Riding clubs, tours, training camps and rallies are popping up around the globe to appeal to a noticeable growing trend — women motorcyclists.
Kamlesh Desai, Wochit
Whether you’re a chopper lady, a Harley-Davidson diva, into classic café racers, a sport bike girl, or an adventure rider, there are riding clubs, tours, training camps and rallies popping up around the globe to appeal to a noticeable growing trend — women motorcyclists.
Wallops Island resident Liz “Lizzie” Yontz started out riding a 454 Kawasaki in 1987, “which I rode from Pennsylvania to Tennessee two weeks after getting my motorcycle license,” she said.
She has evolved into a road queen of a 2012 Harley-Davidson Street Glide named Tequila Sunrise.
“Many times, even now, people still do a double take or give us a thumbs up on a motorcycle, especially when women are on a larger motorcycle,” said Yontz.
Yontz said riding the Eastern Shore includes peaceful and serene “roads to nowhere,” in addition to the bigger riding destinations of Chincoteague, Onancock, Wachapreague and Cape Charles.
“Even though I have a radio on my motorcycle, there is no better sound than the rumble of my pipes, the smell of the marsh, and the sweetness of wisteria. Riding a motorcycle on the Eastern Shore is nothing like driving a cage,” said Yontz.
Yontz has also witnessed a jump of women in motorsports.
“I would not call it growth, but an explosion. Maybe it is because of women being empowered by something that is enjoyable, just to be free, or for the camaraderie of a group of women who ride,” she said.
Chase Micheal and his mother, Kathy Micheal, own and operate OC BikeFest and Delmarva Bike Week, one of the top-five biggest motorcycle rallies in the country, according to Micheal. The event attracts hundreds of thousands of motorcyclist enthusiasts and bikers to the Eastern Shore each year.
Micheal watched the motorcycle industry drastically evolve since 2000, hitting a peak in 2008 United States motorcycle sales.
“Women played an integral role. Woman ridership increased drastically over this time,” he said.
The number of women motorcycle riders continues to climb mostly because of millennials, with women making up 19 percent of motorcycle owners, according to the latest national survey by the Motorcycle Industry Council.
Micheal said that historically motorcycle rallies have catered to the baby boomer generation, often thundering on a big-engine Harley-Davidson bike, like Yontz’s Tequila Sunrise.
“I have attended both events several times. A lot of my friends who do not live here come to these events. It gives us time to reflect on the memories with our old friends and create new memories with our new friends,” said Yontz.
The key to keeping the motorcycle rallies alive is turning toward garage builds, while attracting moto-obsessed women who value individuality, but still offer your go-to larger labels, according to Micheal.
“Younger generations aren’t being as brand loyal specific. We’re simply trying to appeal to that new rider,” he said.
Female-focused groups drive growth
Female-focused motorcycle groups like The Litas, Throttle Dolls and Iron Lilies are attracting millennials at a rapid-fire pace on an international scale. Micheal sees these younger groups with a strong social media following as the future of motorcycling.
“We are trying to make Ocean City potentially either a focus for these women to ride to … almost make it like an annual meetup for them. Many of the woman riding groups or woman rider influencers have become key on how brands connect to new riders. I’d like to have them come on site and do a ride benefitting the local charity,” said Micheal.
Micheal has reached out to a few of these groups discussing a potential charity aspect.
“Motorcycle riders are some of the most charitable groups. The baby boomer generation pioneered this with great focus on raising funding and awareness of veteran and active military organizations,” said Micheal.
“Today woman riders have focus on charities for breast cancer and abuse. These motorcycle groups drive funding and awareness.”
Yontz said there is nothing better than fusing together her love of motorcycling and giving back to the Eastern Shore through the CCSCII Lodge, Inc., an independent, non-profit, social welfare organization based out of Wattsville, Virginia.
Yontz refers to CCSCII as a charitable club.
“These people are my brothers and sisters. We all enjoy riding motorcycles and doing good for our community,” she said.
There’s an infinite number of ways to incorporate women’s rider groups, according to Micheal.
“I struggle to find any male influencers that have the popularity that they have,” he said.
Micheal said the key to including the new generation of riders is to “figure out how to incorporate meaning. I think that women will be one in four out rider in the next 10 years. It’s a really exciting time. The industry is changing in a huge way.”
A global women riders relay
That change includes the first ever Women Riders World Relay. Half a dozen women motorcyclists went kick-stands up on the northern tip of mainland Scotland on Feb. 26, 2019.
Word-of-mouth has attracted thousands of women from more than 80 countries to participate in the largest women’s worldwide motorbike relay, consisting of women representing each participating country handing-off a wooden baton to the next group of riders. Riders will battle wind, blistering sun and chilly temperatures along the way.
“I wanted to ignite a global sisterhood of inspirational women to promote courage, adventure, unity and passion for biking from all corners of the world and do something that’s never been done before to this scale,” said Hayley Bell, Women Riders World Relay founder, on the group’s website.
The yearlong event will continue throughout Europe, Asia and Canada until tentatively reaching the United States entry point near Calais, Maine, in late September or October.
“I have not heard of the Women Riders World Relay, but it seems as though from what research I have found, that more and more women are joining the movement of traveling from Point A to Point B on a motorcycle,” said Yontz.
Depending on your location on the Eastern Shore, the relay will come between 4 to 6 hours away, passing through Woodstock, New York, then head west, and south through the United States, eventually passing the baton to women motorcyclists in Mexico.
“I feel that sharing our love of motorcycles from around the world by passing a torch can help us unite in sisterhood and our love of riding in the wind,” said Yontz.
The event is creating a momentum for equal representation for women in the industry.
The Women’s Coalition of Motorcyclists, , D.P.The Women’s Coalition of Motorcyclists mission involves which seeks to foster a positive image of female motorcyclists and increase participation of females in all aspects of motorcycling, says on its website that its goal is to double its numbers by 2020.
The New York-based Women’s Motorcyclist Foundation will host Dirty for Good, one of the first dual-sport events, East of the Mississippi River, in Rocky Gap State Park, Maryland, in August. The camp is designed for motorcycle licensed beginner dual-sport riders as well as a novice to intermediate dual-sport riders wanting to add and refine their skills.
“The program teaches off-road riding skills needed for safe riding, motorcycle maintenance skills, good environmental stewardship practices,” said Sue Slate, Women’s Motorcyclist Foundation National Programs chair.
Yontz has only zipped around on her son’s dirt bike on the family farm, but said, “It sounds like it would be an opportunity for someone to enjoy a different type of motorcycle riding. I always say knowledge is power and I really believe that any type of training is beneficial for handling a hammer to a big rig.”
Yontz said she believes any entity that promotes motorcycling is important.
“If women can swell the ranks of riders, that is a good example of how far we have come in gaining our independence. I have always said, ‘I will walk besides, not behind you,’ and that is also true for my love of motorcycling,” she said.
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