My next guest Susanna hails from Motorcycle Heaven, a.k.a. Los Angeles, CA. Follow her on Twitter @PinkyRacr (named because of her pink racing suit and formerly pink hair)! Susanna also has a blog named Pinky Racer! When you get to her blog you’ll see she also has a heart for sustainability – check out those links as well!
How long have you been riding a motorcycle? Since 1985. 27 years minus a 4 year break in the early 90’s.
How did you learn to ride? I asked the guy who sold me my Vespa P200E, “How do ya work this thing?” I promptly popped the clutch and launched it into the bushes across the street. A few years later I took the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s (MSF) Experienced Rider Course. Since then, I’ve taken a number of track schools, my favorite being California Superbike School.
What was your first motorcycle? 1981 Vespa P200E
How many have you owned? Twelve. Hoping to make it 13 this year. My next bike will be electric- ideally both a Brammo Empulse and Zero DS.
Why did you want to ride a motorcycle? My friend Rob took me for a spin when I was 14 and I was hooked instantly. I knew I had to own one! I didn’t want a boyfriend with a bike, I wanted my own. I spent the year working my parents over until they relented and let me get a scooter because it seemed safer.
Tell us about your riding. I’ve always used my bike as my primary transport, but in 2011 I got into bicycles, and am riding my bicycle a lot more. I raced for 6 years until it stopped being fun, so now I just terrorize the streets of LA, local canyons and do track days whenever I can. I love riding to Monterey for Laguna Seca, and before I got this gas guzzler (2009 Yamaha R1 that averages 22mpg!) I rode to San Francisco and Las Vegas fairly often. When I have an electric bike for around town, the poor MPG of the R1 won’t be so bothersome.
What advice do you have for women who ride or want to ride a motorcycle? Same advice I have for everyone. If you want to try it, go to MSF and take their weekend class. It’s the best way to dip your toe in and find out if riding is for you! The instructors are all very knowledgeable, so if they pass you, you’re ready to start riding. Then continue taking lessons, and practice, practice, practice! I was lucky, learning to ride in a quiet suburb, learning in the city can be intimidating, especially in LA.
I think people with urban bicycling experience are MUCH better prepared for urban motorcycling than people who’ve only driven cars. Get out and ride a bicycle whenever possible, ideally with more experienced urban cyclists at first, to get accustomed to having to be hyper-aware of everything around you. Then when you get on a motorcycle you’ll just have to get used to the sensation of speed, and shifting (if it’s not electric). If you feel the need for speed, take it to the track! I tell everyone to start with a track school. My favorite is California Superbike School. Their instruction is excellent, and they travel all over the country and to other countries as well. Many women I meet tell me they’re intimidated by track days and such, and I think CA Superbike School is a great place to start out. Although some women prefer just riding with women and there are track days for them as well. But I still think a reputable school is the best place to start out.
What is the longest trip that you’ve taken on your cycle? 400 miles toSan Francisco. Many times.
Do you belong to any motorcycle groups? No, I just have a lot of friends who ride.
Do you have a favorite riding story? Too many to choose one favorite. Some are on my blog on pinkyracer.com. Pick your own favorite! I especially savor the ones from my favorite secret back road that I take to Monterey for the Laguna Seca MotoGP race each year.
What do you do when you’re not riding? I write about electric vehicles for gas2.org, do product development consulting for fashion designers, and I’m the Communications Chair for Net Impact Los Angeles. I also go to MotoGP races as often as possible.