Among my friends and family, I’m not really known for my driving skills. In fact, I’m known for my lack of driving skills. For example, I posted a photo of myself in a motorcycle helmet on Instagram recently (I was riding on the back) and my friend commented, “I need an insurance policy just looking at this.” Let’s just say, he’s not wrong.
My lack of driving skills never really bothered me until I met Jess. She rides motorcycles and she makes the whole thing look so damn cool (she also owns a very cool truck, but I digress). What I find so appealing about Jess is that her approach to motorcycles is different than what you would expect from your typical rider. It’s not the burly, leather-wearing, whisky-drinking, masculine thing. For Jess, riding a motorcycle is about freedom, but also about spirituality and wellness, and feminine energy. Her whole ethos and personality certainly make me want to jump on a bike. Since she recently launched her passion project, Meridian Child Motorcycle Club, we thought it would be the perfect time to catch up with her!
What inspired you to start riding?
I have always been a bit of a thrill seeker. I think it comes from my Dad, he used to race with us, and was tinkering with his car engines and had old motorcycles laying around. He is a metal worker and was always covered in dirt and oil. So, being in the garage really feels nostalgic to me. Both of my bothers ride as well, and I was on the back for a long time before I started riding myself. I think it’s in the family!
What has your experience been like as a woman in the hyper-masculine world of motorcycles?
As a female rider, (and to any girl that is thinking about riding), when you get past the fear in your head and know that you can ride just as well as any guy – depending on your body shape and physical ability – then you are half-way there. Then it’s building up your confidence and finding the right people to learn/ ride with. For obvious reasons, it’s easier to be a female rider in the city than out of it. Most guys look a little surprised when I get off my bike and take my helmet off, but then give me a nod of respect. It’s a double edged sword – when you break down in the middle of nowhere and a bunch of guys all want to be your savior. Overall, I depend on a lot of guys in the community and have a lot of male rider friends that I love. But, it is great to see more and more women riding, so that the attitude towards riding shifts and can open up to more prospective riders. For me, the aim is to see equality within the community, not seek separation via gender discrimination in either direction.
How does riding a motorcycle make you feel?
Riding is absolute freedom to me, not just physically being able to travel out of the city, but real freedom of the mind. I find it therapeutic – riding every day and commuting to work on my motorcycle is truly beneficial to my mood and perspective. I see it as having to be in absolute awareness – so there is no time to think about anything other than riding – you are forced to be in the present moment. But also there’s the adventure, the ability to be completely self-sufficient, jump on my bike and ride off, the mystery of not having a plan and not really knowing what you are going to come across is, to me, the essence of freedom. Living in the present moment, being exposed to all elements and being able to adapt and change to circumstances as they appear, is the beauty of riding a motorcycle for me.
I’ve heard you talk a bit about spirituality and how it connects to riding… can you elaborate on that?
To me, riding is the connection between the mind, the body and the spirit. There’s an old saying that says “4 wheels move the body and 2 wheels move the soul.” If you’ve ever ridden a motorcycle, it makes complete sense. Riding moves something within you – you form a relationship with your machine and there’s a synergy between yourself, the bike and the world, something kinetic and ever-changing. It connects you to the world around you in such a pure way, I see it as a form of meditation.
Theresa Wallach famously said: “When I first saw a motorcycle, I got a message from it. It was a feeling – the kind of thing that makes a person burst into tears hearing a piece of music or standing awestruck in front of a fine work of art. Motorcycling is a tool in which you can accomplish something meaningful in your life. It is an art.”
Tell us a little bit about Meridian Child? What’s the brand mission?
Meridian Child is about fusing the wellness and motorcycling communities. It’s about pushing motorcycle culture into a new era – not only by being a female rider, but as a lifestyle brand and way of living for all. It’s about modernizing the idea of a traditional motorcycle club and moving away from the vintage, rockabilly gang culture, the masculine motorsport industry that has forever been sponsored by alcohol and cigarette advertising. It’s about being inspired by the feminine, bringing the yin energy to the yang energy of the motorcycle, but not in an all-girls club way, or appropriating masculine energy way – its about the group, a collective that supports everyone that rides or wants to try. I think that there are many guys who are intimidated by the biking community as well, and there isn’t a place for them to identify just as much as there isn’t for women.
Since I started riding and MCMC so many of my guy friends come to me about bikes and riding. It’s such a beautiful thing, a role reversal with mutual respect. I like comparing Meridian Child to the idea of creating a subculture around motorcycles similar to that of surfing – as a spiritual way to connect to life and the environment. Look out for co-ed organized group ride-outs and retreats that are focussed around wellbeing. We will be offering activities that can help focus and enhance the riders experience, such as yoga & mediation.
What is your favorite motorcycle memory?
Landing in Nicaragua solo, meeting a guy with a motorcycle at the airport, strapping my bag to the back and riding off into the sunset. The most liberating and exhilarating riding experience so far…..
Any bucket-list places you want to ride?
Patagonia. I visited with my sister in 2015. We rented a car, and it was seeing the landscape and driving along the mountain roads up to El Calafate and Mount Fitzroy that made me want to trade in a car for a motorcycle so much that I swore I would never visit a foreign country again without having my license and the ability to experience it on 2 wheels. I bought my first bike shortly after returning to London.
Editor’s note: We were just having fun and taking still pictures with Jess, but she most certainly does not condone riding a motorcycle in shorts or without a helmet! Safety first, people!
I’ve always loved sitting on the back of my friends’ motorcycle. That sense of freedom is unlike anything else. But I feel that because I feel safe knowing he is such a good rider. However, I’m too afraid to drive myself. It feels like such a big responsibility and I don’t trust my skills – or others on the road to abide by the rules. But, I love reading about Jess’ ethos. Wish she lived nearby so we could have a chat about riding :). Thanks for this story! I love this website for its unique content and have been a loyal reader since the absolute beginning! :)
It can be very exciting and it can be very ZEN! This brings nice memories.
Along with this theme, I was expecting a mention to this book from the 70s, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values”, by Robert M. Pirsig :)