Women on bikes: Female motorcyclists hit the streets
The number of women taking to the road on motorcycles in the US is on the rise.
The number of women taking to the road on motorcycles in the US is on the rise.
The Stories of Bike episode has been released featuring me, Kristen Reed. Come experience NYC from my perspective on my 2013 Bonneville, from hanging out with the Miss-Fires, to band rehearsal with The Rosewood Girl, to riding in the annual Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. It’s a beautifully made video by Cam Elkins and Brian Stansfield. Thanks to everyone who helped make it such a wonderful experience!
The more I ride, the more I seek to absorb moto culture and literature. I discovered Triumph’s digital magazine, Spirit, when I purchased my Bonnie two years ago, and always enjoy reading the quarterly features full of inspiration and life on two wheels. Last year, I noticed they were soliciting pictures from readers, so I sent in a few that my 18-year-old sister had taken of me in Brooklyn.
And then forgot about it.
Months later, the editor contacted me requesting a story to go along with the photos, which I happily and carefully drafted. Triumph published [a highly scaled down version of] my submission in their spring issue #15, and I am very honored to be included.
Chantal and I…stealing a lil kid’s bicycle?
Sometimes you just need to take a day off and get out of town. So, last Sunday me and some friends from NYC Vin Moto and The Miss-Fires loaded up the trucks and headed up to lovely, lush Connecticut and the Meridan Motorcycle Club….
Me. ready to ride?
The destination? the New England Trials Clinic (NETA) Trails Cross training Clinic. These clinics are run entirely by volunteers and wholly for the love of the sport. Their theory? How could you NOT want to ride Trials after trying it out. so, the first time’s free kids!
Kim looking like a pro?
What is Trials?
Moto Trials (formerly “Observed Trials”) is now the pinnacle of off-road riding, as the riders tackle the most severe terrain capable of being conquered by any two wheeled machine. When someone looks at the obstacles before the riding starts, a frequent comment is a simple “No way!” A big plus for the spectators is that they can watch from just a few feet away as the riders attempt seemingly impossible obstacles. Trials competitions consist of “sections” that are physically defined by marker tape. These sections contain challenging features, both natural and artificial. They may include stream-beds, boulders, logs, and slopes. Tape markers identify different skill class levels for competition; the better the competitor, the more severe the obstacles will be in the corresponding class. A trail loop connects the sections for the event. A typical event will have 8 to 12 sections and the competitor must ride the loop and complete the sections three to five times. Riders cannot practice the sections but may inspect each section just before being judged (or observed) on their ride. Then, one at a time, the riders will enter a section on their motorcycle, as an observer scores the rider’s performance. Like golf, where the least amount of strokes on the course wins, trials are won by the person who touches their foot to the ground the least amount of times over the course of the event. The rider with the lowest score wins. The score goes to a maximum of 5 points for that section if they fail to reach the end gate in time or crash. Riding a section “clean” without footing is the ultimate goal of all riders (score of 0).
Trials motorcycles are very specialized. Years of development have produced a very lightweight (i.e. ~150lbs), very slender, extremely well balanced machine with a powerful 2 or 4 stroke engine. The bikes have high ground clearance, minimal fuel capacity and no seat, creating a highly maneuverable motorcycle capable of overcoming nearly any obstacle.
There are many local clubs around the US that host events locally, with some putting on as many as 15 events per year. A listing of NETA’s clubs and events is provided under the “Events Tab” on our website. The United States National Series, governed for the AMA by the North American Trials Council (NATC), hosts the best riders of various classes in America, and consists of 6 to 12 events held in various parts of the country. There are a few select riders in the USA that have the skill to compete at the World Championship level and these riders compete for a spot on the American Trial des Nations Team. The Trial des Nations is held in various countries in the fall of each year, and is a nation vs. nation team competition.
Summing it up
While Trials can be a very challenging and dramatic sport, events by NETA’s local clubs have competition classes for riders of “all” abilities, from beginners on up. Of all the motorcycle sports, it is probably the most
“family-friendly”, and kids can enjoy healthy competition alongside their Moms and Dads and share in an activity that they love. Additionally, trials is easy on the environment. Because of the nature of the bikes and the competitions, environmental damage is minimal, and some clubs have riding areas that have been used for decades with little evidence of any damage to the environment. Trials is also viewed a safer alternative to other forms of motorcycle competition due the lightness of the bikes and the very low speeds (i.e. 1 to 4mph) involved when traversing sections. For this reason alone we continually see veteran enduro and motorcross riders switching to trials competition, and why we commonly to see riders as young as 6 and as old as 70 competing. Lastly, Trials riding also serves as a great cross-training tool for all types of riding such as enduro, endurocross, and motocross. This evidenced by the successfulness of our nation’s top endurocross, and motocross riders (Jeff Aaron, Cody Webb, David Knight, and Taddy Blazusiak) all of which are top trials riders.
Summary courtesy of NETA. READ MORE ABOUT TRIALS FROM THE NETA WEBSITE.
Charles, Neta President
Though i’m sure they regretted ever inviting us first the first five minutes of the dingbat Miss-Fires girls trying to figure out how to mount a Trials bike with no seats…Charles and the staff were incredibly patient, and knowledgeable.
By the end of the clinic…just a few hours later (though it felt like days we were so hot, worn out and beat up), every single one of us could not only balance on the pegs, but manage the slow speed turns, wheelies and rock climbs. Pretty F’in cool for some city slicker motor bike riders!
Kim, counting points
After the clinic, and a bag lunch provided by Neta. Yea, they’re that awesome…They put us to work helping judge that days Trials competition. One of the reasons I got into Motorcycles so heavily and that they are now my life, is the community of it. Events like these are only possibly with volunteer support and we were more than happy to help out.
how it should look.
The riders competing ranged in age from 8 to 80 and as with all moto sports, everyone is patient and supportive. Truly incredible to have been part of it, learn a new skill and challenge myself to be a better rider, risk taker and face my fears. God damn those rocks are scary when you’re staring them down from the pegs of a Gas Gas!
1962 Ford Ranchero, 1968 BSA 650, 1971 Yamaha AT1, 2014 Royal Enfield Continental GT
Christine at Coney Island 2015
For Miss-Fire member Christine, belonging to a women’s club is no new idea. She recently shared with us an article published in the Daily News on May 13th, 1990. Below is her story and the article. Enjoy a bit of NY motorbiking history! – The Miss-Fires
My name is Christine and I have ridden on motorcycle for as long as I remember. As a child, every time I would use the bathroom at my grandfather house, I would spend some time pretending to ride on the old broken motorcycle that my grandfather stored next to the toilet, which were in the shed next to the barn (Yes!! This is true, my grand father had only running cold water in his house, and no indoor bathroom. This was the 60’s in rural France). As a teenager I loved going on ride on the back my cousins and neighbors bike. I also rode my father “Solex”, a cross between a moped and a bicycle, and my sister moped (in rural France in the 70’s, teenagers drove moped to get around, unlike in America, where they drove cars). By the time I got to college, I wanted to ride a real bike, so I used the money from my summer job to pay for motorcycle driving lessons and passed my motorcycle driving test the first time (the NYC motorcycle driving test is a joke, compared to the French motorcycle driving test). I dropped out of college in 1986 and came to NYC on a one way ticket. As soon as I had enough money saved, I bought my first bike, a Yamaha 750 XJ. This was in 1987. One day, in 1989, I was in the Harley store in Long Island city, looking for riding apparel, when I saw an add on the bulletin board about a women motorcycle group: the American Women Road Rider Alliance. I was a member of AWRA from 1989 to 1991. The Long Island/NYC chapter was featured in a HSBC ad and was also interviewed by the Daily News. I recently found the old “hard copy” of the article while cleaning/disgarding some old boxes. So here it is.
The Daily News, May 13th 1990
The Daily News, May 13th 1990: Miss-Fire Christine shown above, at far right.
The Daily News, May 13th 1990
My grand ma and grand pa were from Belfort, near Alsace, next to the the Swiss/German border. This picture was from the trip they took for their honeymoon, in the Alps. My grand ma told me that this picture was taken in Annecy. My grand pa was a blacksmith and bought his first bike in the late 1920’s. After WWII, he opened a garage, as horses were being replaced by cars.
You’ve probably heard by now that Suzanne’s (suzypineapples) motorcycle was recently stolen in the early AM hours out of her locked garage. To say that she’s devastated would be an understatement. Her’s is the biggest smile around when she was on that bike, and that has been taken from her, and us.
Among running many of her motorcycle club’s day to day activities, she is the head of the philanthropy committe for the Miss-Fires, tirelessly planning charity events, raising funds for others, and just doing silly things like making cards and gifts to brighten friend’s days. It doesn’t stop there. Suzanne will be the first to support your kickstarter, walk for charity or any type of fundraising event you put out there whether it be with money or by donating a hand knit item. She always goes above and beyond to help when anyone she knows is in need. Let’s help her out!
Her words explain it best:
“This has always been my biggest nightmare and I can’t understand how this could have happened. I’ve taken such good care of my girl. I’ve always triple checked that the garage is locked after putting her away for the night. There are 4 garages in a row, and each one has an iron gate with a padlock out front. Unfortunately one of the patrons left their padlock unlocked. The thieves were able to come in through that gate and walk over to my garage, break the lock on the garage, break my stearing column lock on my bike and wheel it out. They loaded it into the side of a mini-van – all under 5 minutes. No cameras had the right angle to see it completely. I filed a police report and they swabbed for evidence. I went door to door asking all of the neighbors for surveillance footage, but the detectives still haven’t found any leads. Thanks for all of your concern and support. That bike was truly my baby. I rode it every day. I relied on it to get me to work safely and quickly. I relied on it to get me to LI to see my family. I took good care of her and made sure she was locked in a garage every night for the two years I owned her. You can only do your best. Hopefully something good will come out of this horrible experience.”
Suzanne is also dealing with heavy family challenges during this time and we as motorcyclists rely on these machines for a lot more than just going from point A to point B. Long rides help us get out of our heads, short group rides can provide a ton of fun and act as huge stress relivers. Our motorcycles are our meditation and therapy, they help us deal and process, she relied on this bike for a lot more than just commuting.
The intention of this site is to lessen Suzy’s financial burden while she shops for bikes and continues to pay off the one that has been stolen (nope, not much help from insurance in this case.)
Any money earned over the payoff difference and what she needs for a small downpayment on some new wheels will be donated directly to charity.
She’s had much heartache mourning this loss and it’s a tough thing to watch a friend be so sad. A motorcycle, as silly as it sounds, will help her heal. Let’s raise her up along with the corners of her mouth.
Please contribute and help us get Suz her smile back.
Open the season in style!
Julia Haltigan, Kat Thomsen of Your Ex-Girlfriends, and Kris Reed of The Rosewood Girl are all members of The Miss-Fires, as is Mercury Lounge Manager, Amanda Haase. Badass does not begin to describe these ladies, their bands. Spread the word, Buy your tickets today, and we’ll see you at the show!
– The Miss-Fires