In light of a series of rapidly impending recent events (I say that all in hindsight), I've been putting a lot of thought into my current "situation." It goes a little something like this: At this moment, I am a 33 year old woman who is recently singled up, has 3 bikes that range in the spectrum-of-functioning from "totally crapped out" to "needs a little TLC." I have a dog, I have a lot of really amazing friends. I have an education and an opinion, and most importantly, I have self-respect and an occasionally obstructed human will toward growth and enlightenment. I would have thrown "confidence" in there too, but as of late it's wavering a little.
Since most guys are still very much stuck on the traditional norms of how women should be, I have definitely had my fair share of men who say "You're too smart." or "You're too much of your own person." So it only made sense that boyfriends generally took issue with other key aspects of my life... such as my passion for riding. I think that in some ways this stands as a deterrent for women in a couple of ways: 1. they don't feel like they are capable of learning how to ride proficiently because they have boyfriends who aren't sympathetic or patient with their learning process; 2. Some women also view motorcycling as a man's sport and they don't wan to compromise their femininity.
Most days I can't recall if I started riding in 2005 or 2006, but I know it's been a while, and I know that I am still very much a pupil of the craft. Back in the day I was "ACHICKONABIKE!" and today I am "another chick on a bike." It is really cool to me to see the way women have branched into sport-riding, for many reasons but partially because it means there is a larger market for women's gear; which means I don't have to shop in the mens/boys section anymore.
I have come a long way from that fateful day when I very first threw my leg over an 04 Ninja 250. It was a pristine bike, purchased with only 26 miles on the clock from another woman who had given it a shot and decided it wasn't for her. While it wasn't completely foreign to me, it was the first time in a long time that I had been so bold as to make it happen for myself on my own. It was liberating, terrifying, humbling and exciting all at the same time. I'm not usually type of woman who pulls the gender card (because who you are is who you are, and all people are of infinite potential), but I really felt like it was a pivotal point even for me; she who does whatever she sets out to do without regard for fear or impediment. It was... humbling
. It was as though at that moment I was in a direct confrontation with my own ego and I eagerly accepted the challenge to cast aside everything I thought I knew, and let myself start from scratch; to let myself be "a noob." Although, sometimes that was easier said than done.
With the help and direction of my dad and best friend, I made it through the wobbly stage and actually got to a point where I could keep freeway speeds. There were a LOT of newb mistakes in that time, and I even squidded it up at times, wearing a t-shirt and jeans with my Chuck Taylors. There were stalls, putters, a lot of feet dragging, duck footing, stiff-arming, the occasional target fixation, and more "oh shit" moments than I can really count. Every mile clocked was another mile that I started to fall more in love with riding. It wasn't long after that that I simply connected with riding as not only an outlet for release, but also as an inlet for experience; experience that led me to reflect not only on the riding skills at hand, but the habits of my own personality, attitudes, and ego. Riding changed me
Riding challenges me to confront my fears (irrational thoughts), and instead take the reigns and be accountable for myself. In the past, it helped that I was concurrently studying Philosophy and Psychology in school. Some of the theories that I studied in my classes I found to be applicable in my development as a rider, which in turn effects me as a person. The way that I perceive and approach confrontation is one of the more noteable parallels. Learning better control over my survival reactions on the bike, I also translate that into developing better responses (as opposed to reactions) in social confrontations. Over the years I've become more refined, less impulsive, and generally more successful at dodging a total catastrophe (whether it's social or mechanical ha, ha!).
These days I've adopted more bikes to the stable. I've experienced catastrophic mechanical failures, somewhat catastrophic crashes, catastrophic relationship failures, and I've lost close friends to the road. I believe I can say that I've seen the dark side of riding and I am still very much madly in love with it and willing to commit to it for as long as I am capable. Any activity that challenges you to succeed (or win), also challenges you to overcome; yourself
, your experiences, fears, etc.
There are many women who have been riding much longer than I have. There are many women who are just getting started. I applaud and highly encourage women to take it at their own pace and reach out to more experienced riders who will be patient and supportive in mentoring them. When all of the rest of the world seems to rush down on you with stereotypes and demands for you to fit in a mold that just isn't your style, motorcycling is one of few pursuits where you are free to carve out your own; whether you go into track days, adventure riding, or a combination of everything. Break away from the group and do a solo ride. Find what motorcycling means to you and go with it. Years down the road when that boyfried is in the past, or that group of friends has grown out of riding to bbq's you might still be out there, seeing the world, making new friends, and coming to understand how capable you really are if you put your mind to it.