Tag Archives: chicks on bikes

Women have a RIGHT to Feel Safe

Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook know I recently had a very visceral reaction to this article “10 Tips to Reduce Risk to Your Personal Safety on a Solo Motorcycle Trip” on Women Riders Now. To summarize the tips offered, the article basically says “Ladies, know your place in this unsafe world where your are prey and, just in case, carry a concealed weapon and prey to Jesus.”

Yeah, this is 2017 and an article’s best advice for women on a solo trip is 1.) do not camp in scary, lonely places, 2.) do not ride on scary, lonely roads, 3.) really, just avoid scary, lonely, places altogether, 4.) look tough, 5.) be ready to escape, 6.) do not look cute, wear lipstick or dress cute, 7.) be very, very cautious even when you are not in scary, lonely places, 8.) avoid the darkness (darkness makes every place a scary, lonely place), 9.) carry a concealed gun because really, it is a scary world even if you take precautions and 10.) prey to Jesus.

Here’s a pic of me looking cute, in case you didn’t think it was possible. AND it is exactly how I looked on the road.

I cringed at this article (I will save you the picture of me cringing).

Nope, it did not mention one thing about gear, extra gas (like my RotoPax tank), GPS locators (like my SPOT), emergency IDs (like my RoadID), a cooling vest for hot days (like my Bilt), a small toolkit (like this JAS Metric SpeedKit), a tire inflator (like mine from Slime) or a whole host of other gear. Check out this photo of all my gear. I can tell you all about it.

No mention of getting extra training like the Total Control Intermediate Rider Course I took at 2WheelSafety (there is a photo of me getting safety training). Actually, there was nothing really about motorcycling. Just a bunch of crap about how women need to take extra precautions to keep themselves safe in this dangerous, dangerous world.

Then, I wrote this comment on Facebook, on the article and in my own post…

I just rode solo from California to North Carolina and will continue this trip to Massachusettes in a few days after spending time with my newborn nephew. I pretty well broke every rule here, other then preparation. I’ve also solo-ed on four wheels for various long-distance and long duration trips including a trip where I only camped in the back country or a remote campsite in the middle of nowhere. I’ve even back countried solo for 14 days with nothing more than a backpack and certainly no concealed weapon because they are usually no-nos in National Parks. My pickup even broke down on a Blackfoot Reservation where I spent time hitchhiking to help then had to have it towed off the reservation for service.

I admit, I have taken some unnecessary risks on a few occasions, but I prep and research before I go.

The fear and suspicion outlined in this article first saddened me and second angered me. The idea that as women we need to even consider this as necessary precaution to prevent ourselves from getting hurt is a sad, sad, sad statement of the world and country we live in. We have to play it safe and not do the fun routes lest we make ourselves victims and be at fault if anything happens. Of course, as any motorcyclist knows, better alive than right.

It also angers me that this is the world we live in. That we all have to live like we are prey having to avoid things we love so we don’t end up attacked, injured or dead. Very few of these tips would apply to men. Articles for men about riding solo would tell them to take the road less traveled and have fun and throw caution to the wind and make is once in a lifetime trip and make memories. But now, us women get patronizing fear articles.

I am a mechanical engineer with a masters degree from MIT. I always hated the women in engineering groups that wasted my time on career balancing and making it in a man’s world and how to cook fast meals for the family. I now bristle at these articles geared toward women that encourage us to go around acting like targets for violence.

Sad and Mad.

The email response from this Women’s publication?

Sadly, it was invalidating and chose not to enter the debate about feminism and women owning their RIGHT to feel safe.

Hi Kimi, I’m saddened that you read this article, which we’ve gotten very positive responses to, as a “patronizing fear article.” In fact, the writer’s entire introduction was about each of us making personal choices, and then she outlines what she does. She never suggested that these are tips everyone should abide by. Take what you like, leave the rest. Motorcycling itself is an inherently dangerous activity, and those of us who choose to partake even while knowing this, are then faced with the choices of how to minimize our own personal risk (or not). When WRN publishes these types of articles, it is in attempt to provide readers with information to help arm them with the knowledge and tools to minimize their risk. It’s not about instilling fear, its about offering solutions and suggestions.

Name Removed, Assistant Editor

Here is my response to that.

As a professional publication, WRN should not hide behind the “take it or leave it” bit. It should own its content, especially content provided by staff. This is an article written by a staff writer for an online publication on a public forum.

One of your taglines is “the longest running—and most comprehensive—resource for female motorcyclists anywhere.”
As a place offering this service, I assume information provided by your staff writers are part of that wealth of “resources” it aims to offer. Sure, the article offered a disclaimer that these are preferences, but the author also chose to use authority as a staff writer for what aims to be a credible publication to provide advice. This response asks me to disregard that authority, that expertise and that advice as merely a personal preference?
As a reader and consumer of WRNs content, I offered a reaction to the content WRN is providing. Invalidating the opinions of readers by claiming the publication does not offer authority on it’s advice is unfortunate. Rather than engaging in a debate about the place of women in society and stand for a feminist point of view that us women should be allowed to own our space in the world without fear and without having to take ridiculous precautions , the publication has chosen to hide from this pre-eminent issue in the world for women.
Instead of embracing how we women should behave so we stay safe, WRN should be standing up for rights of women riders to feel safe – no matter how we behave (unless we are not wearing all the gear all the time). Like so many aspects of society where men dominate (which is really all of them), WRN should produce content that proclaims women are here to ride and we are here to stay and we are here to own our place in the world of riding. Refer to content by Amber Tamblyn on sexism in the film industry. And this response to that op-ed by Mary Kate McGrath. You can also see work by Brianna Wu (who is also a motorcyclist, by the way and general BAD ASS) and Anita Sarkeesian (another BAD ASS) in the tech industry.
Now, you might say, “But motorcycling is a leisure sport and we don’t want to be controversial.” Well, in my opinion, if women have to do things like not wear lipstick or ride fun roads when alone, then our presence is already controversial. Furthermore, it isn’t just industry. Take this Serena Williams piece in Time. Or this reflection on the sexism of the Olympics.
And yes, even other motorcycling publications are tackling this issue. That is Chris Cope, a male author, writing an article on an issue about women. Funny, I thought us women would be able to articulate our perspective better than some man, but per this response, it appears a man is carrying that torch rather than a publication with another tagline saying “An online motorcycling lifestyle magazine from the female point of view.” I guess the WRN perspective from the female point of view is to avoid this type of content and invalidate the women who wish to voice our opinion that we belong with our lipstick, our cute tee, our tight jeans, our skirts and our cute bad ass selves and we deserve to feel safe no matter what.
No need to respond or worry over further reactions or contradictory or debatable response from me. I will no longer read, recommend or follow this publication. Good luck with empowering women using soft tactics.

Ultimately, ladies, I cannot say this loud enough WE HAVE A RIGHT TO FEEL SAFE.

That is all.

WOMEN HAVE A RIGHT TO FEEL SAFE.

WOMEN HAVE A RIGHT TO FEEL SAFE.

WOMEN HAVE A RIGHT TO FEEL SAFE.

No fucking gimmicks. That is all.

WOMEN HAVE A RIGHT TO FEEL SAFE.

Happy Cooking and Happy OWNING your place in the world.

Day 18: Telico Plains to Asheville – Cherohala Skyway

When you are riding the long swooping curves of the Cherohala Skyway it feels like floating through an endless 360. They are interminably graceful spirals that are just tight enough to keep you engaged, taut and on high alert. On any other day, this ride is an exhilarating thrill, but today, I was riding it after two days playing in the Tennessee mountains and on the Tail of the Dragon. Those big ol’ curves felt lighter and easier than they would have three days ago. They were just lazy enough to allow me take in the big sweeping views and to let my mind into relax into a feeling akin to flying.

Despite a mega-hurricane turned tropical storm working it’s way northwesterly toward Tennessee, the morning promised a day of perfect riding weather. We rolled out of the Farmhouse Inn in crisp cool air that left condensation overnight. It was a great day for a ride.

Tellico Plains, Tennessee, which served the best fried chicken I had in Tennessee at the Tellicafe, anchors the of the highway and Robbinsville, North Carolina is at the other end. After 90-minutes of swishing through the mountains, entering Robbinsville is a bit of a shock to the senses. Unfortunately, my senses didn’t respond this morning. My husband finds it impossible to take verbal directions from Google maps (don’t get me started), so we missed the turn onto Junaluka Road.

As soon as I looked along the detour on Morphew Road, I knew I was in trouble. If you recall, I have problems stopping on a steep inclined with my bike fully loaded.

Well, Morphew was a narrow road with a temporary speed bump in the middle – probably meant to discourage the detouring cars and riders from speeding along. It was capped with a steep ramp that ended abruptly onto the tee-ed into the busier roadway where I needed to turn left. It wasn’t a big hill, or a ridiculously steep one. In fact, most people wouldn’t consider it all that tough. But for those who’ve driven a clutch with some play, you know the delicate balance of brake, throttle, clutch and catch to get forward momentum from a stop on a hill. Not to mention, the rear end was loaded up leaving little traction in this inclined position under the front wheel.

I would have liked to gun it, stop sign be damned, and launch myself into the cross street hoping for a nicely times break in traffic as I took a left into the roadway.. Good thing my brain’s self-preservation instinct didn’t quit. My husband was ahead of me and was able to land his front wheel on the intersection shoulder giving him view of road and a bit of positional advantage.

Me? I stopped mid-hill behind him. Not a great view of the road and not a great position for traction. Before I knew it, I was stranded in the incline, engine stalled, all the luggage making my bike ass heavy and my brain stuck in an “Oh shit” stutter.

Right hand does what? Oh shit. Left hand, huh? Oh shit. Is the engine on? Oh shit. What gear? Oh shit. Brake? Oh shit. Other brake? Oh shit. Foot, no, other foot. Oh shit. Fuck. Oh shit. Fuck it. Oh Shit. I am abandoning ship. Oh shit…leg…hand…oh shit…foot…oh shit…oh shit…oh shit….Help.

Yes, my inner dialog cusses that much…maybe more…likely more. I probably show some restraint out loud than my inner dialog.

That brain chatter roughly translated into my husband watching me spasm through some motions, cursing into the intercom and then slowly, sadly, laying the bike down with my leg stuck on my luggage mid swing in ejecting. Unfortunately, this graceful spasm did not go unwitnessed. Fortunately, the two fine residents of Robbinsville knew this scene well. I was not the first motorcycle to miss the turn and I was not the only one of them to drop a bike there and, thankfully, I was not one of those who ran it into the ditch, or hit the barrier or actually launched into the street and traffic. Four of us pushed the bike across the street to a safely flat spot.

After some deep yogic belly breaths and mental mantras, we were on our way again. I am glad I am writing this down and remembering how awesome the Cherahala Highway was since it sorta got lost in my memory of the drop. Despite my luggage being the culprit for bringing me down on hills, it also keeps my bike from damage when I go down. Chicken or egg?

After the Cherohala Highway, there’s a slight reprieve from those dreamy, swooping swirls to fill the gap before reaching the Cherokee, NC, the gateway to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Our quick lunch in Cherokee, NC found us among Hurricane Irma refugees from Florida.

We had no time and no desire to contemplate the fast we we’re riding into the aftermath of Irma ourselves. The ride ahead was too promising and the rain ahead of us was ahead of us and there was no point in worrying about what’s a day or more ahead when the Blue Ridge was there, now, today. So, we headed to Asheville, NC via the a roadway that was only slightly less amazing than our morning ride. Or maybe it’s more amazing. No, matter, it was all amazing.

Yeah, it was a tough day of riding across two of the most scenic and fun roadways in the country.

Happy cooking and happy amazing!