in the future.
Life is so much fun. It’s crazy busy, but fun! I make it my choice to wake up each morning with that attitude.
And Calamity Jane always puts a smile on my face!