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I Ride Like A Woman? Hell, Yes!

My motorbike license was five months old when I joined my first guided adventure tour across the Indian Himalayas in Ladakh. I was with a group of seasoned riders, all men.

A woman leaning against her motorbike in  front of a gigantic rock
The best protection a woman can have is courage — E.C. Stanton (image of author in Zanskar/India by Bryan Pannell)

Twelve of them, to be precise.

I could only imagine what was going on in eleven minds when they heard I was an utter novice. And a woman (number twelve was Bryan, so his thoughts didn’t weigh that much.)

Of course, they put me right behind the guide because that is typically where the weakest rider is. As we swung along, I did my best to keep up and not let the men’s group down.


Looking back, I can’t believe I ever doubted my riding abilities.

But I did.

I kept nagging the tour operator, quizzing him about what would happen if I couldn’t do the ride. “So far, we have brought every single woman back down,” was his brief answer.

And he was right.

During our farewell dinner, one of my fellow riders complimented me.

“You ride well,” he said but was quick to add

“for a woman.”

I was stunned, but at the same time, I knew this would be my first and last men-only plus one-woman tour.

It wasn’t until afterward that I realized women generally don’t join these tours. And I understood why. But now that I was one of those who had dared, I felt genuinely proud of myself. Because I had mastered this challenge with just a juvenile license in my back pocket.

And that’s when things changed.


I started riding by myself.

I was desperate to find my rhythm as a woman, a beginner, and a rider. I toured other parts of India, zigzagged through Nepal, and explored Tanzania and New Zealand. I had no one to compare myself with, which turned out to be incredibly empowering.

Over time, I found and kept stretching my comfort zone without imitating others. And it gave me the headspace I needed to connect all of this.

I came to the conclusion that motorcycling, like any other sport, is for everyone. And that women, just like men, are fully capable of riding and mastering motorcycles in any way they like.


Since my first trip to Ladakh, my heart has been beating for the adventure side of riding. I just love the thrill of being out there doing it.

But depending on where I ride, it is demanding, such as in the Himalayas. But that’s precisely where I long and need to be. Because getting up and over those challenges is like bringing a precious trophy home, rewarded for overcoming some crippling limitations I once had.

I may even shed a tear of exhaustion or utter joy at the end of a long day’s ride.

This was crucial for me initially, and it would be for anyone who deals with fears that motorcycling can provoke, especially for those who start riding later in life.


After all, I have found my rhythm not by relying on speed or power too much but by building skills and techniques that allowed me to grow confidence the way I needed. Ride after magnificent ride. Plus, it miraculously led me to create a new purpose in life — BIKE ‘N SOUL.

It’s a place for women adventurers ready to redesign midlife.

After less than six years of riding, I am deeply humbled by how far I have come, the newfound courage I gained, and the fact that I am returning to the Himalayas this year to share my passion with a dozen more bold women riders.

It’s a thrill on wheels I call life.

Hell, yes! I ride like a woman and wouldn’t want it any other way.

Thank you very much for your time and interest in what we’re doing. I hope you find a reason to return—to read or become a guest writer for our growing blog.

Much love from New Zealand

Kerstin 🍀

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