Last Saturday, May 2nd was International Female Ride Day – a day to rally women together who love motorcycles and go for a cruise en masse. It’s a chance to encourage beginners, share stories, make friendships, check out bikes, etc. I think I like the idea of celebrating women on motorcycles via group rides, but my hermit tendencies can dominate.
I was considering joining the ride, which was congregating at Vancouver’s cafe / motorcycle / lifestyle shop “The Shop,” but then I did a check-in with myself. I had a sneaking suspicion that I would get irritated, and as most people know, I have a pretty positive outlook. The thing that stalled me from joining in was that I don’t always delight in riding in groups and it mainly has to do with my comfort levels and uncertainty about the riders around me.
This isn’t remotely to imply that women shouldn’t be out there representing – it’s simply acknowledging that I find it difficult to relax and I can be really impatient! This is totally unfair because I was also a beginner at one time, and am sure that I sketched out other riders as I veered into oncoming traffic on my first big ride along the Chuckanut. Fortunately the confident dudes would just blast ahead, and eventually would wait up for the rest of us. For some reason it’s not like that with most group rides (not necessarily “lady group rides”)… everyone sticks together and it drives me nuts. At the same time, when it is called a “group ride” and for such a short distance it does make sense just to roll together… the roadtrip situation just has different rules. So maybe I’m just not a group ride person and that’s ok.
What really grated on me is that I suspected the motives of others going on the ride… essentially I had reason to believe that it was simply a photo opportunity for some of the ladies to be tagged for Facebook and ‘grammed’ for Instagram. And, why blame them? Ladies love the public affirmation that they look good on their bikes! When I first got into riding I was so pumped! It was cool having the ride documented… I was proud of my sketchy motorcycle. But now there’s such a heavy emphasis on fashion that I don’t quite understand the point. Lately, I feel like there’s been an even greater shift towards being on exhibition by certain women riders. There’s photography exhibits, and an almost formulaic “look” of the lady rider in her short shorts, leather boots, free-flowing hair, maybe a jean vest with some tassles. It’s like they want to channel a cliche 60s / 70s style, be on display, and proclaim that they are biker babes. Everything is an accessory and every ride is a photo op. I’m really suspicious of this movement and feel a pull to reject it all… everything except the motorcycles.
I’m kind of more interested in the story… how the bike broke down, how a miraculous fix took place, the destination, the arrival, the companions. Motorcycles take perseverance, passion and love. Since that’s the ultimate truth I’m not too concerned about how fashion seems to be dominating the scene. I don’t have to be part of a scene and no one is forcing me to ride in a big group. In some ways, the fact that the Dirtymoto garage members are all dispersing to do their own thing makes me feel like I can just go on with simply enjoying motorcycles without any label or association that might shape my identity. Part of this shift in perspective is due to the fact that I’m older, wiser, married, etc. When you’re single you feel this drive to distinguish yourself, and to showcase that you are cool and desirable! You want to be noticed by some guy who is rad and approved of by your peers. The energy put out in trying to appeal to this elusive person is intense, and girls go to great lengths!
The advice I would give to women motorcycle riders who are single and feeling the temptation to post daily selfies with their bike in different poses and different outfits is this – don’t do it! It’s wonderful to celebrate an awesome day or an amazing ride, but the constant glamour posts just start to be desperate (and a tad vain). I don’t think it’s the best idea to try to attract a guy who only values the superficial because there’s no substance there. Plus, when the next pretty thing comes along there’s not a lot of reason for this type of dude to stick around if the relationship was based upon how good you look together in photos.
You’ll feel way better about yourself if you just hunker down and get stoked on something because you love it. It’s the girls who are simply doing their thing because it’s their passion, without any desire for public affirmation, who are the true gems. I think solo women taking risks, pursuing their dream are the true heroes and the true beauties. It took me awhile to figure this out because as much as I loved snowboarding, skateboarding and motorcycling there was always a lingering hope that someone would discover how “cool” I was and fall crazy in love. It’s pretty normal, but you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache if you simply find contentment in who you are, knowing that the Creator loves you, knowing that the loneliness will pass and that adventure awaits!
That’s probably why I love so many vintage photos with stories of women riders just going for it, even though they might be rejected by mainstream society… they just couldn’t care less and would rather pursue the dream! So, in honour of International Female Ride Day get stoked on these ladies from my collection on Pinterest! Not a bikini or tassle in sight.