Anna Rigby is a Motul USA brand ambassador. A decade ago, she first put her leg over a motorbike, and hasn’t looked back, building up an impressive social fan base along the way for her exploits on the road and track. Anna and her husband, a professional motorcycle rider, have since started their own team, RedSpade Racing, and compete in club events across the United States.
How did you get into motorcycle riding?
I’ve only been riding for about nine years, since I turned 30. I got into the sport thanks to my family. All the men in my family ride bikes. Some of them did club-level racing, track days, stuff like that. That’s where I got into it, at the racetrack. I never thought I could ride, to be honest. I have zero natural talent and ability [laughs]. Everything I’ve accomplished has taken me 100 times longer than some of my other peers. I’ve been really blessed and fortunate to have amazing people around me who could teach me properly. Lots of racers took me under their wing to help me out, and I’ve them to really thanks for all of that. For me, it’s still really just a hobby. I could barely even ride a bicycle before this [laughs]. It took several years for me to become in-tune with the machine. I would ride every day when I was learning. I wanted to get it down so bad.
What was the motivation, at the age of 30, to learn to ride a motorbike?
I have my husband to thank. He’s been riding dirt bikes and motorcycles since a kid. We met when we were 16 and, at that time, he stopped riding and went to college. In our late 20s he wanted to revisit riding again and got into street bikes. I got on the back with him and rode two-up for three years. I still remember the first day. It was terrifying. But I was hooked. He said I should try it myself, but it wasn’t until I met a female sports bike racer (at that time female riders weren’t that common) that I really got into it. I met her at Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap, a very technical road in North Carolina. And she encouraged me to take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course. At the same time, I was developing some neuroglial issues and there were a few months where I was couch-ridden. As well all know, riding a sports bike is incredibly demanding. Even learning to shift was very difficult as I couldn’t use my toes to shift. I learned to shift a bike by swinging my leg and kicking the shifter up with my heel. With my condition, I felt that if I didn’t learn to ride then, I might never will. I still have the condition, but I’m managing it with medication.
Is being on the bike therapeutic?
I ended up buying a CBR 250R, which was something that was light, so that if I dropped it, I could pick it up myself. It was easy to manage, had a low seat and I could flat-foot it easily. It literally gave me a second chance at life. That’s why I’m so drawn to motorbike riding. It’s such a huge part of my life and has helped me fight my illness. Riding completely changed my life. Whenever I have a good ride, like on the racetrack, I feel alive. It’s my zen.
What team do you ride for?
My husband and I started RedSpade Racing. Anyone can start a race team [laughs]. I don’t have a race licence at the moment. 2020 was supposed to be my year, but then Covid hit. The plan is for next year to try and get back to it and compete in closed circuit racing. We both have full-time jobs, so this is our adrenalin rush at the weekend.
What’s your connection with Motul?
I almost don’t like to use the word sponsorship. I think that’s more associated with athletes that compete. I’m more of a brand ambassador. The big difference is, I’m your everyday normal person and my level of riding is more on the same level as your average rider. So, I can bring that product story to the everyday person who’s at the same sort of level as me. Motul's support is a great help. Even when you’re competing at the lowest level, like club racing at the weekend, the costs can be huge. I love the products. It’s funny, but we were using Motul’s products before we became partners and they now supply us with all the fluids and cleaners we need.
How do you feel about how women are progressing through the sport?
I know when I got into riding 10 years ago there was this stigma that women weren’t taken seriously in the sport. I’m not sure why that is. But I feel that riding a motorcycle is one of these things women can do more so on an equal level with men than other sports such as football. There are several females here in the US who I look up to, like Patricia Fernandez. She is the perfect example of being competitive and totally equal with the men. She’s showing that women can do it. Caroline Olsen is another one. These women inspire me. When I go to track days now, there are so many more women on track than there were a decade ago.