A few things you might hear when you're a lady who rides
Cultural norms are tricky things, man.
Across Asia, so many people ride motorcycles and scooters that it's kind of like cars are here in the US. They simply become part of the landscape, a thing that sticks out to you no more than seeing a patch of grass in someone's yard.
But here, even though there are certainly no laws prohibiting women from owning and/or riding motorcycles, they're still seen infrequently enough that it's often deemed worthy of comment. Lest you think it's all negative, some comments can be great, like little kids loving your helmet (my personal favorite; always puts a smile on my face).
Without further ado, here are just a few things I've heard in the over 10 years I've been actively riding on my own.
"GOOD FOR YOU, LITTLE GIRL."
said a big burly guy on a bike at a gas station. Seriously? What am I, 12? 😒
Scan, discard, apply throttle, move on. *vrooms away*
"ARE YOU REALLY COMFORTABLE LIKE THAT?"
said a doubtful woman rider, getting off the cruiser that had her sitting upright, arms relaxed, and legs stretched out to either side as though she was on a recliner. She eyed me askance as I leaned my bike with sporty, aggressive clip-ons onto the side stand and took off my helmet.
Granted, that's more to do with the great cruiser vs. sportbike debate than it is female riders, but I doubt she would have come up to me to ask this question if I was a male rider. So there's that.
Ergonomics are important, and finding out what suits your personal concept of comfort becomes more urgent with every minute of seat time you put in. And women riders generally always find reasons to talk to other women riders, simply because there are comparatively few of us.
"OH, I WISH I COULD RIDE MY OWN."
Many women have said this to me, usually accompanied by a wistful story about how they like to ride on the back of their boyfriend's/husband's bike every once in awhile.
And I'm always like, "The only one stopping you is you." 🏍️
There are plenty of schools, and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers courses throughout the US. In some states (such as Illinois), those classes are subsidized by the state DOT. For the basic rider course, you learn on their motorcycles, so you don't even have to worry about dumping your own bike while you learn.
[TO EVERYONE INDIVIDUALLY IN MY RIDING PARTY EXCEPT ME] "SO, WHAT DO YOU RIDE?"
Image: Sport Rider/Kevin Wing
Picture this: You've spent a couple of hours riding with friends, and you've had a good time. You stop at a motorcycle dealer with said group of friends and go in to look around (because when you're not on bikes, you're thinking about bikes...and new gear, too).
A salesman, scenting those dollar bills (or even just because he's enthusiastic) sweeps over and makes himself known. "So, what do you ride?" he eagerly asks each and every member of the group. Except you, because you're the lone female.
You may have bike gear on, you may be carrying your helmet in hand, but he clearly assumes you got off the back of one of the other bikes. Didn't even entertain the notion that you might have ridden in on your own.
I'm pretty low-key about it usually. I only get truly upset when gear doesn't fit me right (which can happen just as readily with normal jeans, let's be real), and there's frequently a height issue because I'm quite short. But I've met short dudes who ride, too--some even shorter than me. I neither want nor need special treatment, but acknowledgement that I just might be a rider among other riders shouldn't be too much to ask.
Repeat after me: Assumption is the mother of all f**kups. You just lost potential sales, good sir. 🏍️🏍️
THE BIG TAKEAWAY FROM ALL THIS
If you let one stupid comment once in awhile stop you from doing something you truly love, what is even the point of living?
Live your life. Ride your bike. Find gear you love, find bikes you love, find people you love to ride with (or don't; solo riding is great too).
Motorcyclists may have differences of opinion on just about everything, but the one thing we can all agree on is this: We're absolutely in love with the sense of freedom that two wheels gives us. When you've got that, the rest of the world falls away, and nothing else matters. It doesn't matter what chromosomes you have, or don't. All that matters is you and your well-tuned machine.