By Ashley Price
COLUMBUS, Ohio — With a combined 100 years of riding experience and more than 500,000 miles of riding among them, four well-respected women of the motorcycling industry took the main stage Saturday during the AIMExpo at the Greater Columbus Convention Center to Share their experiences and encourage more women to ride.
Tracy Motz, head of marketing activities at RevIt North America, Jen Muecke, demo instructor for BMW, Jenny Smith, managing editor for Rider magazine, and motocross racer Pat Jacques shared stories about how they got involved in riding and racing motorcycles and how the industry has evolved and appeals to women. They also shared advice for women motorcyclist of all ages.
One common theme among these women: Each felt at some point that riding a motorcycle was something that other people did not want them to do. But, they persisted.
For Motz, Muecke and Smith, learning to ride a motorcycle didn't come until later in life.
Motz took a break between her undergraduate and graduate schooling to ride across the country on a motorcycle. While she knew she always wanted to do a cross-country trip, funds forced her to learn to ride a motorcycle, instead of buying a car. What was only supposed to be a trip of a couple months turned into a three-year journey across both North America and South America.
"The first ride I ever took on a motorcycle was three years long," Motz said.
Muecke always had an interest in riding, but didn't climb on a bike until she was in her 20s, because her parents wouldn't allow it. After working with other women who rode, she bought her first bike and got her coworkers to teach her how to ride.
"It was really great to have these other women to teach me to ride," Muecke said. "It was quite empowering, actually."
Smith's parents also resisted her desire to ride. So, she was forced to buy a bike in secret. She didn't even let the person she bought her bike from know that she was buying it for herself. Instead, as she told him it was for her boyfriend.
She would push her bike nearly two blocks down the street to a church parking lot where she taught herself to ride.
"That is not how you should learn to ride a motorcycle", Smith said, laughing. "But I'm glad it worked out, because I wouldn't be where I am today without that experience."
Jacques got her first bike when she was around 8 years old, but had to share it with her brother.
After getting accepted to an honors society when she was 11, her father asked her what she wanted as a reward, and she insisted on a motorcycle.
Eventually, her brother began racing, and while she would go to the tracks with her bike, her dad would only let her ride practice. After attending a few races and seeing her talent, he allowed her to start racing motocross. And she started winning.
"I was the only female motocross racer on the East Coast," Jacques said. "I had to line up and race with the boys. But it was fun. One young boy cried because he had never lost to a girl before."
The women also highlighted the importance of riding a bike that is comfortable for a woman and wearing gear that is appropriate.
Motz said there are not a lot of gear options for female riders, but she explained that is because female riders are a small and costly portion of the entire motorcycling market.
"My femininity is not defined by what I wear," Smith said. "I am feminine, whether I am in a dress, or if I am covered in mud. To me, it's more important that I'm protected and safe, even if that means wearing a jacket that the sleeves are too long on, or spending a lot of money on gear. Because I'm worth it."
Muecke and Smith went into detail speaking about riding a bike that is fit for women and also starting out on a bike that a female rider won't be afraid to drop.
"It's OK to start on a slower bike, like a 300," Smith said. "Everyone thinks you have to hop on a sport bike and go fast, and that's not the case at all. It just has to be something you feel confident on and can touch [the ground] on."
"As a female, you're always going to have someone who may not take you seriously," Muecke said. "Just keep at it, work hard, and show them your passion for motorcycles and everything will fall into place."