Why do we do it? Why do we brave the cold, the heat, the rain, the danger? The reasons are as plentiful and as varied as the individuals who make up the burgeoning population of women motorcycle riders. And we are evolving into our own culture. Even the visionaries at Harley-Davidson have directed their marketing strategies toward the female rider. They have wisely designed an entire line of bikes lowered and modified to better fit the female frame. Some of us who spent years thinking we were too small to handle a big hog have finally realized we are just as capable of wheeling that big Road King as any man. One out of every 10 motorcycles is now ridden by a woman. An amazing increase from just a few years ago.
The shared passion for riding creates a bond, a sisterhood that brings women together. Women's riding groups are putting on their own events and forming their own clubs with members who are mothers, doctors, office workers, and bankers; women from all walks of life. The typical woman who rides is likely to be in her mid-30s, married, educated, and "upwardly mobile." Because this new breed of women riders brings with them their educations and other career skills, it's no surprise that the trend is aimed toward the empowerment of women riders. The emphasis is on safety and education with some clubs even requiring their members to take rider safety courses.
Team Oregon has often been recognized for excellence by various organizations since it first began classes in 1984. The most popular Basic Rider Training course offers six hours of classroom instruction and nine hours of actual riding on a closed course, a total of 15 hours to completion. Even the most inexperienced beginner can, by the end of the course, be prepared to pass DMV requirements for a motorcycle endorsement. To learn more about Team Oregon, its class schedule and course locations, visit their website at: teamoregon.orst.edu.
Who to ride with …
There is no shortage of local riders to start your riding adventure with, but if you're interested in joining a riding club, here are some suggestions:
Southern Oregon H.O.G. Chapter
Women in the Wind
Contact D&S Harley-Davidson at 3846 S. Pacific Hwy., Phoenix, (541) 535-5515
The Motorcycle Riders Association
A family oriented club, welcoming riders of all ages and abilities.
United Bikers of Southern Oregon
Star Touring & Riding
"I was so scared to take the Team Oregon rider safety course, but I was determined to get my motorcycle endorsement. It was the best thing I could have done," says Judy Mason of Medford. She laughs as she describes her first day jitters during the riding part of the class. "Even though the bikes weren't that big, it was still intimidating, especially when there were only two of us gals in the class and the rest were guys who had ridden before." After years of riding behind her husband, she decided it was time to take the handlebars herself. She affirms, "Now, I can't imagine riding behind him again. I love being in control of my own throttle."
Motorcycling is not an inexpensive pursuit. First there is the purchase of the bike itself; then comes as many parts and accessories as the pocketbook will allow in order to add that custom touch. Women ride a wide variety of motorcycles, from sport and racing bikes to choppers, cruisers and touring models. Nearly 80 percent of women prefer cruisers for the comfort and the convenience of having saddle bags and/or other storage compartments. Sport bikes are the second most preferred. Tammy Chambers of Central Point explains, "I thought about buying a Harley, but I love the look of the sport bikes. They corner better and really hug the road."
Women riders also love to participate in charity rides and events that benefit those in need. One of the most well known is the Susan G. Komen Ride for a Cure. The Komen Foundation teams with the Women's Motorcyclist Foundation, Inc. in an effort to raise money for breast cancer research. Well over 2,000 riders participate in this yearly event, raising over a million dollars for the fight against this disease.
Certainly there have been women riders throughout motorcycling history, but they were a rarity. More women are now taking charge when it comes to motorcycling, finding that the road is much more enjoyable from the front seat, with the throttle in hand. It's clear that we are proud, thrilled and just a little awed by our emergence into what was formerly a boys' club. So, move over Easy Rider. Mama now rides her own!