For a long time now, motorcycling has been viewed as a ‘male sport’. In the past women were ridiculed for owning motorcycles but things have slowly changed. The barrier breakdown may be attributed to women’s declining financial dependency on men; others have pinned it to a new generation of women who were always taught to pursue a career or personal interests. As a result, more women have taken to motorcycling and are doing quite well in the sport.
Three years ago, Debra Teplitz, 44, decided to silence the voice in her head that said, “Nice Jewish girls from the North Shore of Chicago do not ride motorcycles.” Like so many women who are learning to ride, she confronted personal challenges, societal stereotypes and cultural expectations to embrace the freedom and independence of motorcycling. For many female riders, mastering a motorcycle has served as a catalyst for other long-awaited life changes.
Motorcycling is associated with freedom and most women enjoy the adrenaline rush when in control of such a machine. Jane Michael Ekanem, a motorcyclist from Nigeria says that her best motorcycling achievement was sneaking out her bike out to ride alone for the first time. Among her great rides include one on 3rd Mainland Bridge, a popular bridge in Lagos, Nigeria. Like many other female motorcyclists, Jane says that she mainly rides for fun and leisure thus doesn’t participate at a competitive level.
Tayiani Sempele is a Kenyan motorcyclist who attributes her venture into riding to adventure and desire to travel and see new places. She has done several long distance trips, all within Kenya though she admits that she’s looking forward to travelling abroad on her bike. Like Jane, Tayiani is not into racing at all but enjoys the whole experience of independence, freedom and fun associated with motorcycling. When asked about what she could change in the world of motorcycling, she affirmed that she would change people’s perspective of bikers for they are not outlaws but simple people with careers, families and a thirst for adventure.
Motorcycling is also a wonderful platform to conquer fears. Three years ago, 46-year-old Christine Watson learned to ride when her husband decided he wanted to ride solo again. It was learn to ride or see him less. The fear was almost paralyzing but she overcame it. She says that riding has been the driving force behind her life changes and she now knows she can do anything she sets her mind to do.
Her excitement and drive hasn’t gone unnoticed. Christine’s 20-year-old daughter thinks her mum is cool to try new things and conquer fears and says it is important for people to know they can do anything no matter their age.
While riding is often about independence, riders appreciate the community aspect. “With women’s affinity toward connection, it is only natural that riders want to connect with each other,” says Genevieve Schmitt, founder and editor of Women Riders Now, the longest-running and most comprehensive resource for female motorcyclists. As a result, there are hundreds of riding clubs across the U.S. and Canada that provide an outlet for women to meet up on a regular basis and share their passion for motorcycling.
Africa is a great destination for motorcyclists due to its beautiful landscape and friendly communities that are always willing to accommodate riders during tough weather conditions. Kenya for instance has a lot to offer in this regard and destinations like Fourteen falls in Thika and Suswa offer spectacular scenery. The stop-overs will also allow the riders to enjoy some of the local delicacies like nyama choma (grilled meat) and ugali– a meal made from maize flour that goes well with almost everything. If you are lady who enjoys freedom, adventure and a little adrenaline rush, then motorcycling is the sport for you. Get your riding gear and let us enjoy speed!