Tag Archives: Oregon

Profile of a Female Motorcyclist: Meet Jayne

It is amazing all the wonderful lady riders that have joined in sharing their stories. From newbies to iron butts every story is filled with personal experience, wisdom, and the love of two wheels! I am so please to be able to share another story. Friends, I’d like to introduce to you Jayne, female motorcyclist from Portland, OR. She has a must follow blog A Broad Abroad Resources & Inspiration For Women Who Travel (or Want to!) and follow her on Twitter too @jayne_a_broad.

Jayne and her adventures!

How long have you been riding a motorcycle? I’ve been riding my own motorcycle since the summer of 2009, after being on the back of my husband’s motorcycle all over Europe for eight years.

How did you learn to ride? I took a four hour “sniffer” course in Germany in 2008, to see if I really wanted to learn to ride my own; the instructor was wonderful, and by the end of class, I knew I wanted to ride my own bike. Right after moving back to the USA, I took the basic rider course from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation in the summer of 2009, and got my license immediately afterwards. Then I set riding goals for every month, such as a certain number of miles to complete, a certain scenario to undertake (riding in the rain, stopping on hills, etc.) or a trip to take. I also read The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Motorcycles, a really excellent book that filled in a lot of blanks for me.

What was your first motorcycle? A 1982 Honda Nighthawk 650. I rode it more than 11,000 miles in those two years I had it, including from Oregon to Jasper, Banff and Kootenay National Parks in Canada, Glacier National Park in Montana, Yellowstone, and the Lost Coast in California. It was funny: every time I road it, men of a certain age – in their 50s or 60s – would walk over and start waxing nostalgic about the Nighthawk they had once upon a time. It was a perfect first bike for me – and I lost 25 pounds while I owned it, which meant that, by the time I sold it, I could sit on it and be flat-footed (I’m 5′ 4″). I sold it to a woman rider, which made me very happy – and I wept as it was hauled away.

How many have you owned? Just two. I’m now on my second, which I expect to have for many years. I switched to a KLR 650 in the Fall of 2011. It’s been a big learning curve: the bike is a lot taller than the Nighthawk, and much lighter. My husband, a Honda Africa Twin rider and experienced motorcycle traveler, lowered it an inch and a half, then bought a very expensive seat for it that would lower it another inch and a half. I also bought boots —  Irish Setter work boots, size 8 for men (extra wide) — that add at least another 3/4 of an inch to my height. I couldn’t find any motorcycle boots that provided the height I needed, fit my feet properly, and that I felt were safe enough for riding – so glad to have found these work boots!

Why did you want to ride a motorcycle? I had started thinking about it back in the 1990s, when I was in my 30s. I researched Motorcycle Safety Foundation courses – and then never followed up. I had thought of it as a fun, economical way to commute – I was living in Austin, Texas at the time. But I kept talking myself out of it. I so regret not getting a license then. I moved to Germany, met a really cute German guy traveling through Ireland by motorcycle (we’re married now), and he took me all over Europe on the back of his bike. I loved being a passenger (still do), but I also really wanted to learn to ride myself. I knew if I could learn to ride, we could take a lot more stuff with us on trips. I also thought I’d enjoy being a motorcycle rider – and I was right! My husband was super supportive. Unfortunately, to get a motorcycle license in Germany is *terribly* expensive and much more difficult than in the USA: you have to take a written test that is way, way harder than what we have to take in the USA. Also, my German is dreadful – although I could take the written test in German, the actual riding test is in German, and all of the classes I would have to sit through for several weeks would be in German as well. At one point, I was thinking of going back to Kentucky, where all of my family is and which has a treaty with Germany regarding driver’s licenses, staying for five weeks, taking the MSF, getting my license, and then going back to Europe and getting a German license – which, including plane ticket, would cost about as much as getting a license the proper way in Germany. But we ended up moving back to the USA in 2009 – I was in a MSF course just three months after arriving!

Tell us about your riding. Since learning to ride, I’ve put more than 6000 miles on my motorcycle each year. We do one big, two-week trip every year, and as many weekend, overnight and day trips as we can squeeze into our schedule. We like scenic drives, and love to stop at beautiful vistas, historic sites and quirky sites along the way. Camping is a special joy – other campers always come over to say something, to check out our bikes and our gear and to ask us about our travels. I get a lot of men saying they wish I could talk to their wives, because they haven’t been able to convince them to start riding on their own.

I also am ATGATT –  after seeing all the photos of road burn online by people that wear shorts and t-shirts while riding, I would never ride any other way.

My husband is faster than me. I told him long ago I’ll go my own pace, and he has the choice of following me at that speed, or going ahead at his own pace and waiting for me to catch up. He usually chooses the former. I am little Ms. Speed Limit. It’s not that I try to go the speed limit – it’s just so happens that the speed limit is usually as fast that I want to go. That’s so much slower than the majority of bikers want to go, therefore, I rarely ride with other motorcycle riders, except for my husband.

Most of the time, I’m riding with my husband. But I sometimes go on my own – to run an errand, to get my haircut, and a few times, on a ride of my own when he’s out of town. I’ve commuted to downtown Portland a few times, and found it absolutely wretched – traffic is horrific, and some of the stops, either because of traffic lights or traffic jams, are quite precarious – sharp hills, steep curves, etc. I also hate trying to park in a city. When I have to go downtown, I prefer taking twice as long via the bus.

We try to regularly practice on gravel roads – I want to be good enough to travel to some remote ghost town somewhere on back roads with confidence. I will never be a real off-roader – I accept that. I ride my own ride, and I don’t care if that’s slower or more careful than others. I’ve gotten a little flack from younger male riders who can’t believe I “don’t do more” with my KLR – I guess they think I’m supposed to be shooting up and dirt and gravel roads most of the time. I’m going to keep practicing on gravel roads, but I’m not aspiring to ride the Dakar Rally!

What advice do you have for women who ride or want to ride a motorcycle? Everyone says this, and I totally agree: take a MSF class, or similar course, to learn to ride. A friend or relative is NO substitute for a qualified, experienced, trained teacher – the reality is that a lot of veteran riders have very bad habits they will teach you.  In addition, take a refresher course every couple of years – it will really sharpen your skills and identify bad riding habits. I have a lot more to say about getting started as a female rider, including how to choose a first bike, on my own web page on the subject.  

What is the longest trip that you’ve taken on your cycle? We take a trip of more than 2000 miles at least once a year. I think the longest trip was up into Canada, as I mentioned before. We’ve also gone all the way down to the LostCoast in California, and this year, we took two weeks and went all the way to near Yosemite, and then back up through Nevada to home.

Do you belong to any motorcycle groups? I don’t. I’ve been to a couple of P.O.W.R. (Portland Oregon Women Riders) meetups, but since I ride most of the time with my husband or our friends, I haven’t really had time to do their rides as well. That said, I really encourage any woman who wants to ride to seek out such groups – it makes a really big difference to have lots of invitations to ride when you are a beginner.

Do you have a favorite riding story? Not really – they’re all my favorite!

What do you do when you’re not riding? I’m a consultant, helping nonprofit organizations here and abroad with communications, community/volunteer engagement, and management issues. In the last 10 years, my work has taken me to Germany, Afghanistan, Serbia, Australia, Egypt and Hungary. I also am a very slow bicycle rider.

Profile of a Female Motorcyclist: Meet Kari a.k.a. Bluekat

I found my next guest through Eve (May 14, 2012 profile). Kari a.k.a. Bluekat is from Oregon, Eve sent me a link to Kari’s blog, bluekat’s Journeys because Kari is also a female motorcyclist! I am thankful to Eve for the “introduction” and to Kari for saying yes!

Kari a.k.a. Bluekat

How long have you been riding a motorcycle? About 4 years, since 2008

How did you learn to ride? I took Basic Rider Training through Team Oregon.

What was your first motorcycle? 91 Vulcan 500

How many have you owned? Three. The Vulcan, a Suzuki C50, and my current Ninja 650R.

Why did you want to ride a motorcycle? It came out of the blue (no one expected it!) My husband returned to riding after a 20+ year hiatus. For some wild reason I decided to learn to ride. I was as surprised as anyone by this revelation.

Tell us about your riding. Mostly commuting. Sometimes it seems like it’s the only time I can find for riding. Great way to relax after a day at work. We also do a little touring, but usually only once a year.

What advice do you have for women who ride or want to ride a motorcycle? Not much advice really, but if you want to ride. Don’t let anyone convince you that you can’t. I highly recommend taking a class from professionals.

What is the longest trip that you’ve taken on your cycle? Last year’s tour from Oregon to Glacier National Park. I think it was a little over 2,000 miles altogether. Going to the Sun Highway opened on the last day we were there, and we had a fantastic ride over the pass.

Do you belong to any motorcycle groups? We are a part of an informal moto-blogger group. Some of us are local, but others are across theU.S.and even around the world. We’ve met and ridden with a few riders/bloggers in our area. In fact our Glacier Tour last year was with some other fellow moto-bloggers who invited us along. Most of my riding is solo, but sometimes with friends and family on occasion.

Do you have a favorite riding story? I can’t think of a favorite at the moment. There are so many good memories: the first time learning to ride, the first get together with fellow moto-bloggers, first trip to the Redwoods, and our trip last year to Glacier. They’re all favorites.

What do you do when you’re not riding? If I’m not riding motorcycles, you can probably find me on a bicycle, either on the road or on the trails. Guess I just can’t stay away from two wheels.

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

Profile of a Female Motorcyclist: Meet Elizabeth a.k.a. Queen

Oh my, do I need to have music playing as I announce my next guest, Elizabeth a.k.a. Queen?! We’re good. Hold the Royal Anthem because  my next guest is located a bit south of Portland, Oregon. Elizabeth named her bike Bengal and can be found on Twitter @ejjansen11! Without further ado, here’s Elizabeth’s story!

How long have you been riding a motorcycle? Bought my first motorcycle for myself on Mother’s day, 2005.

How did you learn to ride? I took at motorcycle safety class through HD, Riders Edge. However, I have a lot of previous experience on two wheels. Back in the mid 80’s, right out of  college, I raced bicycles for a few years. Yes, the Lance Armstrong kind of racing. This requires excellent bike handling skills, which we practiced on a regular basis. I also did some track racing which also requires quick reflexes in order to stay upright! Paying attention to the pack around you, paying attention to the road, cornering, balance and precision all translated directly to my motorcycle training. Needless to say, I passed the class with flying colors!

What was your first motorcycle? My first motorcycle was a 2003 anniversary edition HD 1200 custom Sportster named Christine.

How many have you owned? I have owned three motorcycles. My Sportster, a Dyna Lowrider, and now my 2007 HD Streetglide.

Why did you want to ride a motorcycle? I was dating a man who rode.  He asked me if I would like to go on a ride with him and I said yes. When I was on the back, all I could see was this big head in front of me, and I felt like I was going to fall off the back! So, I said, if I am going to do this, I am going to take a class first to see if I like riding. The rest is history.

Tell us about your riding. I ride for pleasure.

What advice do you have for women who ride or want to ride a motorcycle? Lots of advice. I have mentored a friend who is now a great rider. Listen to those who have experience. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel (pun intended). Take your time and ride to the level of where you feel comfortable. If the group you are riding with leaves you behind, or rides beyond your skill level, find another group. Push yourself to learn new skills, keep taking classes. Always wear your protective gear no matter how hot it is or hot you look without it. Those of us who have experience have seen what happens when someone hits the pavement. Don’t ride with a bunch of people who you do not know their level of skill. One person who is unsafe can jeopardize the entire group. Take your riding skills seriously. Learn your craft and then go out and have a ball!

What is the longest trip that you’ve taken on your cycle? I have taken three long trips. I live in Portland, bought my bike in Phoenix, AZ and rode it home. I also have taken a 1200 mile trip up to Banff and Lake Louise with some girlfriends. My boyfriend, another friend of mine, and I went to Sturgis last year, 3200 miles round trip! I am looking forward to doing more touring this summer.

Do you belong to any motorcycle groups? I have a lot of friends but to be honest, the longer I have been riding, the smaller groups I like to ride with. So no, I am not a member of a group at this time.

Do you have a favorite riding story? Like most of the ladies here, there are just so many! We saw some amazing sites on the way to and from Sturgis. I think one of my favorite stories I like to tell is how we got caught in a nasty hail storm somewhere in the middle of Wyoming.

We were headed west and about seven miles from the next town in the middle of NOWHERE. No trees, no houses, just lots of wheat fields. Well, I was noticing that the wind was picking up and my boyfriend was riding faster and faster. We had the weather band on our radio and were hearing about a nasty storm that was close to the town where we were headed and was coming our way. My boyfriend was trying to outrun the storm and get to shelter before it hit. The skies were turning dark and the wind was howling into our faces.

Out of nowhere, a tumbleweed came right out in front of me and at that moment, I noticed that my friends headlight was not longer in my rear mirror. We pulled over and parked our two bikes downwind, so they would not get knocked over.  Just then, my friend pulled up and the wind had actually blown her off the road! She was able to recover and made it to where we were. We huddled down next to the bikes, with our helmets on and my boyfriends arms wrapped around us like a protective blanket. The rain and hail was pelting us and the bikes.

After about 20 minutes, a car drove by us, pulled off the road and offered us shelter to ride out the storm. Boy, were we happy to get in out of the rain! The inside of that car smelled like a wet cow! Once the storm passed, I was able to snap some amazing pics. We continued on our way and will always be grateful for the young couple who came to the rescue of three bikers!

What do you do when you’re not riding? I have a wonderful child and boyfriend, that I love spending time with. I like to cook, read, wash my bike, and be a soccer mom. I am a full time working gal working for Wells Fargo as a Mortgage Banker.

Elizabeth a.k.a. Queen

Profile of a Female Motorcyclist: Meet Brandy

Oh, we are off and running with another profile of a female motorcyclist! Today I’d like to introduce Brandy, a.k.a. Trobairitz from Corvallis, Oregon. Rider and very active blogger over here at Trobairitz’ Tablet, a must follow. Brandy posts lots of photos of her adventures too.

How long have you been riding a motorcycle?  Technically, 10 years, but realistically three. I got my motorcycle endorsement in 2002 but didn’t ride my own bike until 2009.

How did you learn to ride?  Riding pillion for thousands of miles taught me a lot, then hubby taught me some basics on his Kawasaki KZ900 to prepare me for when I took the Team Oregon Basic Riders Training Program.

What was your first motorcycle? 2007 Honda Nighthawk 250

How many have you owned? 4

Why did you want to ride a motorcycle? My mom always enjoyed riding motorcycles and I and remember riding pillion behind her on her trail bike in about grade 5. When I met hubby he was into motorcycles, although didn’t own one at the time. It was always one of my goals to learn to ride. Kind of a bucket list item.

Tell us about your riding.  Pleasure and vacation, weekend warrior, rarely commuting as it is only 3 miles.

What advice do you have for women who ride or want to ride a motorcycle? If it is something you want to do, go for it. Take a professional training course and enjoy yourself. In the words of a wise Troubadour, “What would you do if you weren’t scared?” And don’t let anyone sway you on what kind of bike to ride. If you like a certain brand or type of motorcycle (i.e. cruiser, sport bike, dual sport) ride it. Starting with a smaller bike though will help build your skill level and in turn your confidence. It is easier to step up than to harm yourself or someone else and step back.

What is the longest trip that you’ve taken on your cycle?  A 500 mile overnight moto-camping trip to Crater Lake last year. This years IMBC (International Moto-Bloggers Convention in July) will blow that out of the water – almost in one day.

Do you belong to any motorcycle groups?  Not officially. I don’t understand the herd mentality and prefer just riding with a few friends. We have a few riding friends who meet for coffee every Saturday when they are available and suits me just fine, but it isn’t a group, or club, or that type of thing. I do however belong to the Suzuki Gladius forum online for tips and general information.

Do you have a favorite riding story? Riding up the Santiam Pass in the Cascade Mountains in 2010 on my Suzuki TU 250, leaned over in a full tuck with the throttle wide open trying to pass a Toyota Prius up hill. It took two tries and hubby still thinks they backed off in sympathy, but it is a funny story that will always stay with me. Every time I think of it, it makes me chuckle and appreciate the power of my 650 V-twin.

What do you do when you’re not riding? I am a legal assistant/office manager for an defense attorney by day and in the evenings and on weekends (when not riding) I enjoy hanging out with my husband of 16 years, gardening, home renovations, hiking, canoeing, cross stitching, blogging, trying new recipes, playing the in-and-out game with our cat basil, and amateur photography.  It is difficult to balance other hobbies with riding.

Brandy a.k.a. Trobairitz