Personal Watercraft...

by

Alex Pesacreta

July23, 2006

 

Past Columns

January 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

 

If you remember, in last month's article I wrote about water. Hydration for your body and the rain we encounter while riding. How ironic that when a group of us left for the AMA's Women in Motorcycling Conference in Athens, Georgia on June 25th that article would resonate in my mind!

Rain may be described in several ways: misty, drizzle, light/moderate/heavy showers, even down pour. None of these adjectives comes close to what we encountered the first two days of the trip (not to mention all the other crazy things that happened)!

The weather system at that time was a trough of moisture from the south (think tropical), moving its way up the eastern third of the country and held in place by a low from the mid-west. Translation: Our bikes were our personal watercrafts for two days.

Believe me when I tell you that there is not waterproof gear available that could have kept us dry, except of course staying indoors (which was not an option with our leader, Commander Laura)! Yes, Laura navigated us through the storm. Our minds were too water logged to protest.

However, it was worth every raindrop that pelted us for over 600 miles. (Editor's note: The picture at right was taken with a cell phone camera when traffic was stopped. You can see two motorcycles in the center lane of this highway. This was typical visability during the first two days of the trip)

We rode half of the Blue Ridge Parkway, tackled Deals Gap, visited the Wheels Through Time museum in Maggie Valley, NC, visited Cherokee, rode the Cherohala Skyway, rode through the Great Smoky Mountain National Forest, lunched in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and that was all before arriving in Athens, Georgia for the conference!

The AMA, along with Harley Davidson/Buell put on a first class conference! Over 900 women attended this year (up from 600 in 2002) and came as far away as France, England, Canada and Australia! Demo rides were provided by Harley Davidson/Buell, BMW, Honda, Ducati, Yamaha, Ridley, Kymco and Kawasaki. Seminars covered topics from prepping yourself and your bike, endurance riding, world travel on a motorcycle, off-road riding, turning your passion for motorcycling into a career path, remaining safe in threatening situations, the law and motorcycling and women's participation in motorcycling racing, to list a few.

And then there were the vendors! Shopping! There was a nice variety of female motorcyclist inspired items. Gear, clothing, jewelry, soaps and bath items and an interesting product called UNIGO (designed to be towed behind your bike for your luggage, room for more stuff!) as well as Halogen lights for the bike.

However, there was a noticeable absence of technical type products like GPS, CB, tools,( you get the picture), "guy" products. A friend of mine wrote to the AMA and asked why this absence. Their response: Over 600 vendors were contacted to exhibit at the show. (I counted the number of vendors listed and there was, ready? 55). Will Stoner, Director of Special Events for the AMA suggested that absent vendors be contacted by the conference participants and boycott their products.

This brings me right into the topic of conversation when myself, SWMC VP Liz Smith, along with a few other conference attendees had lunch with Robert Rasor (AMA Pres.), Patricia DiPietro (CEO,AMA) and Guy Maitre (CEO FIM) and Beaulah Schoeman (Pres. FIM Women's Commission). The question was asked, "What would women like to see happen in the sport of motorcycling"?

Responses were focused on the absence of female inspired clothing, fit and style. HMMMM. The problem here is that manufacturers and retailers don't see the "numbers" in this particular market. Besides, this is just a small part of motorcycling. So the real question we need to ask and answer is: "How do we get more girls and women involved in motorcycling"? Even though the number of women in motorcycling has increased over the last few years, it hasn't been enough of a jump for most manufacturers.

So, what are your ideas? How can we as women motorcyclists be more dominant so that the products and services we want/need to spend our money on reach our market? Send me your ideas, or better yet, send them to the AMA. I also suggested to the AMA that they have a specific section on their web site for women motorcyclists. I would like to see it full of information on how a woman (or young girl) can get involved in motorcycling (street/off-road/racing), reviews of motorcycles (entry level/racing/touring), manufacturers and dealers who treat women with respect when they either purchase or bring their bikes in for service, gear and accessories that work for us and companies who are meeting the needs of women riders. A networking board for women riders from all over the globe.

Next month I will write about the crazy things that happened on our trip! There is soooo much more….too much to write for this month! Ride Safe!

Alex

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