Most of the people these days advise others to follow their passion, chase their dreams. But in reality, most probably, they themselves aren’t doing that. It is easier said than done, right? But some people in this world have fought the odds, travelled the road less taken, in fact, made up new paths for themselves, to achieve their dreams.
Things become difficult when you decide to pick up a different lane than the others. Especially when you are a woman in the Middle East passionate for racing motorcycles, one can only imagine the kind of hardships that she would have to go through to follow her passion. Annie Bader is one such woman and this is her story.
Annie is a Lebanese motorcycle enthusiast, one of the first women to start riding motorcycles in the Middle East, and the first-ever to participate in Official Motorcycle Races. Always known for her strong character and rebellious mindset, Annie was always expected to break boundaries.
Her story began in 2010 when she decided to buy her first motorcycle, at the age of 26, in a country that didn’t exactly encourage women to be involved in any dangerous or so-called “manly” sports.
Her first motorcycle – a red Kawasaki 250cc which she shipped from the US – didn’t quench her thirst quite enough. So, she sold the Kawasaki and bought a Suzuki GSXR 750 that had her back whenever she wanted to pinch that throttle.
She soon built the reputation of a fierce rider who is not afraid to try and fall to learn and better her skills. That’s what caught the attention of the Lebanese Motorcycle Club.
Annie had her first big-track experience at the Losail International Circuit. It was nothing like she had ever seen before. There she rode a 2005 Yamaha R6 and learned many crucial and important riding techniques.
In 2013, she participated in several rounds of the QSBK and won 2nd place of the first round, under the 600-cc division. Several other ladies also participated but none from the Middle East; she was the only one, the first.
Motorcycle racing is fun but difficult as well as an expensive sport. Even when the racers are not racing, they have to follow a strict life schedule and keep training/practising to be in form.
All that requires funding and all the free time in the world. Although the Lebanese Motorcycles Club gave Annie its full support, and since the club itself didn’t benefit from any assigned budget from the concerned ministry in Lebanon to invest in that sport, the resources available weren’t enough to fund continuous travel from and back to countries with tracks, or proper training to be able to physically withstand the strain of racing for long hours, nor the equipment necessary to compete.
Annie had to put racing on hold and return to Lebanon. She started organising and engaging in activities to rally women around motorcycling. She was so determined to convince women that they can do whatever they set their minds to.
In 2015, she hosted “Quickshift”, an Automotive show that aired on LBC, one of the most-watched local channels in Lebanon and the region. She enjoyed learning about automotive in general and test riding the motorbikes that featured in the show. She used her media exposure in Quickshift as well as other shows where she appeared as a guest, to spread awareness about women in motorcycling and their on-road safety.
Lately, Annie has participated in the Women Riders World Relay ripple movement, brought to the Middle East by her dear friend, an inspirational fellow Lebanese motorcycle rider who lives in the UAE, and with whom she co-founded The Litas Lebanon, the Lebanese branch of a world-renowned motorcycling community for women.
She also launched the Women’s Commission in the Lebanese Motorcycle Club, supported by its’ president Eng. Ali Dagher as well as FIM Women, through which she is passionately working towards supporting women from Lebanon and the region to start riding.
Annie always believed that the initial obstacle was never the culture of the country. In fact, she always said, “When I decided to do it, no one stopped me”. The obstacle was the women’s perception of themselves, their fear of not being strong enough, their hesitation towards whether this or any other dream, is worth all the effort. Her message to women is loud and clear: “You are good enough to be whoever you decide to be”.
Her strong belief in this value and the way she carries it in her life, is inspiring women around her, if not to ride, at least to believe that they can.