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Since 1999, the #1 Motorcycling Magazine for Women and the Men Who Ride with Them









A Lifetime of Riding Motorcycles—Starting With a Honda CB400F Super Sport

Fit and healthy at almost 70 and still solo touring on a sportbike!

By Heather Bashow, Odessa, Ontario, Canada
5/5/2018

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a lifetime of riding motorcycles starting with a honda cb400f super sport heather bashow
A lifelong motorcycle enthusiast, Heather currently rides this beautiful red, white, and blue 2014 Honda CBR500RA sportbike.

I bought my first bike, a four cylinder Honda CB400F Super Sport in 1976. I have always been attracted to motorcycles. My brothers had both owned bikes and it was almost a prerequisite that all my boyfriends rode. Few women were riding back then, but for me it seemed quite natural. My first ride brought to mind my first bicycle ride as a child, when I yelled to my dad and older brother who were supporting me from behind, “You can let go now!” and I heard from far behind me, “We did!” That feeling was freedom.

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I was living in northern Alberta at the time and had a friend who had the 2-stroke version of my bike. He and I would rip around together, racing on gravel roads, which definitely helped to develop my riding skills. We wore jeans and regular shoes, although I did have a helmet and leather jacket. Certainly not much protection had I dropped the bike.

Because my husband’s job required moving every few years, I rode that bike in several provinces, as well as Arizona and Colorado.

a lifetime of riding motorcycles starting with a honda cb400f super sport 1976
With the extreme heat in Arizona I often rode in sandals, a tube top, and shorts, which horrifies me now but back in the ’70s all my friends rode this way. This is my first bike, a 1976 Honda CB400F.

In 1990, my husband was posted to southeastern Ontario where we later retired. As I approached my 65th year in 2012, I thought I might be looking a bit foolish still riding as a senior, and my bike was no longer reliable. I was also riding on my own and concerned about breaking down so I never went very far. I felt it was perhaps time to grow up, so I sold my bike to a collector in Alberta.

However, I was unprepared for how much I would miss it. I am a photographer, so I decided to head to our local track to shoot some motorcycle racing. I immediately loved the genre, and found the community to be friendly and welcoming, and in a short period of time became friends with several of the riders.

a lifetime of riding motorcycles starting with a honda cb400f super sport Ducati Panagale
Trading a photo shoot of a friend’s beautiful new Ducati 1199 Panigale for a twisty and aggressive ride on the back of that bike made me realize that I need to have my own bike again or I would be making a fool of myself begging for rides on the back of sportbikes.


a lifetime of riding motorcycles starting with a honda cb400f super sport cbr500ra
The following spring I bought this 2014 Honda CBR500RA.

In this area, the only road planning is to get around all the lakes, thereby providing me with a mecca of twisty roads. And this nimble little Honda sportbike was born to eat them like candy. Very different than my 1976 café racer, I had to learn how to ride the CBR differently.

This bike needs to lean, and in riding with friends from the track, I have developed a strong passion for not being perpendicular to the road.

a lifetime of riding motorcycles starting with a honda cb400f super sport bmw s 1000 r
I love riding with fast friends, but my CBR500 is usually outgunned by 1000cc motorcycles like this BMW S 1000 R and Aprilia RSV4.

I still enjoy riding by myself. This fall, I am off to Europe for a nine day solo motorcycle tour, just before I turn 70 in December.

a lifetime of riding motorcycles starting with a honda cb400f super sport algonquin park
Since 2013, I have put close to 50,000 km on my bike, including two solo 3-day trips, to Algonquin Park-Huntsville, and Gatineau Park-Tremblant with only a tank bag jammed with camera gear, a toothbrush, and two changes of underwear.

When one door closes, indeed another opens. As sad as it was at the time, selling my 1976 Honda turned out to be the best thing! It led me to track photography, where as a senior I am still very relevant. It also led me to so many great friends and to me buying a bike I love like a friend. It used to surprise me that those in the track community will get in touch to ride with me, but then, age is not an issue when you share a passion.

Turns out I decided to not grow up. Riding brings a total focus and joy that is difficult to find anywhere else. I am very fortunate to be fit and healthy at this age, to have great fast riding friends, and to live where I feel safe riding on my own. I will ride until I feel I am no longer safe, but thankfully that time feels a very long way off.

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