Ann Kathrine Kayser Hansen, aka Trine, poses with “Miss Betty”, her Harley-Davidson Iron 883, during an interview with Delano, 5 April 2019. Photo: Jan Hanrion/Maison Moderne
Women are a minority of motorcycle riders and sometimes feel disconnected from the sport.
One aim of an international relay race, which comes to the grand duchy later this month, is to change that by building a local community of women bikers.
The Women Riders World Relay 2019 started in Scotland in February and will pass through a total of 83 nations over 12 months, finishing in the UAE.
The Luxembourg leg takes place on Sunday 28 April. It starts when the Germans pass the baton to the Luxembourg riders around 8:30am at Bollendorf-Pont. They will then head to Grevenmacher, Remich, Sandweiler, Ettelbruck, Bourscheid, Esch-sur-Sûre (and go across the dam), before finishing in Martelange, where they will pass the baton to the Belgians.
Ann Kathrine Kayser Hansen, who often goes by Trine, is co-organiser with Nicole Damas of the local rally. Trine grew up in Vedbæk, a town north of Copenhagen, and moved to Luxembourg in December 1989 at the age of 19. She has worked for an EU institution for approximately 29 years and is the mother of two daughters, aged 15 and 20.
Trine spoke with Delano last week about her passion for motorcycling. The interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Aaron Grunwald: When did you start riding motorbikes?
Ann Kathrine Kayser Hansen, aka Trine: It was always a passion for me. When I was a young and foolish teenager, I spent many hours on the back of one. I was completely reckless, with no gear, none of the time. [I’d just wear] an ill-fitted helmet and flipflops and that was about it. Any boy or girl who would take me for a ride, I’d jump on the back. My parents were super against it. My mum hated motorcycles.
Then I came to Luxembourg and career and kids… and two years ago I thought ‘why are you still a passenger?’. Because I still enjoyed it and I still went out--my partner has a motorcycle and I go out with him--but I thought, ‘no, it’s time’. So at the tender age of 47, I decided it was time to learn to ride a motorcycle.
I don’t ride motorbikes. What’s involved in learning?
In the EU generally it’s the same approach. In Luxembourg specifically, if you’re already the holder of a driver license, for example, you have to take a minimum of 6 hours of code of the road theory and you have to pass an exam.
Once you’ve passed your theoretical exams, then you start your driving lessons. There’s a minimum of 16 [hours], depending on your talents. I had 16 and I passed, and I aced the [license] test the first time! I had a little bit of a hurdle in the meantime… I started the [driving theory] lessons in April; in July I was diagnosed with breast cancer. But it was exactly the riding of the motorcycle that kept me sane through that whole treatment process. And I think I had my surgery on the Friday and on the Saturday morning I said to my partner, ‘we’re going out, take me on the back of your motorcycle’, just to clear my head, to see something different.
I’m very open about the story because I think a lot of women get overwhelmed with it, and think ‘oh my god, this is the end’, and it’s not the end.
Are there other women in the group who’ve gone through something similar?
Actually, yes. And this is a funny story. Within the WRWR we’re [more than] 16,000 women now worldwide, 81 other countries. There is this bell-sisterhood. It’s a little guardian bell that you hang under the motorcycle, and it protects you from the gremlins of the road. But it has to be given to you. You cannot just go and buy it yourself. So through the WRWR I got in touch with a Canadian lady who wanted to be my bell sister. And we started chatted… and she’s going through exactly the same thing. Which is really amazing. And the more we talk to each other, I mean, there are many women who’ve gone through breast cancer and apparently there are many women who’ve [gone through] that and who ride a motorcycle. Because the more you talk about it, the more people open up and say ‘me too’, ‘me three’. So my co-organiser for the Luxembourg [leg], Nicole, has ordered pink ribbons, so everybody’s going to get a pink ribbon in support of that cause.
Is that the reason that you wanted to get involved in the rally?
No, I just love riding a motorcycle. I’m totally passionate about it.
For someone just getting started in biking, what’s a good area in Luxembourg or starting in Luxembourg to explore?
If you’re just getting into biking and you’re in Luxembourg, you’re very spoiled! Luxembourg has got an amazing road network, and it’s maintenance of the roads. I mean, the roads here are beautiful. Certainly that invites certain people to drive potentially a bit faster than they should be doing. But if you go to the north of the country and you tour Clervaux, Viandan, Bourscheid, it’s amazing. I love going down the route du Vin… hop down to Grevenmacher…. We drive to Bastogne, you can go anywhere really. But Luxembourg is unique because of the state of the road network. It really is out of this world compared to our bordering countries, where you sometimes sweat a bit more. Potholes and cracks, you know.
What do you want people to know about the event?
Maybe there are lady riders out there who don’t know about us yet, [and they can] come and join us.
Want to participate in the rally?
As of 8 April, 42 riders had signed up for the Luxembourg leg of the relay. Trine hopes that figure will rise to 50. The deadline to register is 14 April. Riders need to sign up on the main WRWR website. Potential riders, pillion passengers, spectators and supporters can get more information from the WRWR Luxembourg group on Facebook (the group is private “but people are welcome to ask to join”) or by sending a private message to Trine on Facebook.