So what better way than riding, we say.
Although every lady biker answered that it’s because they loved the freedom of riding, it’s more latent than that. The overtone is about empowerment, especially in a country where certain conservative notions are still overt. Yet, they prove this point to themselves that they could do it, not to others as motorcycles seem to be the perfect tool to achieve that goal. And like a few of the interviewees said, biking is more colourful with lady bikers around.
But let’s not get pedantic. Ladies wanna have fun, too.
We were invited to one of Women on Wheels’ (WoW) events on 16th January, by their President, Maznah Zolkifli. It happened to be her birthday and in conjunction with the 6th Anniversary of WoW.
The itinerary called for a ride from the Malaysia Tourism Centre (Matic) at Jalan Ampang to Janda Baik for some ATV riding and camping by the river.
As we congregated, we were treated to some breakfast, courtesy of the director of Matic. Journalists from Matic.FM, Tourism Malaysia’s radio channel were also on hand to interview and broadcast the event.
Joining the ride were also members of Men on Wheels (MoW). Maznah explained that WoW’s rides always includes MoW, in order to ride together besides having them for support and safety.
When one of the ladies didn’t turn up, I was told that her husband wanted her to spend time with her family. Maznah said, “Remember you asked what are the challenges for lady bikers? Well, this is one of them. A woman has to juggle between work, family and leisure.”
The convoy started after a short but heavy rain. Traffic was heavy all along Jalan Ampang to Karak Highway, despite being a Saturday. Besides that, as seemingly to affirm the argument that size does not matter, the ladies rode very well, although dwarfed by their bikes, which included a few tall and large adventurers such as the F 650/700 GS, R 1200 GS LC, and one who rode alongside her husband, each on a Kawasaki 1400GTR.
The group cut through traffic effortlessly, while even I got stuck numerous times. A couple more cloudbursts didn’t stop us as we pushed on.
We soon reached the BHP petrol station just after the Karak Toll Booth for a quick headcount. Some of the men on their faster sportbikes like the KTM RC8, Kawasaki ZX-10R took the lead, while the women formed a close group. The rain thankfully stayed away from the Karak Highway, as we enjoyed a brisk ride to Janda Baik. No 180km/h heroics here, just a nice 110-120 km/h cruise.
Bikers were out in force, as usual. They waved and honked at the ladies as they passed.
It wasn’t long before we reached the Kroozer ATV Adventures resort, located further upriver in the Janda Baik tourist area. The stream was much shallower, clearer and cleaner because of that. Even though the resort was in the process of being completed when we arrived, the ATV track was already laid-out and divided into Beginner and Advanced courses.
We gathered in a large gazebo at the river’s edge to celebrate WoW’s 6th Anniversary, plus a speech by Maznah, followed by a briefing by Kroozer ATV, before breaking for lunch.
It was a pretty tight-knit group as everyone sat together and chatted over lunch, rather than seeing different cliques. Then men talked about bikes and business; the women about friends, relatives, and bikes too.
Kroozer ATV then called for 5 individuals (men and ladies) for the first session around the Advanced course. The spots were filled in no time. The rest waited for their turns in the latter sessions and most turned to frolicking in the stream. Laughter filled the jungle.
The first group returned after 45 minutes, covered in mud. Rain had turned the track muddy and challenging, but they had those boyish and girlish grins like they had been presented with all the candy in the world. They jumped straight into the stream, a few while still wearing jeans and riding pants.
Maznah would later quip, “This is what makes my day. To see my friends enjoying themselves and laughing.”
Activities didn’t stop as the day wore on. A few riders chose to ride home due to commitments, while a larger number stayed behind, spending the night in the chalets (divided into men and women specific ones, of course).
Wow and MoW have many events and rides throughout the year, each culminating in fun activities at their destinations.
Mazuiyani Bt. Bakar (Wanie)
We had the chance to speak to one of the most active members of Women on Wheels during the event. Wanie rides a BMW R 1200 GS Adventure LC mostly, but also owns a Yamaha YZF-R1 which she uses for trackdays.
During our first encounter together with Maznah Zolkifli, we took our bikes offroad for a photoshoot. As I struggled to park my bike over the rough road, Wanie had already parked her GS smartly - doing it solo.
So she’s not only a beautiful woman, she’s tough as well.
Cycle World Malaysia (CWM): When did you start biking?
Wanie Bt. Bakar (WB): I started when I was in secondary school. I followed my brothers’ footsteps who also love bikes. My first experience was aboard an Aprilia Pegaso 650 when I was in Form 4. I’ve also ridden other bikes such as the Yamaha RX-Z and smaller bikes too. Those experiences formed the desire to discover other levels of biking.
CWM: What do you ride now?
WB: My own first bike was the Kawasaki Z1000, before stepping up to the Yamaha YZF-R1. I got the R1 because I was curious about riding on the track. I’ve also tried MiniGP. As of now, I wanted to experience adventure riding, so I bought the R 1200 GS LC.
CWM: Since you’ve experienced these aspects, what about the future?
WB: I’m looking forward to getting the Suzuki GSX-1300R Hayabusa soon. I like to be a bit different from others.
CWM: Since you’ve much experience, what’s your advice to ladies who would like to take up motorcycling?
WB: Know your bike, know your capabilities. Research on the technical aspects. Doing so will undoubtedly make riding more enjoyable, as bike and rider become one. For example, I first struggled when I obtained the GS, which is about 300 kgs, so I took the time to understand the bike as much as I could and I’m now comfortable with it.
CWM: Where did you learn performance riding?
WB: I learned about track riding from MiniGP. As for offroading, I practice MX.
CWM: AS Cik Maznah mentioned, one the challenges of being a lady biker is commitment to the family and kids. What’s your opinion?
WB: I’ve no problem with that so far. As a businesswoman, I could determine my own schedule. I’ll make arrangements for my children if there are rides or activities, and make up to them afterwards.
Story and pictures by Wahid Ooi Abdullah