The long and winding road

My introduction to motorbikes - and MotorbikesToday

Words and pictures by Thalassa van beek

Editor's Note: We met Thalassa van Beek, probably at Assen (no surprise) around ten years ago. She wasn't like some of the other grid girls - yes, she looked great but she also was clearly intelligent, actually rode bikes herself and was obviously destined for greater things. When we had the opportunity to carry some of her content on MBT, naturally I jumped at the chance. So here she is.

Oh, and apparently I have to let you know that external links may take you places where we have no control of the content. Y'know, like The Internet.

There she was; all shiny in that typical Yamaha blue colour. ‘One day, I will have her,’ I told myself. That day was in February 2005 and it was the start of 15 years full of motorcycles, and counting.

At the time I was 17 and when I wasn’t in school, I was working as a hostess and promo girl, giving out flyers at events. That year I work for the first time at the Motorbeurs Utrecht, one of the biggest yearly motorbike events in my home country, The Netherlands. Although I’d always said that ‘one day, I will ride a motorcycle,’ I never made any real plans. Until I saw the Yamaha YZF-R6. Wow! It was love at first sight. I made up my mind right then and there: I was going to work harder, save more, and buy my own.

Now here is the first thing you’ll learn about me. When I get something in my head, nothing is going to stop me. I stopped going out and used every hour I could to make a few more bucks. When I was 19, I got my license but wasn’t allowed to ride my dream bike yet, so I bought an ‘87 Honda VTR250 in the legendary colours of white, mint green and pink, which was quickly followed by a restricted CBR660F, because the original 250 was too powerful for my license.

While riding the Hondas, I got the feeling that in every other way I was being adopted by the Yamaha family. After meeting them at the Motorbeurs, they invited me to their VIP lounge at the MotoGP Assen. The Yamaha/Rossi combination was incredibly dominant that year, so you can imagine what an experience it was for a young girl to be in the middle of it all. I also made a new vow: one day I was going to be part of all this.

I went on to model for the Yamaha Motor Netherlands brochures and while I finished high school and started university, I got myself weekend job at an exclusive Yamaha dealership.

One Saturday in April 2009, the shop’s owner came up to me. ‘Thalassa, you know what just got traded in?’ he asked. He didn’t have to say another word. Without even doing a test ride, a month later, the day I was allowed to ride it, I finally brought her home: my dream bike, my own Yamaha YZF-R6.

Oh, how proud I was! I loved that bike. That summer I took her to France and Switzerland, and many more trips followed after. We also spent a day on the famous TT Assen race track, which is still to this day one of the best days of my life.

Meanwhile, I finished university, left the dealership job, and found another gig. For about two years or so, I traveled across Europe with the WSBK and spent many weekends in the paddock. I worked as an umbrella girl for various teams, including Ten Kate Honda and Crescent Suzuki. For the loyal MotorbikesToday readers, you guessed it: this is when I met Simon and Laura. It was an amazing time. While at first, I had to prove myself a bit (oh, she has a brain! Oh, she actually likes motorcycles!) things soon changed and I felt very much appreciated.

The cameras were fun, but for me, it was really just a way of being in the middle of the action. If I wanted to be on the world championship grid, and it wasn’t going to be on a motorcycle, this was the way to do it. I loved life in the paddock. I used to describe it as a traveling circus; I saw the people there more often than I saw my own family, and I made some friends for life.

But of course, walking around in high heels taking photos with strangers gets old, and so did I. Time to use my brain a bit more! I found a marketing job at a startup, building a community platform for motorcyclists, giving me again the time and space to talk motorbikes all day long. However, soon after, I had the chance to join a communications agency working with Yamaha Motor Europe. Back to where it all began! Quite literally, because I watched the 2015 MotoGP Assen race from the media center right in the paddock. 10 years after making that vow, I felt like I’d truly done it.

After that, life quickly changed. I began a career as a freelancer and moved from The Netherlands to Spain. I was invited to join a tour through the Balkans on a brand new BMW R1200GS. Friends warned me ‘you’re going to want a dual-sport after that!’ Although I wasn’t convinced immediately, it did plant a seed in me. Living so close to the Pyrenees and other mountains, with a year-round riding season, I took more and more overnight trips with the R6. Even though I still loved that bike, I had to admit that it wasn’t ideal, especially because the dirt roads had started to spark my interest.

In December last year, I was browsing through an online marketplace and saw a Yamaha XT660R from 2006. ‘I’m not gonna buy it, I’m just gonna try it out, see how I like a bike like that.’ By then, the R6 already had a buddy in the form of a Yamaha X-Max 250. But who was I kidding? Of course, a few days later, they both had to share the garage with the XT.

And that’s pretty much where we are now. After the initial COVID19 lockdown, I was able to take a few trips again into the Pyrenees, and I was lucky enough to travel to Turkey for some weeks where I could also rent a motorcycle. I keep exploring new places, either with one of my own rides or with a rental, and I’m documenting it all on Instagram via @NoHighways. For MotorbikesToday I will write gear reviews and share my travel experiences. Want to get in touch? Send me a message on Instagram.  







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