Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hey, Lady! It's Time to Ride

I've never been a fan of Harley Davidson. Not because I think there's anything wrong with their motorcycles, but because I am and always have been a non-conformist at heart. And HD is all about conformity. They are most definitely the king when it comes to branding. I can't begin to count how many times, after telling someone I ride motorcycles, I've had to answer the question, "Do you ride a Harley?"

Is that because everyone thinks Harleys rule? Nope. It's because HD has done such a good job getting their name out there that even a 90-year-old granny who knows nothing about motorcycles whatsoever knows that an HD is a bike.

Many of those people who have asked me if I ride a Harley are only trying to sound in-the-know. They couldn't tell a Honda from a Harley. When they think Yamaha, they think musical instruments. Suzuki conjures images of a Japanese steakhouse. And a BMW is just a fancy car.

I may not love HD, but I do have to admit they did something right when they created "We Ride," a publication designed to introduce women to motorcycling and encourage them to ride. (You can download a PDF copy HERE.)

Yes, it's a bit of an HD sales piece, but it's also full of lots of good informational tidbits. And, even better, it showcases a wide range of women who ride.

I actually bought my first motorcycle at age 18. I rode for a few years then stopped. Practicality was the big motivator. I always missed it, though. Finally, in late 2000, Hubby (who had also ridden "back in the day") and I decided to get back into the sport we both loved.

It's something we both enjoy, so we usually ride together. I don't think twice about venturing out on my own though. (This blog and Web site of mine are proof of that.) Heck, sometimes I prefer to ride alone 'cause Hubby tends to get impatient when I'm in the mood for putting down country lanes cow spotting. And sometimes I just feel like doing what I want to do when I want to do it. Know what I'm saying?

Cows on a country lane.
While more and more women are starting to ride, there are many more who are afraid to take that plunge. So it's up to women like me to encourage others to get out there, too. The HD publication I mentioned previously is one step in the right direction. A bigger leap in the right direction is International Female Ride Day (IFRD). A day designated by MOTORESS International in late 2006 to occur on the first Friday in May every year to promote and encourage women motorcyclists.

What a cool idea, eh?

The first IFRD occurred in 2007. It's grown in popularity each year. A full history is available on the MOTORESS site. Last year was the first year I was aware of the event. I didn't participate. This year will be different. This year I'm going to get out there and ride.

Heck, if I can get the day off of work, perhaps I'll make a day of it. Wouldn't it be fun to get a whole group of women riders together? A great idea may have just been born...

Are you or someone you know doing anything to mark IFRD? If so, do tell!


Shybiker said...

Very true about Harley. And equally true about their effort to extend riding to women. I'm a big advocate for encouraging women to enjoy the thrills of motorcycling and, fortunately, there are several such initiatives at work now.

Fuzzygalore said...

Not of fan of HD's products & what I perceive to be the image they are manufacturing. It's too contrived for me.

On IFRD I do ride. But - I'm torn on my feelings about this whole women needing special encouragement to ride business. My thoughts on it change all the time. I don't feel limited by my gender. It bothers me when others do.

But,... I try to err on the side of caution and be understanding that not everyone is the same. Better to inspire and encourage than to break someone down.

ToadMama said...

Fuzzy, I'm with you on the women and riding thing. I've always been a bit of a tomboy so I've never really felt limited either. If there's something I want to do, I do it. But an awful lot of women, and even some men, think you need to be big and strong to ride. Many women start out with tiny little bikes because of that (then quickly regret it). I think IFRD is about just being seen riding, so other women realize if all those other ladies do it, they can, too.

I'll never forget one time Hubby and I were riding through a neighborhood and two 10-12 year old girls were walking along. When they saw me they got huge smiles on their faces and I heard one say, "Hey, that was a girl!" That's why I want to ride on IFRD.

SonjaM said...

I don't mind HD but it took them too long even to introduce ABS on bikes. Also their fuel economy is non existent. Nothing in HD's portfolio does really interest me. A customized Nightster maybe, but only with ABS! My F650GS is a 2004 built and has this feature as standard!