On International Female Ride Day Friday, I had been reflecting on my decision almost three years ago to ride a motorcycle daily to work. I had been riding motorcycles for 25 years, but resisted riding to work for the longest time.
My concerns were many. Up to that time, most of the miles I had logged over the two and a half decades were off-road or on rural highways.
The idea of dodging heavy traffic during rush hour was intimidating, even though I had off-road racing experience. Then there were the issues of convenience (can’t make calls or haul much), clothes (can’t wear riding clothes to work) and hair (helmets!). However, when gas prices in California passed $4.50/gallon in June 2008 and looked ready to charge all the way to $5, I reconsidered.
Working at Ultimate MotorCycling, I’ve had had the fun of riding a wide range of bikes. Lately, I’ve been on the new BMW F 800 R, the Aprilia Dorsoduro 750, Kawasaki Ninja 1000, and Ducati Hypermotard 796. Other favorites along the way have been the Buell City-X, Triumph Street Triple R, and Kawasaki Ninja 650.
Since those cautious initial steps, I’ve figured out how to pack and carry everything I need (the new Alpinestars Protection Backpack is a current favorite), how to deal with helmet hair (my go-to is the Arai RX-Q) and work clothes, I prioritize errands I used to run at lunch or on the way home, and I have become really good at negotiating messy commuter traffic.
I have gained a huge amount of riding confidence from the challenge of dealing with the legendarily heavy Los Angeles urban traffic in very close quarters (lane splitting is legal in California), and it truly makes my day to ride to work.
No matter how I wake up in the morning, whether cranky, tired, or depressed, as soon as I put my helmet on, swing a leg over the bike and set off down the road, my disposition changes. The independence, freedom and sheer fun of riding never disappoints.
By the time I get to work I have a big smile on my face, and I can’t help but notice the envying looks from my four-wheel driving colleagues.
Today, while I commute to work on a 2011 KTM 990 SM-T test bike, I am wearing my 2011 International Female Ride Day t-shirt to help spread awareness of this synchronous event, where women around the world are getting out on this first Friday in May to “Just Ride!”
Celebrating women’s passion and enthusiasm for riding is the idea behind this now-five year old global event that hopes to spark an interest in women who have not yet climbed into the saddle.
For additional information on womem motorcyclists, log onto motoress.com.