When I think about the names I've read and heard applied to women on motorcycles, I find myself at a loss concerning who I am. I have neither the riding skill nor the biker confidence to see myself as a Biker Chick. I'm not hip enough to be a Chrome Cowgirl, and while I like the sound of Road Diva, I'm not her. Asphalt Angel, hmm, my halo tends to hang off of one horn. I rejected Motorcycle Mama thinking she's the one who pampers and wrenches on her own bike. And so, Lady Biker was my choice, after all I am a lady even if I don't always act like one. But then I started thinking about my path to the two-wheeled life and had to rethink Motorcycle Mama.
The first time I ever rode a motorcycle was on the back of a street bike, navigated by the first love I thought would never end. An ill-fitting full face helmet was my only claim to proper riding attire unless you counted shorts and a t-shirt; no leather jacket, no biker boots. I later wondered if Prince Charming was hoping I would fall off the back of the bike, never to be seen again. It wasn't until ten years later that I would revisit the two-wheeled world.
I married a man who grew up riding dirt bikes and racing desert. When we first met, he had a Honda street bike he rode to work but it moved out of the garage sometime before the wedding. I don't remember disapproving of the Honda, I think he just got rid of it so he could complain to his friends that he had to give up his toys in order to live in wedded bliss. When our boys came along they were "initiated" on the Harely their dad rode for work. The oldest was 2, the baby only 7 or 8 months old. They never made it farther than the end of the street, but they were grinning from ear to ear. At 5 and 6 years old the boys had their first rides on the dirt bikes of friends we were camping with and they were hooked!
It wasn't long before we bought a YZ80 and a 4-Zinger quad. Dad had an old YZ250 in the garage so new helmets, boots and gear sealed the deal. After a couple of day trips we purchased a Weekend Warrior so our adventures could be extended from Fridays after school until Sunday nights. Under Dad's tutelage two avid and skilled motorcycle riders emerged and the concept of the "Family Ride" was born. Because we were going on "long rides" our youngest son rode with Dad on his bike, older brother rode the quad and Mom got to ride the YZ80. And really, how hard could it be, there was no clutch which was good because I can't even drive a stick shift. Dad would lead the ride, Mom next and young son number one would ride last "in case you fall down, I can help you get the bike started again." We had a lot of fun in those early days, camping and riding with friends and neighbors, until one day we needed bigger bikes.
My mother-in-law kindly purchased a Honda XR80 that she and I could ride. It was then that I was cruelly introduced to the clutch. By the time I could manage pretty well on that bike the quad was outgrown and a Honda XR100 came to join the party. The boys moved up and I kept falling down. I just could not manage to turn and down shift at the same time. After more than a few episodes of stalling the XR100, throwing it down, kicking sand on it and cursing at it, I quit riding. The boys were older by then and could ride near camp with their friends so it wasn't an issue. After several years of loading and unloading that bike without me ever riding it again they finally refused to bring it along.
At 12 the boys could race in the desert and my job became Starting Line Photographer, Pit Support (I'm in charge of goggles and GOO), and Finish Line Hydrator. I am the preparer of lunches, maker of motorhome beds, biggest fan of my college aged desert racers. Young son number one has hung up the race numbers while in pursuit of a BA in Accounting but young son number two continues to chase his dreams of winning a #1 National number plate. He won the 1st place AMA National Hare and Hound Amateur 250A class in 2009 and moved up to Expert in 2010.
It was at a national race last weekend that I realized my true identity. I have no wrenching skills and even the pampering of bikes is done by the men in my life. But I am, truely, a Motorcycle Mama and I wouldn't have it any other way. Raising two boys on motorcycles has been a priceless experience and I am constantly reassured that is where I belong. It doesn't matter that I am not a confident rider and prefer to be chauffered on the back of my husband's bike. It is of no consequence that I feel too old to be considered a chick of any kind. My halo is tarnished and I don't shine my own chrome but I am a Motorcycle Mama through and through.