Letters To The Editor

by

Donna Warren

"It is now proved beyond doubt that riding a motorcycle is one of the leading causes of statistics." Source Unknown

 

This month I received an email from Shari in Virginia that asked:

"I've been riding for about four years. I ride with the local Honda club which is a mixed male-female group. According to your newsletter, one of your members just had a baby. It is also obvious from the web site that a lot of you are married and have families. Why do you have a women only club? Why don't you want to ride with a mixed group? I don't understand..."

I asked the members to comment. Several members seemed to take offense at the question. But I can relate to Shari. I discovered Spokes-Women nine years ago when I stumbled on the website. Until that time, I was not aware that there were women-only motorcycle clubs for women who were married and had families. At the time I had been riding for 20 years and belonged to a mixed sex, mixed manufacturer motorcycle club in addition the the local HOG chapter.

 

Intrigued by this women's motorcycle club, I contacted the webmaster asking a lot of questions for more information. He (an associate member) responded telling me the best way to answer my questions was to invite me to a meeting. He and his wife arranged to meet me at my first meeting. I liked what I saw and eventually became a member. Three years ago I took over as webmaster when Walt retired. I'll tell you why I joined and stay a member later...

 

Now for some of the members responses.

From Lynn Lenco: "Women support women in ways that men don't. Women understand the pace of learning, the reinforcement and encouragement that (most women need and) many men do not know to do. Also, in this busy world, it's great to enjoy the company of our own sex. The balance of men and women in all things keeps us healthy and wise."

 

From Jane Kern: "I wonder where this lady got the idea we had no men riding with us. Walt is no longer a member but we still have Dan, Tom and Bill. Walt dropped out of the club not because he did not want to be with us anymore but because his new
website on About.com took so much of his time.

I have no objection to men riding with us. When I first join the club Walt had encouraged me to join because he felt it would be good for me to ride with other women. I feel women have their own unique problems to riding such as bike heights, jackets that fit and riding boots. I have enjoyed being a member of the Spokes-Women club and have made many wonderful friends.

I also belong to the GWRRA NJ-F club which is mostly couples and most of them ride two up. I just love being in the front seat and being the one in control. You can see I have no problems riding with men."

From Janet Britland (a founding member): "You really would not want to know how I would reply to this woman....."

From Barbara Zimmerman: "I took the women only beginner course because I assumed the men would be better and laugh at me. But when I took the ERC I found out I was better than most of the men in the course. Some men condition us to doubt ourselves in certain endeavors..."

From Judy: "I wasn't sure how to respond either, as her "tone" seemed rather abrasive, if Donna quoted her directly. What's to get? None of us ride exclusively with women, we just like the camaraderie. Plus, many new women riders are intimidated to ride with men. Funny thing is, new men riders are just as nervous, they just won't show it."

(In response to Barbara's comment, Judy added) "This is very true, Barbara. Lots of women assume that. I took my first track day as a women's only school. I figured I'd be less intimidated, as I was sure all the guys would be faster. Know what? When I started doing regular track days, I found they weren't. And, many of them were just as freaked out about going on the track for the first time as the women were. They're just conditioned to not admit it and act secure.

On another note, the instructors at the all-women's Reg Pridmore class I took in '95 said it was the best class they ever taught. All the women listened, everyone improved, and no one crashed. They never have that in their other classes, which are predominantly men. Interesting."

From Kim Jancewicz: "My husband brought the e-mail to my attention and after several drafted mental replies, I decided it was in the best interest of the club if I didn't respond. After all, my personal opinion(s) should not reflect negatively on the club.

Then, I got lost when I tried to figure out the kind of exposure this person (confused about gender too) had in life. How could someone even ask such a question? Maybe it was just a bad, bad nightmare and those querky people really don't exist? After reading a fellow member's response I realized I wasn't the only bewildered one. "

From linda Brown: "... I joined because we sponsor women and children related fundraisers. I feel very strongly about supporting women and children who have been abused and are trying to rebuild their lives and start anew. That was our main fundraiser when I joined in 1994. Since then, we have included raising monies for Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and Breast Cancer Research.

Being women, and the world being what the way it is, we women have to work hard to raise awareness to the effects that abuse has on these women and children. If we can help, even in a small way, we are better people. Since one of our own member's family has been touched by Juvenile Diabetes, I am proud to help support that foundation. And since my own family and several of our other members families have been touched by Breast Cancer, I feel very strongly about finding a cure for that monster. Most mixed clubs work hard for other causes. We work hard for ones that hit closer to our hearts.

As for actual riding, there are very few rides when we don't have men along. I think women view prople differently than men do. We are more accepting and less judgmental. There is a wonderful camaraderie among our members. We are more like sisters that actually like each other and we feel very comfortable riding and chatting and being together without worrying about how we look or how we are perceived by others.

I have ridden with other groups and felt uncomfortable at times by the way some guy has looked at me. Likewise, I have ridden with numerous mixed groups and felt totally at ease. My choice, since I don't have a lot of free time, is to ride with my 'sisters', whom I love and with whom I feel very comfortable, loved and accepted."

From Bill Dudley (associate member): "I joined because first, I was married to Mia, who started the pre-cursor club with Jean Pinelli and some of the other original members. I came along because more riding is good, and I like(d) to ride with Mia, so if she wanted to ride with other women, I'd was happy to tag along.

Second, I think a women's club has a different dynamic then a club whose membership is mostly male. Mia and I were also in a club where she was usually the only riding female. We saw lots of posturing, dominance displays, and clashing of antlers between some of the men, something we've NEVER seen in women's clubs. I don't need it, either. It's just an (embarrassing) distraction from riding IMHO. (In My Humble Opinion)."

In my experience, having lived all over the country and ridden with many different motorcycle clubs, motorcyclists in general are more accepting of differences than most people. All motorcyclists seem to "Ride to Eat and Eat to Ride". All group rides tend to either begin or end with a shared meal (sometimes both for really long rides).

Many of Spokes-Women's members are also members of other clubs, such as manufacturer specific, regional and interest related clubs.

Personally, I joined Spokes-Women because I like the the camaraderie that I saw among the members. Also, as a woman who lives for math and science, likes to build things, am an engineer by profession and have been riding a motorcycle since I was 16, most people in the world have always treated me like I have three heads. That was especially true when I used to ride my children on my bike when they were little. I was even reported to the authorities one time for endangering my children because I let them ride on my motorcycle.

The members of Spokes-Women's attitude toward me was more along the lines of "Oh, three heads....hmm...is that an advantage or disadvantage when making decisions?" In other words, they were willing to accept me the way I was.

Women who like to ride motorcycles have usually run into their share of non-acceptance by the world in general. The result has been as Linda said, we are more of a sisterhood united by our love of motorcycles. Our spouses or significant others may or may not ride (several of our members husbands don't ride) but most of them are supportive of the club.

As for me, I stay because I feel like I belong here more than I ever have anywhere else.


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