Why These Women Are Crossing the Country By Motorcycle

When Porsche Taylor bought her first motorcycle, she had never taken a lesson. She didn’t have her motorcycle license, and the helmet she wore was one size too big. But her cousin was into bikes and she started to see the appeal of driving them herself. “I rode with him on the back, but I didn’t really enjoy being a passenger,” Taylor says. “I enjoyed riding.” One corporate bonus and a Craigslist purchase later, Taylor’s cousin showed her how to do a few figure eights in a parking lot on her new bike. In that moment, she became a motorcyclist. “Once I started, I never looked back.” 카지노사이트

Taylor, who is now the founder of Black Girls Ride, an online motorcycle magazine and community launched in 2011, says her story is like that of so many women motorcycle riders—of which there are a growing number. Women make up 20 percent of motorcyclists, a figure that has doubled in the past decade alone, according to a study by the Motorcycle Industry Council. That number is even larger in some communities of color. Forty one percent of Latinx motorcyclists are women, and 53 percent of Black motorcyclists are women, according to a 2018 MRI-Simmons survey. It’s hard to pinpoint why, exactly, the number of female motorcyclists is growing, though Taylor believes it’s the intersection of a latent interest, meeting a growing sense of inclusivity in the motorcycling world (no doubt, forged by communities like hers).

In the traditionally, and stereotypically, male-dominated sport, women are usually offered seats on the back of bikes, rather than in the saddle. But there’s a long history of women, and particularly Black women, on motorcycles—look at the “Motorcycle Queen of Miami” Bessie Stringfield, says Taylor, who became the first African-American woman to make a solo cross-country trip in 1930—even if the public perception of who a biker is hasn’t caught up to that reality. 안전한카지노사이트

Taylor is among a slew of female riders working to change that, using Black Girls Ride to increase visibility of Black women riders, while also sharing educational resources that help women safely enjoy the sport. On her site, women can find content about gear, biker profiles, and even connect with others for group rides. And while visibility and support for the women who are already riding is essential, she hopes her work will embolden more women to hit the road.

“We spend, as women, so much time taking care of our kids, our significant others, our elderly, very rarely do we carve out a niche of time for ourselves,” says Taylor. “Motorcycling gives you that space. It’s the one space where you’re allowed to be self centered, because while you’re on a bike, you can’t afford to have anyone else in mind but yourself.”

Hawaii-based Kelly Yazdi, founder of all-female riding collective Ride Wild, agrees. “I don’t know if there’s anything quite like your hand gripping the throttle, being able to really control your life,” she says. “It has been my outlet of freedom, this machine of empowerment.” She began riding at age 18, but the first communal event she ever attended was one of Taylor’s—a lecture on helmet safety in Southern California. Taylor has been an instrumental force in bringing women, and especially women of color, into the sport, Yazdi says, inspiring many—herself included—to follow in the footsteps of Black Girls Ride.

Yazdi began her own community organizing efforts in 2017, with the aim of carving out a space for female riders at motorcycle events around the country. “It was originally an effort to put together a woman’s initiative at Sturgis, this legendary motorcycle rally that’s taken place in the Black Hills of South Dakota for the last 80 years,” says Yazdi. “Given the nature of the industry, it was a pretty male dominated thing, and this concept of Ride Wild was supposed to be a complimentary experience, tailored toward women motorcyclists.”

When Ride Wild launched, they had their own area at Sturgis, which usually draws a crowd of nearly half a million attendees. Women could unwind between rides, swap tips, and connect in a safe space, “like the Mermaid’s Lagoon in Neverland,” says Yazdi. Some chose to camp overnight together, others would join for daily activities like ziplining or yoga. “I think, inevitably, organically, [spaces like this] bring more women into this intimidating world.” The group has since taken the idea on the road, hosting similar women-only experiences throughout the U.S, in places like Wyoming, California, and Minnesota. “It’s like summer camp for women who ride,” says Yazdi. 카지노사이트 추천

In a year that has been remarkably isolating and divisive, both Yazdi and Taylor say that riding has provided a much-needed sense of community. “There is something special about riding by yourself, but also when you’re riding with your pack,” says Yazdi. “It’s this sense of sisterhood and community that allows each of us to step into our highest potential, and it’s been a medicinal thing to see women come together during this time.” Ride Wild has continued to host smaller versions of their popular events, in COVID-safe numbers, so that women can continue to connect while they need support most. (Due to the pandemic, the group chose not host their annual event at Sturgis this year.)

Taylor, meanwhile, has activated her community around urgent social and political issues. In August, she rode cross-country from Long Beach, California to the 2020 March on Washington, where she spoke at the request of Reverend Al Sharpton. (“It was surreal to be there, in front of 100,000 people,” she says.) Local chapters of Black Girls Ride, throughout the country, organized a Ride to the Polls effort that got voters out for the general election in November (on their bikes, of course). Taylor even filmed a commercial campaigning for now president-elect Joseph Biden. Next up? A Ride to the Vote initiative for Georgia’s senatorial run-off election. “We will always unapologetically ride for Black lives, and use our platform to share messages that help keep the country progressive,” Taylor says.

Currently, both women are among a group of 12 members of the recently-formed Polaris’ Empowersports Women’s Riding Council, through which they will continue to advocate for increased representation, diversity, and participation of women in the motorsports space. And while the first two goals require industry support, they hope that participation can increase on a micro-level.

“If you were even considering riding motorcycles, get out and try,” says Taylor. Seek out a local motorcycle safety course in your area, she says, and learn from the pros, not just people around you. Ask your local Department of Motor Vehicles for a list of schools in your area, and consider getting a friend or family member to join you in taking a course. When you’re more comfortable on a bike, and looking to connect with other riders, count on communities like Black Girls Ride and Ride Wild. Yazdi says to check out riding club The Litas, as well, or to send a DM to Ride Wild on Instagram if you need help finding a group near you.

“When you have women who ride, you have kids who ride, and we end up being the ones who fuel the next generation of riders,” says Taylor. “Part of my goal is to show that our history doesn’t start and stop with Bessie.”

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