Women Motorcycle Riders Rally Without Men
By Walter F. Kern
Women motorcycle riders support each other at rallies, leaving men at home
Women have been riding their own motorcycles for a very long time. The actual number of women motorcycle riders has always been small when compared with the number of male motorcycle riders. That ratio is increasing. Currently, women motorcycle riders make up about nine percent of all riders.
Women motorcycle riders may choose to ride alone but most seek out other riders when a road trip is planned. Women motorcycle riders have usually ridden with male riders but have formed into clubs and associations over the years. Some of these groups have their own rallies. Recently, independent rallies have been created to allow either individual women riders or those riding within clubs to seek out a wider group of riding friends at women-only rallies.
So what makes me an expert on women's motorcycle rallies? Actually I'm not, but my wife, Jane, has attended many such rallies since she and I both started riding in 1989.
Many of her experiences have formed the basis of this article, especially her recent participation in the Third AMA Women & Motorcycling Conference held June 29 through July 3, 2002 in Buckhannon, West Virginia. This conference was attended by over 500 women from all 50 states, Canada, Ireland, and England.
She rode to the conference with members of her club, the Spokes-Women. Here are Jane's observations on attending this year's conference. I think Jane's insights are general enough to be used as a set of expectations for attending any women's rally.
- Expect you will learn something new
Attend the seminars. One seminar Jane attended was entitled "You, Your Bike, & the Kitchen Sink." Jan Barrett, a member of Motor Maids since 1978 was one of the speakers. She was riding a Honda Gold Wing and had traveled as much as 14,000 miles on a single trip. This seminar was to help teach you to pack your motorcycle for a long trip.
Jane also attended the First Responder seminar that gave information on what to do if you come upon an accident while riding. The seminar was conducted by Vicki Roberts, registered nurse, program director and lead instructor of Accident Scene Management, Inc.
- Expect you may meet important motorcyclists
At a luncheon, Jane sat next to Robert Rasor, President of the AMA. Everyone around the table introduced themselves after which Mr. Rasor opened the discussion to questions and answers. Many gave suggestions on how to make the AMA a better organization for women.
- Expect you will go on one or more rides at the rally
Often demo rides will be provided by the major motorcycle manufacturers. This was true at the AMA conference. In addition, conferees were given maps of places to go in the area. Jane's group chose to ride to a local winery that had placed a special label of a woman riding a motorcycle on three types of wine.
- Expect breakdowns and accidents
One member of the Spokes-Women group had an accident and was taken to the hospital.
As will be mentioned later, Jane left the ignition switch on her trike in the wrong position, thereby leaving the taillights on. That caused the battery to drain completely. Even a service call did not help. A replacement battery would be required.
- Expect the weather to be unpredictable
At this conference it was 92 degrees or hotter every day. After going for rides, Jane found her hair soaked and her T-shirt full of white streaks of salt from perspiring. AMA President Rasor had remarked at the luncheon that weather had been one of their concerns, as just a few weeks before, it had been cold and rainy there.
- Expect you will be challenged
Jane's group decided to take a scenic route home over the mountains. Once they got to the interstate, the heat index went up. Jane learned that she should never ride in heat above 85 degrees. Unfortunately the heat got to her and by the time she arrived at the motel, she was hallucinating. As a result, she left the ignition switch in the wrong position on her trike when she hurried inside to get out of the heat. Unfortunately, the trike soon had a dead battery. A service call had to be made when she felt better.
- Expect you will have a good time
Women planning to attend an all-women rally need to be cognizant of all the factors mentioned above but always know that you will have a great time and have many great stories to tell when you get back. Take lots of pictures and write down your experiences in a notebook at the end of each day. One of the best things about any rally is meeting new people from all over the world. Ask lots of questions and get to know other women. You may be surprised at the adventures of your fellow rally participants. They may come back telling stories about you.
- Expect the unexpected
As in all of motorcycling, expect the unexpected. The most fun comes from making a good plan but expecting that much will occur that you never would have imagined. You won't be disappointed.
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