Dr. Céline Higton has always been obsessed with motorcycles. She remembers wanting one even as a kid, drawing them in her spare time and thinking about what it would be like to take that first ride. Her dad wasn’t keen on the idea, so she got her adrenaline rush from racing down the ski slopes instead, but the itch to ride never went away.
By the time the London-based dentist was 24 that itch became what she describes as a “screaming voice.” She was in dental school and living off her own finances by then—and thinking about riding every day. She decided it was finally time to give in, so she got her initial license and bought her first bike. After a day of training, she rode her scrambler, named Delores, home, and began commuting with it back and forth to school.
That was in 2015. Since then, she’s obtained her full license, which required more training and allowed her to buy a bigger, more powerful track bike that she calls Priscilla. She’s been taking Priscilla to the track for the last year. She goes as often as she can, usually once a week or so when the weather is good, focusing her mind on riding and forgetting about everything else for the day.
The Thrill of the Ride
Riding Priscilla around the track is technical, Dr. Higton said, which is part of the draw for her. She has to think about shifting her body weight as she leans into curves, focusing on getting her elbow to the ground as she takes corners at an incredible speed. The “adrenaline is crazy,” and she likes the fact there’s always something she can work on improving.
“Your brain has to be switched on; the slightest mistake and you’re off the bike,” she said. “You’re focusing on your next lean and the direction of your body—you don’t have time to think about how fast you’re going or what happens if something goes wrong. It’s really empowering to harness that kind of speed in a machine.”
About 180 riders come out for track days, Dr. Higton said, and are placed in groups with others who are at the same skill level. They ride around the track together for about 20 minutes at a time, reaching speeds up to 170 mph, all experiencing the adrenaline rush that initially attracted Dr. Higton to what some might consider a dangerous hobby.
While these track runs aren’t technically races, that is something Dr. Higton would be interested in, though she admits making racing part of the hobby would increase her risk of injury—and a broken hand isn’t exactly good for business when you’re a dentist.
How Riding Compares to Dentistry
In some ways, dentistry is similar to riding motorcycles, Dr. Higton said. While rewarding, dentistry can be a high-stress job where she must make quick decisions as her patient waits in the chair. Just like when she’s on the track, she often has to think on her feet.
Motorbiking is also dominated by men. Typically, Dr. Higton is the only woman at the track, but she doesn’t mind. She finds it empowering and compares it to what she experiences as a woman in dentistry.
“While there are a lot of women graduating these days, when it comes to teaching and running courses and being in the spotlight, it’s still mostly men,” she said. “Being a woman playing in that field makes me feel really privileged and proud. The motorbike gives me the same buzz.”
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