Ana Mera

Canadian motorcyclist Ana Mera rides a Honda CBR F4i.  She talks to us here about her love of riding fast. [Rashmi Tambe – Editor]

Women Motorcyclists: Ana Mera with her Honda CBR F4i (Credit: Wobblycat Photography)

Ana Mera with her Honda CBR F4i (Credit: Wobblycat Photography)

Name: Ana Mera
Age: 42
Country: Canada
Languages: Portuguese, French, English, Spanish
Years Riding: 8 yrs
Height: 5.1”
Current motorcycles: Honda CBR F4, Honda CBR F4i
Past motorcycles: Kawazaki Ninja 250
Kms Per Year: 6,000

 

Please introduce yourself. I am Portuguese born and raised, with French and Spanish family background. I moved to Canada when I was 20.  I am an accountant by profession.

When I was twelve, I was in a major car accident. After seven months in the hospital, I ended up having to get my left leg amputated below the knee.  The first few years were difficult. I felt like my dreams and aspirations had been taken away from me.  I used to love to trail run, ballet dance, cycle and surf. The doctors totally shut me down, saying – “It will never be the same. You will no longer be able to do the activities you used to do”. I fell into depression for a while.

Girls love bikes! Little Ana at three years of age.

Girls love bikes! Little Ana at three years of age.

I started to work out to help regain my self-esteem and lose some weight. It made me feel so good that I worked hard and aimed for the highest levels. I became the first Canadian woman to compete in Natural Bodybuilding with a so-called disability and won Overall and Pro-Card against fully-abled athletes. I was featured in a few fitness magazines, the CBC show “Moving On” and some motorcycle magazines. I feel like I became a little bit of an inspiration to others, to people with and without disabilities.

I have no issues talking about my disability, the struggles that it sometimes brings, the obstacles and the challenges. I also relate funny stories about my prosthetic leg. Like the time I braked during a mountain bike race and the darn thing flew off or went down attached to the bike and I found myself hopping down to retrieve it.

I am a Canadian Ski Patroller (on a snowboard) and I also volunteer with the EMS White Knights, a motorcycle organization of paramedics and advanced first aid staff that provide advanced first aid response at events.

Ana Mera: All geared up and ready to go

All geared up and ready to go

Describe your path into motorcycling. My uncle back in Portugal always rode his little 1970 Honda CB 750. I was in love with that thing. I loved when he’d take me on the back for a ride around the block. In high school most of my friends had a scooter. I was never allowed to have one. My mother thought it was too dangerous. Later in life, my husband would say the same thing.

When I got divorced, I got a dog, motorcycle license and a motorcycle.  I have not looked back since!  My biggest challenge at first was changing gears, especially shifting up because the ankle on the prosthetic does not move. It made it difficult to get the toe under the shifter.  I found a better way – heel shifting.

The other challenge was to trust the bike enough to lean it and really turn.  I took track lessons to remedy this.  It was exhilarating!

Ana on Calabogie Track, Ontario, Canada

Ana on Calabogie Track, Ontario, Canada

Describe your current motorcycle. Oh, my Honda CBR F4i is a sweet ride.  The seat is comfortable for long rides and it’s a very reliable ride.

Got a good story for us? When I first started on the track, I took track lessons.  I was a total newbie with only a year of riding under my belt. I rented the leathers and the boots, not realizing I might have issues with the boots because of the way my prosthetic foot was set and how the ankle does not move to get the boot on or off. I got a boot slightly larger than my size, the foot went in okay and I did not think any more about it. I was too excited to get on the track and ride. 

Throughout the day no one noticed the prosthetic. They did see me limping once in a while. My instructor at the time noticed how I shifted and ask me about it. When I told him the reason why I did it that way he was impressed and almost could not believe it.

The problem came at the end of the day. We needed to return the suit and the boots since they were rentals.  My boot had been a little snug even though it was a size bigger. What I did not realize was that the boot only opened to a point. In the end it took three people to get the darn thing off my leg. It was quite the scene! Me holding the prosthetic leg in place, one person holding me down and the other two pulling off the boot.

After that, I bought my own boots with laces and taped them up with black duct tape when I went onto the track. 

Have you done any long distance road trips? I have done a couple although not as many as I wish I had.  My most recent one was to North Bay to visit friends. My favourite trip so far has been my trip to Montreal a few years ago, taking side roads with some great twisties.

Do you do maintenance and repairs on your bike?  I am a little bit of a grease monkey.  I wish I knew much more about mechanical stuff though.  For now I stick to oil change. If I get stranded I can go through the elimination process and have an idea of what is going on and how I can do a temporary fix to get me to a shop. One day I hope I can build my own café racer… wouldn’t that be wicked?

Do you have any motorcycling heroes? The Golden Helmets – the Motorcycle Unit of the Ontario Provincial Police.  I had the pleasure to see them at work during a competition. Those bikes are heavy and they do all exercises like there’s nothing to it, just working the clutch and gas. It was amazing stuff.

Is there anything you would want to change about the world of motorcycling? I am mainly a sport bike rider. When I pass a cruiser rider, some do the “wave”. Many others don’t just because they are a cruiser rider and I am on a sport bike. I wish people would get over that stuff.

Do you have any advice for people who want to get into motorcycling? If you love riding and it has always been your dream to ride, don’t give up.  There’s a lot out there you can do to modify a motorcycle to accommodate your needs. You just need to be comfortable about it and on it.  I found a lot of people try to help me when they saw my disability and the issues I was having at the beginning, I met a lot of creative mechanics who truly enjoyed getting me out there safely. I know I made a mark on their life and they on mine.

In front of Mimico Bridge, Etobicoke, Ontario

In front of Mimico Bridge, Etobicoke, Ontario



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