With the theme "Riding to New Heights," the 2009 American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) International Women & Motorcycling Conference, presented by Harley-Davidson and Buell, wrapped up in Keystone, Colo., following four inspired days of riding, learning and networking in one of the best riding areas in the United States.
The event, which ran Aug. 19-22, not only honored the contributions of women riders to motorcycling’s past and present, it also celebrated the fast-growing role that female motorcyclists are playing in the future of motorcycling. With the breathtaking Rocky Mountains as a backdrop, more than 1,000 enthusiastic motorcyclists gathered at the Keystone Resort & Conference Center in Keystone, Colo., for a full slate of activities that included guided tours, seminars, demo rides from multiple manufacturers, inspiring speeches, social functions and training sessions.
"We are thrilled with the success of the AMA International Women & Motorcycling Conference, presented by Harley-Davidson and Buell," said AMA Marketing and Special Events Manager Tigra Tsujikawa. "From the opening ceremonies to the Rocky Mountain Barn Dance and the International Street Party to the closing address, we couldn’t have asked for a better conference — or more engaging attendees. Even the weather was incredible."
AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman added that the conference was a further demonstration of the AMA’s commitment to represent the entire motorcycling community.
"The conference was another example of how the AMA is ‘all things motorcycling’," Dingman said. "The AMA welcomes all riders. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, an off-road or cruiser rider, a commuter or a long-distance rider. If you are a motorcyclist, you belong in the AMA."
The conference kicked off with a welcoming ceremony that included an inspiring keynote speech by defending Women’s Motocross Association National Champion and X Games gold medalist Ashley Fiolek. The 19-year-old Fiolek, who is the first women to ever compete on the Honda Racing Team, was born profoundly deaf.
In her remarks she explained how her greatest challenge was not overcoming her hearing loss, it was achieving success in a male-dominated sport. In addition, Fiolek stressed the need to advance the sport of women’s motocross and honored the accomplishments of the female racers who came before her. More than 800 motorcyclists watched as she deftly addressed the crowd using sign language, while her mother, Roni, interpreted. Fiolek’s passionate and emotional account of the importance of surrounding yourself with those who will support your dreams had the audience on its feet several times, and most were visibly moved.
Two other highlights of the conference were the Rocky Mountain Barn Dance, sponsored by Kawasaki and Denver dealer Fay Myers, and the International Street Party, hosted by the Motorcyclists Confederation of Canada (MCC). Both events were social gatherings that featured dancing, refreshments, music and activities such as horseshoes and fashion shows.
Deborah Grey, the Reform Party’s first member of Canada’s Parliament, entertained the gathering at the International Street Party with a speech that featured her unique blend of humor, frankness and passion. Liz Jansen, a director of the MCC and chair of its Women Riders Council also made comments, as well as Brigitte Zufferey, who represented the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM).
The Closing Banquet brought the event to a resounding conclusion with inspiring stories from former journalist and motorcycle adventurer Lois Pryce. Pryce detailed her 20,000-mile ride from Alaska to the tip of South America, as well as her more recent two-wheeled journey from London to Cape Town that took her across the Sahara Desert and through the Congo.
Other speakers included the AMA’s Dingman; Maggie McNally, the newest member of the AMA Board of Directors; Karen Davidson, great-granddaughter of Harley-Davidson co-founder William A. Davidson; Leslie Prevish, who oversees women’s outreach initiatives for Harley-Davidson; Kawasaki Public Relations Manager Jan Plessner; and land-speed record holder and 2008 AMA Female Athlete of the Year Leslie Porterfield.
Event sponsors, which provided everything from demo rides to door prizes, included presenting sponsors Harley-Davidson and Buell, the MCC, Michelin, BMW, Ducati, Kawasaki, Kymco, Yamaha, EagleRider Motorcycle Rental USA, the Cycle World International Motorcycle Shows, Fay Myers Motorcycle World, Bell Helmets, BikeBandit.com, Scorpion, Freedom Harley-Davidson, Honda of Canada, Deeley Harley-Davidson, BMW Motorrad Canada, Inside Motorcycles and Motorcycle Mojo.
"The AMA is appreciative of all the speakers, guests and sponsors who helped make the 2009 AMA International Women & Motorcycling Conference, presented by Harley-Davidson and Buell, possible," Tsujikawa said. "We had an incredible time in Keystone, and I’m sure I speak for all the attendees when I say that I came home more optimistic about the future of women and motorcycling than ever before."