Recognizing Women Riders
SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher
Today more women are buying and riding motorcycles than any time in history
The headline of my column gives it away, so I won’t ask you what’s the fastest growing segment of motorcycle owners and riders. Yes, women are taking to motorcycling at a greater pace than any other group. We at American Iron Magazine have always welcomed them—on the back seat or the front.
When AIM launched 30 years ago, it was a whole different deal. In fact, it could be argued that this magazine was created because a greater number of Harley riders (including, but hardly limited to, women) redefined what they wanted in a motorcycle magazine. Back in 1989, the focus of the many V-twin-oriented magazines was as much on the scantily clad women as on the motorcycles they were draped over.
Over the years, we have encouraged and celebrated the fact that more women are learning to ride and buy their own motorcycles. While this is nothing new, it seems their numbers are climbing each year. In fact, today more women are buying and riding motorcycles than any time in history. And the industry is evolving to meet the needs of a new generation of riders, especially women. Like their motorcycles, they come in all sizes, colors, and ages, and we celebrate our mutual passion for the road. And, like their male counterparts, their accomplishments and riding styles range across the entire spectrum of the motorcycling experience. How about the amazing women of motorcycling?
Women like 94-year-old Gloria Tramontin Struck, who after riding more than 75 years wrote a book about her experiences—and she’s still riding! Women like our columnist Cris Sommer Simmons, who launched the first women’s motorcycle magazine in the 1980s and has ridden coast to coast on a 1915 Harley in three Motorcycle Cannonball events. Women like our contributor Jody Perewitz, who grew up in the industry and raced fast bikes at Bonneville, slow bikes on the Motorcycle Cannonball, and insane motorcycles in Sons of Speed boardtrack races. Women like Brittney Olsen, dirt track and Sons of Speed racer, event promoter, and custom bike builder.
And there are others who are just as dedicated and committed to riding as any of us but might not be in the limelight. Women like motorcycle photographer Sara Liberte, moto-adventuress Leach Misch, museum mavens Jill Parham and Trish Walksler, motorcycle racer Cindy McLean and drag lady Jackie Hill, and motojournalists Marilyn Stemp, Marjorie Kleiman, and Genevieve Schmitt. And motorcycle insider Jen Hoyer. Women like our own Creative Director, Tricia Szulewski, who when not designing this magazine, is an MSF RiderCoach and highly accomplished rider in her own right. Sorry if I left out any of your favorites, but there are so many amazing women riders and enthusiasts, I can’t fit them all in this column.
International Female Ride Day
In keeping with my column’s theme, I’d like to share an impressive and free global event next month that does so many positive things for motorcycling. Ladies, please keep Saturday, May 4 open in your schedule for International Female Ride Day (IFRD).
Created 13 years ago by Canadian Vicki Gray, an expert motorcyclist, ex-road racer, and woman rider advocate, IFRD is all about encouraging women to ride motorcycles. She wants to help more women get “in the wind” to experience the fun and feeling of empowerment!
“International Female Ride Day continues to achieve respect and acknowledgement the world over while breaking down barriers for women. IFRD creates and renews friendships across every culture and border for women in motorsport,” Vicky explains. “You in your own unique way inspire others and set an example of the diversity, the fun, and the penchant women share through this activity—motorcycling.” For more information on International Female Ride Day, or to help build local involvement in this annual event, please visit Motoress.com.
Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.
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