Suzan Clements found revisiting an old hobby helped through the tough times, after a sudden wake-up call caused her to reassess what she wanted out of life…
Zipping up my leathers and placing the helmet on my head I swing a leg over my bike. Key in the ignition, revving the engine and hearing it roar into life sends shivers down my spine. I take my stance, kick up the stand and seconds later I’m off – and loving every moment of being on the road.
As a teenager I’d had a small red Vespa scooter, which wouldn’t have looked out of place on the cobbled streets of Italy. In fact, that’s what inspired me. I was 19 and after living in Rome for a year I’d fallen in love with the little bikes and wanted one for myself. I’ll admit, riding through the streets of Nottingham wasn’t nearly as glamorous as Rome, but still, I loved it.
In 1991, I got married, had a daughter a year later, and my Vespa became impractical, so I sold it and bought a sensible soft-top Ford.
Sitting in traffic as bikes whizzed by, I’d find myself missing my scooter, but now I was a mum practicality and safety had to come first. Coupled with my job for a homeless charity, I had very little time to myself – if I did have a bike I’d never have time to ride it just for fun. And so I resigned myself that it just wasn’t meant to be. But then, in November 2011, something happened that made me look at life differently.
The wake-up call
At 52, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Doctors told me I would need to have a lumpectomy, but I felt there had to be another way to get healthy again, so I started researching, and while my daughter was at university in London, I spent five weeks in Germany at a health and nutrition centre learning about alternative treatments and mindfulness.
When I came home I changed my way of living. I started working for myself, which enabled me to do some of the things I’d always put off until later, like ice skating, which I hadn’t done since I was a child. As the months passed, far from feeling like a weak cancer patient, I was more alive than ever. And, in March 2014, I got the all-clear. But cancer had made me reassess my life and I realised, besides being a mum, there was only one other time when I’d felt this good – and it was when I was in Italy aged 19.
Now, at 58, I was far from that carefree young girl riding a Vespa, but I was determined to reignite some of that energy I’d had back than. ‘I’m going to buy a motorbike,’ I thought to myself.
So in March 2018, I went to a showroom to look at bikes and found the perfect one for me – just the right size. So after placing my order I booked some lessons with an instructor and having already ridden a scooter, I found it came quite naturally. Within 24 hours, I’d passed my motorcycle CBT, and just one week later my Sinnis Hoodlum arrived.
No looking back
That first time I got on the bike to ride it home, was exhilarating. Of course some friends had their concerns.
‘What if you have an accident?’ they asked. But I explained that life is too short to worry yourself out of doing the things you love. I always make sure I drive sensibly but the pleasure
I get out of riding my bike is something I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of. There’s a risk with everything you do – but to me, that’s part of what makes life so exciting.
Yes, you can! But remember…
✱ Find a qualified instructor to help
you learn how to ride a bike safely – motorcycletraining.london. Road safety is the most important thing.
✱ Listen to your tutors and remember their key tips for staying safe.
✱ Visit think.gov.uk for more information about safety on the roads.
Magical Healing Beliefs by Edina Atkinson (£3.08, Kindle, at Amazon.co.uk)
Words by Emma Rossiter and Kim Willis