With many years of dirt bike riding experience under her wheels, the 36-year-old recently stepped to a new high level of competence and confidence and, inspired also by others, she knew her positive technique and attitude was something she should share with other girls and women on the motorcycling scene.
Mainland started off “wanting to inspire women to face their fears” riding dirt bikes.
“I was in contact with Yamaha-Motor New Zealand to discuss purchase of a new bike when it was suggested that they could support me to become an ambassador for women in motorcycling.
“As a trail rider and a gal that works outside of the motorbike industry, I guess it was a good fit to demonstrate riding as a hobby rather than a full-time job. I am a training advisor for Primary ITO (Industry Training Organisation), which means I advise and manage on-the-job training regarding agriculture in the Nelson/Marlborough area.
“I’m doing that during the week but have a hobby at the weekends with a wee venture I’ve started called ‘Inspiring Adventure’, a business that I would like to grow.
“It’s about helping women to navigate the valley of fear and inspire adventure within themselves. It’s a chance for women to come riding with me, try some different motorbikes and ask the questions that they’d perhaps not have the confidence to ask their boyfriend or partner.
“Perhaps, in the future, I could do the same thing with mountain-biking or other outdoor activities. I want to see women out there having an adventure in a safe way and not letting fear stop them from living new experiences.”
Mainland sees herself as someone who other women could bounce their ideas off, to help them stretch and grow, develop and gain confidence.
She has been riding a Yamaha YZ250X and recently changed over to a Yamaha YZ125X because “I thought that would be a nice ladies’ bike”.
She said “it’s an absolute dream to ride” and this bike has really helped Mainland to ride a bike, rather than the bike taking charge.
“I have been riding bikes for a long time now, starting out as the girl who likes to sit on the bike because ‘it feels safe’, back then I was being told by the boys to ‘stand up because apparently that is safer …’ how is that so?
“I’m that much further away from the ground, so when I fall it’ll be that much further to fall! Right? haha. It’ll cause more injury and hurt more … no way!
“As I became fitter and wanted to attack a bit more difficult terrain I learned that by standing on your pegs, a rider gets far better control and stability on the bike. I still sit on the bike seat far too much, especially as my fitness fluctuates, but at least I’m now riding more than just the flat paddocks at home. It’s this type of thing that I want to pass onto other ladies so they can feel safe in trying new experiences.
“I recently took my new 2020-model YZ125X out to the Borlase Trail ride at Tapawera, near Nelson. What an epic ride and that bike was an absolute machine. I put a smaller sprocket on the front of the bike to help me to get through the slower single track without it losing revs.
“I’ve only once before ridden a 125, so I am still learning how to ‘keep it pinned’ without being scared of the power.
“The first lap I was a little nervy, getting the feel of the bike as it was the first ride with the sprocket and the suspension/clickers set up and the sag set for me rather than riding a bike just out of the box. But, after that, I was away.
“I was learning so much about this bike – She loves to sing! And a wee 125 ripping through the mature forest fire breaks is a bit of music to any enthusiast’s ears isn’t it? The sprocket change was ideal as I was able to hit all the AA trails and didn’t stall the engine while riding at a low speed to clear the obstacles.
“This ride was great, I felt that I was riding the bike, rather than being taken for a ride by the bike. I felt like I was dominating the bike – a great feeling.
“I felt the suspension working around the corners, I was able to use the clutch easy enough to keep up the throttle and clutch control for the corners.
“I am very excited about this bike – looking forward to having a few ladies come out to some ‘ladies days in the dirt’ in the coming months.
“I’ve always felt that I was missing out having not learning to ride a two-stroke bike when learning – I didn’t get to learn a lot of clutch and throttle control to learn how to get the front wheel up, to climb or to ride a bike out of a corner. I found with my placid riding style and a four-stroke bike I just rode it like a tractor everywhere. I’m looking forward to hopefully increasing my skills with my Yamaha YZ125X, a wee beauty.”
So, armed with her YZ125X and a can-do attitude, April Mainland is ready to inspire, to share her experiences and hopefully make it easier for women of all abilities to accept the challenges of dirt biking, a challenge that she herself has embraced and is now getting so much joy and excitement from riding bikes off-road. #yamahawomenonmotorcycles
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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