Women Riders

Why We Ride

Written by  March 31, 2006

Instead of playing Bunko, scrap-booking and knitting groups, Pampered Chef and Botox parties, thousands of women are finding camaraderie in motorcycle clubs. From Women on Wheels, Throttle Queens, Chrome Divas, Women in the Wind, Leather & Lace and the Motor Maids just to name a few, women are taking to the open roads. The number of women who own their own bikes is on the rise jumping 36 percent to 635,000 from 1998 to 2003, according to the most recent numbers from the Motorcycle Industry Council, a trade group based in Irvine, California. At Harley-Davidson, motorcycles sales to women are at an all-time high, jumping from 600 in 1980 to 30,000 in 2005! The new wave of female riders includes women from all walks of life including soccer moms, even grandmas, corporate attorneys, nurses, realtors, medical technicians and physicians, with the average income of all riders being $55,850. Bikes are being designed with lighter frames, custom-fit gears and lower seats.

So what’s the draw? What’s the appeal? Why do we ride?

One of our readers sent this to me a few months ago and I’d like to share it with you. The author is unknown, but it sure speaks volumes when it comes to our passion for riding. I have also been taking a poll from other lady riders on why they ride and will share their quotes with you. Sit back and enjoy!

“The dog likes the wind in his face, his head out the window, and the sense of the pace.
The smell of the air and the sound of the blast, it’s a feeling of freedom and a sensation that lasts.

Most of our parents over the years have said, if you ride one of those you risk ending up dead.
The desire to do it seems to come from the heart, and our acceptance of danger just sets us apart.

You strip off its cover and take in the scene, the gleam of the paintwork, the chrome and its sheen.
It quietly awaits you to bring it to life, to envelope your senses and leave behind strife.

You dress in your leathers, helmet and gloves, you try not to see worry in those that you love.
The engine is running you clunk into gear, you let out the clutch and the road ahead clear.

The looks that you get when your pipes crackle hot, do they know what they’re missing, I rather think not.
A dog in a truck looks over its side, you smile to yourself,
HE KNOWS WHY WE RIDE.” Author Unknown

“Time spent on our Fat Boy is “us time” (no kids, just me and my man),
wind in my face, smell of the road, fields, trees, city, whatever. It’s bandanas, tattoos, our ever growing/changing group of friends, road trips, and bike nights. It also gives all the cute Harley clothes I just “have to have” a purpose! It’s a passion to get out on the road – until you get caught in the rain then it just sucks!”
-Cari Eikel

“It’s my passion.”
-Carla Brown

“In hopes I get “Lost.” It means I get to ride even more.”
-Ramona Carter

“Freedom to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the world around us. Riding is the best stress relief I could ever imagine. You can ride alone or with a group and still enjoy. I have met a lot of wonderful people that I might have never connected with, and Goldie you are one of those people. Thanks for keeping me informed on all the great rides and destinations.”
-Leisa Anderson

“I ride because it’s a great way to meet people, bikers are fun, and because I can. When you’re on the bike, nothing matters but the wind and the sun on your face all your cares just seem to fade away and it’s just you, the road, good times and good friends.”
-Belinda Gough

“To calm my nerves…prefer highway to city riding…It clears the cobwebs...as some people say I usually refer to my bike as my Prozac…It always makes me feel better…I have satellite radio on my bike and rumble road speakers. I hop on, take off, turn on the tunes and my troubles fade away. I realize that sounds hokey, but it works for me.”
-Val Lefkowitz

“There are several reasons why I ride my own bike. But one of the main reasons is that I feel in total control of my situation! I loved riding with my husband, but for the last 6½ years I feel a freedom that I could only have imagined before!”
-Kim Tarwater

“I enjoy riding because it is something my husband and I can do together. I tried golf- but there are so many other things I would rather do with four or five hours on a beautiful sunny day rather than trying to hit a little white ball. So much to remember, shoulder down, eye on the ball, don’t move head, hips still, follow through…It is much better to smell the smells, feel the temperature changes and roll with the road.”
-Kathryn Clark

“It’s who I am; it’s part of my nature. I like the wind in my hair and the sun on my face. The freedom of the open air. It’s liberating.”
-April Parker

“I ride for peace of mind. I ride to feel the wind in my face and get the feeling of freedom while I’m on my bike. I am able to free my mind of all the headaches of life and enjoy the feeling of piece of the open road gives me. Riding is MY PEACE OF MIND.”

“I ride for my health and financial well being. I know it sounds funny, but I have an affliction that many riders have—if I don’t ride, I get cranky, irritable and short tempered. It never occurred to me that this existed until my boss pointed it out. He doesn’t ride, but can tell whether I’ve been riding or not simply by my behavior at work. My company is going through a lot of changes so I ride to relieve the stress of work which, in turn, helps me to retain my job. Without my job, I couldn’t pay my bills, etc.”
-Cathy Higdon

“I love to ride. It’s the feeling of freedom and the power of the bike that makes me feel unstoppable. I am living my dream.”
-Penni Walker

“I ride because my motorcycle makes me smile!”
-Sasha Mullins
Author, Bikerlady Living & Riding Free

“Riding unleashes me from the rigors and normal confines of life’s everyday schedules and responsibilities. It enhances my life.”
-Sara Elliott

“I love the independence when riding. It’s when I am closest to God.”
-Laura Cross

“Riding gives me the meaning of a brother/sisterhood and it gives me the power and sexiness of being in control. I love the freedom I feel being on the road and in the wind.”
-Shelia Feld

“Riding has given me courage, strength and self confidence and I ride because I needed a change in my life.”
-Karen Robertson

“I ride because I can.”
Editor, Biker Alley Magazine

“I love to ride, go on long road trips, I’m not afraid of a little rain, and I love to laugh and have a great time. I’ve learned to like who I am and that’s okay to choose who I want my friends to be instead of trying to change myself to suit whomever I’m around.”
-Beth Brown

“I ride because then I’m in control. I was diagnosed with breast cancer so advanced that doctors only gave me a month to live. Being a single mom, I decided to finally start living. I was tired of “being a passenger” in life. I moved to Florida, took up bodybuilding a bought a motorcycle. I didn’t have control of the cancer, there’s nothing you can do so riding was my savior.”
-Roe Hyer

“It has been quoted so many times, that it is a cliché…'but if you have
to ask the question, you (generally) don't understand.'
When I'm riding my bike, I feel more alive than any other time - except
having good sex - and being one with nature and God. As a group, riders are
more friendly and more giving - of time and money - than any other group I
know. God's beautiful world is out there asking to be lived and enjoyed.
-Karen Simkins-Horst

(Okay readers, you might want to go get a cold one and stretch your legs before reading the next one).

“There is cold, and there is cold on a bike. Cold on a bike is like being beaten with cold hammers while being kicked with cold boots, a bone bruising cold. The wind's big hands squeeze the heat out my body and whisk it away; caught in a cold October rain, the drops don't even feel like water. They feel like shards of bone falling from the skies of hell to pock my face. I expect to arrive with my cheeks and forehead streaked with blood, but that's just an illusion, just the misery of nerves not designed for winter highway speeds.

Despite this, it's hard to give up my bike in the fall and I rush to get it on the road again in the spring; lapses of sanity like this are common among bikers. When you let a motorcycle into your life you're changed forever. The letters 'MC' are stamped on your driver's license right next to your sex and height as if 'motorcycle' was just another of your physical characteristics, or maybe a mental condition.

But when warm weather finally does come around, all those cold snaps and rainstorms are paid in full because a motorcycle summer is worth any price. A bike is not just a two-wheeled car; the difference between driving a car and climbing onto a scooter is the difference between watching TV and actually living your life. We spend all our time sealed in boxes, and cars are just the rolling boxes that shuffle us languidly from home-box to work-box and back, the whole time entombed in stale air, temperature regulated, sound insulated and smelling of carpets.

On a bike I know I'm alive. When I ride, even the familiar seems strange and glorious. The air has weight and substance as I push through it and its touch is as intimate as water to a swimmer. I feel the cool wells of air that pool under trees and the warm spokes of sunlight that fall through them. I can see everything in a sweeping 360 degrees, up, down and around, wider than PanaVision and higher than IMAX and unrestricted by ceiling or dashboard.

Sometimes I even hear music. It's like hearing phantom telephones in the shower or false doorbells when vacuuming; the pattern-loving brain, seeking signals in the noise, raises acoustic ghosts out of the wind's roar. But on my scooter I hear whole songs: rock'n roll, dark orchestras, women's voices, all hidden in the air and released by speed.

At 30 miles per hour and up, smells become uncannily vivid. All the individual tree-smells and flower-smells and grass-smells flit by like chemical notes in a great plant symphony. Sometimes the smells evoke memories so strongly that it's as though the past hangs invisible in the air around me, wanting only the most casual of rumbling time machines to unlock it. A ride on a summer afternoon can border on the rapturous. The sheer volume and variety of stimuli is like a bath for my nervous system, an electrical massage for my brain, a systems check for my soul. It tears smiles out of me: a minute ago I was dour, depressed, apathetic, numb, but now, on two wheels, big, ragged, windy smiles flap against the side of my face, billowing out of me like air from a decompressing plane. Transportation is only a secondary function. A scooter is a joy machine. It's a machine of wonders, a metal bird, a motorized prosthetic. It's light and dark and shiny and dirty and warm and cold lapping over each other; it's a conduit of grace, it's a catalyst for bonding the gritty and the holy.

'When asked to describe what they love about motorcycle travel, riders toss around romantic vocabulary like 'freedom' and 'escape.' We think there has to be a more tangible component, a key sensation perhaps, or a unique emotion that can only be roused by humming tires, rushing wind and the promise of a long ride. But what is it--that sensation that once tasted, leaves us so eternally hungry? Where's the magic in a motorcycle journey?

Perhaps it's in the posture. When you're riding down the highway on your cruiser your arms are open and extended as if you're expecting an embrace. In this position you're uniquely receptive and vulnerable to the world as it rushes towards you . . . I know that when I roll off a few miles and click into my riding posture, I suddenly feel at peace. And when I know I can stay in that position for hours--I feel joy. The weight of my world rolls off my shoulders and gets lost somewhere in my wake.

The danger and subsequent concentration might also play a role in the satisfaction. Have you ever taken a moment to realize how much stimulation your mind and body calmly absorbs while you ride? The wind's noise, vibration, buffeting and the cold or the heat would quickly reach intolerable levels if you were standing still. The sound alone would be enough to separate you from your skin. Realizing how subtly these things register while we're riding reminds us how focused we are. It's fundamental meditation without the lavender and tea lights.

Perhaps another explanation can be found if we tear apart what makes a motorcycle trip so different from other acutely pleasurable experiences in our lives. Think of your favorite things for a moment . . . things that heighten the senses and quicken the heart just to imagine doing them. Maybe it's eating perfectly tendered abalone, stepping into a bubbling jacuzzi, or making passionate love. Even at their best the thrill of these things simply doesn't last long enough. All too soon we're sated and left to remember the joys of expectation. Motorcycling is different. Riding is an ongoing, endless state of anticipation that requires no apex to bring satisfaction.

Unlike most other forms of travel, riding lets us feel the world we're moving through. We get to taste every nuance, smell every subtlety, feel every pulse of the elements. It puts us in touch with the essence of the planet and separates us from all that distorts it. In order to travel any distance on a motorcycle we're also forced to pare down our own clutter until we find what's vital. The process of strapping these fundamental items onto the spine of such a simple machine is in itself an act of purification. In motorcycle touring there is simplicity, and with simplicity comes fulfillment.

The answer to what makes motorcycle travel so magical may not be so complex. Perhaps it's just like a delicious book you hate to put down. Each journey is a chapter and each corner a twist in the plot. It's a story that lasts a lifetime, with a moral only its own characters can understand.'
-Lisa Brenek

“I ride for the passion of the adventure, and seeing the beauty of every city, town and state I travel through. AND because of the many friendships that have become so close to my heart.”
It’s being in control of this heavy powerful, fast machine all by myself.

There isn’t a particular “lifestyle” that comes mandatory with riding—anyone can ride, from the tiniest, quietest young woman to the elderly great-grandmother, and everyone in between. Just be yourself, ride your own ride, and don’t feel the need to justify yourself to anyone! Riding breaks down barriers and opens up opportunities to meet incredible people from all walks of life. If you’re not riding at this time, but you have always thought about it, Just Do It! It’s an incredible journey.

Goldie Arnold

“Never rider faster than you angel can fly”

TIP OF THE MONTH: Never lose your temper when riding…if you do, STOP, take a “Charlie Brown” sigh (breath) then resume your ride.