I am a 53 year old grandmother who likes to wear pink floral patterns and sits and knits while watching telly. Not your average Harley rider.
And yet I own a HD Softail 107 (admittedly custom painted pink) and like to get out on the weekends to ride with a group of, predominantly, male riders.
Well, although the company is entertaining at times, it's not because it is a bunch of males, but because there are not a lot of women riders out there. And the ones that are there sometimes feel intimidated with the thought of riding with a group. The feedback I hear is that they feel a group ride will go too fast and they won't keep up, the other riders will judge them for their riding skills or they will be the only female there. Let's take a look at these comments in relation to a group ride with RAC:
'I won't be able to keep up'...
With any good group ride there is a ride leader, road captains and a tail end charlie. They are all there to ensure the ride stays together and no one is left behind. Some days we will have a larger group with some faster riders, so if the pace is a little slow for them, they are welcome to ride ahead and meet us at our destination. But other than that, we stay together, riding as a group.
I rarely go out on a ride on my own these days. If it isn't with my husband then it is with the RAC group. The reason is I simply feel safer on the road. We are seen and definitely heard, so the chance of a driver not seeing us is greatly reduced (and hey, if they can't see or hear 20+ bikes on the road, then maybe they should hand their licence in).
'My riding skills aren't good enough'...
Male or female, everyone has to start somewhere, and group rides are actually a fantastic learning ground. Where possible, new riders are buddied up with a more experienced rider to help mentor them with not just riding with a group, but riding in general. I have found my riding has improved immensely with this and am now safer and a lot more confident on the road.
For RAC paid members we also book out a full Ride Forever course so that we are learning alongside those that we ride with. And even if you are not a paid member, you should check out the Bronze, Silver and Gold Ride Forever courses. They are worth it.
'I will be the only female'...
And yes, sometimes I am the only female rider on the day. But there are other women riding as pillion if I want female company, and if there wasn't, I still feel safe and included in the group.
Only 18% of motorcycles in NZ are registered to a female, and this number is actually an improvement from a few years ago. RAC has both paid members and casual members. Of our paid members 24% are females, which means we are above average for female participation (don't get me wrong, there are other clubs out there with females included, this is just a focused look at RAC).
If you want to see a bit of girl power on bikes, then make sure to check out the IFRD (International Female Ride Day). This is held on the first Saturday in May. (click here for another blog giving you the history and details on the next event).
I am a passionate supporter of women getting out and riding a motorbike if they want to. It is not a males-only club, even though there are definitely more men getting out and about on the weekend. I never thought I would ride, let alone own, a motorbike that weighs just under 300kg, with a 1740cc motor, but hey, here I am with custom paint, flamingoes and pink highlights, hitting the road and riding. After all, life's too short to look back and say 'I wish I had...'
- Sandy, RAC Secretary
( If you want to join us on a ride, check out the events page on FaceBook, then simply turn up on the day. We post the weekends ride on the Wednesday before. See you then.)