Finding bikers to ride with
In the third part of her journey to becoming a biker, Donna Powell, AKA @LonelyTWAT (Two Wheels And That), overcomes shyness to find more people to ride with.
Like many, my biggest obstacle getting into the bike scene was socialising and meeting others. I didn’t want to carry on with my biking days just as a motorcyclist, it would seem such a waste otherwise. Especially now I have moved to a very beautiful part of the country which has some endless roads to explore.
But I did find in the first couple of years after moving to Cornwall that finding biking buddies was harder than I thought it would be. With my boyfriend (Rob) away most of the time for work, I was on my own in a new area and didn’t know many people. Being a bit of an introvert didn’t encourage me to get out much either.
Despite a confidence-boosting marriage proposal and subsequent wedding that helped break me out of my shell I still found little time to get out riding especially with work commitments.
It wouldn’t be until 2015, two years after moving to Cornwall and five years since I started riding, that I would begin to get into the bike scene. I wanted to get out on the bike more and had a passion for travelling and photography. So I set up my Motorcycle Travels Facebook page. The aim was to share my journeys on my motorbike with others and reach out to more people.
Then I decided to go on my first proper ride out which was Plymouth Mega Ride 2015. A congregation of bikers were to meet at a local supermarket and then we would all ride down to the start point at Lee Mill. I chatted to a few of these people but ultimately arrived at the start point on my own.
Little did I know but this ride out would be my first big step from being a motorcyclist to a becoming a biker.
If a photo could tell a thousand words, it would be this one. It’s ironic, but this selfie sums up my entire social life now. The guys behind me were the lovely people who befriended me that day and introduced me to an online bike community T.W.A.T (Two Wheels and That).
It was here that I met Josie Sloan, who is the leader of The Litas Plymouth (an all-female bike group) although I didn’t know it at the time. Nowadays I associate with both groups on a regular basis and often go for rides and meets.
It’s funny how moments in your life can change so much for you. Although I didn’t get much of a chance to socialise for a while after the Megaride, it opened up a lot of doors for me.
I figured, after forcing myself to go alone to the meet, that in fact, it was myself standing in the way of meeting others in the bike community. Maybe a mixture of anxiety, social awkwardness and being introvert did not help. However, from that day I haven’t been as afraid to go at it alone, and if I meet others on the way, then that’s great.
After joining the T.W.A.T group, I started putting up hashtags of lonely TWAT on my Facebook posts, as a kind of joke. Mainly because I was always riding on my own due to my commitments and working when group rides were being organised.
But then I kind of just went along with the name of lonely TWAT, as even when I was at meets my social awkwardness sometimes got in the way of talking to others. Ironically, embracing that fact has made me more confident to get out more and meet others as it no longer matters if I am on my own, as I’ve made it official.
I have to admit the majority of my biking social life is done online and through these two groups. It’s a great platform to join various communities and follow others who share your passion. When events do take place, you then have the freedom to join them and meet people face to face.
My social confidence has been my biggest hurdle but having a husband that supports me for who I am and understanding that I’m as not as socially savvy as others have helped me overcome my fear. Even if I am lonely TWAT sat on her own, at least I am getting out there. Sometimes you just got to get on with it. The more you do, the easier it becomes.
Coming soon: Donna becomes a part of the biking family.
You can also follow @LonelyTWAT on her personal blog: https://motorcycletravels.site/
Get yourself sorted:
The best places to find bike rideouts and meets are within groups on Facebook, single marque/model forums and on MeetUp.com. The latter is particularly good for finding local bike clubs – just search for ‘motorcycle’ and MeetUp will provide events within a local radius. If you are on the shy side, like Donna, you can join Facebook groups and lurk a bit before starting to join in. In our experience bike groups are incredibly friendly and supportive to other bikers. Get involved!