Common Tread

For International Female Ride Day, ZLA women talk about why they ride

May 04, 2018

Quite a few women at RevZilla ride, both in Philadelphia and in Las Vegas. Since tomorrow is International Female Ride Day, I decided to talk to some of the other ZLAdies about how, where and — most importantly — why we ride.

Alessandra. Customer Service Manager and Women's Media Lead. 1995 Harley-Davidson XL883 Sportster, 1994 Yamaha XT225 Serow.
Ale: Riding a motorcycle is a choice that we all make. Personally, what motivated me to become a rider was really missing being on a bike. I had been a passenger many times and I distinctly remember waking up one day and thinking, "I wish I could go for a ride!" But without my own bike, I couldn’t. So, in that moment I decided to sign up for the MSF course and get a bike. It was something I had thought about for a while, but in that moment I felt this clarity about making it happen. What motivated you?

Taylor: The one situation that sticks out in my mind, or the event, was one day we were leaving church as a family in our little minivan, and another guy was leaving church at the same time on a bike and came up beside us and popped into a 12 o'clock wheelie and just turns and waves at us in the minivan. And, I mean, my brother and I just turned and looked at each other, like jaws dropped, like, "Oh my gosh. That was the coolest thing ever. We need motorcycles."

Joanne: First answer: a scooter. It was the quickest way to get to work at the time. Instead of a one to one and a half-hour bus ride door to door, it turned into a 20 to 25-minute ride door to door and less expensive to park than a daily round-trip bus ticket. Second answer: my husband. He wanted us to get into riding and if it weren’t for him I never would’ve pushed myself to try.

As a child, Joanne had no idea she'd grow up to be a passionate and accomplished motorcyclist. A practical decision to start riding a scooter to get to work faster led her down a new path.

Ale: Before I started riding, I had plenty of friends who rode, but none of them were women and none of them were as small as me. I also had no mechanical knowledge at that point. It took a lot of confidence in myself to really go for it and do it. What were your obstacles and how did you get past them?

Taylor. Gear Geek. 2004 Honda 599, 2007 Honda CRF150F.
Taylor: After a couple years of riding street, I got involved in an accident. A car failed to yield and we met in the middle of the intersection. It was actually right after I finished my training at RevZilla, so in my mind, everything just went up in smoke, and everything's done, and, you know, everything's changed forever.

But thankfully, I was able to kind of work through the physical aspect of it with my hand injury and everything, and got back to work, and started to kind of ease back into the idea of riding. I actually went and bought a dirt bike again and got back into the dirt bike side of things, and that definitely helped build my confidence up. The accident was in fall of 2016. In spring of 2017, I finally took the CB600F out for a ride again and definitely felt good to get back on the horse sort of thing. But I would say the biggest obstacle was just making that first trip, especially by myself, and kind of like trying not to tense up every time a car was getting ready to turn or going through intersections. But I think how I got over it was, honestly, just like at the end of the day, I knew that's what I wanted to be doing, so I just kind of forced myself to block out the negative thoughts, and eventually, it just became second nature again to get back on the bike and go.

Lucy. User Experience Researcher. 1993 Suzuki DR350S.
Lucy: I don't actually think I would be a rider or would even ride or have a motorcycle if it weren't for the people who really, really went so out of their way to encourage me to learn. Three weekends into actually practicing riding and putting around, [a friend] pointed to the road and was like, "Hey, let's go. You need gas and it's time for you to actually get on the road." And truly, it was the most terrified I've ever felt in my life. It was like he was asking me to jump off a cliff. I just had no confidence that I actually knew how to ride. I was so, so afraid and he did not give me the chance to say no. He had so much confidence and faith in me that I didn't even have. And I think that was like one of the most profound moments of my life to feel so convinced that I couldn't do something and have someone say, "No, you can," and actually be successful on it and do it.

And I think the proudest moment of my life is actually leaving that little parking lot and riding the 800 yards to the gas station and actually doing it. I was so scared. I don't think I would've been able to ride or ever have the confidence to ride or learn my way around the bike if it weren't for the people who really encouraged me. Getting into bikes has just opened up so many unbelievable doors for me. I mean, that's how I've met the love of my life. It's how I found this incredible job and this new community. It's the reason why I moved across states. And it's the reason why so many good things have happened in my life. But none of those things would've happened if it weren't for the people who encouraged me to get into it.

Every year, Alessandra rides to the Catskills to meet up with hundreds of other women at Babes Ride Out East.

Ale: I know I was inspired any time I saw someone like me, short and petite, riding a bigger bike. Who are your motorcycling role models or heroes?

Joanne. Showroom Gear Geek. 2012 Triumph Street Triple R.
Joanne: I would have to say Mary McGee. She was the first woman to receive her AMA roadracing license in the late 1960s when women weren’t allowed to race! At a time when women were expected to be wives and mothers, she was out there doing what she wanted to do. And she’s incredibly humble, nice and a wonderful person to spend time with. I feel honored to be one of her many friends. Thanks Mary!

Gail: It's my husband. He's an MSF RiderCoach in his spare time and seeing how careful he is when he rides. And how he's always trying to up his skills, and I'm always looking for feedback from him when I'm out riding. And he's like, "I'm not paying any attention to you. You know what you're doing."

Ale: What about your most memorable motorcycle or ride? Personally my more memorable rides are the ones where I pushed myself to do something new, like ride a bike I’ve never ridden or ride a new type of terrain.

Pants. Gear Geek. 2016 Triumph Bonneville T100, 2018 Yamaha XT250, and 2015 Yamaha SR400.
Pants: Oh, man. Well, I took a ride last summer with my boyfriend to Montana. We rode from Philly to Montana. It took us 16 days to go there and back. We did 6,300 miles and hit 17 states. So it was pretty epic. I mean, I've lived a lifetime of car trips and on a motorcycle it's so different. Like, you've got the world at your fingertips. It's so much fun to be like, "Oh, hey, do you wanna take that road?" and just being able to turn and it's like you've got nothing but time and miles to just go. So it was awesome and then he proposed at Beartooth Pass, which was pretty epic. Top of the world, it was amazing. So yeah, it was a beautiful trip and I cannot wait to do something like that again.

Ale: What's the biggest change you’ve seen since you started riding?

Joanne: Certainly my confidence and perception of what I can accomplish. Also, my friends and what I call my moto family. Riding probably introduced me to a world of people (literally around the world) that I didn’t have before. Riding can be incredibly solitary but it can also be incredibly social at the same time. And well, my career. It brought me to start my blog, to meet a lot of cool people over the years, traveling to different countries and of course landing at RevZilla. If it weren’t for motorcycling, I would not be here right now, sharing my story.

Gail. Catalog Associate (Apparel). 2014 Honda CB500X.
Gail: I think it's the motorcycle apparel industry upping their game for women's gear, and I've certainly seen that here at RevZilla. I got myself a Rukka jacket and that's like, "I'm never going back," because they're like the bomb-diddly. But, yes. Seeing serious motorcycle gear for the female form I think is really a game-changer.

Ale: Describe your perfect day of riding or your long-term moto goal.

Lucy: So I am going on a trip to Vietnam with my boyfriend for two weeks. Everyone we've talked to about experiencing Vietnam has actually said, "If you can ride a motorcycle and if you're comfortable doing it, it's absolutely the best way to escape kind of the overtouristed, overly visited areas and actually get a chance to see the landscape and really meet people who are just living their day-to-day lives." And that's something that it might be a little bit cliché, but it's something that we really want to have an opportunity to do. We don't really have any big things that we're trying to see or, you know, they aren't like big sights that we want to see. We just kind of want to understand how people live and the stories that they want to tell and their experiences they want to share. And I think using motorcycles to see a country in a completely different way or in a really unique way is absolutely my ideal way of experiencing a motorcycle, so I'm super stoked about that.

Lucy's next big goal is a motorcycle tour of Vietnam.

Pants: I just picked up a dual-sport [Yamaha] XT250 and I love it. I've had it for about a month now. I've taken it off-road twice, dropped it once, well, crashed once. And that was fun but now I'm ready to, like, kind of branch out a little bit more, get more comfortable in the dirt and just kind of make that a big focus. Touring will always be in my back pocket, but dirt, I really, really liked doing it. Its the same thing as I was saying about being able to turn off onto a road and see where it goes. Being able to turn off on a trail and be like, "Cool, I got this," that's cool, yeah. So camping and dirt, that's going to be the next few years I think, especially being out here in Vegas. It's prime location for it.

Ale: Well, no matter what you ride or where you are on the path to achieving your moto goals, I hope to see you out on the road tomorrow for International Female Ride Day!