BY KRIS FANT
What happens when you have grandparents that ride together on an xl500r to pay you a visit as a little girl? When your father tells stories about his own father teaching him to ride? When you watch your grandfather and your dad wheelie up the driveway together? Turns out, you have motorbikes in your blood and you end up riding through generations!
Melize and Robyn
Let me introduce Melize and Robyn Lawson, daughters of Rory Lawson, residing in Hoedspruit, South Africa.
Melize is 21 and Robyn is 19, and they have been riding since before they could walk. Both girls talked about riding on the back of their dad’s KLR. Rory did not hold back, even with his young daughters on the back. “I remember us popping a wheelie after every street,” reminisces Melize.
The girls both learned to ride on a small pit bike in a field. They graduated to bigger bikes, and started riding a local track together.
This has definitely contributed to Rory’s grey hair. “When my sister and I ride together on the track, we push each other to ride better and faster,” says Robyn. Melize chimes in with a story about riding around the track with her dad’s 62 year old friend. Good old dad told his friend “Give it some gas and chase her around the track.” And chase he did! Melize learned how to keep a faster rider from passing her in the corners, and her competitive spirit came out. When her dad’s friend nipped her back tire with his front, her instinct was to kick his tire away! She watched and learned, and the next weekend, used his strategies for riding aggressively with her younger sibling, which gave her little sister a run for her money.
Each of the girls has their own reasons for loving riding. Melize says “When I go riding it’s like I can just relax and ‘gas it’.” Robyn says “Motorcycles are the absolute best hobby someone could have. Bikes are more than just a steel frame with an engine. When I am frustrated or sad, I climb on my bike and ride, and it clears my mind. The feeling that I have when I am on the bike is indescribable; I forget about everything that is going on in my life and my mind is absolutely clear. I forever find myself singing on the bike for pure joy and freedom. Motorcycles are freedom to me.”
Ups and Downs
These adventurous girls have not gotten away with years of riding accident free. Melize shared a story about a track day where her sister was chasing her, and her back tire sent her off the track toward a phone cable. She almost missed it completely, and truly thought she had, when she looked down and realized it had sliced right through her ring finger. She had to have a couple of operations on that finger to have it properly amputated, but she hasn’t let that keep her from riding. “Many people asked me why I still ride if it’s so dangerous, and I would say why do you drive your car around? The risk of you getting killed in a car accident is much higher than me dying on the track.”
Robyn shared a story about riding the track with her sister, when she went around a corner and the bike slid out from under under her. “It was not at all a serious fall, I would say it was a pathetic and funny fall, but for some reason my knee got damaged. I was in the hospital for 5 days because of knee inflammation. It was torture for me sit in the hospital doing nothing.” She says she actually stopped riding for two years following the accident, but “luckily I came to my senses and started riding again.”
Robyn and Melize also love riding enduro bikes in the Mariepskop mountains. Melize remembers this as “where I fell in love with dirt biking.” She and her dad rode just after a rainfall, and competed to see who could spray each other with the most mud. She was on an XR200, and laughs “My dad won, of course.”
Robyn’s favorite riding is all of the mountain tracks she and her dad take. Rory upgrades KLR650’s to KLR685’s, and Robyn helps him in the shop. She says they have to test them out to make sure they are working well, and she and her dad will swap bikes all day, and discuss how they feel similar or different. “We live in the most amazing area in the whole world and therefore we have the most beautiful places to ride. We ride along and across the river, we ride in the bush and find new and interesting animal paths.” About motocross, she says “I don’t enjoy going fast around the same track the whole time, however I do enjoy jumping, because of the feeling when you are in the air for a couple of seconds.”
The girls appreciate that their mother, who rides pillion, has always supported their riding. They enjoy the bond it gives them with their dad, and Melize says they are the talk of the town. “”Ooo you are one of Rory’s daughters that ride motorbikes.” It makes us unique. Both girls would likely make excellent professional racers, “but we are not in a financial situation to do so. We do love chasing the local bikers around our track.”
Melize talks about the “incredible bond between my father and I. I am my ‘Daddy’s little windgat dogtertjie’ and will always be. We have also proven that you do not have to be a boy to have fun with your father, girls can be just as rough and tough as boys. My Dad always says he is glad he never got sons, because if his two daughters are this rough his sons would have been a nightmare!” The girls grew up with stories about generations of riding adventures. They love that the entire family can relate to the stories. Their grandparents would regale them with tales of their father as a little boy, and all of the crashes and riding adventures. The girls love having “wild” grandparents.
Today in Robyn and Melize’s lives
Robyn is 19, she’s just purchased her first bike with her own money, and guess what she does when she’s not riding. “ I build model tanks or vehicles from the olden days, which they used in the war.” She describes herself as “a very active and adventurous person, therefore loves taking part in “fun run” events. “My mum is my best friend; Our thing is to go to festivals and markets together, such as wine or beer festivals or blueberry festivals. I like reading books every now and then, colouring, shooting, singing and playing the bass guitar.”
“I don’t only ride bikes, I also help my dad fix the bikes”, she continues. “I fix and service my own bike, because I believe that if you ride the bike you must also be able to fix the problems. I absolutely love working in the garage with my daddy fixing bikes.” She and her boyfriend also love riding around on their WR450’s!
Melize, 21, says she and her boyfriend just moved out on their own, so she doesn’t currently own her own bike. She says her dad always has a spare bike around, so she can join in the fun. “At the moment I do dance, we had a show just last year and am having the same show in March again due to popular demand. My boyfriend and I have a pitbull which we spend a lot of time with training him and teaching him tricks. I work at a Thatch Roof company called Hoffman’s Thatching. My boss is actually also a biker and we met through riding together. It’s awesome having your boss have the same passion as you. He has done a lot of racing so I love riding with him as I learn a lot from him. I have completed a course in early childhood development as it is my passion to work with children, but at the moment I am happy where I am as my boss also has two little girls which I often help with.”
Thoughts on the future
Robyn and Melize both hope to have their own children in the future, and plan to introduce them to riding from a very early age. Melize says “My goal for riding is to never stop. Also to learn to wheelie properly!” Robyn’s answer is similar “I hope to always ride my bike, with my family.” Their futures are not yet written, but one can imagine many generations of Lawson’s telling tales of roosting, crashing, jumping, chasing, and most of all, laughing together as they share the bond of motorcycles.
If you liked this story, you might also enjoy Megan’s story! Click here to read.