Spending time with friends and family and meeting new people are just two things Carol Ann Schmidt enjoys the most about riding. She says it’s taken her to some amazing places.
Schmidt has been riding for 10 years. Her first bike was a TTR90 — the first of many. Over the years, she's had several bikes, and today she rides a 2014 CRF250L, a 2007 KTM 144SX, a 2011 Honda Ruckus and a 2003 CRF150F. She also owns a 1978 Honda Z50 and a 1972 Honda Trail 70.
Here's what she has to say about getting others started in riding.
American Motorcyclist: What got you started riding motorcycles?
Carol Ann Schmidt: My father. He bought that TTR90 in spring 2004, and I was hooked. I rode every day in my backyard.
AM: What is your favorite ride?
CAS: I started in the dirt, and my true love is still motocross, but I love the street—my supermoto is too much fun!
AM: What is the best memory you associate with motorcycling?
CAS: Spending time with friends and family and meeting new people. It’s taken me to some amazing places. I’ve ridden with (multi-time AMA championship-winning motocross racers) Doug Henry and John Dowd, which was pretty awesome. I’ve been racing the Stimilon Motocross Challenge for several years, which is always a good time, and my favorite event of the year. I also love attending the AMA outdoor rounds. I’ve been to Unadilla, Southwick and Broome Tioga. Watching the races, being with my dad, and smelling the race gas.
AM: What is the image of motorcyclists among the general public?
CAS: In the Northeast, I think that motorcycling is accepted. There’s a large amount of riders, and when we ride, people ask us about our bikes. Our Ruckuses really draw a crowd—they are pretty modified and look kind of wild. Although, one time when I was out on my Ruckus, I had a lady follow me back to my neighborhood and got pretty upset that I was riding an “unregistered” motorcycle (scooters under 49 cc’s don’t need to be registered in Connecticut).
AM: How can motorcyclists improve their image?
CAS: We need to continue to support the people who support our sport, such as the AMA and members of Congress who support riding rights. More people need to realize that motorcycling is a great family-oriented sport.
AM: What practical benefits do you personally get from riding?
CAS: What’s not to love? Besides the fact that I completely love being on two wheels, it’s also a great way to make new friends, unwind from a crazy day, and not to mention it’s much more fun to ride somewhere than drive my car. Working and restoring bikes is also another aspect of motorcycles that I enjoy. I’m always on the lookout for a basket case bike that needs a restoration. My favorites are old Honda mini bikes.
AM: How can we get more people on motorcycles?
CAS: For starters, we need to save our open space. A lot of legal riding areas are being shut down, and, when those close, there’s nowhere to ride. Dirt bikes are a great way to get into riding—they are small, cheap and easy to maintain. If we save our riding areas, more people will want to pick up a dirt bike, and they’re going to want to scratch that itch and get on the road.
AM: Talk about a time when you encountered pre-conceived notions because you ride.
CAS: Pretty much everyone I meet is surprised to learn that I have seven motorcycles and ride almost every day. My work nametag has “Moto” written on it, as it’s a nickname a coworker gave me. More than once, I’ve had a customer ask me about the name behind “Moto.” It always turns into a 15-minute conversation about motorcycling, which is pretty fantastic.
Carol Ann Schmidt is an AMA member from Ridgefield, Conn., who was featured in the September 2014 street and also dirt/competition edition of American Motorcyclist.