WOMEN WHO RIDE
NINETYNINECO AUGUST 10, 2015
Women who ride motorcycles
With intent to inspire more Women to don a helmet and embark on a new life on two wheels, we have collated stories from several of Social Media’s most influential women who ride motorcycles from all over the globe. From members of Utah’s The Litas, to riders of the Women’s Moto Exhibit and more locally, The Throttle Dolls, we give you stories of empowerment, freedom and good times.
Foreword by Heleana Genaus of In Venus Veritas
Women riding motorcycles is not a new phenomenon. Since the dawn of the engine powered cycle men and women alike have been enjoying the freedom and mobility that a motorcycle offers to ones life. For the majority of women however, that existence has come with its fair share of labels and negative associations. Up until only very recently, women were regularly labelled a tramp, dyke, upstart or dangerous when seen powering their own wheels… in addition to being a woman, if you were a particularly good looking woman, then the assumption was you only ride for attention.
Fast forward to present day and the rise of social media, more and more women are taking their image into their own hands. Ignoring the past prejudice behind those labels and creating their own. That’s not to say they’re ignoring those who have cleared a path for women today, but rather continue their work to get to a point where we can acknowledge a rider for who she wants you to see. Whether she loves riding and the attention that brings her, whether it be because she gets to live with a sense of adventure in her everyday, whether it’s on the track, on a trail, an open road or the city… it doesn’t matter her reasons. All that should matter is that she rides for her and kudos for sharing her insight into the trial and tribulations of that life.
The women in this series all have their own reasons for riding and are at different levels of experience. They have carved out an identity, through riding, that takes their experiences beyond the machine and into the everyday. The motorcycle is just a conduit for these things entering their lives; freedom, expression, connection, identity. Every rider understands this and supports the one another in their pursuit. It is the woman and man with integrity that sees another living life her own way, without apology or excuse, and stands behind her cheering. The labels are still around, the prejudice is engrained… however I believe we all benefit from each others success.
Enjoy reading the stories from these women, follow their journey, cheer them on and encourage others to do the same.
Jessica Haggett, The Litas
I started riding my first bike, a little Honda Rebel 250 about 6 years ago. I had decided on a whim (like I decide absolutely everything in my life) that I needed a bike because it just sounded liberating and freeing. I had never ridden a bike before, and of course my parents did not like the idea. I decided this while at my cabin in Montana and started the journey to hunt for my first bike.
Finally picking one up, I continued to be the only person I knew that rode a motorcycle for a few years, but that didn’t stop me, I was always on that thing.
Now I have over 30 babes I can call at any time to cruise with and look back at all those times I rode alone and wish I would have started something like The Litas sooner! Salt Lake has a TON of badass babes who just fucking love to ride. We all ride different bikes, have different jobs, do different shit but love that feeling of getting on a bike and just riding. I don’t like to think of it as a “scene” because it’s so much bigger than that. It’s really just a group of people that share a common interest, like to have a good time and meet new people, there’s no room for people who are “too cool”, or judge people for what they ride etc. I have met girls that I will be friends with forever and don’t know what i’d do without them.
I don’t necessarily think that more girls need to get involved, but more so, if a girl wants to get a bike, I want to help break down those barriers that make her think she can’t. I know for me, the reasons were endless, I had never ridden a bike, I didn’t know if it would be too heavy, I was nervous of laying it down, etc. but once you ride for the first time you literally forget ALL of that stuff and have a big shit eating grin on your face. If you fall down, you get back up and that grin magically appears on your face once again.
Sahra Lewis,The Throttle Dolls UK & Ireland
This explosion of the motorcycle scene in recent has created a new wave of independent, strong & adventurous women, who unify together under something they all are captured by… two wheels!
For every female the beginning of their motorcycle journey is unique. The reasons behind choosing this lifestyle is personal to them. Their inspirations have been drawn from a variety of places, people & memories.
I met two thirds of the original Throttle Dolls, Erica and Maria in London, and instantly fell in love with their positive, warm and inspiring vibe. This is why i love this scene. They seem to be a different breed of women, or perhaps we just have similar life morals, needs for adventure and understanding of how to appreciate the world from two wheels. There is not one type of woman that gets a licence, we are all here to teach, to encourage and share our stories with one another. For me, I find riding gives me time out, a freedom, a real appreciation for this beautiful world we live in and sometimes take for granted. Riding with other women is a rush, a unity, a solidarity that is hard to find in modern chaotic life with other women.
I finally met Nina the third original doll at Wheels and Waves in Biarritz, and wow, what an incredible babe! We rode for two days, with other females & the boys, getting to know each other and learning about the motorcycle scene on opposite sides of the world. That, is going in the memory box!
Clubs and groups are surfacing around the world, with the ease of social media making it effortless to build relationships and connect, more so than 10-20 years ago. Yes the scene has exploded with pop up garages, motorcycling events and biking fashion, but without social media, I don’t think it would have come this far. I have been lucky enough to meet some incredibly inspiring women over the internet, which has made me even more hungry to continue on this journey. The one motto I shall carry with me, I took from Erica and Maria is, ‘Kill it with Kindness’. Unfortunately, there will always be women who are negative to you, your image and your story, but thankfully there is a huge support within. Thanks girls!
Of course every ride brings new thoughts, feelings and memories, but the first real rush I had was soon after I passed my test, as you can imagine! My boyfriend and I spent a Sunday afternoon in April, exploring the country roads close to our home, it was cooler, but beautiful sunshine, we rode to a few pubs, and that was when I first experienced feeling like I had achieved something, it hit me, I had gone and got my licence, I had made that happen. When you take your lid off and your hair falls down (not as gracefully in the adverts) but more like wild helmet hair , people look at you, and generally you are always received well being a female, both men and women admire your bike, admire the fact you just rode in on this machine, and although sexist, that fact you are woman doing a predominately male activity. Not any more!
There have been long, epic, picturesque rides since, but that one close to home, was when I first felt excited about all the adventures I still have waiting for me as a female on a motorcycle!
The current female rider “scene” has definitely grown and I think it is a positive thing. I myself have barley been riding for about a year now and it truly has become something I love to do and wish I would have discovered riding motorcycles a long time ago. Honestly, I never knew anything about riding bikes or really never had an interest until my boyfriend purchased his chopper and that’s when the fun began. What inspired me to ride was actually seeing a bunch of babes riding into Born Free 6 and I had to sit on the back of the bike (still had a great time), but I wanted to do what the women were doing. As soon as we got home I came across a post for Babes Ride Out and decided time to learn. I had about two months to learn how to ride my boyfriends bike and I was determined I was going to do it. There are a lot of thoughts that have crossed my mind and I would always make myself nervous before jumping on the bike but you overcome those thoughts as soon as you start going. I knew this is something I loved because I always had a smile on my face and the way I felt while riding was pure bliss. Also learning to ride has brought me a lot of amazing opportunities to work with a lot of talented people out there. Most riders would say I’m riding a death trap but there are other bikes out there that are a lot more safe for new riders who do not have someone to teach them or who do not feel as confident. Practice and safety is key especially when you get out to the streets where you can easily go down or even cause the accident yourself. I’ve been in an accident before on the back of the chopper (was the other persons fault) and yeah it was scary and hurt but we walked away and both got back on the bike as soon as it was ready to ride again. One thing about this community is there are a lot of awesome and talented riders out there, men and women and it is great that we all share the interest.
So my first long ride was Babes Ride Out. I’m not going to lie, I was very intimidated at the fact that I had been riding for about two months and all the ladies had years on me. I felt embarrassed to tell people how long I have been riding but the minute I met up with the girls to ride out to Joshua Tree, everyone was very excepting of me and were super stoked I was tagging along.
This is would be my first trip alone without my boyfriend driving behind me and I had to make sure my head was on straight for this ride. When we pulled up to our campsite, I was in amazed at how many women were there. We settled in and started to mingle, and I would say I have met some of the coolest chicks out there and always look forward to riding with them again.
I think it is great to be friends with so many women of different backgrounds and ages but we all still love the same thing. To hear everyone’s stories is probably my favorite part. The next day was our big ride with a lot of biker babes. At this point I felt fearless and was ready to rock but still in the back of my head I told myself that I better be safe. That was a great ride and I love looking back at all the pictures everyone took because everyone was so happy. I am excited to do Babes Ride Out again this year and super excited to see old faces and new faces.
Riding motorcycles is a very liberating experience for myself and I just love the rush it brings me. The friendships that come out of it and all the memories we share together are priceless.
I love that I can call up a friend and go for a ride, or even take off with my step-dad and now, my boyfriend just got another chopper so now we can ride side by side and really enjoy all of our trips. I look forward to meeting new people and plan on attending more ride outs as soon as my boyfriend and I are both riding. Always remember to have fun when riding and learn everything you can to benefit yourself.
Erica, The Throttle Dolls
PHOTO: CHRIS PRESTIGE
To be honest, my favourite riding stories aren’t all that exciting to tell. They involve riding with my two best friends and fellow founding Dolls, Nina and Maria, through the streets of Sydney on the hunt for the perfect croissant and coffee. The reason why these memories win is because for me riding is all about connecting with people and having the freedom to cruise around doing what you want, smiling all the time, and I just love to ride with my girls. For what it’s worth, our recommendation is the Paramount Café in Surry Hills.
>BUT I know this is meant to be a story about adventure, and so let me instead reminisce about my recent Bali trip. I went over there to do a yoga and meditation retreat, in need of a good unwind after a pretty stressful year. On the last day I was lucky enough to tee up a bike from Deus Temple, and I went exploring through the streets, beaches and rice patty’s of Canggu, on the Bali Dog – a Yamaha Scorpio.
The funny thing is, as relaxing as the yoga retreat was, the minute I hopped on the bike I felt a different type of relaxation. I felt at home.
With the biggest grin. The Balinese locals are incredibly friendly, and everywhere I went I met new people and had a chance to make new friends. Canggu is reasonably built up, but the side streets take you to deserted beaches or magically palm tree lined green oasis’. I was being guided by a lovely Balinese man named Nyoman, and we cruised around sans helmet, which felt a bit freaky at first, but was such a special experience to have the wind blowing through my hair and the sun shining on my face. I was so lucky to have incredible photographer Chris from Atdusk photography meet up with me to capture a few of these special moments. For sure I will be back – would love to do a whole trip around the island next time, with my Dolls.
We started The Throttle Dolls because we wanted to inspire more women to get involved in the motorcycle scene in Australia. There have been incredible women who paved the way, long before us. But we have our own look, style and ethos and it’s been amazing to see that the new Dolls that join us on our Girl Gang rides are women just like us!
So it’s so good to have a little community that supports each other and has a LOT of fun along the way. In my opinion, riding a motorcycle gives you a certain spring in your step, a bit of extra confidence, and it brings out such a joyous side of your soul. So that’s why I think more women should ride.
Jacinta, Moto Doll
Like most little girls, I liked to play with dolls, but I remember my favourite toy was a large battery operated police car that made engine revving sounds and had a siren with flashing lights. I rode the fast, scary rides at the carnival with my older cousin as soon as I was tall enough and drove my dad’s black Sandman Panelvan sitting on his knees from the age of 5.
I’ve always been a girly girl when it comes to hair, makeup and clothes but a whiff of fuel or the sound of an engine roaring is all it takes to awaken the inherent thrill seeker in me.
The only person I ever had in my life that rode motorbikes growing up was my uncle Ralph. He started taking me as his pillion when I was 16yo and from that first time I felt the wind in my face I knew that I had unlocked a desire for freedom that lay deep within me.
My parents were dead against me getting my motorcycle licence, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. Fresh out of University I got a job working for an Insurance company in the motorcycle department. My employer offered to pay for the staff to go and get their motorcycle licence and I jumped at the opportunity. I could now justify it as being necessary for work to the folks!
My first bike was a Kawasaki ZZR250. I remember not having any friends that rode at the time. Every evening that I got home from work for the first month of being licenced I would jump on the bike for an hour or two and ride around the back streets near my house. I would shit myself every time a car pulled out behind me and I would pull over and let them pass me. I remember feeling like 40km was sooooo fast!
That was over 10 years ago now. Back then it really wasn’t main stream or common for girls my age to ride motorcycles. I didn’t have any friends that rode and so I learnt to ride with the boys, which often meant keeping up or getting left behind. I am so thrilled to see how things have changed and how many women are now getting into riding. It’s fantastic!!
Due to the job I held I was really fortunate to have access to a wide range of bikes, some of which were mine and other that I got to ride as I pleased. From the ZZR I moved onto a Ducati 749, Ducati 1098, Ducati monster S2R (I had a thing for Duc’s for a while there) then I had a BMW G650Xcountry which I managed to put a few thousand kilometres on over a few years. She was butt ugly, but we shared some awesome adventures on and off road together.
My riding experiences include riding the Phillip Island Moto GP track on countless track days, completing up to level 3 of The Californian Superbike School Training, I’ve dabbled in MotoX, competed in a scooter race, ridden trail, single track and loads of off road adventure riding including multi day rides in different parts of Australia. My most memorable ride would have to be riding a HD Sportster through Brittany on the West Coast of France up to Normandy and the Mont Saint Michele in 2011. It was my first time ever riding a HOG on the road (I had only ever Dyno dragged one previously scoring the fastest time of the day, but that’s another story). It wasn’t so much the bike that it made it amazing but the overall experience was something to remember! Riding on the wrong side of the road, in a foreign country across some of the most beautiful coast line to one of the 7 wonders of the world is something that I will always cherish.
These days I own a Triumph Thruxton which I’m customising and I do more commuting, urban riding and weekend burns. I am keen to try my hand at some flat track and am planning on making the Dreamroll in Washington State in August this year my next overseas moto adventure. The sense of comradery and unity that comes from the motorcycle community is like nothing else I’ve experienced and it spreads across borders which makes it even more inspiring. Melbourne has a strong motorcycle fraternity that is made up of a healthy female component. It’s an absolute privilege to be a part of it. I can’t wait to meet some of the amazing babes who have shared their stories from the States at the Dreamroll and experience the motorcycle culture on the other side of the world!
I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was a teen and being ‘a rider’ is a big part of my identity. Riding is my passion and more than just a lifestyle … it’s my favourite the way to explore the world.
I love everything about riding, being out there in the elements: the heat, the cold, the rain, and even the smells. In a car, it’s just about getting from A to B … but when you’re riding a bike you’re out there, at one with it all.
I grew up in Poland where I had a very social motorcycle life, with heaps of riding buddies to ride with, but after immigrating to Australia I didn’t meet that many riders so I started riding on my own.
Riding solo through the most remote parts of Australia, and camping out in the bush on my own, not only gave me a greater understanding and appreciation for this wondrous continent but also helped me to learn more about myself – by pushing my boundaries and making me overcome some fears. It even helped me build greater self-confidence in other aspects of my life too, and now i always think: “if other people can do something, then so can I!”
I love the feeling of excitement when faced with a new challenge, and sometimes a bit of ‘fear of the unknown’ too … wondering “am I skilled enough to go through that gravel/mud/sand path?” and being lead on by the curiosity of what I’ll find at the end of the road. And at the end of a long day’s riding, I love setting up camp somewhere peaceful, isolated, and stretching my legs with a glass of red wine with my hand, thinking “Yep! This is the life.”
If a man can ride then there’s no reason why a woman can’t. You only have one life and riding is one of the best ways to enjoy it! Don’t be scared: get into it while you can. Start with a smaller bike so you don’t have to focus on the size / how heavy it is. And, like everything: practice, practice, practice. Start with easy routes and when you feel that you’re improving, then move on to more challenging ones. Remember, you don’t have anything to prove to anyone … just enjoy the ride!