Essential workers eager to get back to the therapy of the open road

Julia Nendick (left) and Carolyn Fearon
Julia Nendick (left) and Carolyn Fearon.

Two women who took to motorcycling in their 40s are looking forward to getting back on two wheels as therapy to help them deal with day jobs providing relief for the effects of coronavirus.

Julia Nendick, who works as carer to her disabled daughter, spends two days a week volunteering at the ESM foodbank at the Freedom Centre in East Hull. Denise Rose, a semi-retired nurse practitioner, has offered to increase her hours at Bransholme urgent treatment centre.

The current crisis has curtailed their biking activities, with cancellation of a season-opening road safety event for RoSPA E-YARD, but both are eager to once again take to the roads of the Wolds and beyond, and to welcome new and returning riders.

Denise said: “When you were a kid going down a hill on a pushbike with your feet out and that ‘wheeee!!!’ feeling – I get that every time I go on a motorbike, that exhilaration. You have to concentrate and you can’t let your mind wander and it stops you dwelling on negative aspects of life.”

Julia added: “It’s a sense of freedom, not just the fact that you can nip in and out of traffic but if you ever feel stressed or overwhelmed and you need to chill you just hop on your bike and off you go.”

RoSPA E-YARD – Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents East Yorkshire Advanced Riders and Drivers – meets every month at Beverley Golf Club and was planning a Ride the Wolds event this month with members and supportive businesses coming together to promote safer riding and driving.

Chris Hood with other members of the group in the background.
Chris Hood with other members of the group in the background.

Chris Hood, who used to run the Humberside Police Bikesafe initiative and is secretary of the group, said: “We provide advanced driving and riding lessons for anybody who has a full licence for a car or a bike. We take people as soon as they pass their test or who have been riding for years and we will improve their riding and driving in a way that makes them safer and helps them enjoy it more. It gives them extra skills for life and it’s all about road safety but with a big emphasis on the social side as well.”

E-YARD was formed in 2007 and rebranded in 2017. Members come from a wide variety of occupations and professions and about one-thirds are women.

Denise was introduced to biking by her ex-partner. She was 45 when she passed her test and is now membership secretary at E-YARD, riding a Triumph Tiger and involved in group riding and training.

She said: “I’ve offered to increase my hours at work because of the current situation and I see the bike as my therapy so I’m hoping we can get out there soon. People look at me, a semi-retired, single 50-something woman and think why do I ride a motorbike and why am I so passionate about it?

“You come back and you’ve had some fresh air and some exercise, you’ve seen some breath-taking views and you have such a sense of wellbeing.”

Julia was also introduced to riding by her partner and started with a 50cc moped before passing her test a few months before her 50th birthday. Her Honda CBF 600 N was having some work done at her partner’s house and is now under lockdown, with Julia busy at the food bank and awaiting a reunion with E-YARD colleague Carolyn Fearon of Beverley.

Julia said: “We are known as the Oxford Girls because we’re not considered to be the sort of people you would expect to be doing advanced riding. We are quite outgoing and we bring people in because they think if these girls can do it then I can do it. 

“You’ll find a lot of people who had bikes in their younger days and decide to come back to it 20 or 30 years on. You have to concentrate so much that you don’t think about anything else – weather conditions, road conditions, other road users, you just have a daft smile on your face and you feel as though the weight of the world is lifted off your shoulders.”

Denise added: “People talk to us about the number of fatalities and they ask if we can make them a better rider. We tell them we can do that by increasing their hazard awareness so they know where conflict from other road users is likely to come from.”

The E-YARD members are now waiting to see if Ride the Wolds can be rearranged, having secured support for the original event from motorcycle dealers in Hull and from suppliers of safety accessories including inflatable vests and a visor cleaning system.

Tim Robinson, a director at Fiveways in Walton Street, Hull, said: “We were planning to take a range of motorcycles from Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha and work with E-Yard to promote safer riding because that’s something we all see as very important. This is a close-knit community and we’re keen to support it.”

Andy Kirkup, managing director of Miles Kingsport in Witham, Hull, said: “Rider safety is very, very important. It’s not necessarily about riding your bike slowly, it’s about safer riding. E-YARD have a massive wealth of knowledge and they put it across really well. Ultimately if we can all ride a bit more safely and a bit longer that’s good for everybody.”

To find out more about the group please visit www.yard-advanced.org

[Phil Ascough – Ascough Associates]

HULL IS THIS WELLBEING category is sponsored by NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group