Pia Steen Petersen

Pia Steen Peterson has worked as a motorcycle mechanic for 14 years in Denmark. She is also a road racer and an enduro racer. She talks to us about what it is like to ride in her country – allegedly the flattest country in the world with a lot of restrictions on riding off-road. She also talks about crossing the finish line of the Intercontinental Rally in Dakar in spite of a broken leg. [Rashmi Tambe, Editor]

Name: Pia Steen Petersen
Age: 36
Country: Denmark
Languages: Danish, English, German
Years Riding: 17
Height: 185 cm
Inseam: 99 cm
Current motorcycles: 2008 Honda CBR1000RR, 2005 Yamaha R6, 2005 KTM 690 Enduro R, 2005 KTM 250EXC F
Past motorcycles: Roadbikes: Honda CBX750F, Honda VFR 750F, Honda VFR 750F, Honda CBR900RR, Yamaha R6
Track bikes: Honda CBR900RR, Yamaha R6, Yamaha R6
Off-road bikes: Suzuki DR500, Yamaha TT600R, KTM 400EXC
Riding Gear: Street, Halvarssons pants and jacket, Sidi boots, Alpine stars gloves, Suomy helmet, Roadracing, IXS one piece leathersuit, IXS boots, Alpine Stars gloves, KTM rally pants, Fox boots, Fox helmet, Fox goggles, Alpine Stars body armor, Fox neck brace
Kms Per Year: 30.000 km

Please introduce yourself.
My first memory of motorbikes is from when I was a kid and riding my bicycle. I passed a guy who was washing his motorbike and I turned around to look at it because I thought it was so beautiful. I kept looking it until I hit a parked car. This pretty much describes my fascination with motorbikes.

I got my first motorbike when I was 20 and did a lot of trips around Europe on it. I started out with sharing a Honda CBX750F with my dad. Sharing meant I had it for 50 weeks a year and my dad for two. It wasn’t the best beginner bike but I loved it. When I was 23, I decided to become a motorcycle mechanic. It took four years and I have been working as a mechanic since then. I currently work in a Yamaha store. I work on a lot of police bikes, which is great fun when I have to go for a test ride and people on the streets think I’m a cop. My work as a motorcycle mechanic means that I meet a lot of interesting bikers every day. It has been because of my customers that I’ve been tried off-road motorbiking, road racing, trials riding and rally. The latest plan is to go with some customers to Sweden to try racing bikes on ice.

PiaSteen_banerace r6

I’ve been riding for 17 years now. I live with my boyfriend and our eight motorbikes. We just moved into a bigger house with a garage to have more room for the bikes. Actually there is room for all of the bikes in the garage, but we still have our two track bikes standing in the living room.

PiaSteen_kitchen workplace

Describe your current motorcycle.
My road bike is a Honda CBR1000RR. i think it is beautiful and I love the enormous power it has. It’s fun to see the attention I get when I stop and take off my helmet- People don’t expect to see a girl riding a powerful bike like this. I have ridden it on the track too. It’s a fantastic feeling to put my knee on the asphalt when I go around a corner!

PiaSteen_my touring bike

What was the biggest challenge you faced when you were first learning to ride?
I took a trip to the Alps and found out my old bike didn’t like the heights because the air was getting thinner, so it stopped in the middle of the road and I had to go back down again. Mostly that was my bike having challenges – but I don’t really remember having any myself. :)

What’s your dream bike?
Yamaha YZ450F Dakar because I would love to have a completely new bike already set up to race a rally in the desert and this bike is perfect for it. It has lots of power, and the weight is low which makes it great for riding through sand and stones.

What’s your favorite motorcycling story to tell others?  
The short version: I did the Intercontinental Rally in February this year – 5500 km off-road riding through Morocco, Mauritania and Senegal in 14 days.  I  broke my leg on the fifth day but continued racing and made it all the way to the finish line in Dakar.


The longer version for those who are not familiar with this race is as follows. The Paris- Dakar race was cancelled some years ago because there were threats from some terror groups in Mauritania. Ever since then it has been held in South America and there are a lot of different rallies racing on a lot of the old tracks from the Paris-Dakar race. The Intercontinental Rally is one of them. It starts in the south of Spain- Almeria, and is 5900 kilometers through Morocco, Mauritania, Western Sahara, ending in Dakar i Senegal.

I have wanted to do a rally for many years, because a lot of my friends had done one and it sounded great! Last year I got a really good opportunity to go because I got a nice amount of money from a sponsor. Rallies can be really expensive and not just something you do. I paid a Danish service team to bring my bike to Spain and back from Dakar. While the race is going on they bring my gear from camp to camp. At the rally, there are motorbikes, quads, cars and trucks. You are pretty much on your own and have to find your way using a GPS. We were two women on motorbikes. And this year there will also be a woman on a quad. It was great going through the different countries, seeing how the landscapes and the people changed the further south we went. It was hard. You get up early in the morning, get your breakfast, pack your stuff, put it in the truck, and race the whole day mostly standing up. When you get to the finish line of the day you get dinner, go over your bike and do what yo have to do to fix anything or do maintenance, then you you crawl into your sleeping bag.

During the race, I broke my leg on the fifth day in the middle of nowhere. It was really stupid. I came down in a small passage with some big stones and fell. The bike landed on my leg and rolled around. I could have pressed a little device you have during the race called a SPOT. If you press it it will send a GPS signal to the organisation and they will find you and pick you up. But Im pretty stubborn, and didn’t want to leave the race. So I tried really hard and got the bike back up. It was extremely painful and when I finally got back on and started rolling, I found out that I couldn’t get shift gears because it was too painful. I improvised by shifting with my heel. It was pretty difficult and dangerous at times but that is what I had to do the rest of the race. I didnt fínd out until I came home that my leg was broken. Luckily for me my boot was so stiff that it was like wearing a cast. I don’t suffer any pain from the injury anymore.

Anyway, it was a great feeling crossing the finish line in Dakar. Absolutely amazing!

PiaSteen_drying hair- rally style

Have you done any long distance road trips?
I went on a two week trip to Scotland last summer with my boyfriend. The nature and the roads are amazing. I was riding on my boyfriends BMW 1200 GS, cause he was afraid I would get serious problems with my body doing such a long trip on my CBR 1000. I must say that bike was perfect for the trip!

Is there any other kind of motorcycling that you’d like to try your hand at?
Riding on a bike in the winter when the lakes in Sweden are covered with ice. There is nowhere in Denmark you can do this, but I have been invited by a Swedish road racer to come and train.

Also, I was so lucky last weekend. I got the opportunity to ride an electric enduro bike in the Danish Eco Enduro championship, an enduro race on electrical bikes only! It was so much fun trying. There was no sound or smell, no clutch or gears, just riding.

Have you made any close female friendships due to motorcycling?
I have met some of my best female friends through motorcycling. Also, last year three of my non-motorcycling girl friends got their licenses and each got a motorbike. I have taken them all with me on a race track in Sweden where I work as an instructor so they could learn to ride their bike properly. I have started a Danish Facebook group Tøser på mc, which is for women only. In three weeks, we will go on a trip where we will drive off-road, sleep outside, make a nice bonfire and tell crazy stories.

If you have or had a significant other, how do they feel about your riding?
My boyfriend has four motorbikes himself, so he feels great when we ride together and we share our big passion.

Do you ride with a club?
I’m a member of a couple of off-road clubs where I do some rides with them, and then my all-girl Facebook group – we have had some really nice trips!

You obviously do your own maintenance and repairs on your bikes?
Since I’m a professional, I do everything myself. It’s super nice to be able to! But it doesn’t mean I enjoy fixing my own bike. I’d rather ride it than spend time fixing it! But it’s nice for example when I do a rally in Africa that I know I can fix a lot of things myself if it breaks down in the middle of the desert.

dm6 2014

Do you have any motorcycling heroes?
Annie Seel who is a girl from Sweden. She is not very tall and has done the real Dakar race. One of the days she broke her nose and it looked horrible but she kept on riding and finished the race.

If you could change one thing about the world of motorcycling, what would it be?
That it would be possible for us to go off-road riding more places. In Denmark it is almost impossible because non-bikers finds us dangerous and noisy, so it’s not allowed to ride in the forest and on all the fun places.

Sometimes I ride in places where it is not allowed, otherwise I travel to Romania or Sweden to ride. Or if someone has a piece of land or forest we can borrow – we can go there. But it is difficult and I wish this could be changed.


Do you have any advice for people who want to get into motorcycling?
Don’t spend all your money on the bike. Save some for good safety equipment. Don’t buy the cheapest helmet and so on. It is really important to get good safety gear!


PiaSteen_ghost street

If I were to visit you and we went riding for one short morning ride, where would you take me? :)
I would take you offroad riding on the west coast of Jutland. It’s beautiful with lots of white sand. It’s fun to ride in the sand close to the water, and it’s good training for rallies!


What’s the best part about riding in your country?
The best rides are in the spring when all the trees are turning green after a long winter covered in snow. Denmark is the flattest country in the world so if you don’t like riding in the mountains, come to Denmark. Our highest point is around 130 meters!

What kind of food can riders expect to stop for on the way that is typical to your region?
Frikadellesandwich. It is a kind of a meatball sandwich served in a burger bun with pickles and pickled root beets. Yummy! It tastes better than it sounds.

How does the topography of the place you live affect the kind of motorcycling you choose to do?
It’s a very small country and most people live close, which means its hard to do off-road riding. But you can go everywhere on a street bike since everything is flat.

What is the traffic like and how does it affect motorcycle riding?
I have to ride 75 km each way to my work in a bit of rush hour traffic, which means I can often  go in between the lines of cars and go a lot faster through the traffic.

What are the best months for riding?
May- September. In the winter when it get below 0 degrees they throw salt on the streets which is absolutely no good for your bike. So unless you want to wash your bike after every ride, don’t go. It will mess up your bike and make it rusty in no time.

Is it safe to ride at night where you live?
No problem. Just be careful in the evening if a street goes through a forest. You don’t want to hit a deer on your bike!

Is motorcycle theft a problem?
It’s not as bad as a lot of other countries. Of course, a good lock is recommended. When I lived in the middle of Copenhagen I think I forgot my keys overnight in my motorbike overnight – it never got stolen!

Are there any motorcycle specific laws?
You have to pay extra insurance if you want to ride December-February.

Are there any motorcycling related political issues that affect your ability to riding?
180% tax on motorbikes (and cars) which makes it really expensive to get a nice bike!

How do the police and car drivers treat motorcyclists?
Most police and car drivers are nice and there is no problem.

Can you describe the motorcycle license test?
You have to take 20 lessons. 1 of them has to be at night. You have to go on a closed track for the first lesson – going in circles and around things before they let you out into traffic. You also have to go with a side car for 5 lessons but only on a closed track. It’s a bit silly but that means everybody can ride a sidecar. Almost no one does though.

Do you have access to high quality women’s motorcycling gear in your part of the world?
Denmark being a relatively small country with small motorbike stores, which means there isn’t a lot of gear for women. I’s better to go to Germany to go shopping.

What kinds of motorcycling events are held regularly?
Throughout the summer there are several meetings small and big with all kinds of bikes. I used to go to the biggest with  around 5000 motorbikes, but it doesn’t exist anymore. Next summer a new motorcycle event will take place – Horsens State Prison Motorcycle Festival.  It will have camping, live music, and I actually have to give a talk about the rally I will do in the winter.

I also participate in the Danish enduro championships. There are six races throughout the spring, summer and winter in different locations in Denmark. I was the Danish champion for the fourth time in a row, but there were only five girls participating. I want more girls in the sport!



Are any motorcycle related sports popular where you live and do women actively participate in them?
Unfortunately, motorsports is not big in Denmark, especially not for women.

How are women motorcycle riders treated by most people and by male motorcyclists?
Most men think it’s super cool when the chicks are riding! If you need positive attention, just come to Denmark on your motorbike.

Do female and male motorcyclists have the same amount of freedom to pursue motorcycling activities?
Yes, as far as I know.


Books:  Nina Rasmussen and Hjalte Tin has been writing several books about travelling on motorbikes with their kids- amazing stories!
Magazine: Motorrad
Web Forums: www.tenere.dk
Female Motorcyclist: Annie Seel, Ida Tin

PiaSteen_cover girl

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