Northern Nevada’s first all-female motorcycle club officially hit the streets of Reno this spring. Its six members formed the organization, HAVOC Women’s Motorcycle Club, so like-minded women could come together and share their passion for motorcycles and—in their words—“handle their own in a man’s world.”
One of the organization’s founders, Hannah Thornton, said HAVOC was created in order to form a sisterhood and a family for its members, as well as to erase the stigma that is often associated with motorcyclists due to TV shows like Sons of Anarchy. Members of HAVOC do not consider themselves typical bikers. They are a small, tenacious group whose members include moms, a nail and eyelash technician, a social media expert, a project manager, a pediatric dental assistant and Reno Harley-Davidson employees.
You’ll find them riding around town with their black and burgundy vests often matched with a bright pair of Converse All Stars or Vans to complete the look.
Although there have long been women’s motorcycle clubs in places across the country, HAVOC is the first one in Northern Nevada to be approved by the Northern Nevada Confederation of Clubs, which represents and supports the region’s motorcycle riding community in relation to the National Coalition of Motorcyclists.
After a six-month approval process, which included being signed off on by all of the 50-plus clubs associated with the Northern Nevada Confederation of Clubs, HAVOC became the first official all-female club in Reno’s history.
Road to learning
Not all of HAVOC’s members are motorcycle veterans. The club’s newest member has only been riding for about four months. By contrast, Thornton said she has been riding motorcycles since the age of 7.
According to another HAVOC founder, Sarah Chong, the difference in experience levels has contributed to the group in a positive way—because it allows the members to learn from one another, giving them the skills they need to safely navigate everything from road trips to everday traffic as a motorcyclist.
With a laugh, Chong said she’d definitely take riding advice from Thornton over her husband, simply because the experience of riding a motorcycle is a bit different for a woman than for a man. She said while many female riders get their start riding as a hobby with their significant others, finding a group of women can elevate the experience.
“Learning and finding these other women who are doing this like-minded thing—you’re more inclined to push yourself a little bit further in the community or into riding,” she said.
When it comes to pushing their limits, HAVOC sets goals for its members like an annual mileage goal that they set out to ride with each other. “I think it’s really important for us to all bond and ride with each other just to become better riders and better riders with each other,” said Thornton.
So far this year HAVOC members have traveled as far as Idaho and Oregon together, navigating long, winding roads and wide open highways while putting thousands of miles on their motorcycles.
Serving the community
According to Chong, there is a charity event put on by a different motorcycle club in Northern Nevada almost every single weekend out of the year. HAVOC members try to attend as many events as possible in order to show their support for both the biker community and the Northern Nevada charities they support.
One notable event is the annual Reno Toy Run that provides underprivileged children with gifts during the holidays. The event is put on by the Northern Nevada Coalition of Clubs. This year, it’s set to be held on Sunday, Dec. 8.
According to Thornton, a lot of motorcycle clubs in Northern Nevada go unrecognized for the charitable work they do, so one of HAVOC’s principles is to help get other clubs recognition and raise support for their philanthropic efforts.
Despite HAVOC being a relatively new organization, its members have big goals, including eventually creating a motorcycle safety class specifically for women. Thornton said they would love to partner with Reno Harley-Davidson to have a garage day, which would include safety tips and lessons on how to keep up with motorcycle maintenance. The idea is to create a welcoming environment where all women can feel comfortable to learn about their bikes.
Thornton believes this will increase confidence and motorcycle safety for female riders out on the road.
“Being an all women’s motorcycle club, it’s just a different kind of support when you have a bunch of women together versus a unisex club or anything,” said Thornton, “Whenever you have the support of women and like-minded women there to support each other, you’ll build each other up as well as growing individually as women.”