02 October 2019
Meeting Catie Munnings serves as a reminder of two key biking facts: there’s no such thing as a typical Harley rider and biking definitely seems to be in the blood.
The petite, polite 22-year-old is a professional rally driver, Red Bull athlete, inspirational children’s TV presenter and daughter and granddaughter of two dyed-in-the-wool bikers who love Harleys.
Some of Catie’s happiest memories are of riding pillion with her Dad when she was much younger. “I’ve always been on the back of dad’s bike since I was old enough,” she said. “It used to be my escape – dad used to do all the work while I just relaxed with the wind in my hair.
“Bikes are a family-thing. As well as my dad riding, my grandad always used to be on bikes Grandad’s dream bike was a Harley-Davidson. So when I told him I was getting a Harley he was blown away. My dad actually got a text from his mum this morning to say “it’s a big day today; Catie’s picking up her Harley…
“It’s funny how things change though; now, on the back of his bike I’m so critical because I’m a rider myself. I definitely like being in control in the same way as I am in my rally car. In my head I’ve always thought Harleys are such big bikes and heavy, but actually it’s one of the easiest bikes I’ve ridden. It’s so much fun and already given me such pleasure. It’s so cool to be out riding together and to experience the freedom for myself.”
Catie’s current bike is an Iron 883™, fitted with a restrictor kit to ensure that she can legally ride it on an A2 licence. It’s the bike she instantly fell in love with on her first visit to her local dealership, Maidstone Harley-Davidson®. “I love the Iron because it is so retro in style and colour and shouts Harley when you look at it. It sounds amazing, too.
“I chose a Harley-Davidson because I think it’s probably the most iconic bike out there. You can recognise them from a mile off – I heard some ride past and I knew straight away what they were without having to turn around. For me having a Harley was the ultimate dream especially having seen so many females riding them at places like Camp VC. It’s so cool to see so many girls out on bikes now.”
For Dad, Chris, a former rally co-driver and instructor, there were mixed emotions though when Catie first announced that she was going for her bike licence. “I have two daughters,” he says, Chris, “and they were both riding quads from a young age and working in the family business teaching other kids to ride quads but Catie was always the one hounding me at weekends to go out for a ride.
“I was delighted at the prospect of father and daughter trips when she first told me about learning to ride but at the same time, as her dad, I was worried. As a biker, you know that no matter how good you are at riding you can’t always account for other road users but I’ve been amazed at how good the training process is nowadays compared to when I learned. I feel like Catie is much more experienced as she starts out than I ever was at her age.”
Despite that, Catie admitted that her first lone ride was an unusual experience. “It was strange to be out on my own the first time, because I was learning as part of a group and, of course, with an examiner you were always riding with somebody else. But, I loved it! The feeling of two wheels is just so different; I love driving but for me that is my job as well. On a bike, when you get the lines right and it all flows it feels a lot more personal, a bit like dancing…
“I’m already planning my first trip with my dad. I love going over to Europe and we live near the coast so we can ride over on the Eurotunnel quite easily. We’re looking at a road trip to the Ypres area in Belgium, where I have some rally friends. Then I’ll go and ride some mountains in Italy. Maybe one day I’ll go to America and ride a route, but for now, I’m just enjoying the roads that I already know from a totally different perspective.”