JL I live in a small town called Leke in Flanders, Belgium. The reason why we live here is just because we haven’t found another place to settle down yet, I am lucky to have a partner that is as interested in travelling and riding as I am. I am not even sure that I will ever find a place somewhere that will ease my wanderlust.
SA What bike(s) do you own?
JL I more think of bikes as partnerships, like with riding horses. You do have your name on an ownership document but the bikes own me as much as I own them. You can’t go out and travel, thus entrust your life, if you don’t have a connection with it. At this moment I am lucky to have some very special bikes in my life.
I still own my first motorcycle, a 650cc Cagiva Raptor. He was my 18-th birthday present from my parents since I just didn’t want a car. I wanted a bike and a riding license. To this very day I am so gratefull that my parents followed in my decisions. I named the Raptor Starscream and he was my best friend for two years, together we did 77,672 miles from 2007-2009. Starscream really had a lot of ‘firsts’; my first motorcycle journey to the Southern of France, my first crash, my first kneedown, first wheelie, learned the basic mechanics, first trackday and probably some more that I forget. Starscream is now waiting silently in the garage for a complete make-over, he’s pretty busted up and I don’t have the money to fix him now.
Then I have my BMW F650GS Dakar, I did a trip to Norway with this one and he was my buddy in many offroadrides. The engine character of the 650 is not something that I admire so this bike never really touched my heart. Though I have to admit, it was this bike that thought me perseverance, because it wasn’t a joy learning how to ride in packed mud or sand with it. During the GS Trophy of Belgium last year (2015) I blew up my head gasket after pushing the Dakar to its limits. Fortunately the cylinder was still good, so this will be a small repair.
Then a word about my current favourite; Hyperion. Hyperion is the bike that brings a smile to my face. He is a R1100GS from 1994 and besides from leaking oil, consuming oil and sometimes being perky as only an old man can be, he is still going strong. He is my cherry on top of the cupcake and if you’d let me, I could talk hours about him.
In my living room besides the radiator is a memory of a past life, never forgotten but rather lurking and waiting in the shadows until she finds a way back onto the tracks. I am talking about Mara, an Aprilia RSV Mille of 2005. This bike is in my eyes one of the most beautifull bikes ever made, she just makes sense. And this again, she has the perks only a true lady can have. Mara is not a beginners bike and will brutally punish you for a small mistake. Also residing in the living room is a Yamaha FJ1200, this was a present from my father for my 26th birthday in September 2015. When my mum got pregnant of me, they got rid of their brand new FJ in order to have their priorities set straight. My dad found this FJ from 1989, my year of birth and gifted it to me as a reminder of my heritage.
I would love to get better in enduro-riding and for that I have a WR250F. This is a rather easy riding dirtbike, but I underestimated his seat hight. And last of all, I have a teeny weeny Monkey 125cc that is just too adorable!
So I ‘own’ in total 7 different bikes, and no, if I could, I wouldn’t hesitate a moment to upgrade the pack with some new friends.
SA Where is your favorite ride and why?
JL I don’t really have a particular one favorite ride, because I don’t really like visiting the same things over and over again, so I would say : the road I haven’t travelled yet. If I am forced to pick, I am going with a nice all-road/enduro ride in Northern of France with my riding buddies. My coolest ride in 2015 was to the Elefantentreffen in Solla, it is one of the biggest snow/winter happening in Germany. Thousands of other bikers in their tents in the freezing cold laughing and sharing stories. My best ride in 2015 is one I’ll never forget, the 14th of July was the first time since 30th of May that I was able to ride. I broke my wrist during an offroad ride and was held back for 6 weeks. The 13th of July they removed the cast and the pins surgically, so the next day I was back on the bike. Best feeling ever!
SA What or who inspired you to ride a motorcycle?
JL When I was 15 years old a good friend of mine at the time wanted a moped and he got a nice 50cc Derbi in a race-edition. When I saw that little Derbi in his garage everything changed, all the future dreams and goals I had at the time thrown away in a half of a second. From that moment on, the only thing I wanted in the world was riding my own Derbi. Some pieces of life’s puzzle suddenly became clear that moment and that is that. Later I found out that my parents had been super passionated riders before I was born. When I got 16, my Derbi Senda SDR 50cc was waiting for me and my dad began riding bikes again as well. As soon as I got the hang of riding clutch and gears, my dreams only became bigger, motorcycles and foreign countries as far as my imagination at the time reached.
SA Are you a part of a women’s riding group? If so, which one(s)?
JL I do participate in the GS Girls Initiative and men are also allowed to participate with the events, so not really a women’s only riding group.
SA Why do you ride or want to ride on 2-wheels?
JL Because there is simply nothing that makes me feel as good. I love meeting riders, I love to share stories and impressions of other countries and people. Though I really like sharing my stories, I am very shy and even a bit unsocial in real life. But when typing and at social media, I love to inspire and get others motivated to go out and explore. I don’t own a car so I do everything with the motorcycle. Commuting, groceries, shopping, you name it, Hyperion will have done it. In the past I sometimes drove with the car to work and I was often depressed when I got home, feeling empty and just not fulfilled. When I ride my bike every day, those feelings are gone. I look forward to the trip to and from work and when having a rough day, I only need to look outside and see my yellow cab waiting for me. That is also why I named him Hyperion, aka the Sun God, because he always brightens up my day.
SA Have you always been driven to explore adventurous activities?
JL When I first started riding, I still lived with my parents and went to school. So apart from having fuel in my tank and wearing decent gear, there wasn’t really money for other activities. I did just ‘ride’ a lot and gathered experience. When I was a little older, about 19 years old, I began riding track days because like every starting rider, I wanted to get that knee down. After riding track and street for about 3 years, I met my husband at the track and from that day forward, there was no stopping us. Finally having found a matching spirit we quickly became hooked on the feeling of ‘being away on the motorcycle, just the two of us’. Our trips became journeys and they never seem to be long enough.
So I imagine other people would say that I have always explored my boundaries on the motorcycle but I rather go with ‘I follow the path that comes along’. I don’t like to plan ahead, our lives are planned enough. Let adventure come to you. There is an impression in the world right now that adventure can be bought and there is nothing less true than that. The real adventure lies just over there, in the next corner of the road and it doesn’t always have to be spectacular.
SA What would you like to see more of when it comes to the women’s riding world?
JL I would love to see more gear that was developed for women in specific. As a female rider in many different aspects of motorcycle riding I am often confronted with always wearing men’s wear. I don’t want to complain because there is a lot of really good gear on the market and I don’t really care about how I look on the bike, I just want to be protected and preferably dry when it is raining. But sometimes a girl just has other needs, for instance going to the bathroom dressed in full offroadgear. It is hell, just make a zipper or something between the legs, because those devices to help you ‘stand up and pee’ don’t do the trick either when you have hip protection. There definitely are changes going on and I am sure the gear will become more gender specific during the following years.
Also I hope that whoever is doubting out there, will just stand up and say ‘I want to ride.’ I would like to have that more women change their ‘I wish,…’ into ‘I will, and I do.’ To be honest I don’t think that the women lack the capacity, I think they lack the courage to claim time for their own in order not to seem self-centered.
SA What gets you out of bed in the morning?
JL Knowing that good things happen to good people and that somehow I will be able to reach my goals. I am currently a teacher in mathematics and theoretical physics but I admire a job in the motorcycling world, with a huge preference of travelling, riding and encouraging others to break through their boundaries.
SA If you could ride anywhere next year, where would it be and why?
JL There is only one correct answer to that; the world. There are too many roads to ride, countries to explore and people to meet to pick out one specific place.
SA What was your worst day on a motorcycle?
JL I’ve never had a bad day on a motorcycle. I had some very, very challenging ones that is, but never a bad one. Every day that had its downs, thought me something. I rode in freezing cold that I had to stop every 250 meter to scrub my frozen breath from my visor, I’ve had a spider biting my scalp, I’ve broken my wrist during the most idiotic fall ever, I’ve blewn my Dakar’s engine up whilst tears were running down my cheeks busy shouting to the Dakar that he couldn’t give up before I reached the GS Trophy’s campsite, I’ve faced defeat many times but that all only made me more determined. No, I haven’t had a day on the motorcycle that was worse than a day without them.
SA Favorite motorcycle book?
JL The one that I someday will write J. I am curious about Jolandie Rusts book too and overall I love all motorcycle books with a lot of pictures. Also I find the books ‘The Ride’ and ‘The Ride 2’ with an exceptional range of custom bikes extremely fascinating.
SA Have you ridden internationally? If so, where?
JL Well, riding internationally in Europe isn’t that hard if you look at the size of our countries, so yeah I have ridden internationally. I am now 26 years old and have visited the same amount of different countries here in Europe. But putting that into perspective, I wouldn’t have been riding outside of the USA. Nevertheless first things on my list are visiting other continents and I sure hope they happen pretty soon.
SA Favorite food?
JL On a motorcycle trip; dried meat and mashed potatoes. When at home I really like shrimps or just an plain hamburger.
SA What age did you learn to ride a motorcycle?
JL I was 16 to ride a 50cc and soon after that my dad let me ride his motorcycles. Two days after my 18th birthday I passed my motorcycle license tests so from that day on, the game was on!
SA Favorite post-ride beverage?
JL My Belgian Heritage in mind, a beer offcourse.
SA Funniest thing that ever happened to you while on a ride?
JL During our trip to Romania my husband and me got stuck in a valley due to floodings. The terrain was very unstable and the two main roads leading out of the valley were swooped away. There was a third option into the mountains, but there had been a landslide blocking the road with mud and trees. My husband was freezing his ass off at the time because we had been riding in the rain for over three days and sleeping in the tent, so our suits were soaked. He decided before turning back, we’d make some coffee. During our short break, there had arrived a group of bikers at the other side of the landslide and they were calling to our attention. We crawled over the debris to the other side and it were bikers from Slovakia. After some discussion about how it would be possible for us to reach the other sides, we decided with the 8th of us to make a path through. They had some army shovels with them and my husband had a tree saw with him. In about an hour time they made a path in the rubble and we first transported our luggage to both sides, followed by the bikes. It really was an amazing moment, even though they didn’t really understood English, we had a common goal. When we had switched sides, we said our goodbyes and took off.
Some days later when we were residing in Magura, Romania, there was a local resident that took an intrest in us. We had a little chat and when he found out that we were Belgians, he had a laugh and said we weren’t the only bikers from Belgium in the area. Apparently some two crazy bikers dudes had crossed their way through a landslide, so he had heard…
SA What is the most important advice you have ever received?
JL Don’t give up, don’t give in. There is always an answer to everything.
SA Name 3 immediate things you would like to accomplish in the world of riding.
JL Get into the female GS Trophy team, writing and riding for my profession, making my family and friends proud
SA Name 3 long-term things you would like to accomplish in the world of riding.
JL Become a world traveler, help develop women specific gear, become an off-road instructor.