Profile of a Female Motorcyclist: Meet Colleen


You just never know who you’ll meet in cyber space! Today I’d like to introduce you to a woman that stopped by and left a comment on one of the profiles. She mentioned being a California police officer, a motorcycle riding officer, and she teaches riding at a local community college. Of course after reading that I HAD to reach out and ask her to join us! And she graciously said YES!

Please warmly welcome Colleen a.k.a. Motopippi from Santa Cruz, Ca. Thank you Colleen for your public service. My helmet and heart are tipped in respect to you.

How long have you been riding a motorcycle? I started riding my dad’s Honda 350 when I was 16. No, he didn’t know I was riding it in the back yard. I taught myself and even ventured on the road without a license and sometimes with my 15 year old sister on the back … just in our quiet neighborhood. He had a crash with the bike that ended my riding adventures. Luckily, my dad wasn’t hurt.

How did you learn to ride? I really learned to ride when I bought a new Harley Sportster at 42 years old. I figured out how to ride and pass the DMV riding test by myself while I waited for my MSF course … there was a three month waiting list!

What was your first motorcycle? My 883 XLC. It was purple and beautiful to me. I rode it 5000 miles in the first year and never went back to four wheels … unless I had a grandchild with me!

How many have you owned? Let’s see … the Harley, a BMW 650GS (the thumper), 2 Ducati Monsters (800 cc), a BMW F650GS (the parallel twin) and a BMW R1200GS which is my current ride. I’m on the lookout for a dual sport 250 that will fit a 5’03 1/2″ slim gal. The ground is always so far down there!

Why did you want to ride a motorcycle? I remembered how it felt when I was young to ride. I had raised my two kids and they had licenses and I just had myself to get around. My husband was supportive and I was tired of riding on the back of his bike. I’ve heard so many women echo that same sentiment!

I had no idea how riding would make me feel! If I felt down or overwhelmed by life, riding made me feel in control, capable and free. There is power, rhythm, expression, excitement and beauty in riding.

Tell us about your riding. My bike is my favored mode of transportation. I ride anywhere and everywhere. My husband thinks I’m crazy because rain, shine or whatever, I ride. I’ve taken him into snow more times than I like to admit and he deals with it. Every vacation is a bike vacation with trips across the US and through the Alps.

Last year, I passed the California Police Officer Motor course so now I ride at work, too! I became the first woman to ride a police bike in our department’s 145 year history. We ride Harley Road Kings so backing up 850 pounds of bike is a challenge for a short girl. Thankfully, riding it is pretty easy although I had my own struggles to get to this point. Little girls wave at me and guys smile after they do a double-take. I’ve been told I look small next to my fellow officers on bikes.

I also teach motorcycle courses; the MSF Basic course and Lee Park’s Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic. I love helping other people find their comfort level and improve their riding skills. The women riders appreciate the female perspective of riding, gear, mental aspects and bike selection that is sometimes missing when instructors are all male. We all have our demons to face but it can increase the comfort level if someone speaks your gender language and can empathize with girl issues. The guys in the classes push themselves to try harder so they aren’t embarrassed by a girl … and have fun, too!

What advice do you have for women who ride or want to ride a motorcycle? Try out an MSF course. They supply the bikes and helmets [editor note: I had to supply my own helmet]. The environment is friendly and supportive with classroom and range instruction. If you see a woman riding and you get the chance to ask her about it … do it! She’ll tell you what makes her happy about riding and you’ll make her day!

What is the longest trip that you’ve taken on your cycle? Riding across the country has been my longest ride so far. One time, we rode 850 miles in one day but we usually go about 600-700 daily. Riding helps me forget about work and everything else so, for me, there is no better and more relaxing way to recharge. There is a certain rhythm to long distance riding that I love. One day, I’d like to do an Ironbutt, Four Corners (of theUS) and Alaska.

Do you belong to any motorcycle groups? Off or online? Other than BMW MOA and AMA, no groups for me but I read motorcycle blogs all the time! I love to read about what other people (men and women) are doing!

Do you have a favorite riding story? One day, our whole family of six was out riding. My son and daughter were on their own bikes and my two stepsons were on back, one with me and one with my husband. We rode the coast and then went out to dinner! We’ve had lots of riding time together and I hope to have lots more. I can’t wait till the grandchildren are ready to ride!

What do you do when you’re not riding? I’m never not riding, it seems but I do love to run, read Moto blogs and magazines and spend time with my family. Both of my kids ride and I’m trying to encourage my daughter (who is also a police officer) to consider training to become a motor officer in her department as well!

Officer Colleen and her rides!

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17 responses to “Profile of a Female Motorcyclist: Meet Colleen

  1. “If I felt down or overwhelmed by life, riding made me feel in control, capable and free. There is power, rhythm, expression, excitement and beauty in riding.” – Eloquent and so very true!

  2. Pam,

    Thanks so much for collecting and hosting theses profiles. I have learned so much about other women riders in this series..how great is that?. Depending on where you live, it might seem like you are the only woman riding so this awesome idea of yours gave us all the opportunity to find out that we really aren’t alone…and to add more female bloggers to my reading list! You have enriched my online experience and I am so appreciative. International Women’s Ride Day is going to be very well-represented!

    Colleen

    • Colleen,
      Thank you for your kind words! I’m love meeting all these women riders like yourself! Send any other female riders my way. Let’s see how long we can keep this going!

  3. Wow! Colleen is my new motorcycle hero! Way to go, Colleen. I love hearing this, and am encouraged to just stick my teenage daughter on back even more… and go ride!

    • Thank you. Have you read Gail Hatch’s ‘Sheridesabeemer’ blog? She took her teenage daughter across the US and blogged the trip. Now, her daughter rides her own Ninja. Check her story out…you’ll love it. There are so many cool adventures that we all experience and some are brave enough to share them in blogs. I just lurk and enjoy the ride…

      Colleen

  4. Nice to meet you Colleen.

    I think you are an inspiration to all potential lady riders and current ones too to strive for the best. Congrats to you on become a female motor officer.

    • Brandy,

      Little do you know that I am constantly following your blog and am in awe of your stories and your creativity as you join others together in cyberspace. No kidding…I check you blog everyday! I love your links to other bloggers and the fact that you have added these phenomenal women bloggers as well. You and Max are well known in my daily life! I apologize for lurking…

      Colleen

      • Thank you Colleen, that is high praise indeed.

        I will endeavor to make you proud.

        I blog for fun and to share my experiences, but have no idea how many people read it or if they even find it interesting some days. It is just something I enjoy doing. Funny considering I hated creative writing way back in high school.

        Feel free to lurk anytime and comment when you want.

        Thank you again Pam for connecting us to all of these wonderful ladies.

  5. Fabulous profile, great to get to know you Colleen, and thanks for serving your community! I also learned to ride on my own, took and passed the state skills test… but still have never taken an MSF course. I know I would benefit from doing so! I think it’s fantastic that your whole family rides – my daughter has ridden with us on the back of her dad’s bike, but so far doesn’t have much interest in learning to ride her own. She’s more of a classic car nut! LOL

    • Hi Janet,

      I have a lot of current riders who take the basic course with their child/ spouse/friend for support. They tell me that they end up learning elements of riding that they didn’t really understand before and become even more proficient in their riding skills! Insurance agents usually give a 20% discount for taking the class as well. It can be fun for everyone.

      I have been an officer for 23 years so it has been fun to do something a bit different…especially when it it such a passion for me. I feel very fortunate. Thank you for commenting.

  6. Total respect to a public figure from another public figure as I am a teacher that rides the distance too. I have commented on any of the posts, but you have caught my attention as you teach, motor officer and ride long distances. As public figures, we need an outlet to help us forget, that is why I ride my motorcycle very long distances as often as I can. You can view my blog at missrider.com, maybe you can join us on the ride to Panama. You got me beat with an 800 mile run in one day. You Go Girl!! Most I’ve done was 600 miles alone. I always ride alone because it is very hard to find people that can ride the distance. It the trip to Panama is cancelled last minute by the guys that will accompany me, I will do another solo coast to coast ride but this time round trip. If you have a Twitter account, I will follow you in case your 4 corners ride works out in my teaching summer riding schedule, maybe summer 2013 since my summer 2012 is booked riding to Panama.

    Stay safe….

    • Hi Madeline,

      I’m stretching myself to the utmost just by replying to your comment! Not even certain what tweeting really is :). I read your blog, too. I think we are both the same age, if I remember correctly. I definitely can identify with you and your experience. I recognized Nacimiento-Ferguson road as your trip through the forest. I love that road, too. It is part of a daylong ride from my house and totals about a 500 mile day. I ride it occasionally. We have such great roads right here in the Santa Cruz mountains that I don’t have to go very far to enjoy them. The next time your adventures bring you to this area, let me know. Can’t do Panama till I retire in a couple of years…

      It was great meeting you in cyberspace!

  7. Colleen,

    You are very inspiring! I just started riding last year and am obssessed, addicted, in love and just can’t get enough! I ride every day in all kinds of weather and hardly ever drive my car, One day soon I hope to take an instructors course, but until I get the required 3 years riding experience I practice drills every week and am planning on taking an ERC course. My daughter wants to ride when she turns 16, I am actually fine with this, but she will have to take an MSF course and always be ATGATT. I have shared my experience with other gals thinking of riding and love it when they see me pull up on my bike because when I take my helmet off they realize I am in my 40’s and are more shocked when I tell them I just started last year. I recommend the MSF course and they get gear right at the beginning. It’s awesome to see a female motor officer!

  8. Colleen,

    Nice to see other female motors out there. I was the first-and so far only woman to ride street motors for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. We also have a off road motorcycle enforcement team which I am on.

  9. Pingback: Profile of a Female Motorcyclist: Meet Pam a.k.a. Helmet or Heels | Helmet or Heels: I'm comfortable in either!

  10. Fred Ellenberger

    Madawaska, Maine. Met Motopippi. We 3 riders were doing the 4 corners ride as was Colleen. We all 4 broke McDonald bread together and lots of road stories. Next day, off in a flash. What fun to meet another Road Warrior like Motopippi

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