The Litas Hawkes Bay

 

By Sarah Ferguson | @sarah_a_ferguson

Standing at the top of Te Mata Peak we wait for Brooke.  Hana warns me not to slip as I position myself near the edge.  We are 399 meters above the plains.  Soon the distant thunder of her Harley Street Bob is heard echoing up the mountain.  We watch the cliff edge eagerly for her to turn the corner in to view.  My lens is focused and I’m ready to fire the shutter.

I first met The Litas Hawkes Bay earlier this year.  Rosie Tong, one of the founders, rode up to Mount Maunganui on her Honda CB550four to meet up with our Auckland branch who had ridden down to the beach for a camping trip.  I was so impressed with Rosie’s courage riding over 300 KMS by herself to meet up with a bunch of women she had never met before.  This is why having a collective like The Litas is so wonderful.  We chatted for a while and she told me the following weekend our Wellington branch were riding to Hawkes Bay and that I should ride down to hang out.  This was all very exciting, The Litas were spreading all over New Zealand and this was the first time the different branches from around the country were coming together.  I told her to count me in.

The following weekend I hoped on my bike and headed down to Hawkes Bay.  Rosie rode to meet me halfway with Brooke Walker-Allen, one of the other founders of The Litas Hawkes Bay.  Once in town The Litas Wellington arrived and together we all rode to the top of Te Mata Peak.  After soaking in the view we had to hurry in order to beat the waning sun.  We rode fast over the hills as twilight turned the sky from pink to purple.  When we reached the beach where we were staying we cracked some beers and sat down to relax and get to know everyone.  That night friendships were formed and plans were made for the future.  After all was said and done I left the Bay with a full heart and an empty tank.

Once I was home in my Auckland apartment Te Mata Peak came to me in my dreams.  I saw it on the backs of my eyelids when I closed my eyes.  I couldn’t get the image of its expansive, sweeping views of the Heretunga Plains and the Pacific Ocean out of my head.  I had to go back.  I picked up my phone and messaged Rosie and Brooke.  I told them I was coming back to Hawkes Bay and that I wanted to properly photograph The Litas riding up the Peak. 

Three weeks later I flew down to Hawkes Bay from Auckland. A grueling work schedule left me only two days to get down there and back.  Rosie met me at the airport on her CB550four, her husband Dan in tow with their pickup truck which I would shoot from.  They took me to their local where we met up with Chelsea Carson, one of the other founders of The Litas Hawkes Bay and Hana (Rosie’s older sister).  “Where’s Brooke?”  I asked scanning the area.  “She’s coming but we may have to meet her at the top, we don't have much time.”  Two days earlier Brooke had sent me a message with the weather forecast for the weekend.  There was a severe weather warning.  Rainstorms were expected to hit and hit hard.  Looking up at the sky you’d never suspect a thing.  The day was perfect.

When we arrived at the top of Te Mata we looked out at the storm clouds threatening on the horizon.  Daylight hours and good weather were wearing thin.  We waited eagerly for Brooke to arrive.

“Here she comes!”  Rosie shouted.  Her Harley Street Bob is the loudest of the four bikes.  It sounded like thunder roaring up the peak.  I ran over to my spot in the grass near the edge and pointed my lens at the corner.  When she came into view I fired away.  I followed her with my camera as she got closer and closer to us.  I could see the massive grin on her face through my view finder and a big smile wiped across my face too, the happiness was contagious.

Rosie, Hana, ChelseJPG.JPG

The rest of the trip went by way too fast.  After Te Mata, Hana handed me the keys to her beautiful pearl and purple Yamaha Virago and told me I could borrow it to ride back to Rosie’s for the night.  I couldn't believe the kindness I was experiencing all around me.  These incredible women that started The Litas Hawkes Bay (which now has 17 women) put in a real effort to make the weekend jam packed full of fun adventures.  We rode along the beach and through mountains, we did burn outs, we stopped to explore a beautiful lake, visited the shop were Rosie’s building her CB750four, and right before I caught my plane back home they took me to visit the man, the legend, the ‘real life MacGyver’ -Monty (aka Peter Montaperto, Rosie and Hana’s father).  Monty is a motorcycle mechanic and has his own motorcycle repair shop.  Again I left Hawkes Bay with a full heart.

I still can’t get Te Mata Peak out of my head.  It has mystical powers.  It’s the sort of place you’d find a unicorn.  I have come to the conclusion it’s not the view that has affected me, it’s the feeling I have gotten each time I have gone there and stood at the top with my new found motorcycle friends.  We spend our whole lives seeking to do what we love and when you come across others like yourself who are doing the same, an unbreakable bond is formed  There’s no other feeling that compares to looking over at your mates while you’re cruising down the street on your bikes and you see those massive grins on each others faces.  No words are even needed.

 

Litas Biographies: 

Rosie is currently in the process of following her dreams with insuppressible thirst.  She rides a 1977 Honda CB550four Super Sport and is building a 1982 Honda CB750four with the help of her engineer husband Dan.  She’s called “Bogan Audrey,” and it is a rat racer style café racer.  Rosie’s inspiration for this dream machine: Audrey Hepburn in a little black dress.  Rosie grew up around bikes and started out on dirt/motocross bikes. “My first race bike was at Yamaha pw50 at age four, I progressed through to come third in NZ for junior women and then had a big accident on my Honda CR125 (two-stroke) where I broke both my wrists at the same time.”  Rosie's still got plans for the track and her big dream is to build her house around her workshop.  She's working on her welding skills like a mad women and has all kinds of ideas for builds.  He favorite kind of therapy is working on one of her many projects or going fast.  See if you can catch her! 

Rosie is currently in the process of following her dreams with insuppressible thirst.  She rides a 1977 Honda CB550four Super Sport and is building a 1982 Honda CB750four with the help of her engineer husband Dan.  She’s called “Bogan Audrey,” and it is a rat racer style café racer.  Rosie’s inspiration for this dream machine: Audrey Hepburn in a little black dress.  Rosie grew up around bikes and started out on dirt/motocross bikes. “My first race bike was at Yamaha pw50 at age four, I progressed through to come third in NZ for junior women and then had a big accident on my Honda CR125 (two-stroke) where I broke both my wrists at the same time.”  Rosie's still got plans for the track and her big dream is to build her house around her workshop.  She's working on her welding skills like a mad women and has all kinds of ideas for builds.  He favorite kind of therapy is working on one of her many projects or going fast.  See if you can catch her! 

Hana is a million miles a minute.  She’s a mum, a wife, an engineer, a domestic goddess, a photographer, an entrepreneur and naturally, a biker babe.  She’s literally been riding since she was in the womb.  At five months pregnant her mum was still on the back of a bike.  When she was a toddler she was hanging out the front of her fathers overalls while he rode up and down the driveway.  Hana came eighth in NZ women’s motocross but after breaking her back she no longer races.  Now that she is “older and more sensible,” she rides a Yamaha Virago XV250.  Her eloquent description of why she rides had to be put in her own words: “My road bike is my selfish freedom, it's my time to let my spirit fly. I can't be a mum or a wife or work or do anything for anybody else when I am on my bike, it's just for me.  God that sounds selfish but it's like my re-charge and I don't have social media and none of my friends have bikes, so it really truly is for me, not social media, not for likes, not for status, not for nobody else but for my soul.”  

Hana is a million miles a minute.  She’s a mum, a wife, an engineer, a domestic goddess, a photographer, an entrepreneur and naturally, a biker babe.  She’s literally been riding since she was in the womb.  At five months pregnant her mum was still on the back of a bike.  When she was a toddler she was hanging out the front of her fathers overalls while he rode up and down the driveway.  Hana came eighth in NZ women’s motocross but after breaking her back she no longer races.  Now that she is “older and more sensible,” she rides a Yamaha Virago XV250.  Her eloquent description of why she rides had to be put in her own words: “My road bike is my selfish freedom, it's my time to let my spirit fly. I can't be a mum or a wife or work or do anything for anybody else when I am on my bike, it's just for me.  God that sounds selfish but it's like my re-charge and I don't have social media and none of my friends have bikes, so it really truly is for me, not social media, not for likes, not for status, not for nobody else but for my soul.”  

Brooke’s capable of doing anything you can.  For her, no engine is too big.   Her ‘main weapon of choice,’ is her Harley Davidson Street Bob.  She also rides a ZXR400 race bike.  Her project bike with her fiancée Lee is a classic 1981 Moto Guzzi V50 which they have customized into more of a Brat/Tracker style.  Brooke grew up around motorcycles so it was only natural that she went out and got herself a big fuck off Harley Davidson.  “My dad has always been involved with bikes and had a cool orange Triumph Thunderbird Sport for a while.  Lee and his family also have a big history with bikes and this helped me get my ass into gear and get my license.”  Her and Lee hope to ride down route 66, venture to the Isle of Man and see the Bonneville Salt Flats sometime down the track.

Brooke’s capable of doing anything you can.  For her, no engine is too big.   Her ‘main weapon of choice,’ is her Harley Davidson Street Bob.  She also rides a ZXR400 race bike.  Her project bike with her fiancée Lee is a classic 1981 Moto Guzzi V50 which they have customized into more of a Brat/Tracker style.  Brooke grew up around motorcycles so it was only natural that she went out and got herself a big fuck off Harley Davidson.  “My dad has always been involved with bikes and had a cool orange Triumph Thunderbird Sport for a while.  Lee and his family also have a big history with bikes and this helped me get my ass into gear and get my license.”  Her and Lee hope to ride down route 66, venture to the Isle of Man and see the Bonneville Salt Flats sometime down the track.

Chelsea rides a customized GN250 and as her first bike and first project she says it’s treated her well.  Her current project is GN400, which she plans to do in a different style.  A dream she has is to own a vintage Norton or Triumph and ride through India.  As one of the founders of the Litas Hawkes Bay Chelsea thought it was a great opportunity for local women to get together in a welcoming and fun environment.  “Hawkes Bay is the perfect place for motorbikes as there are some absolutely stunning roads, fantastic weather and no traffic jams to contend with. The combination of long straight flats and windy hills means every ride is different and we’re always kept on our toes!"

Chelsea rides a customized GN250 and as her first bike and first project she says it’s treated her well.  Her current project is GN400, which she plans to do in a different style.  A dream she has is to own a vintage Norton or Triumph and ride through India.  As one of the founders of the Litas Hawkes Bay Chelsea thought it was a great opportunity for local women to get together in a welcoming and fun environment.  “Hawkes Bay is the perfect place for motorbikes as there are some absolutely stunning roads, fantastic weather and no traffic jams to contend with. The combination of long straight flats and windy hills means every ride is different and we’re always kept on our toes!"

@thelitas_hawkesbay #TheLitasHawkesBay #TheLitas