Don’t you love a good referral? Whether it is for a service provider, restaurant, or product I always appreciate hearing what a friend has to say on the topic. Well, that’s how I met my next guest. Back in June of this year I profiled Sofia a.k.a. @CandyStripes327 (who was recommended by Krystyna a.k.a. @KK352) sent me an email introducing me to Wendy! I reached out and she agreed to add her story too! Wendy is from Manhattan Beach, CA and was given the nickname “Diablita” by her fellow Crest Riders when she use to ride the canyons in SoCal. You can find her on Facebook at Helmets n’ Heels! Without further delay, here’s Wendy’s story in her own words!
How long have you been riding a motorcycle? Since 1994
How did you learn to ride? Tried to teach myself on a boyfriends Vespa, wheelied it across the street and up the curb into the wall, I never told him. I was 18. Scared myself and thought I wasn’t coordinated enough and should stay away from bikes.
Then tried again at 27 on a Heritage Softail with a boyfriend’s instruction, got it that time. Was hooked 🙂
What was your first motorcycle? Bought my own ’93 HD Fatboy, as the boyfriend’s bike had too many rules.
How many have you owned? 23
Why did you want to ride a motorcycle? Love the feeling of freedom also the challenges of two-wheels. The ability to get thru traffic, living in LA has its practical advantages.
Tell us about your riding. I love meeting people and new challenges. I have found motorcycle people are usually really interesting characters, and I feel very at home especially when racing motorcycles. I like to compete, have since I was a kid. Like to push myself, even if I am a little scared. Street riding, touring, collecting and racing have introduced me to very cool experiences and people from all walks of life in many countries, in ways I would have never experienced otherwise.
Just recently for example I was very frustrated after breaking my wrist in February this year while practicing at the track. In addition I had only managed one race in April due to mechanical problems and a not so good mechanic and then work conflicts. So I decided to go to race at the Barber Vintage Festival in Alabama and then race Daytona the weekend afterwards. I bought a used motorcycle trailer and fixed it up so I could camp from it and haul it cross country by myself. Normally I have the bikes transported and fly out.
This was my first time and chance to see the country driving, mix in some work and go racing. I got to Barber and the bike broke in practice, I holed the piston, not sure what was exactly wrong with it, I was reluctant to put in a new one and do it again and have worse consequences.
I was set to go home and one of my fellow racers Craig Breckon offered up his Honda Ascot 500cc and said I could race his bike in Middleweight Superbike (Vintage). He said “We don’t come here to watch we come to race!” I couldn’t believe he was offering and was a bit nervous I had never raced anyone else’s bike and I had no practice on it. I slept on the idea and the next morning I did a couple of scrub laps on it and said okay. I got 8th out of 13, even though I was out horse powered as some of the bikes had 860cc! I had so much fun I raced it again the next day.
Then I was approached by another fellow racer Jack Parker a very fast two stroke racer who asked if I wanted to race his very fast Yamaha CT-1 two stroke at Daytona. I told him I have a two stroke race bike but haven’t raced it, and didn’t feel competent yet. He said “My bike is “unseizeable”. So I said okay why not a little practice on a two stroke. Well I went to Daytona got one practice session in, he made a gearing change so it would go faster and I seized it two laps in the race just as I came off the banks after passing a couple of packs of bikes. I felt really bad about that, he offered up his other bike, but I was not wanting a reputation of breaking bikes so I passed. But that is the spirit of the vintage racing scene, people helping each other. This weekend taught me many things not only about the bikes but the people who own them. I also got approached by several expert tuners offering assistance on fixing my bike who live all over the country. And I met many more racers who also live in other countries, as we have a World Challenge. You don’t get these opportunities sitting at home. So traveling either on a bike or with a bike is to me the most fun.
What advice do you have for women who ride or want to ride a motorcycle? Practice, practice, practice for those who already ride, as well as try taking a couple schools and don’t be afraid to learn. Same with those beginners, and if you can, learn on a dirt bike first. If riding street, when you put on your helmet have the attitude that someone is going to try and kill you today so think about what you want protected, wear the best gear, always be scanning traffic, anticipate and keep your guard up. Unfortunately people in cars and trucks don’t see motorcycles especially with all the new distractions.
What is the longest trip that you’ve taken on your cycle? Not sure. I have gone on many trips that typically are over a week touring Utah, Arizona, California, Europe and off the coast of Africa, so I would say those trips averaged over 1K miles each. I have about 20 bikes, of which several are modern-street bikes that I have put over 60K miles pleasure in the last 10 years, I don’t commute.
Do you belong to any motorcycle groups? I join the forums to learn about a bike I have an interest in or own. Before I “adopt” a bike I try to learn about it and who are the “go to” people if you need help with it. We never really “own” anything but simply the guardian. So I try to be a responsible owner and take care of the bikes. If you show the bike some love it will give it back tenfold. So I belong to several forums for example several different Ducati owners forums, R6 owners, most recently Vintage BMW owners club, I have a new interest in those now.
Do you have a favorite riding story? Many. One that the ladies will appreciate happened years ago and does not belong to me but happened to a woman vintage racer I met in England at the Goodwood Revival, Sophie Melcion Smith. She is a very elegant, stylish and beautiful French woman who used to ride her Triumph everywhere in Paris, and did not own a car.
She was a flight attendant and then became a pretty renowned journalist in Europe. She also races vintage bikes in Europe on her Seely Manx G50 and is very fast. It was during one of her races that is every girl’s worst fear happened. She had just found these amazing vintage leathers that fit her like a glove, and she said she felt wonderful in them, like they were custom made, tight in all the right places and very flattering. Which of course makes you go faster 🙂
Anyway it is during her first race with them on that she experiences this sudden gush of cool air in a place there shouldn’t be mid-race. And she realizes that the bottoms had split open exposing her almost completely bare behind, and she was wearing a thong! Now she quickly looks to see who is behind her “behind” and sees a fellow racer approaching as she had let off the gas. So she gasses it full throttle motivated to make sure he didn’t get too close. She podiumed that race. She raced again in them the next day borrowing her boyfriends boxers and some duct tape.
So now when I race I imagine that my suit is split and don’t let the guy behind get too close, quite a motivator 🙂
What do you do when you’re not riding? I work in the IT industry for income, as well as a part-time commercial rider/model. But I like collecting and learning how to work on my bikes so right now I am building out my “she cave” with some lifts and tools so I don’t have to bug the guys so much.