Women Riders

Inspirational Women: Kathy Wilkinson - Biker, Boat Captain, Paralegal & Grandmother

Written by  February 1, 2014

Writer’s note: A few months back, I put in a request to women biker groups on Facebook, asking for stories from older women riders. I wanted to know when they started riding, what motivated them to start and just who they are. After three months, I got one reply, which I am using here.

Kathy Wilkinson is from Gautier, Mississippi. Below is her story in her own words.

“I just turned 57. I had never even been on a motorcycle--not even on the back of one--until I bought mine about two years ago. Leading up to that, I told my husband one day that I wanted to start riding. He was reluctant as he had ridden quite a bit when he was younger, and felt as though he quit while he was ahead. He finally agreed, and on the day we were going to look at a 'beginner bike,” I opened the paper and sure enough someone had been killed on a motorcycle that day. So I opted instead for a new bicycle, which, truth be told, is probably WAY more dangerous to ride where I live (no bike paths) than a motorcycle.

Anyway, fast-forward a couple years: I helped my mother through the last couple years of her life. Parkinson's disease is a horrible way to go. Watching her was torture. At the time, I was working as a paralegal in a law firm and running my swamp tour business (still do both), and I was exhausted. When she died, I felt a little guilty, but for the most part, it was a relief--finally, she was no longer in pain.

Figuring you never know what life has in store for you, I decided once again I would buy a motorcycle and start riding. And I did. I started with a 2009 Suzuki 250. It was a perfect starter bike. I took a motorcycle safety course, and after some practice, began riding to work every day. I sold my car and moved to a Honda Shadow 600, and I now own a Suzuki M50 Boulevard, which is my primary mode of transportation. I live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and yesterday I had to go to a meeting in Jackson, which is about 200 miles from home. It was my longest solo ride to date. BTW, my husband got inspired by me and bought a bike, too.

I wanted to add that I didn't even consider riding until I quit drinking. I know the two are not compatible, and alcoholic that I am; I couldn't trust myself not to drink and not ride. I actually like being more in charge of my life than letting alcohol run it for me! It's opened a whole lot of doors for me!

So, I guess my story is probably one you've heard before. I love riding and we can ride here year 'round. I am a biker, a boat captain, a paralegal and a grandmother.

These are a few photos of me on my 2006 Suzuki M50 Boulevard on my way to my office--that's why I'm wearing a dress. Even though I'm self-employed as a motorboat tour operator, I still work as a paralegal in a law office four days a week, partly for the regular paycheck but also for the health insurance.”

Every story is unique. and as we learn about these women, we become inspired by their histories, their determination and their can-do spirit. So thank you, Kathy, for sharing your story with us. And if my readers have a story to share or know of anyone who does, please contact me by clicking on my name below and you, too, might inspire others.

By Louise Reeves