Bianca, truly embodies the spirit of our Ducati community.
A rider who has faced some serious challenges, and instead of giving up, pushed further than ever before.
Her determination and passion for riding is not only an inspiration, it also led her to find her DOCNZ family.
Motorcycles must have been embedded in my genes.
My grandfather and his brother were keen motorcyclists. They started riding their motorbikes a few years after WWII and kept it up well into their late sixties. It was a family affair as two brothers with their wives, jumped on their bikes for their weekend outings, stopping at their local watering hole to also play a few games of bowls.
I guess that is where my passion for motorbikes must have come from. It is in the blood,
I was born and raised in Belgium and as a young girl, I always dreamt of owning and riding my own big motorcycle. Mum was dead against it and said: ‘For as long as you live under my roof, it’s never going to happen”. So, to make it happen, at 18, I moved out, and first things first, I got that jolly bike.
It was a 400cc Yamaha Special. Proud as punch, I was, but I didn’t have a driver’s license. That did not stop me as I managed to qualify for a restricted license and off I went.
By age 19, I had joined the Belgian Army and was stationed with the Allied Forces in Germany. Being with the Military Police, I was living the dream as part of my job was riding motorbikes. One cannot ask for more than that, right?!
Fast forward to the mid-90s, I left the army for a new life in New Zealand.
I cannot remember the moment I was hit from behind when I rode my bicycle along the Hutt motorway (Wellington) in 1996.
Some driver in a van drifted into my cycle lane – he didn’t see me so he never braked. I was hit at a speed of 100km/hour and catapulted 30 metres into the air.
The incident shattered my spine, my pelvis, and caused serious internal and head injuries. I was broken in half. I cannot remember the first aid I received on the side of the road nor the Westpac helicopter flying me to Burwood Spinal unit, but the doctors had already told my husband at the time that I would never walk again.
Having been part of the National Sports Team in the army, I was a physical person; my whole life revolved around sports. I was proud of my body, my fitness, and how it functioned.
But now, I stared blankly at the end of my life as I knew it, as I was lying there paralysed – not only physically but also mentally.
I was desperate to start moving my lower limbs but after weeks, there still was nothing. The realisation of spending the remainder of my life in a wheelchair was quite daunting and not something I had ever envisaged.
One day my surgeon came into my room and took one of my feet in his hand and said: “Bianca, I want you to concentrate, I want you to try and move your big toe”. At the time, it seemed such a long way to send any kind of message from my head to my feet. After much concentration and loads of ambition, there was a flicker in one of the toes. Could this be true? Was something happening there? It gave me hope, and with every small improvement I gained over the years, I set myself new goals.
I thought my riding days were well and truly over. So here we were, 11 years after the ‘Big off’ and having upgraded from my wheelchair onto crutches,
During the many years of recovery, the spark to start riding again came back to life. So when my husband’s Ducati 1098 Tricolore was delivered to our house, I sat on it to see if I could just hold it upright. My Goodness, I could!
My eyes must have lit up as he asked if I would like to get my own bike. There was no hesitation, I heard myself say, ‘Hell to the yes’!!
Who would have thought? Where there’s hope, there’s life, right? From that moment onwards, I never looked back.
After having to learn to walk again, I had to learn to ride again. I was determined to become a better rider than ever before so, those first 9 months on my restricted, I clocked up close to 15,000 km on my little Honda 250 CBF.
As soon as I gained my full NZ motorbike license, I was rewarded with my first-ever Ducati Monster 696 for my birthday.
I just about rode the bike to death until I traded it in for a new MV Agusta Dragster which I owned for 5 years. I tried another Italian bike after that, the Aprilia Shiver, but soon realized that I had to get back to my first love, the almighty Ducati.
After years of riding solo and making new friends on tours around the North and South Island, I discovered DOCNZ!
I went to my first NDR in 2021 and enjoyed riding, connecting, and spending time with like-minded people who have a passion for Ducati! My love for all things Ducati grew even bigger.
We all have our own stories to tell and our own battles to fight, and if this inspires you then I hope this makes you get up and get out there. Go on and smell the coffee too (Italian Espresso please).
Daily, I am reminded of my physical implications and at times I embarrass myself with the consequences of this accident. Still to this day, the challenges are endless but that is also what drives me more than anything.
Just another step, another goal, another challenge to overcome without playing the victim.
Motorcycles have given me another surge, a new life, and a new family, Italian style!
Yours in friendship, Bianca
Live, Love, Ride. Ducati
✍️ Words by Bianca Cockuyt