Why Women Ride
by Kristin Leary
M.M.M. asked several female MC enthusiasts in Minnesota to share their thoughts about motorcycling. These women vary in length of time riding, bikes they ride, age and profession. Nonetheless, they have one common thread–passion for this sport.
Why did you want to learn how to ride a motorcycle?
“For years, I was a passenger on my husband’s bike. I always felt a loss of control on the back. As a passenger, I was not making any decisions. I couldn’t see anything ahead of me on the road, because my husband’s helmet obstructed my view, and there wasn’t anything for me to do except sit back. After a few years, I was ready for the next step. My husband suggested that I enroll in the motorcycle safety course. To his surprise I signed up right away!
It’s been a few years now that I’ve been in the driver’s seat. Every time I get on my own bike, I feel the sense of freedom and control. Now my view is of the open road not the back of my husband’s helmet.”
Deb DiGiorgio – Honda GL1200 Aspencade
What is the best trip you’ve ever gone on?
“A 16 day tour throughout the Southeast. We covered a lot of ground and explored many beautiful parts of the region. Some highlights included: the Blue Ridge Parkway, Smoky Mountain National Park, Deal’s Gap (318 curves in 11 miles), and Washington D.C.
My partner enhanced this trip greatly. He (planned) our trip by making reservations prior to starting out, marking historical spots on our map, and, of course, making sure there were many twisty roads to ride everyday!”
Bonnie Neuenfeldt – Kawasaki Voyager
What was the most challenging experience you’ve faced as a motorcyclist?
“Several years ago I was on a trip with five experienced riders. We set out to cover 5000 miles in 10 days. I was relatively new to riding, with only a few years under my belt. I did not have a lot of experience riding in poor weather conditions, and if I did run into bad weather, I was never more than 20 minutes from home. As luck would have it, I was thousands of miles from home in Glacier National Park when we ran into the worst weather conditions–intense rain and fog. Since we had a tight schedule to meet, we had to continue riding…even in the bad weather.
It was raining so heavily, and the fog was so thick you couldn’t see two feet in front of your bike. We decided to ride close together and follow each other’s taillights. That worked out fine until the individual in front of me took off. Since I was the last rider, I had no one to follow.
To make matters worse, my glasses fogged up and I couldn’t see anything! Thankfully, I found a spot on the mountain, pulled over and got off my bike. This experience probably only lasted about 30 minutes, but it seemed like a lifetime!”
Ruth Kidd – Honda GL1200 Goldwing
What advice would you give a woman interested in learning how to ride?
“Start slow and small. Remember that motorcycling is a skill and you can’t accomplish miracles overnight. Try not to jump into a big motorcycle right away. With practice and experience you’ll grow into a larger motorcycle. All too often, I see women buying large motorcycles just to keep up with others. When they do this they no longer are the ones in control, the bike controls them. This usually causes the woman to become frustrated and quit the sport altogether.
It’s up to you to find your own comfort and skill level. I encourage women to join the Women On Wheels organization. This organization will help you learn and enhance new skills and techniques, provide you the opportunity to ride with other women, and provide you with the support and encouragement you may need.”
Barb is the State Director of the Women on Wheels organization and a veteran motorcyclist for over 23 years.
Barb Grueschow – Kawasaki Voyager
What can new riders do to be more safe on the road?
“I encourage everyone to take the motorcycle safety course. It will educate you on the basic skills and prepare you for getting out on the open road.
Also, I recommend that you should wear the proper equipment at all times – helmet, leather jacket, pants/leather chaps, boots, and protective eye wear. The leather gear may be hot in the summer months, but it will definitely protect you. And help to make your ride more enjoyable.”
Gail West – Yamaha Royal Star
How has motorcycling enhanced your life?
“Motorcycling has allowed me to become more independent. As a motorcyclist, I rely on no one but myself for safety, enjoyment, and challenge. I know that I control each of these three elements. I am confident in my skills, therefore, it has enabled me to be a safe rider, but also I am able to drive on challenging roads and feel comfortable.
The people I’ve met while motorcycling have also enhanced my life. It seems that no matter what your background is everyone has a common bond. Heck, I even met my husband while motorcycling! He was alone on a county road in Colorado fixing his ’76 Sportster, and I was on a four week trip across the U.S. I pulled over to see if he needed any help. He did, and I ended up fixing his bike! He says he fell in love with me that instant. Many good things come out of motorcycling!”
Barb Jellison – Harley-Davidson Road King
Although this is just a small cross section of women enthusiasts, you can see that whatever your pleasure, you’ll find it on a bike.