I wish I could say that Road Angels, Women Who Ride Motorcycles by Shirley Dicks is a well-written book, worth your time. I also wish I could say that I’m going to win the Harley Twin-V that I, and – oh – a million other people bought raffle tickets for last summer at the ballooning festival. Chances are about even for either one occurring.

Being new to motorcycling, I wanted to read everything possible on women and motorcycles and the two books that came up most frequently in an internet keyword search were Road Angels and Hear Me Roar (the subject next month’s review).

I chose to read Road Angels first because the author sounded so intriguing. As with so many of us, she came late in life to motorcycling, learning to ride at the age of 57. On her first outing, she loses control of the motorcycle and breaks her ankle and damages her shoulder. That doesn’t stop her.

She is a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother. Her son spent 20 years on Death Row, causing her to become active in anti-death penalty organizations. (He died of medical complications while still incarcerated.) She also wrote another book about this experience.

Road Angels is a self-published book which means the author found what we librarians call a “vanity press” to publish her work. No editor’s blue pencil ever came near this manuscript. (She should have paid the $.12 a word for copy editing that her (self) publisher, www.iUniverse.com, advertises.) Grammatical and spelling errors abound: one woman motorcyclist goes on a run to Napa Valley’s whine country (sic). The word “butt” is frequently used for the word “but,” making for comical interpretations the author never intended.

There are entire paragraphs repeated and if later on in the book things sound familiar, it’s because she liked a paragraph so much, she decided to use it again and again. Chapters include (I’m not making this up) “Choosing Your Bike” and “How to Buy and Choose a Motorcycle,” “Tips” and “Touring Tips,” and “Most Embarrassing Moments” and “Accidents Happen” (also synonymous).

She leaves the meaning of abbreviations up to the imagination. Quotation marks can be found at the beginning of a quote, but not at the end, making one wonder who the speaker is. In the middle of one woman’s narrative of her riding life, Ms. Dicks inserts editorial comment as to why the woman is called Skert (sic). Can you guess it’s because she wears skirts (sick)?

You get the picture.

She ends the book with over 20 personal testimonials that after reading three become strangely similar, leading one to believe she must have written the narratives directly from questionnaires.

All of that being said…

Woven through the unintended puns and repetitions is the common thread of women loving motorcycles and motorcycle riding. I have to give her at least an “E” for effort as this was probably one of the first books on the subject.

I was starved for a book about a woman’s point of view about riding a motorcycle and after reading this, I’m still hungry.


(About the Author: Besides being a woman motorcyclist r, Michele is also a professional Librarian. Miclele will be providing reviews on a regular basis in the future.)

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