Bill, the carpet cleaner technician, lifted his gaze after 30 minutes spent surveying our floors and dragging in his equipment. He caught a glimpse of Big Red under cover on the patio. “Hey! Whose motorcycle?”
“Mine,” I said, moving right into my proud WingWoman posture.
“That’s a Goldwing!”
“Yep,” I beamed.
Wide-eyed, Bill turned and seemed to size me up. I could see a flash of admiration cross his face as he said, “I could never ride one of those.” Then he went on to talk about the discomfort and uneasiness of being unable to stand flat-footed and hold the bike up when stopped. “Those things are heavy,” he said, nodding at Big Red.
Like many others, Bill didn’t expect to discover that I am a motorcyclist. His surprise has been the typical reaction. Over the last 25 years, countless middle school students, members of my social and service clubs, and strangers on the road have been shocked at this news.
The people we encounter while on a trip ask questions that women riders find hilarious. “Did you ride that thing all the way here!?” and “Where are your men?” are two favorites. When one friend and I stopped for a bite to eat in one of the southern states and the clerk asked where our men were, my friend answered, “Oh, we buried them in the backyard when we built the swimming pool.” That remark got us some weird looks.
Though the number of women riders has increased and women are the fastest-growing group purchasing new motorcycles, many folks retain the stereotype of the “biker babe” decorating the seat behind the man. So they are amazed that a woman can handle her own bike.
And, there’s still that image from biker movies of the rough, tough, burly, tattooed “Hell’s Angel.”
Once people meet a real motorcyclist, they realize we are everyday, hard-working, fun-loving individuals. It’s just that we are willing to take calculated risks and seek adventure, fun, and new vistas. The freedom of the road calls, and the hum of our engines and wheels soothes. On our motorcycles, we are at one with nature and ourselves.
What’s your impression of the motorcyclists you’ve met along the way?
~ xoA ~