Archive for the ‘For the New Rider’ Category

REPOST: Bike and Babes: The Female Rider…who is she and why does she ride a motorcycle?

photo credit/chickthatrides

What is the quintessential female rider? In fact how do we define women riders in general? Who are those women that decide to reject standard female roles for a less common practice. Are they adventurers, enlightened or just plain mad? The population of female riders is expanding and with that expansion, come women exploring all facets of the motorcycling community. There are now female racers, off-road riders, motocross racers, tourers, RTW riders, cruisers and those that simply use the motorcycle as a commuter vehicle. There are all-female riding clubs, sponsored events and meets. We are the largest growing demographic in the industry and we need not only motorcycles designed to fit a shorter inseam, but an entire array of riding essentials designed for all women.

The question I have to ask myself, is why aren’t there even more women riding motorcycles. Statistically, though our numbers are growing, I still see few women riding their own, as I tour about the country. There still remains a limited number of females that throw caution to the wind and a leg over a motorbike to to embark upon the ultimate adventure of fun and challenge.

The women riders that I have been fortunate enough to meet come from all walks of life, but enjoy a common thread, their love for the ride. After talking to many female riders, regarding why they rode, the replies I received were as diverse as the women who provided them. You’ll find these are the “real” babes on bikes. These are the women that define the sport of motorcycling.

Christina Shook–Of the many complex reasons one might choose to ride – isn’t it clear to every rider that its just plain FUN? One word: fun.

Jeanette Snowbull–At this point in my life, I get to appreciate the sites, sounds and smells of the beautiful world, the mountains I live in. I get to take adventures to other areas and see the world in a way others cannot. The serenity, the peacefulness, sometimes being alone with my thoughts is a sanity in itself. Riding…the thrill the feel I just can’t live with out it.

Joan Jett–I love riding the twisties and long distance riding, it gets me out of being stuck and places me into an “endorphin” zone way better than exercises. Its a rush, I stay focused, I sense my surroundings, I feel the bike, I feel the power within my grasp, and these bikes take me to new and exciting places and people. There is nothing like it except to be in love.

Karen Boyd–Riding allows me to escape the day to day world where everything is dulled by expectations and instead feel my senses sharpening, my reflexes quickening, and my awareness expanding. I ride because it makes me feel alive and at one with the road stretching out in front of me.

Kelly Rogers–Why I initially was interested in riding and why I ride now are different. At first, riding had the appeal of the rebel… The danger and excitement… the uniqueness of doing something not everybody does was emotionally appealing to me. Why I ride now has more to do with empowerment, at-one-ment and freedom. There is something very liberating about strapping on my gear, straddling a machine and leaving the rest of the world behind.

Kris Oden–Why I ride…to be my authentic self. I do what pleases me and this pleases me. Oh ya…and to pick up guys. 😉

Lois Pryce–I ride for fun, for freedom, for kicks!

Marion Tucker–Riding has invaded all areas of my life, work, fun, and home life.

Nancy Foote–I’ve always enjoyed the backroads and byways, even before I found motorcycling to be so fun. So when I was introduced to riding over 28 years ago, it only seemed natural that I would take to a bike and use it to expand my horizons. I love the feeling of power from the bike and being able to control my own destination and destiny. I feel that riding is as close to flying without leaving the ground. The speeding through time and space takes me to not only the physical places, but also to the spiritual highs of being alive and living life.

Liz Walling–I ride because; being pilot of own bike – picking my own destinations – all the while listing to my ipod, reminds me how fun it is to feel freedom. Plus I love being outside, moving effortlessly through the air, feeling the tempature changes, smelling the earthy warmth of rocks and dirt…. my idea of meditation!

Liz’s daughter Sarah Walling–I ride because it’s dangerous, and the danger makes me focus tightly on the present. I ride because it’s difficult, and the difficulty makes for great stories, experiences, and learning opportunities. I ride because it’s fun to be the girl that rides when most girls don’t, because it’s fun to tell little girls captivated by my bright red bike that they can ride too, and because it’s fun to watch people’s faces when i take off my helmet and shake out my hair. Most of all, though, I ride because I love it.

Anke Knauth–I am 17 and I will ride my motorcycle to school once the school year starts again. I can’t wait! 😉

Astir–What is great about motorcycling is it is so multidimensional, and the female riders I know epitomize this. From the long distance rider whose goal is to be in the top 10 on BMW MOA, to my teacher girlfriend who spends her weekend exploring the desert tracking wild horses. Motorcycling for me is about pushing my limits, internal and external, and exploring this amazing world we live in. Major bonus is finding like minded people to share the adventure with.

chickthatrides–I started riding a quad when I was 5 and have been riding ever since because its fun. I can ride alone, but best of all, I can ride with my family too.

imasoftT–I Rode Today
I rode today without purpose or direction , each turn dictated by the feel of the moment, through the back roads that I have ridden a hundred times. Amazed at the difference the seasons make in the perception of the landscapes.
I rode today to clear my mind of the never ending maze of life in which I had become lost. I needed the peace that comes from being alone with the bike and the road, so I could find myself again.
I rode today to feel the power of the engine in my hand and to experience the feeling you get when you top a hill and see the land stretch out before you as though it were waiting just for you to come along.
I rode today, not in search of snow capped mountain vistas or babbling brooks, but just to feel the wind blowing away the cob webs of my advancing years and returning me to a place of child-like wonder and leaving me with the urge to yell out over my shoulder, “Hey Ma, watch this”.
I rode today and I will ride again tomorrow.

Victoria Zandonella–what motorcycling has given me back: my self-esteem – after having it kicked out of me with two failed long term relationships, 20 years of cubicle hell, and countless other emotional and physical challenges. In biking I am able to express the true me. I see it in the pictures taken of me while riding – a look not captured anywhere else – that undeniable smile that emanates the feeling in my heart – such utter joy and peace and a feeling that I belong somewhere once again.

RIP Syd Sheppard…we lost Syd to natural causes last January 2013.
Syd Sheppard aka FishWitch– I ride because I have so much fun! I get to meet great people & see wonderful places. Beats sitting at home watching the boob tube!!!

Suzi Richards–I often try to describe it to those non-riders who ask, but I find it difficult to put into words the feelings, sights, smells etc that I get when riding along a forgotten backroad with its beautiful twists and turns, the sensations of leaning the bike into a tight curve and knowing when you get it “just right” and gravity, road design, engine power and the agility of my bike all work in concert with one another and I am swept around the bend in an almost effortless manner. I love the wide open feel of the land around me, the sky so wide and expansive, the scents on the wind of the woods or the desert, or someone having a BBQ far off where I can’t see. Most of all, I think riding gives me a sense of freedom and a burning desire to explore and I hope that I have many. many more years of this desire in my soul.

Sheri South–There are people in my life who don’t get it at all. My sister thinks I’m having a mid-life crisis. That’s okay. She can think whatever she likes. When I’m still riding twenty years from now, and taking those twisties on my own, maybe she’ll see. Riding helps me unlock my potential. It helps me see more of who I am… and who I can be. It combines my feminine and sensitive sides with the parts of me that are strong, resourceful, adventurous and resilient.
I’ve had enough of riding pillion through life. This is MY time to navigate my course, and ride my own ride.

Gail Hatch–Riding, it is something I can do solo even when with other people.
It is a way to stretch my definition on independence.
It is a way I show my daughter that I think for myself.
Riding makes me feel competent.

Sara Aimee Henrrick–Loving the adventure

Red Ninja–For me, the defining feeling of riding is some magical combination of independence, empowerment, and pure fun (along with a healthy respect for the powers of the bike and a caution for the dangers of the road). It’s like nothing I’ve ever done before. I have an amazing job where I travel all over the world and do incredible, interesting things, and I also volunteer with animal rescues, in addition to multiple other hobbies. But nothing gives me a feeling like riding does, and I hope to have many happy years of that feeling ahead of me.

Sally Tyler–Riding is something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t get a chance to learn until 12 years ago when I was 36. It is my passion-it’s just what I do. I’m not sure that there is a quintessential female biker, but of the female bikers I know we do have the following traits in common; independent & bloody minded! I don’t think this is what makes us bikers but it is a link! Riding a bike clears my head & allows me to experience the sights and smells of my journey; it is just the best therapy I can think of.

Brenda Marks– started riding last year at the age of 49. It was something I’d tried years ago and it wasn’t a postive experience.Then my husband got himself a bigger bike and kept telling me that the old one would be good for me to learn on. I pretty much laughed in his face until he asked my Mom, at 69 years old, if she wanted to go for a ride. She didn’t even blink – just said “sure”. After that I decided that if she was willing to go for a ride at her age maybe I should give it a try before writing off the idea.

Ally House–I had always wanted to ride a motorcycle, but never had anyone in my family or close circle of friends that rode, so I had no one to teach me. When Karyn’s Mom died at the age of 61, we both decided that it was not an option to not ride motorcycles. We took the MSF rider’s course, and got our endorsements.
What I learned about riding a motorcycle as I became a rider was that it gave me a sense of power and of freedom like nothing I had ever experienced before. The demand on me, my attention, and my skill to ride the motorcycle engages me like nothing else does.

Karen Aho–Why I did not ride is an important part of the story of why I ride. My mother died in 2003 when she was 61 years old. In those last months of her life we talked and, as her life was ending, and she could see it ending, she grieved for things she did not get to do that she had wanted to do. I was 41 years old. I asked myself the question, “what am I not doing that I have always wanted to do?” The answer took no time in coming to me: RIDE A MOTORCYCLE. Ally and I had talked of motorcycles for more than 20 years. We were in complete agreement that this was the time to begin. Life is short and we are all going to die. I want to die with few regrets, especially over things I have control over. I made the choice to learn to ride. I ride to be alive in the fullest. I am an extension of my bike and I am a part of the road. I am involved in landscape and scenery as I move through it. I see, I feel, I smell–everything seems more vivid and I seem more a part of everything and I belong. I am present in the moment. I ride and I feel strong and competent and powerful and sexy. I still think riding is dangerous and impractical. I just don’t care to be a “good girl” any longer.

Bonnnie Lamply–Why do I ride? Because I love a good road trip and motorcycles are the most fun way to get there. Riding is so much more entertaining than driving because it engages all your senses and your mind. It requires being totally in the moment and continuously analyzing what’s happening around you. That suits my personality.
One of the best aspects of riding, though, is the people I’ve met, especially other women riders. I almost always feel at home with other women riders, more so than women in general.

Donna Rees aka demenshea–I ride for kicks and autonomy. When I am out on the road, I inhale freedom and exhale stress. It’s me and the bike exploring a moment in time, in a world of chance.

I would like to write up another Bikes and Babes post so if you are interested please contact me even if you have spoken before, bikes change, situations change and our thoughts and ideas change. Speak out!!! I know many women riders want to speak and we want to hear from you!!!

Write to
Send me a photo of you and your bike or you riding your bike
Send a bio about yourself and what you do when not riding.
Send me one sentence of what drives your riding spirit.

For you Keith Code Fans…Bike Cornering Bible Video

Excellent Video from Keith Code and well worth the time it takes to watch!!

More Riding Tips from another Veteran Rider with Skills to Share!!

I am fortunate to have some very talented rider pals that have contributed some wonderful information to put to print. The object is to make new riders aware of potential problems as well as keep ua experienced riders from becoming complacent. Stuart Pauly is an avid sportbike rider that rides both street and track. He has had years of experience and hopes that his experience can contribute to our safer and better riding skills.

Stuart’s subject it target fixation.

One of the things a new rider has to learn to deal with and something that can still bite a veteran rider is target fixation. What exactly is target fixation? Simply put, target fixation is the act of the brain using the eyes to lock in on something and focus all of your attention on it to the point that you ignore the rest of your surroundings. This can occur from a situation that is, for the most part, harmless up to an extreme situation that is life threatening. So what are some of the situations and how do you learn to not fixate?

A simple example of target fixation is riding down a quiet country road. Your eyes are looking ahead scanning to enjoy the view and to also be on the lookout for potential danger. Two things are going on here. One, your eyes are jumping from target to target. The eye is not capable of scanning smoothly but locks in on objects in small increments of movement. At the same time, your brain is processing the input. The brain is very good at ignoring what it perceives to be normal such as trees going by, the sky, the yellow lines on the road, etc. What the brain is also very good at is isolating visual input that it does not perceive to be normal. So in our scenario, we are riding down the road and our eyes see a dead squirrel in the road. It is perceived by the brain to be out of the ordinary so your eyes tend to continue to look at it. Now two other things come into play. Things happen quickly when you are moving on a motorcycle and you go where you look. These things combined lead you to run over the squirrel again because of target fixation. Harmless enough being that it was a small animal, but the danger becomes very real when it’s a large rock or a pot hole in the road. This type of situation is something you are likely to encounter every time you ride and is pretty easy to deal with because you usually get a lot of notice but it does require a conscious effort to train yourself. Learn to keep your eyes up and down road and to also use your peripheral vision instead of letting your eyes look at everything but keep your eyes moving. Each time you are out, take a few minutes to practice breaking your stare. Pick a spot in the road and pretend it’s an obstacle you need to avoid. Break your eyes away from the object and look where you need to go to miss it. If needed, give yourself a verbal cue to “Look Away” and as you adjust your path to where you need to go, keep your eyes down road and proceed safely past the obstacle. If you do this each time you are out, it will soon become automatic.

An extreme situation for target fixation is brought on by panic. When the brain interprets a visual input as a life threatening situation, it will intensely focus all of its attention to the source of the danger often to the point of your peripheral vision and surroundings being completely ignored and proceed to dump adrenaline into your system. This is what’s commonly referred to as tunnel vision. This response is a survival instinct that has been part of humans since the beginning. If they came across something life threatening, the brain concentrates all of their attention to the danger and then dumps adrenaline to assist in escaping. This worked very well when man was walking or at most running along at a few miles per hour. In modern day when you add a motorcycle to the equation introducing speed, it now becomes a problem.

One very dangerous situation is a vehicle turning left in front of you. In the milliseconds it takes your brain to calculate that your forward speed will likely cause a collision, you will encounter a sense of panic which will cause the brain to react to the danger and by instinct will intently focus (target fixate) you on the danger which is the car. The end result is if you don’t react, you ride directly into the car.

How do we avoid target fixation in a panic case? When I was in law enforcement and training for life and death situations, there was a saying that was always repeated over and over. In an emergency situation you will automatically react how you trained. If you don’t train, you won’t react. This is a very true statement and one of the reasons why so often when a motorcyclist strikes an object, at times there will not be skid marks as they never touched the brakes. The panic caused them to lose all awareness of everything except the vehicle in their path up to and including operating the brakes. That is why we envision and practice emergency braking so when an emergency happens, we react automatically without thinking. But emergency braking may not be enough so we also have to train ourselves not to fixate but to avoid. When you are riding and see a car about to enter the road ahead of you, imagine it pulling out in front of you and going through everything you would need to do for avoidance. The first step is to look away from the target and for an escape path. If you have to, verbally cue yourself to look away. Once you find your escape path, you will then follow that path as you are now looking in that direction. I battle with target fixation on the track. When I’m riding behind and to the outside of someone in a corner, and if they lowside and cross my path, it is very easy to fixate and run into them or follow them off the track. I use a verbal cue to myself to look away every time a crash happens in front of me. I also never stare at the bike in front of me but I’m looking ahead or through the corner.

So in review, keep in mind that target fixation is something that can impact every level of rider. It’s a little more difficult to deal with as it’s not a technique like clutch control, braking or stopping on a hill. To avoid it, you have to train yourself to overcome the natural reflexive action of the human body when it goes into self preservation mode. Just remember to keep your eyes up, moving around and use your peripheral vision instead of trying to look at everything directly. Practice looking away toward a safe direction when you encounter something in your path or a sudden panic moment occurs. Ride toward safety!

Thank you, Stuart for taking the time to put this awesome article together!! I know I’ll be putting the skills to use.

May is Motorcycle Awareness Month!

The MSF has this valuable advice directed to both drivers and riders. If we all heed these simple thoughts and ideas, we will ALL be safer.

For Riders
1. Get Properly Trained and Licensed – Half of all riders today have never taken a proper safety class such as the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Basic RiderCourseSM. Along with training, get your motorcycle endorsement by the DMV. Studies have shown that trained and licensed riders are safer.

2. Wear All the Right Gear, All the Time – Always wear a real motorcycle
helmet manufactured to the standards of the Department of Transportation.
Visit to ensure you have a proper helmet.

3. Don’t Drink and Ride – Never, ever ride while impaired by alcohol or any kind of drug. Bikes, beer and booze don’t mix. Nearly half of all riders killed in motorcycle crashes had been drinking.

4. Ride Within Your Skill Limits and Obey Traffic Laws – Don’t ride faster or farther than your abilities can handle.

5. Be a Lifelong Learner – Take refresher RiderCourses. No matter how often you ride or how long you’ve been riding, take advanced courses to brush up on the basics and keep working on improving your skills. The MSF has an extensive curriculum with courses for all riders from beginner to experienced.

For Drivers
1. Focus on Driving – Don’t be distracted. Never text or surf the Web while driving. Put down the cell phone or mobile device. Food, pets and even passengers can be bad distractions.

2. Look for Motorcyclists – Motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles and are often harder to see. But motorcycles are out there and you should expect to see them and try to see them in the mix of traffic.

3. Give Motorcyclists Enough Room – Keep a safe distance when following a motorcycle. Don’t change lanes too close in front of a rider. Motorcyclists and their machines generally don’t just have fender-benders in collisions with cars.

4. Use Your Turn Signals – Always signal your intentions. It’s for everyone’s safety and it’s also the law.

5. Keep it in the Car – Trash, including cigarette butts, should stay in the car, not thrown out where it could hit a motorcyclist. Road debris can kill a rider. Heavier items, especially, should be kept inside the car or truck or should be very well secured.

Advice for NEW RIDERS from those with years and (s)miles!

As we get more versed at riding, it’s nice to be able to help those that are just beginning. I fondly remember my first days of riding like it was yesterday. I remember the difficult times I had stopping on a hill, making a sharp right turn, braking, passing, riding in wind, and as silly as it may seem, waving. I wanted to wave, but my hand would simply NOT leave the bars. It’s nice that eventually we gain muscle memory and nearly don’t have to ponder and action as much as simply do it. I know that as I was learning the shared tips I received from more seasoned riders, made all the difference to my skill level. Well, that and the fact that I was packing on the miles with near daily riding. I even rode to work, and it was less than a 3 minute ride. But it was the idea of gearing up and doing it, that made it a highlight, that and after work I could fit in a “little” ride. It’s in the spirit of sharing that I thought it would be nice to talk to some of my most seasoned riding friends and get their take on what would be the “single most important bit of advice” to pass on to new riders, in general. As you see, choosing just a single bit wasn’t as easy for some as for others, but all the advice shared here will benefit any new rider. It’s with their help that new riders are able to know what to ride, where to ride, how to ride and why to protect thier ride. It helps the “newbie” to skirt around some painful lessons and gain valuable skills from riders that were not unlike them at the beginning of their riding journey.

I absolutely love reading these and feel it’s not only invaluable for “newbies” but for all of us that ride. It’s a constant process and we are all learning no matter how long we’ve ridden! Enjoy these thoughts from some very special and talented female riders. I will be posting advanced rider’s advice over the next few days, so you will have time to read and absorb each ones special thoughts.

So lets begin with Nancy Foote owner of Streetmasters Motorcycle Workshops with her husband Walt Fulton, Who is a ride coach at the workshops.

“You Won’t Fight a Bike That Fits You….

Over the decades that I have been riding, I have talked to many female riders, both new riders and those that have been riding awhile. What surprises me (because I hear this a lot) are their comments about how they “chose” the bike they ride. So many times the choice was not the woman’s, but the man’s choice for her. I’ve seen many a man who have an ulterior motive regarding this choice, figuring the woman will lose interest, and then they will get a second bike of their choosing. LADIES! Don’t let this happen!!!!

If you are going to ride a bike, you need to insist on two things: 1) you have to have your say in the matter. It doesn’t do you any good to have a bike you do not want, and most importantly, 2) the bike needs to fit you.

The first item is important because you need to want to go out to the garage, get on that bike and ride it! If you have a bike you do not like, you will not ride it enough to be safe – what I mean by that is, you need to ride it often to develop and maintain the skills and muscle memory to make you a safe rider. This is something that you owe to yourself and your loved ones.

The second item relates to how you fit on the motorcycle. Are the handlebars close enough that you don’t have to stretch to reach them? Are you able to do a full-lock turn of the handlebars without being pulled out of your seat? Are the handlebar grips small enough for your hands? Can your fingers reach the clutch and brake levers? Are you able to operate these levers easily? Can your thumb work the turn signals and horn without having to stretch your hand to reach them? Are you comfortable with how you can get your feet on the ground? Are the footpegs (or floorboards) in your way so that it’s difficult to reach your feet to the ground quickly? Are the footpegs (or floorboards) in a spot that when you place your feet on them that your feet reach easily and comfortably? Can you see all the dials/gauges from a seated position?

All these things contribute to you becoming “one” with the bike. There are so many external inputs that you need to process when you ride (traffic, weather, road conditions, to name a few), it is best to ride a bike that is easy for you to ride so you can focus on the important things, and not be wrestling with your bike.

If any of this sounds all too familiar to you, you may want to revisit the type of bike you ride. You may be surprised how much more comfortable a bike that fits you is to ride – and it will probably increase your fun and enjoyment of your motorcycling!”

Gail Hatch, a rider and blogger at She Rides a Beemer, frequently travels with her teenage daughter around the country on the back on her BMW.

“I’d like to pass on a piece of philosophical advice.
I was several days into a 2 week trip; I was talking on the phone with a friend back home. I must have been stressed about some aspect of my trip. His advice to me was “remember, this is not a forced march”. I stopped to think about this. The stress and anxiety was of my own making. There is no right or wrong way to ride your ride. Relax. Trust your instincts. If you catch yourself feeling stressed, stop and remember, this is not a forced march.”

Karen Boyd with her husband Bobby own Two Wheel Females, a motorcycle forum and is a contributing writer for

“The single most important advice I would give new riders is to place safety first. That means making sure you are as ready for the ride as your motorcycle. It is just as important to check your mental state as to check tire pressure, and just as necessary to put on ATGATT (all the gear all the time) as it is to put fuel in the gas tank.

Riding beyond your abilities may look cool for a moment if you get lucky and it all goes well, but crashing your bike and trashing your body because of reckless behavior just looks foolish. Ride safe so you can ride again and again.”

MaryAnn Truax
is a long term rider with many miles under her belt. She has ridden both street and dirt.

“I have never met anyone starting out in their 40’s that is a natural so take your time and get it right. Test your strengths and work on your weakness EVERY time you turn the key. Test your strengths and work on your weakness EVERY time you turn the key. As far as forums and blogs go: Be sure the advice you are heeding is from an experienced rider. Too many new riders are quick to let you know how much they think they know. To sum it up: A rider’s worst enemy is over confidence. It WILL bite you when you least expect it.”

Join me tomorrow for some more fine bits of advice from some amazing female riders!!