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Lady Riders'
by Gene Hanselman, GWRRA #135067
OH-B - Mansfield, Ohio

When I first started riding motorcycles I never noticed any women riding them alone. They were on the back holding on for dear-life. As I grew older I always enjoyed hauling my "Main Squeeze" on the back of my bikes, but I would occasionally witness a lady riding solo on a bike. When I was a senior in High School two girls in my class were riding solo on Harley Sportsters and one was a very small girl. I thought it was cool to see girls, ladies and women riding solo but I would rather they were riding on the back with me.

Most lady riders grew up riding their father's, brother's or boyfriend's scooter or mini-bike. As they got older and enjoy the freedom riding affords, they purchase their own bike and connect with other ladies and friends who also enjoy motorcycles. Pat Sherer (Now 80) began riding full size Harley motorcycles by herself at a very young age. Many cycle dealers and factorys now offer rider courses to encourage ladies to own and ride bikes. Harley-Davidson has a mentoring program named "Share The Spark". It incorporates activities to give confidence, provide tips and experience to new lady riders. It also inspires them to become mentors to other lady cyclists and help find others who enjoy riding.

Ladies also learn which bike is right for them to ride and what clothing, boots and helmets are available. GWRRA offers Rider Education programs which affords all cyclists IV levels of skill to attain. Other organizations and clubs include "Women On Wheels", "American Women Road Riders' Association" and the "Retreads", lady cyclists over 40 years old. The month of "May" has been established as "Women Rider Month" and there are many online "Lady Rider" websites and forums used by ladies to communicate their travels and blogs. One of the largest publications for ladies is "Women Rider's Now" magazine. WRN not only promotes ladies to ride, but rewards their readers for advocating and activating for their cause.

When asked "Why Do You Women Ride", answers include "It soothes the soul", "Wind in my face", "Sharing the adventure", and the list goes on, much of the same reasons we men ride. We all, men and women enjoy a sense of

accomplishment and confidence, friendship, adventure and that feeling of freedom. That sense comes while riding a steel horse on your own and it's indescribable. In 1960, 1% of the motorcycle owners were women. Today, over 10% of the owners are women. That constitutes 460,000 owners or 1 of every 10 owners are ladies. Motorcycle-Industry analysts believe that one reason for this trend is manufacturers, in particular the Japanese, have developed models that appeal to women. The cycles are lighter, easier to handle and more comfortable, with lower seats, smaller frames, sculptured lines and fashionable colors. Women's bikes tend to be cheaper, ranging from $6,000 to $8,000 as against $8,000 to $16,000 for heavier men's models.

Riding a motorcycle is an adventure waiting to happen and is best exemplified by the "STEPPENWOLF" song "Born To Be Wild", which reflects that feeling of adventure and freedom. You take the road less traveled and "just ride". You are the master of your own destiny and the captain of your ship. Is it any wonder that ladies enjoy riding themselves and are increasing in large numbers. When riding women have no one to account to but themselves. The wind in their hair, nothing between their next destination but miles and relying on all the skills they learned and the bike they own is incredible.

One of the ladies I went to school with still rides a Harley Chopper, another classmate began riding within the past 5 years, she owns a Harley Ultra Trike and belongs to the local HOG association. There are many Chapter Directors in GWRRA that are ladies, some own and ride and others are just co-riders.

Yes, "You've Come A Long Way Baby" and "You Go Girl", The best is yet to come. Lady riders are here to stay, and I'm OK with that. Most lady riders are better riders, adhere to the rules and regulations and safety issues more than their male counter part. They honor other riders and respect the rights of all. Lady riders don't normally ride from bar to bar or get liquored up to ride their bikes. Lady riders are a diverse group of Doctors, Lawyers, House Wives, Secretaries, Teachers and Retirees. They also include Mothers, Grandmothers, Sisters, Daughters, Aunts and Nieces.

I try not to be a chauvinistic pig and I believe everyone has the right to do as they want. I just enjoy having my "Main Squeeze" riding on the back of my bike holding onto me for dear life. 

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