Hazel Slade

How did you get into motorcycling?
So I started work at Adventure Moto three years ago and had never ridden a motorbike before in my life, not even in my youth even though I grew up around the Hawkesbury.

I was asked in my interview if I would ever get into riding and I was pretty honest when I said I can't see it happening. So about a year after that, the girls at work Jen and Lisa were discussing an upcoming ride with RideADV and I was like, wow, that sounds like a fun weekend away, I'm a bit bummed I'm missing out. Jen suggested I come anyway and I could ride in the support car with Red Fox.

You didn't need to twist my arm for a weekend away, sure I said, sounds good. So I travelled up to Singleton with Jen and Lisa - girls trip, woohoo! I can't explain how much fun I had that weekend being part of this awesome group of ladies. So much so that on my return to Sydney I felt that even though I had a great weekend, I had missed out on the real fun of not being out on a bike. I then asked Lisa if she would teach me to ride. I had three or four brief lessons around her paddock on the work XT250 and then booked in for my Ls. I told my friend of 20-odd years, Anne, what I was doing and she jumped right on board and said she would like to get her licence too. So off we went together to do our Stay Upright course.

What type of rider are you?
I will ride wherever and whenever I can haha, it just depends on the road surface and distance as to which bike gets taken. But to begin with I just liked going on adventure rides. I wasn't super keen on road riding, basically the other people on the road scared the hell out of me. I purchased an XT250 as it was what I had learned on and what I felt comfortable on. I connected with a FB group called East Coast Female Riders and started going on a few road rides and this built up my confidence. I rode every weekend to ensure my confidence and skill levels were up there to pass my Ps. I also did a street skills day on my XT250 on knobby tyres at Eastern Creek with Riders Academy, so this further improved my skills. Riding on the road with others on bigger bikes and sports bikes was beginning to become an issue with my little XT250, so I bought a 650cc twin in May this year and have embraced touring riding more now.

What challenges have you faced as a motorcyclist?
I got my licence just before Sydney went into a four-month strict COVID lockdown. This made it very difficult to ride with other people as most of my bike friends lived outside of my LGA. I wasn't confident enough yet to ride too far by myself. So my local streets were my own little training ground until I was confident enough to head down off the mountain, this was scary at first but I had my partner follow me in the car so no one else got too close. The other challenge I find as a female rider is finding nice, safe gear. Most of the female gear you have to buy online and I find it so difficult to buy online.

What is your current bike and what do you like about it?
I have loved learning on the XT250, it has built my confidence up so much as it is a very forgiving bike, light and nimble. But I feel I am outgrowing it now and am looking for something more suited to the longer trips.

What do you most like about riding bikes?
The awesome community that I had no idea about. The freedom of just getting out of my own head, put in the earplugs, put some tunes on and go wherever you please. I love that I take the long way to places now. When I holidayed in the past it was all about the destination and getting there the quickest possible way. Now holidays are about the journey and the twisty longest route possible. I also love that I convinced my partner to get his licence so we can ride together, even if it's just to get Sunday breakfast at one of our favourite cafes.

Do you have any motorcycling related goals?
Me and my partner are looking forward to travelling around Australia. I would ultimately love to do some overseas touring as well, but we have plenty to see here first. I also think after three women only rides with Greg and the RideADV team I might be ready for an Intro ride and some longer rides with them. A girlfriend is also planning a Tassie trip later this year, so that's tempting too