Biker Chicks Take To The Streets

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli
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May 23, 2006

More and more women are getting out of the passenger's seat and onto the bike themselves, and some are the most unlikely that you would never expect.

"Sometimes, my work can be very stressful and to get out on the curves and just relax and focus on your motorcycle, especially right now on the parkway with the trees blooming, it's just lovely," said rider Mary Burgert.

Burgert is a 56-year-old computer programmer who spent years riding on the back of her husband's bike before trying it herself.

"I had the support of someone who was already involved, and I think that was key for me was having that support of another woman," said Burgert.

It's people like this who inspire Sylvia Hartley to be an instructor.

"I really have a heart for the ladies to get them out there because I think they can get a sense of freedom and independence, that they won't experience elsewhere," said Hartley.

Sylvia herself has an interesting story. She first began riding in 1972 and said back then she didn't see any other women riders and loved the looks on people's faces when they saw her on a bike.

"I would be going along and they would see I wasn't a guy. 'Oh my goodness, that's a female out there, it's a woman.' So it was really a lot of fun in that regard," said Hartley.

Sylvia quit riding for 25 years because her husband thought it was too dangerous. But just three years ago she convinced him to try it out.

"Oh, totally awesome! It was wonderful. It was great. I love it," said Hartley.

But it is dangerous, which is why riders should take lessons before getting on the bike.

"Also, so that with the safety classes and the training, it really helps to build up their confidence," said Hartley.

More women are enrolling in these classes, and bike manufacturers are taking notes and making motorcycles more woman-friendly.

"Especially moving the foot-pegs back, the handle bars back, seat heights, looking at the seat heights of each of the motorcycles," said Leah Bober of Harley Davidson Motor Company.

Many of the newer bikes are easier for women because designs make them feel lighter. These women don't just have their own bikes, but also riding clubs where they can spend time together.

"To get away from your lives with your kids and just to gossip and have fun like girls again. I think Cindi Lauper said it--'Girls just want to have fun,'" Burgert said.

For more information on how you can join a class, visit the Motorcycle Safety Foundation at www.msf-usa.org or Rider's Edge at www.ridersedge.com and search by your location.

For more information on the Motor Maids, log onto their website at www.motormaids.org.


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