For our latest edition of the Johnny Reb Herald, it was our pleasure to interview Katarina Dálaigh, Editor In Chief of online mag WOMANMOTO.COM. This one was one hell of a read, so buckle up & enjoy!
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.
A: I’m a bit of a gypsy, having travelled, since early childhood, throughout Australia and New Zealand for family, work, education and pleasure. I’m a motorcyclist to the core and am happiest when on two wheels. I’m a mum to an adult daughter and have recently acquired a gorgeous little red ball of fluff, named Basil. He is my travel companion and little office helper.
I am really quite shy and terribly, socially awkward, so Basil helps me, when I’m out and about when I need to talk to people as he smiles and does a heap of tail wagging.
Q: When did you start riding motorcycles and what made you start riding?A: When I was 12, I’d sneak off with my dad’s Honda CB 100 after school. There was a boy down the road I fancied and thought if I showed off a bit, riding around the block, I might get his attention. He never knew I was even alive, but I fell in love with motorcycles instead and apart from a break of a few years, it has been my constant and true love.
Q: What do you do for work?
A: I am Editor in Chief and Publisher, of WomanMoto.com an online magazine targeted toward the female motorcyclists of Australia and New Zealand… I edit photos, write and edit articles and go for a ride, pretty much to wherever…
Q: What made you start your moto focused magazine?
A: After a 12,000 km ride from Perth, over the Nullarbor, up the centre, across the NW and back down the west coast, life as I knew it, could never be the same.
There had been lots of alone time… lots of head-only time… a few on the edge, crikey that-was-damn-close times… I was in a dead-end, boy’s club job, where I had been bullied for over 18 months. I knew I had to get out and do something different. I wanted to do something motorcycle related; had even thought of returning to instructing… but I knew it had to be something for women and something hopefully, inspiring and empowering.
At the end of the 12,000 km, I was nowhere near the magazine stage… but the seeds had been sown.
January of 2019 I hitched up my bike pants and rode off to start my tree change… escaping that bureaucratic BS mentality and the control they had over my every breath.
I ended up in Tassie, in March 2020… kinda got stuck there at the start of the Covid Mania. The isolation and hibernation suited me, as I was all warm and cosy in a little shack on the River Tamar for about four months… with more ships passing by my loungeroom windows than cars.
I studied, reskilled and improved skillsets I already had… intending to be a freelance writer, riding to wherever and back and sending stories to publications. Then I thought stuff that… why not start my own publication and target the audience that no one else had done before… the Australasian women, where our weather, lifestyles and thinking are so much different to the rest of the world.
There was nothing like this, under the Southern Cross, so I wanted to produce something unique, feminine and classy. I hope to encourage women to get out on two wheels, or even just be brave enough to do something that is outside their comfortzone.
After 2½ years of publication, we now have over 45,000 readers and steadily growing, throughout Australia and New Zealand… plus recently gaining more overseas readers. Even a few of the fellas get on board, with about 1,200 subscribed. I love that!
Q: What bike do you ride now? What bike is your favourite to ride?
A: I have a 2014 Harley Wide Glide, which I have put over 110,000 km on, over three years. I love this bike, so easy and fun to ride.
In June 2022, a real sleek looking 2013 Suzuki Boulevard M109R came up for sale in Ipswich, QLD which I had to have! I flew up from Melbourne and rode it back to Bendigo… figuring by the time I got back I would either love it or hate it. Ends up I love it… I love the power, the seating, the handling and the lipstick colour.
I’d feel like a traitor if I chose a favourite as they are like chalk and cheese, both with their pros and cons, so both are my favourites on any particular day.
Q: What was your first ever bike?
A: The first bike I owned was a 1970s XS Yamaha 400, a dark blue colour with glitter and gold pinstriping. I was 17 and studying nursing at Townsville General, North QLD. I loved that bike… the exhaust would crackle and pop when I changed down… both my bikes now do that still… possibly the bogan-hoon in my blood.
Q: Where is your favourite place to ride?
A: I’ve ridden in every State and Territory of Australia and gotta say the SW of Western Australia have my favourite roads. So much variety with heaps of twisties, hills and straights and the road surfaces are pretty decent also.
If road trippin’ then give me the outback roads any day… love seeing the wide open spaces, the beauty among the nothingness… the country folk, met along the way, the quality head time.
I travel with zero added bike comforts, no Bluetooth, cruise control, or windshield. Just me, the wind, smells… and the sounds only of the engine and my thoughts.
Q: Tell us your favourite riding story or fondest riding memory?
A: Probably not my favourite ride, but definitely the most technically challenging… the reason for going though, was fondest for me.
I’d been outta touch with a good mate of mine in Townsville… I’d taken a break from social media, so had missed the part where he’d almost died from an infected cut on his leg. Anyhoo, I rang him up as soon as I heard.
His 60th was coming up in May 2022 and he asked me if I was coming. I then remembered mumbling something vaguely the year before about, if I was close by, sure I’d be there.
I was in Bendigo, Victoria… so figured, awwww yeah, close enough, three days should do it. The concept of flying there hadn’t even occurred to me… so I left Bendigo on Wednesday, on my trusty Wide Glide, planning to be in Townsville the Friday night. And I would have been if it wasn’t raining and flooded on almost every road.
Slippin and slidin’ most of the way to Dubbo on the first day, somewhere along the way, I lost my rear brake. The following days, I was slowed by road closures and deep water crossings and endless clay or gravel roadworks… no fun unable to brake. I have no idea how I didn’t come a cropper.
All the elements were thrown at me… including gear bought especially for the trip, failing badly; jackets and gloves were soaked, so I was cold and wet to the bone… yet I pushed on.
I figured there are people in ya life that are important and this dude could have died that year and I’d not known he was even in hospital. I intended to get there and help celebrate his 60th year of living.
I was waylaid and behind schedule big time; without incriminating myself, let’s say I managed to get there by 2:30 pm the Saturday arvo of his party and so stoked I did, coz it was a surprise wedding on top. Wouldn’t have wanted to have missed that for anything!
Spanner owner of RHD Classic Supplies & Services in Townsville was able to take my bike in straight away and when parts finally got thru from the south, she fixed the brake problem for my return trip… she’s one special lady that, as Spanner will always look after a traveller and get them back on the road if she can.
Q: Who do you enjoy riding with?
A: I do a lot of long-distance and road trippin’ so for those I prefer Basil, the recently adopted, furball-freeloader, me, myself and I. Of course, if I had a partner they would be welcome to join me.
For a weekend ride, I do love hanging out with my terrific friends and those who have nothing to prove… no bike brand challenges… just riding the wind, having fun exploring and enjoying each other’s company for lunch.
Q: Name one dream place you’d love to ride that you haven’t been to yet?
A: South Island, New Zealand. I’ve seen soooo many pictures of the most majestic scenery and wildest roads. I would love to be brave enough to have an adventure bike that can handle gravel roads and just scout about at leisure.
Q: Why do you ride motorcycles?
A: I couldn’t imagine life without one. Motorcycles are a part of my heart and soul… they complete me. It is who I am.
Q: What do you wear when riding? When did you first hear of Johnny Reb?A: When I first started serious road triippin’ in the early ‘90s I wore jeans that I had sewn leather patches all over and a goat leather jacket with fringes, that was made in Bali. I looked as sexy as hell, but if I’d come off on one of those open speed limit roads, back in the day between Darwin and Townsville, my skin and lots of bone, would have been gone.
These days there is some terrific stuff out there for the woman rider that is not only protective but feminine and sassy to boot… Johnny Reb included. I wear kevlar leggings under my normal jeans around town and at the very least, the Johnny Reb Hume long sleeved, kevlar lined T-Shirt, with a vest. When it’s cooler, I love my Johnny Reb Hume, kevlar lined, zipped hoodie with armour. Thorugh the urban areas I often wear an open face helmet and the Johnny Reb Burke Glitter is my favourite as it doesn’t look like I’ve got a huge head… it’s also super comfy.
For open road rides, always a full face and I’ll add some armour to my knees and shins and a more wind-protective jacket with all the goods for wet weather protection.
I’ve just bought the Johnny Reb denim Glenbrook jacket as have been hanging out for one for ages… it came up on sale, so had to have! Bring on summer as this will be my go-to summer jacket.
I always wear gloves.
Johnny Reb first caught my eye back when they started… 1984, yeah I’m that old. They put out the really cool leather boots with the ankle strap and a lot of the fellas had them… I always wished there were some made for the gals… and whooohoooo… now there are, plus heaps of other cool ladies' gear.
Q: If you could go on a road trip with any 3 people in the world, (dead or alive) who would they be and why?
A: My dad. He loved bikes and had a BSA Gold Flash in his heyday single life… my mother made him give that life away once the ring was on the finger… sad. He loved telling stories about his BSA adventures on the wild roads of New Zealand. Although I’ve taken him for a ride on the back a long time ago and he always showed me off with my bikes to his friends, we never rode together… now it is too late, with him passing in January 2021.
Pink… coz she’s a crazy chick and I reckon she’d be a heap of fun with awesome music around the campfires!
My daughter. As we both love riding, it would be an exceptional bonding experience and a wondrous experience to share with her.
Q: Name your favourite band or song.
A: It has to be “The Long Way Around” by The Dixie Chicks… fits me to a T.
Q: Name your favourite place to stop and eat on a ride.
A: Way too many places throughout Australia and New Zealand that I love… my favourites have a view of water… ocean, river or lake… someone singing and playing acoustic guitar, with friendly bar and wait staff and of course, chin wiping, drool-tasting food… with a chilled bevvy.