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I am Woman, Hear me ROAR!

Story by Kelly Gibson

I often hear, or rather feel, this sentiment from a lot of female riders. It’s true, as the underdog in a male dominated sport, us women struggle to be heard. We face different challenges that range from finding gear that fits to being taken seriously. But if you ask me, women who ride sometimes fall pretty to the pigeonholes we place ourselves in, and then shout to be heard out there.

Like many things in life, becoming a confident female in a sea of testosterone is a process. This butterfly process has many phases that take female riders through their journey to being comfortable in their own…err on their own bike.

We start out in the Impression Phase. Not only are we impressed by guys who ride, we also yearn to make an impression ourselves when we start out on this fearless journey. As Lisa in Mississauga reminisces, “at first I learned to ride because I just wanted to prove to my boyfriend I could do it.” A sentiment echoed by many female riders I’ve met, myself included. I was eager to prove myself to the naysayers and to be perfectly honest, I was scared to death. But between my fear and sheer bravado, I fell in love with riding.

Out of the Impression Phase came the Unique Phase. Somehow in learning to ride a bike, women believe we’ve broken down barriers, we’ve closed the gap, we’re a rare breed to be revered and respected….we’re a woman who rides! We forget that others came before us; we forget those in our midst; and worst of all, we start to believe our own hype. Others are in awe, and as our egos grow so too does our prowess. Jane from Toronto muses “I felt fierce, like I was the first woman to do this and I wanted everyone to know!”

And whether we’ll admit it or not, we start into what can only be described as the Disdain Phase. We look down on other women who are “only” passengers (forgetting that we were once in their shoes). Like Christy from Etobicoke says “you start to think you’re better than them….now whether you’ll admit it or not is a different story.” Sometimes it takes time, and sometimes it takes a different outlook
to finally get past this particular hump. I took the humble route when, in my high-and-might state, I met a female passenger that, unbeknownst to me, was legally blind. I’d always wondered why she never learned to ride, but for her being a passenger was the only way she was going to be a part of the sport, and she was all the happier for it. Hearing her story humbled me, and took me to my next phase.

As the disdain phase wears thin, we enter a phase many a woman has fallen prey to: the “one of the boys” phase. You’re no longer the new kid and your fellow riding friends, mostly guys, have stopped treating you like the baby and let you into their world. They expect you to move your own bike, they expect you to keep up, and they expect you to know the difference between a spark plug and an allen key. You’re in a comfortable place and you’re starting to put all the knowledge you’ve absorbed to real use. This is the good stuff. You are one of them.

You’ve arrived. You’re at the final stage: affirmation. Leah in Cambridge remembers “I was finally comfortable in my own skin, both as a rider and as a woman.” I couldn’t agree more. Somewhere along the way I realized that I do know the difference between a spark plug and an allen key and that I can move my own bike. I found gear that was tailored to a woman’s fit, and a bike that I could ride confidently, and ride well. I didn’t need to prove anything to an ex-boyfriend, and I was as happy talking to the women that rode with the group as I was talking to my friend who came as a passenger with her husband. So when I come across a woman who roars, I smile to myself in memory and think, not “I am woman hear me roar!” but rather “I am rider, hear me roar!”

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One comment

  • Fanny Fang says:

    Hello, I have just ridden from Cape Town in South Africa to my home town of Shanghai in China on a KTM 990 Adventure motorcycle. Three months before I started the expedition I had never ridden a motorcycle. Now I have ridden 53,800 kilometers across most of the conditions our Planet has to offer. I hope my story can inspire some more women to get out there. It was an amazing adventure that I will never forget. In fact, I am now planning a trip from Canada to Chile and hopefully I can meet some of my Canadian fellow riders on the way. By the way, I wore Canadian enduro motorcycle kit. See our English story and pictures at http://www.bigbiketrip.net …All countries were amazing , but I think Tanzania, Turkey and Tibet were special. Fanny


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