Fostering sisterhood on the road

Aziz Idris

Riding on a motorcycle past a picturesque landscape with the wind on your face gives a sense of freedom that holds no bounds.

These two-wheeled machines are synonymous with freedom and adventure. However, there is more to riding a bike than just freedom, especially for the Ladies of Harley (LoH).

“Anything you enjoy doing is a form of freedom and I think a motorcycle makes that even more mobile,” explained officer from LoH Dayangku Siti Redzaimi binti Pengiran Haji Ahmad, who is also known as Redza.

Donning an all-black outfit with the catch-phrase “Ladies ride out”, Redza said most Bruneians ride bikes as a hobby.

She has seen a surge in the number of motorcycle owners over the years, regardless of gender. “We used to see a lot of men dominating the motorcycling scene but today, women are empowered to climb onto the saddle and take to the open road.”

Redza (C) with Ladies of Harley members. PHOTO: AZIZ IDRIS

Coming from a family who loves anything and everything on two-wheels, Redza started riding bikes at an early age. Having her dad manage a motorcycling school made learning to ride bikes easier.

Redza realised she was a thrill seeker when her dad got her on his bike. “I loved to ride, especially because I was the only girl and could keep up with my brothers.”

Harley-Davidson established its roots in Brunei in the mid-2000’s and set up chapters for riders. The chapters allow riders to meet and organise trips and rides as well as to create a biking culture. The LOH is one of these chapters, exclusively for women who own Harleys.

Through social media and WhatsApp groups, women riders have built a tight knit community that is only a call away.

Now, Redza shares her passion with like-minded women who are attracted to the adventure and exhilaration of riding a motorcycle.

“There’s a unique sense of community and friendship among the LoH riders. One so strong, you have an instant circle of friends wherever you go.

“I think the best part of riding is getting to know the LoH members. The support and camaraderie I felt in their company is unmatched,” she added.

The LoH organised a group ride on March 8 to mark International Women’s Day which began from the Harley Davidson showroom in Lambak to Tutong town. The ladies were joined by members from the Harley Owner Group Brunei Chapter.

Female riders from other local motorcycle clubs riding other models joined the convoy to show their support and solidarity.

The route took riders to Muara-Tutong Highway and entered Jerudong, before using the old road to Tutong town where they gathered at a local bistro.

The majority of the two-wheelers were 800cc and above to ensure a comfortable commute. Redza was riding her 1200cc Sportster at front of the pack.

She appreciated the female riders, as well as the support of the male riders for a successful event. This was the first time LoH organised such an event.

“I think the sense of just being with yourself and experiencing the world around is the kick of adrenaline,” she said. “You get to connect with people, with nature, and with new places. A bike gives you a sense of freedom, which doesn’t compare to anything else in the world.”

For Redza, it is not the long distances, but just the riding that brings her a sense of peace and calm. It does not matter what she is going through, everything disappears when she is on her bike.

“It’s an amazing group of people. People think of biking as a passion, as a mode of transportation, or as a club or cult symbol. It is a lot more than that. It goes beyond because the community is so close. Members reach out and help each other without any strings attached,” she added.

Asked why she chose motorcycles, another long-time LoH member replied, “It’s the challenge of learning something that not everyone can master and overcoming the initial fear of gaining control of a powerful machine.

“Of course, when you are out on the road, leaning through the turns, feeling the wind on your face, shifting gears and keeping your balance, no one really cares what letters you have after your name. You are simply accepted as another biker.”