An Ontario woman conquers a harder-than-expected first step to pursuing a lifelong passion
Photos submitted by Jan Hobman
Even though it took until her 50s to get her licence, her enthusiasm and ambitions never waned.
When she decided it was finally time to start her motorcycle training, Jan set out to find a Sportster® “on a limited budget.” She initially purchased an older Sportster and then, later, a 2017 Heritage Softail™. She found a local training program near her home in Barrie, Ontario, and worked hard to develop her skills. She helped to keep her fellow new riders motivated and optimistic in challenging weather conditions but eventually had a tough time herself with bike balance and clutch work.
“After I failed the course, I went home and said, ‘I’m going to do this,’” Jan said, even though she now realized it would be more work than she had expected. Jan grew up with cars, boats and ATVs, but still some of the details of riding a motorcycle still proved challenging.
“There is a lot more to learn about riding a motorcycle than I had ever dreamed of,” she said. “So, I swallowed my pride and took a few private lessons – and passed.”
Co-owning a business with her husband, Todd, that requires 24-hour service to major clients such as Tim Hortons and Harvey’s makes it challenging for Jan to get on the road for extended periods. However, in late 2019 the couple found time to take on the Lake Superior Circle Tour over the course of seven days.
“We started off in Sault Ste. Marie and headed west along the south side of the lake,” Jan said.
The 2,000-kilometre tour around one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes is considered one of the most iconic rides in Canada. As they rode, Jan and Todd marvelled at the pristine wilderness and crystal-clear inland sea shorelines.
“The rock formations, the trees, the incredible lookouts, the small towns, the interesting hotels along the way, and always the interesting people you meet” – these were some of Jan’s highlights. “We plan to do the same tour again sometime but give ourselves more time to stop along the way,” she said. Jan and Todd have gravitated to the road and plan to do more riding.
“Todd is a really good rider and was patient with me as I kept practicing,” Jan said. “Riding has opened up my world and we love it.”
Married for 25 years, the couple have four adult children from previous marriages who have expressed some surprise, but plenty of respect, that they have become a riding couple.
“Our four daughters are grown up now and they think it’s so cool that we ride together,” Jan said. And their daughters are not the only ones.
“It’s always fun to hear friends or acquaintances say ‘You ride?’ with disbelief,” Jan said. “There’s no age limit to riding. We’re going to ride as long as possible.”
The couple are planning a ride in Quebec in 2020, somewhere away from the urban centres, such as the Gaspésie. They also plan to explore riding in Alberta and to connect more regularly with the HOG® community.