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Fact or Fiction: Empowering Women Motorcyclists

While scrolling through Twitter, I saw this post from Hipster Bike Videos:

Hmm. Okay, I’ll bite.

I followed the link and read more of the posts on their Tumblr. They’re funny and irreverent in their posts and pull no punches on the moto/cafe/hipster/fashion scene.

I’m a little too old, too shy, too not nearly attractive enough to really identify with what I *perceive* as that whole segment of the motorcycle world. It just isn’t me. Some of it comes across more about what it looks like than what it feels like to ride. But… that’s my personal biases talking. Whatever floats their boats. It’s all the same wind. ::shrug::

As I scrolled through the HBV account – I then saw a post about a behind the scenes video from photographer Lanakila Macnaughton’s traveling women’s motorcycling exhibit.

The guys at HBV said:

“Srs post this time.  We here, as dudes, enjoy looking at a woman shaking her ass in short shorts as much as anyone.  But have some dignity and respect [for your own gender in this case] and don’t try to pass it off as serious women riding seriously.”

Well, I didn’t expect to read that. More often than not when I see anything posted around social media with a hot chick who can ride her own bike more than 10 feet without killing herself – the wolf whistles and attagirls are usually flying.

While I don’t personally feel remotely empowered or even identify with the images being presented of girls in the video – I kind of chalk it up to what I was saying before. I’m a boring, average, middle-aged mom. Anything coming from me that poo-poos this type of aesthetic probably comes off as nothing more than sour grapes. You wish you were as hot as these girls. While that is true, even if I were that hot – would I be one of those girls? Probably not.

Then I think – would I want my beautiful teenaged daughter to ride around undressed like that? No. Not unless she wanted me to kick her ass. 

And then…

I circle back around to – what do I care?

Empowerment. Do I need it to ride my motorcycle? I don’t feel like I do.

Real women. What the hell does that mean anyway?

Appropriating the word “real” for the video, well – I guess if I were knitpicking I would only say that they are some of the women who ride. Real or otherwise. But I would hope the video is just a small segment of the full exhibit (which I haven’t seen) anyway.


“The Woman’s Motorcycle Exhibition: The Real Woman Who Ride.”
Spend a day with a few of these woman as they cruise the wooded backroads of Portland, Oregon. The Women’s Motorcycle Exhibition documents the new wave of modern female motorcyclists. The goal is to reveal the brave, courageous and beautiful women that live to ride.



What’s Your Take?

Is there an empowered feminism in the portrayal of the riders in the video? Or do you think that they’re just hipsters who don’t get a pass from being mocked simply because they have vaginas?


On the Tail of the Comets Comes a Girlie Motorcycle Rider

My travels during the Void Rally 8 brought me to Chester, Pennsylvania. The bonus location was a tribute to Bill Haley and the Comets who recorded at a local radio station. Though the building and its musical history have been torn down and lost to time, there are 2 black rubber musical notes embedded into the sidewalk.

…All that remains now are the anonymous inlays in the sidewalk on Crosby Street, cracked with age. Take a picture of a note inlayed in the sidewalk.

When I pulled up to 5th & Crosby I wasn’t sure off of the top of my head what I was looking for. I pulled into a parking lot and opened my topbox to read my rally book. As I stood looking at the pages of my book, I caught a glimpse of a grandfatherly man walking with a little girl of about 4 or 5. I could feel their gaze fixed on me from about 50 yards.

After reading the rally book entry for the bonus, I closed up my topbox and set off walking across the street looking for the music notes.

By the time I photographed the notes and walked back to my motorcycle, the man and the little girl were standing right in front of my motorcycle on the other side of the fence. I smiled and gave a nod as I walked back to my bike, getting myself ready to shove off again.

As I stood there momentarily, the man walked towards me and said something. I still had my helmet on with my earplugs in so I let him know and asked him to speak up.

“How you doin’ t’day?”

“Doing great! You?”

“My little friend over here wanted to come get a look at you. I told her that you were a girl but she wasn’t so sure.”

I looked toward the little girl who had her face cradled between the bars of the fence . She was holding on with both hands and swinging one leg. She stared at me curiously.

I waved to her and laughed. “Oh, I’m definitely a girl, alright.”

“Oh, I know. I told her. But she had to see for herself.”

And with that, he put his hand on my shoulder as if to say take care and walked back to the little girl smiling.

He once again took her hand and they walked back the way that they came. The little girl kept stealing glances at me . As I exited the lot, I honked and waved to her once more.

It has been over a week now since I saw that little girl and I haven’t forgotten about the inquisitive twinkle in her eye. I hope that she doesn’t forget the lady on the motorcycle or at least the idea that if they want to… girls can ride motorcycles, too.

Things a Motorcycle Mom Wonders

One of the most important deciding factors in me getting the Ural was how my daughter Chloe felt about it. When I first brought the idea up on an indian summer afternoon, her eyes lit up as we talked. If it were up to her, we would have immediately gone to the Ural dealer. She was all in.

My daughter is my life’s finest work. I don’t have the power to string together a sentence that could do justice to describing just how much I love that kid. The idea that she likes spending time with her ole Ma, well… it makes me feel like a million bucks.

Last night we rolled the orange rig out of the garage, suited up and went for a ride. Mountains of snow lined the roadways. A wet spray pinwheeled into the air as cars drove through the trickling melt. She could have been tucked away warm, playing video games at home, instead – she wanted to go for a ride.

As we rode along under the street lamps, I kept stealing glances of my girl in her chair. She just sat quietly, watching the world go by.

I often wonder what it is that she’s thinking about when we’re cruising along. And yet, part of me doesn’t really want to know because whatever it is, it belongs to her alone.

What will the memories of these ride be like for her years down the road? As a mom, I wonder. My hope is that riding in the big orange sidecar will become one of the many happy threads that weave through her childhood.

Only time will tell…