You have finally announced, with great excitement and to anyone who will listen, “I’m getting my motorcycle license!” And…instead of this awesome news being received with fanfare and balloons, the only thing your family and best friend have to say to you is, “motorcycles are dangerous.”
Doesn’t everyone know that this is one of the biggest decisions you’ve made in the past five years?! Why isn’t everyone giving you high fives and supporting you like they should? Instead, it feels like everyone is trying to talk you out of the one thing you’ve decided you really want to do.
Thanks guys. Way to burst my bubble.
Each one of us comes to motorcycling for different reasons. Perhaps you had a parent who rode or a sexy ex-boyfriend who took you for long rides or you inherited a cool old motorcycle or you grew up riding your brother’s dirt bike or you always wanted to express the badass rebel that you are.
My father got a motorcycle during the ’70s gas crunch. He would commute to work each day on a tiny Suzuki 125. None of us can remember the model. Nor do any of us have photos of it. What I do remember was that each day during the week, my older sister would walk me up the street, as a toddler, to wait for our father to come home. He would pick us up at the stop sign, where I would sit on the gas tank and my sister would jump on the back, sans helmets, wearing shorts and flip-flops. It was the ’70s, after all. He would then drive us the 500 feet to our driveway, where I would honk the horn and wave the whole way letting every neighbor know my dad was home. I’m sure we were quite the sight! As soon as the gas crunch ended, the bike was sold. My dad was not a gear head.
For some strange reason, I always had an interest in cars and motorcycles. I can’t link it to anyone because no one in my family had any real interest in them. But, I always knew, even as a child, that I would own a motorcycle. I guess those short rides on the tank were enough to hook me. I just thought that I would get one when I was settled in life, owned a home in the suburbs, had a great job and was old. You know…like thirty. HA!
When I was twenty, living in NYC, not settled, barely making any money, I decided it would be a great idea to get a bike, despite the fact I didn’t know how to ride, how to take care of a moto or have a place to park one.
At the time, I was interning at an electro-mechanical engineering firm where all these immature, highly brilliant punk guys who worked there had bikes. (Love you guys! You know who you are!) I thought, if these punks can have bikes than I can definitely get one…now! Why wait for the perfect scenario?
I was also at a point in my life where I wanted to do something for me and only me. I wanted the challenge of learning how to ride. I wanted to own something special. I wanted a way to get out of the city on weekends. And, I wanted to hang out with my new friends/coworkers. My personality was not going to let me be OK with riding on the back of someone else’s bike—even if they were cute.
Not only is it a BIG decision, it takes a lot of work to sign up for the MSF safety course, get your license, find gear and buy your first bike. When you do it, you feel sooooo accomplished! You want to shout to everyone—“Hey! Look at me! I set a goal and killed it! Who’s the badass now?!”
It can be a complete buzz kill when your accomplishment is met with eye rolls and the dreaded motorcycles are dangerous. Followed by every story anyone knows of someone who was killed or seriously injured on a bike. Or, if you’re a mother…get ready for some serious guilt and shaming. How can you do this to your children?! You’re so selfish.
No one knows what is good for you—except you. Period. It is easy to get influenced by those around you, especially those you love and respect. Instead of taking their reaction as criticism for choices you’ve made in your life, consider being grateful for that fact that you have people in your life that care about you. People who want you to be safe and who love you.
Once you acknowledge that, you can still make a decision to make yourself happy. It’s not being selfish. It’s empowering to make a decision and claim, “This is what I want. This will make me happy.”
Most people go through life never fulfilling their dreams. Do you want to be that person? When you are happy and feel fulfilled, you show up in life as a better person. You become a better partner, mother and colleague. The reality is, none of us is guaranteed another day on this earth. Yes, we can mitigate danger as much as possible. My family was really upset when I announced that I got my license and showed up on my motorcycle. I knew well enough not to tell them beforehand, lest they try to talk me out of it. As a compromise, I made an agreement with them that I would wear all the safety gear I could—always. I am that person in 90-degree-plus weather who shows up in a helmet, jacket, gloves and boots. And yes, that gear has saved my life more than once.
Making that agreement with my family has been a small price to pay for years of riding enjoyment. If I hadn’t made that agreement with them, I would still wear as much protective gear as possible because I have witnessed enough accidents to know I like my skin on my body, bones in place and brain to be sharp.
Find your tribe. Love them hard.
It’s important to surround yourself with people who support you and your dreams. If you don’t feel like you are getting supported in the way you deserve, then it’s time to take a hard look at the people you hang out with. Life is too short to spend time with negative people who drag you down. Those who love and support you will know, even if they don’t agree with it, that riding is important to you. This big decision may bring to light the people that need to be cut from your life. That can be a hard decision. However, keep in mind that when you make a decision for yourself, many doors open.
The greatest thing to come out of motorcycling for me, unexpectedly, has been the community. I have met some of the most amazing and inspiring people through riding. When you show up on a motorcycle, you never know who you’ll meet. Be a woman on a bike traveling alone, and you’ll never be without someone to talk to when you stop for gas or a bite to eat. I have met some of my best friends on NYC street corners parking my bike, road racing and track days, and walking out of a restaurant with my helmet in hand. While we initially bonded over a shared passion of motorcycles, these people have become some of the most important and supportive people in my life.
So here’s the message: you can do this.
If you want something bad enough, make it happen despite all odds. Once you make a big decision like getting your motorcycle license, rest assured that everything will fall into place as it should. It may not be easy, but the effort will be well worth it. The sense of accomplishment you will feel from pursuing and attaining one of your dreams will be life changing.
You will feel empowered to go after other bigger dreams in your life, like starting your own business or getting that college degree or taking that 6-week European vacation you’ve always wanted—on a bike of course!
You’ve already found womanrider.com. Take it as sign that it is supposed to happen! This website is an excellent resource for all things related to the female rider, from novice to seasoned veteran.
If you have any questions or want to share how riding has changed your life, please comment below.
I would love to get to know you and meet you on the road!