You may know Molly Culver from her days as a fashion model or from when she broke into the mainstream as an actress on the TV show V.I.P. with Pamela Anderson. Well, since you are reading Ultimate Motorcycling you might also know her from the many motorcycle-related things she has done. Molly hosted the show Dirt Bike Adventures on The Outdoor Network as well as AMA Supermoto races.
An avid rider who is no stranger to track days and canyon carving, Molly was kind enough to sit down and tell us how life is treating her and to see how much riding she can actually get in now that she has become a mom. (Her son Sonny is 3 years old.)
Ultimate Motorcycling: You are probably the highest profile female motorcyclist that I know… I feel like I’ve seen you recently on The Outdoor Network?
Molly Culver: It’s funny cause I’m going to do like 12 episodes in November (out in the spring) for a show called "Ride to Adventure" on The Outdoor Network. The previous show I did was "Dirt Rider Adventures". Believe it or not, I get hooked up with everything with "adventure" in its name. In fact, if a show has adventure in its name, I probably have my name in the hat for something. (laughs) This new show, "Ride to Adventure," is anything from car racing to motorcycles, but I think they want me specifically for a few of the motorcycle episodes. I’m doing logs and segments for them, so we’ll see. I think they want to do real adventures, but they don’t have the budget for it, which is such a part of why some of us aren’t doing as much these days. But they want me in my gear so I am sure it is going to be something to do with motorcycles.
Ultimate Motorcycling: What do you ride as your personal bikes?
Molly Culver: Well, I’ve got my Harley-Davidson Fat Boy for when I need to go to The Rock Store or something. I’ve got a Ducati 998 that I ride at the track and I have a Kawasaki KX250 that I ride in the dirt. I keep it pretty simple-I commute on a Suzuki V-Strom. So if I need to get somewhere in between traffic I go out on that. My husband is a stuntman and he is a motorcycle and watercraft specialty guy. So our stable includes a whole bunch of different bikes. We have a three-car garage and spots for probably six more cars-another two-car carport and I only get one spot under the carport for my Subaru. All the rest of my stuff is back in his 1200 square foot garage on another piece of property that he has just for gear and bikes and watercraft. My Harley is here though-I fought for my Harley so I have a spot here for that bike. But our next house-my dream house, is an L-shaped house where he can have his own four car garage on one side and I can have all my stuff in my own two car garage on the other side. My side will of course be neat and I’ll have my own little mudroom too. We can then walk in separately cause I just can’t walk past his stuff anymore.
Ultimate Motorcycling: Now that you are a mom, does having a child make you look at riding a street bike any differently than before? I know for me having two little ones at home, I am more cognizant of my own mortality when I have a close call out on the road.
Molly Culver: When I think about riding I feel that way. When I am at home thinking, "Should I take the car or get on the bike?" But once I’m on the bike, it’s all the same. I don’t ever think, "I should not be on this bike or what would happen if…" If I have a close call on the road I think, "Man, that was a close!" But I never, ever relate it to like an "I’m not gonna be there for my son" kind of thing. The time that I think about that is when I am making the decision to actually even get on it or stay off it. But once I am actually on it I don’t even think that way cause it is just too much fun to be on a bike.
Ultimate Motorcycling: On the WB.com show you played a deceased mother which is why I asked you the previous question. I would think that role might make you more aware of the frailty of life?
Molly Culver: You know, it was wild because I played her mother and when she was Sonny’s age-3 I was murdered. So the rest were flashbacks when she was much older. It was a fun role but it didn’t relate to motorcycles at all. It was strictly an acting gig.
Ultimate Motorcycling: What is your favorite aspect of being a mom?
Molly Culver: The best part is that since he is now old enough that he is completely potty trained I am not bogged down by diaper bags or backpacks or anything. So we can walk down the street and hold hands and I can just talk to him. When he has had his nap and is well rested he is my angel child. Those moments are priceless-they are just beautiful… Just fantastic-he’s like this little friend I have. I often wonder if he can differentiate between the stunt riding that his dad does and my riding. All day long he’ll say, "My daddy does stunts" but he knows that some of the bikes in the garage are mine so I don’t think he thinks we’re very different in what we do action wise. It’s funny for me to think of a kid who will be walking around thinking that it’s no different for his mom or dad to be on a bike. It won’t mean anything to him that there are women on bikes. I think that’s pretty cool.
Ultimate Motorcycling: As an MSF RiderCoach I know of your involvement in promoting safe riding. Do you take any MSF riding courses regularly yourself?
Molly Culver: I do like to go refresh. But it is so ingrained in me how to ride safe… At some of the races that I go to… actually almost all of them now that I think about it, I always get approached by women when I arrive on a bike, leave on a bike or just am on a bike. I don’t know what your average female rider looks like but I know that when I am dressed up I sometimes don’t look like a girl who would go ninety miles an hour down the front straight of Fontana. It just doesn’t seem like that’s what this girl does. So when they see that you can be any kind of woman on a bike. When you are in heels and a dress they just don’t think that about you. So I like when I meet women to encourage them to start riding and then when they are riding I encourage them to ride safely and to not be influenced. I know a lot of girls will say stuff like, "My boyfriend wants me to get this Ninja 600 but I really want to get the Harley-Davidson Sportster." And I will tell them, "Well, why don’t you get what YOU like?" I have a feeling that what their boyfriend or husband thinks about what they ride means so much to them that, I just want them to feel empowered to ride what they want to ride. I want them to feel empowered and confident on that bike, knowing that they made the right choices. Like with helmets… Most guys will spend something like five hundred dollars on boots but only one hundred and fifty dollars on a cute little helmet. I don’t understand that, I mean what about that makes sense to you? It might have dragon flames on the side that look cool but it will do absolutely nothing for you if you crash. The same goes for jackets that look super cool but have no padding or protection in them. So I want women to ride safe and I want them to be protected and I want women to follow their instincts as to what is right and wrong and generally we as women, are just conditioned to give up on some of that. I know that if I get a chance to talk with them separately from their husband or boyfriend or influence (if it’s contradictory) I can get through to them. Lots of men are like, "Yeah, she should just ride whatever she wants."
Ultimate Motorcycling: My wife used to ride and when she was looking for a bike I was more or less a sounding board for her to help her make the decision. But it was totally her choice in the end.
Molly Culver: Cool-that is great. But I think some men that ride are a little macho-y and never want to be beaten. It’s very, very funny to talk to men and be a better rider than them. I will never be a better rider than my husband and I think that’s probably why he’s like, "Yeah-whatever you like!" (laughs) But when I talk to some men you can just tell that they have their own reasons for pushing their wives onto certain bikes. I’m not their counselor. I just hope that they pick a good helmet out and take an MSF course. And if they want to ride a bit crazier I want them to take a Freddy Spencer or Kevin Shwantz course. The only way to figure out what you would do in a hairy situation is to put yourself in a hairy situation in a safe way.
Ultimate Motorcycling: For some reason this past year I have met a few doctors and nurses who are very much pro-riding. In the past I’ve normally gotten the standard "Riders are just future organ donors" mantra. Since your mom was a nurse did she ever give you any flack for riding on the street?
Molly Culver: Oh my God, you’re kidding right?! She was an ER nurse. My way to get back at my mother in my high school years was to do a wheelie on my XL185 up the driveway. I must have heard, "Jesus Christ John! I told you not to get that bike for her!!!" a million times. She just was never ever for it and I can’t even talk about it with her to this day. Although I once went through the chicane at Fontana on my back at about seventy miles an hour and I came home that day and showed her my leathers and told her, "Mom, look at me-you see how bad my leathers look but you see that I am okay right? This is just what happens to the gear." And she was like, "Oh my God, Dear Lord! Put that stuff away!" She could not even look at it when I was just trying to show her how well protected we are out there. The insane part about riding on the track is almost taken out of it because I’m not racing anybody out there-I’m not trying to get around anyone. But for me I think that is just a woman’s mentality in a way. We’re not out there to be better than anyone else. We’re kind of out there to enjoy it. The competition when you are just riding to ride is gone. But I could go up and down Mulholland Drive on a weekend and see guys just trying to race each other. I don’t understand it-It’s a beautiful day in California! Why are you going crazy? I don’t ever feel that way. I just ride my ride and I ride it because it’s fun. But my mother, no. She’s not interested in knowing how well protected we are or any of that. But we’re very close so it does not haunt her. It’s just been going on for too long now.
Ultimate Motorcycling: Lastly, of all the various types of motorcycling you are into, do you have a favorite? And why?
Molly Culver: The track by far and away. Because when it clicks and when it works, it is the most fantastic, free feeling that I could ever think of. You’re so close to something so intense and it just feels perfect when you get it right. There’s such a synchronicity to riding on the track. I have not found that feeling on the street though I can find it on a dirt track. But I prefer road racing.
Alan Tecchio is a freelance writer based in the NY metro area who has interviewed hundreds of celebrities. He is an avid motorcyclist and active Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCoach. Alan has also written a weekly motorcycle column for nine years in Steppin’ Out Magazine, a NY metro area entertainment publication. He is also the lead singer of the rock band Autumn Hour who recently released the hard-hitting album entitled Dethroned.