Profile of a Female Motorcyclist: Meet Jess

Let’s hear it for all the female motorcyclists that have been profiled! And we are not done yet. My next guest is Jess from Eugene, OR. She is also know as @bmwgsgirl on Twitter as well as having a blog by the same name, BMWGSGirl!

How long have you been riding a motorcycle? I remember riding dirt bikes when I was young, but didn’t start riding faithfully until college.

How did you learn to ride? Trial and error. Most of my early experience comes from scooting around the University of Oregon campus on a Vespa.

What was your first motorcycle? My first two wheeled contraption was a 1964 Sears Allstate Scooter. My first motorcycle was a 2001 BMW F650GS, which I sold then re-bought then sold.

How many have you owned? Three Vespas, a KLR 650, and three BMW GS’s (650’s and a 1200).

Why did you want to ride a motorcycle? Initially it was for closer parking and the ease of finding a spot on campus! I had a boyfriend in college who was a Vespa geek (still is) and he got me hooked on scooters. We cruised through the street ofEugenelike we were cool. Now, I ride because I love the way riding helps put everything in perspective … you can’t worry about anything while riding other than what’s going on around you so I find it very relaxing. I love the spontaneity of riding … just getting on the bike and heading a direction with no particular plan other than to ride and to end up at a location. It’s the journey that is exciting, not the destination.

Tell us about your riding. I commute, go on vacations, and ride with a friend around the Eugene/Springfield area when he’s gracious enough to invite me. If I had a sidecar for my dog, Trout, I’d ride everywhere!

What advice do you have for women who ride or want to ride a motorcycle?  Your biggest obstacle is fear. Go slow, trust and believe in yourself, and ride (and buy a bike) for the right reasons. Some people will tell you riding is dangerous or stupid. Don’t listen. Follow your heart above all else, in riding and in life.

What is the longest trip that you’ve taken on your cycle? I rode solo to Texas from Oregon in the summer of 2011 on a whim. I’d always wanted to do it but life always got in the way. I finally decided if I didn’t do it, I may never, so I packed up the bike and took off. A lot of people thought I was an idiot since I had no particular route planned, just a direction. I packed for camping and realized I was a huge chicken, despite the fact I had a gun with me! I met so many people, tolerated so much advice from strangers about a woman riding alone, and realized that often what holds us back is only ourselves and our doubt which often grows from listening to others who are trying to “help.”

Do you belong to any motorcycle groups? I’m an on and off again member of BMWMOA, and just joined an online forum called Ride44 at the advice of a friend. I’m finding the Ride44 forum to be a great way to tap into the knowledge of other riders and to participate in group rides if you choose.

Do you have a favorite riding story? My favorite stories are those that remind me that you have to laugh at yourself. I’m notorious for leaving my kickstand down and having strangers scream “kickstand!” and for being the one person who, when riding in a group, always hits the debris in the road when the person in front of me points it out. Doh!

What do you do when you’re not riding? When not riding, I’m an insurance investigator. I spend a great deal of time with my dog, Trout, who is a co-dependent freak. I also spend time volunteering with the Kilcullen Project and helping with the Chris Kilcullen Memorial Ride (motorcycle ride) in honor of Officer Kilcullen who was killed in Eugene while on duty. I am also working on my Masters in Criminology and trying to remember that life isn’t waiting on any of us and that every motorcycle trip in my mind is going to stay there unless I get moving!

Jess and her motorcycle


10 responses to “Profile of a Female Motorcyclist: Meet Jess

  1. Wow Jess. I am in Corvallis and my husband is one of the founders of Ride44. Small world. Don’t we just have some of the best motorcycle roads?

    It is great to hear of so many wonderful women getting out there and riding. I know I’ve said it before Pam, but thanks for putting this series together.

  2. Hi there, well you can add me to the list of people checking out your blog 🙂
    I love the sound of your Texas-Oregon trip, you’re right, you really do just have to get on and do things otherwise before we know it life will have passed us by !
    Best wishes form England!

  3. Our girl is famous. Nice article, Jess. Just keep on doing what you do best. Kelli

  4. Hi Jess nice to meet you! Love that you’re going into criminalogy! A path I’d wish I’d taken! Good luck with that. Ride on!!

  5. Princess Scooterpie/Moto_Diva

    Hi Jess! You have captured what it is like to ride beautifully. You are definitely right about people giving you advice and kind of planting doubt. I am learning that you have to block the ‘helpful’ comments/advice or you would spend the rest of your life watching the bikes and scooters zoom by.

  6. Jess, I look forward to meeting you on the Kilcullen Memorial ride this year. Chris and I worked together as negotiators for many years. Howizit I don’t know you yet??

  7. xenatuba: it’s possible you’ve met me and don’t even know it or remember it! I leave that kind of impression! 🙂 Thanks to Helmet or Heels and this great way to meet other riders! Pass it along everyone! This has been so much fun!

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