Women remain a minority population in the world of motorcycling. Even if the numbers of the women riders have recently soared from an unnoticeable fraction to a recognizable one, we still remain the minority compared to our male counterparts.
This number is even way smaller when it comes to those on long term adventure. History has our pioneers as Bessie Stringfield 1930, Dorothy “Dot” Robinson 1918, Augusta and Adeline Van Buren 1916, Effie and Avis Hotchkiss 1915, and Vivian Bales In 1921. Today we have much more ladies riding solo or with partners and am fortunate to feature in this list.
Ladies such as @oneroadoneworld of Turkey, @onherbike from Australia, @rossiegabriel from Canada, @elsebie of Piki Piki Overlander from South Africa just to name a few are a huge inspiration who have inspired many of us to join the long distance travel on motorcycles. There is no continent that is not represented in this community of badass road worriers women. This is one thing we all women should celebrate.
The roads, long adventures and numbers out there have not influenced changes to accommodate women challenges on the long dusty road and so there are things that have remained a challenge to the woman on a motorcycle on the road for long travels.
- Constantly having to proof you belong on a motorcycle. People will always ask if that’s your bike and whether you ride it even when you are seated on it fully geared with the engine running ready to take off. The good ones give you a thumbs up followed by “I respect you”!
- Our luggage is always more. While I have to pack pads, tampons and bras, my fellow men just need 3 underwears out of my already 6 items. I will need one dress, a pair of shorts, jeans 2 t-shirts and swim suit while the men only need a pair of shorts jeans and swim shorts. Sometimes the pair of shorts serves as swimming shorts too. We will never need the same items no matter what. Women need a little more just by nature and then a little more just by wants. I have not even mentioned our toilet bags with a list of more items than men pack. Therefore our luggage will always be bigger and heavier.
- Finding the right bike – let’s be honest, men have more advantages when it comes to bike selection. Men are mostly taller and even the shorter ones, they have a higher inseam than women. Men have more muscles in the upper body and able to maneuver more weight that women. For this reason, they find bikes more easily than we women do. The bikes in the market were designed with men in mind as motorcycling has been largely male dominated and so the bikes are either too heavy or too tall for women. We have to spend more in searching or adjusting to fit.
- Finding riding gear that fits well. This is every woman rider’s nightmare. The drill goes like this – its either tight on the bust and hips, long sleeves and pants, bulky, ugly and unflattering and in grey or black. This goes for not only the jackets and pants but also the boots and inner wear. Designers of riding gear have not given much attention to the women, though a few are now out there working hard to put riding gear for women in the market, it is still not accessible by all. For example, all these designers are based in Europe or USA. Women from other continents have a tough time accessing the gear due to either cost, distance but mostly both. Importing gear from abroad comes at a huge additional cost of shipping and taxes. WRWR has been a great platform to demonstrate statistically the demography of women riders and with this, we hope to see those brands move closer to everyone by working with local women in motorcycling.
- Finding bathroom with amenities on the road – while men can wee wee anywhere or mostly just need a urinal even without a door, we need more as women. We need secure and clean space as we have to undress to almost naked. We are designed to seat or squat to be able to do our toilet business. Finding a clean toilet is a tall order. In the absence of the toilets we join the majority of the world population in open defecation and go for the bush. Clean toilets are a basic requirement for all. For women and girls, it is even more important for menstrual hygiene. Regardless of what means you use to manage your periods, you will need a clean bathroom with water, soap, sanitary bin and toilet paper. When we do the bush, we have to carry our soiled sanitary towels on us for hundred of kilometers and hours in order to dispose them in an environmental friendly way. We care for our environment and hate to see those flying used pads by the roadside. Surprisingly this is not a problem of the semi urban and rural areas alone, it is a problem everywhere. How many cities come with clean public toilets? Join me in highlighting the importance of clean toilets. Especially petrol stations, restaurants and supermarkets where most of the travelers stop for these amenities.
- Helmet, hair and make up – not all riding women wear make but all riding women have to deal with helmet and hair. Everyday of our life’s is a bad hair day especially if you have anything but locs. Being on the road daily means that getting to shampoo your hair often or find a good hair dresser is also a gamble and sometimes you have longer periods of terrible hair days. Hair and helmet is an endless conversation in any forum for women riders. Long hair, short hair, braids, weaves and wigs. The only hair that seems to win is locs. So girls, let’s all be natty dreads. The helmet and hair seems to be our worst predicament. Going to work, a date, a meeting anywhere we need to make time and find a place to reorganize our hair. It’s one thing I hated most in riding until I converted to locs.