Female Superbike Racer Love-Love Tioseco Advocates Road Safety After Surviving An Accident That Left Her Bedridden For Two Months
Women roles have always been boxed, and their careers and hobbies continue to be confined to traditionally accepted stereotypes, even in this day and age. While women empowerment has gone a long way, by some unspoken rule, many industries and niche circles are still dominated by men.
While there is merit and pride in being a woman in a men-dominated field, challenges and biases persist, discouraging some women from truly permeating or belonging in an industry.
But Love-Love Tioseco does not care about these made-up rules and unspoken barriers. Her love for racing and biking defies all odds, all accidents, and all obstacles. This enabled her to successfully become the only female superbike racer in the Philippines.
“At the age of six, I got into a BMX bicycle accident which fractured my right arm,” Love-Love recalls her early biking days. “After full recovery, I still continued biking, then my mom would always repeat herself over and over again, telling me that my legs are big and fat because of biking. So at the age of 10, I started driving scooters.”
Transitioning from cycling with a bike to motorcycle biking felt like a natural progression for Love-Love, who grew up in a family of motorycle lovers. She shares that while her parents persistently discouraged her from pursuing the sport because of the danger that comes with it, love for motorcycles and racing lies at the core of their family. Her parents eloped numerous times from Manila to Pampanga aboard a BMW R-69-S before they got married, and her mother was even a Vespa GS-150 scooter drag racer during her college years.
Over the years, Love-Love's biking preferences changed. She started falling in love with bigger and more powerful road engines, ditching her scooters for bigger superbikes that were equipped with 1,000 to 1,200 cc engines. Imagine how powerful these superbikes are, whose engines could easily accommodate speeds of up to 250 km/h. They're even more powerful and can go faster than some smaller cars equipped only with 800 cc engines!
Easily, Love-Love fell in love with these superbikes, but getting into the circuit did not come as smoothly. When she first joined a superbike race in 2000, Love-Love recalls, “I was literally the slowest on the race track. The local president of an international federation who used to sanction all motorcycle races in the country wanted me out of the race tracks.”
There was prejudice, there was bias; but this did not deter the young woman. With the help of a veteran champion motorcycle racer, she was able to continue racing, bringing with her the determination and faith that she would get better. In a few years, she began finishing at the top 3 or top 5 against 15 to 25 male racers. The tracks became her new home, allowing her to meet international motorcycle racers and bringing her to places she never thought she'd go to. This is also where she made good friends, and even received surprise flowers from secret admirers.
Accidents and advocacies
But like in all gripping stories, Love-Love's run at the tracks was not all peachy. Recently, Love-Love got involved in a serious vehicular accident outside of a race.
“As I was approaching an intersection without traffic lights, I slowed down and crossed the yellow intersection box. When I was almost out of the yellow intersection box, a male driver who was driving his car without headlights on and was at the wrong lane hit my scooter. I flew forward 5 meters away from the accident site,” Love-Love recalls.
“I was confined in the hospital for a month, had two surgeries due to multiple bone fractures and an injured lung. I filed a case against the driver because he refuses to pay for all the damages and expenses. The case is still ongoing, and he never showed any remorse nor apologized for hitting me. Thank goodness, I was wearing my full face helmet and protective apparel, or else I might not have survived from the accident.”
It took Love-Love four months to recover from the surgeries she had to undergo. She was bedridden for two months and had to complete physical therapy sessions for a month so she can return to her normal mobility.
While her passion and love for motorcycles never wavered during and after her recovery, Love-Love started to develop an advocacy for public road safety and supporting the rights and privileges of persons with disabilities.
“Motorsports racing is dangerous, but racers accept the risks,” Love-Love shares. “I am not a perfect motorcycle rider. I had my shares of accidents that were my fault. I've learned many lessons and will never ride again when I'm intoxicated or right after drinking medicines that make me drowsy. Fatigue and drowsiness can impair your ability to react, that's why it's important to be in tiptop condition and to have all five senses when you're on the road. I make sure that I am well rested whenever I hit the road. And I made a vow to be a safe motorist and a safe road user.”
Now, with 18 years of experiences on the road, Love-Love continues to do what she loves, her eyes focused on the road, her motorcycle tilting from one side to another during sharp curves, zooming past throngs of boys aboard their big bikes. Even now, she would still receive criticisms, but she focuses on what she can do as a female superbiker and how she can be an inspiration to others.
“As a woman in a male-dominated field, I want to be able to encourage other women to never let other people’s perceptions get in the way of them pursuing their passions,” she shares. “I’m also proud to be part of Levi’s #IShapeMyWorld campaign for their 300 Shaping Jeans because it’s an initiative that motivates women to break stereotypes and achieve their dreams.”
Photographs courtesy of Love-Love Tioseco and Levi's