Written by Julie Nordskog, Women Ride Their Own
Coco Channel’s 2011 “filmercial” features Keira Knightly riding a golden Ducati cafe racer in matching cat suit, boots, and helmet. How far, I mused, had motorcycles and the modern girl come in the public eye. In Coco’s eyes, the woman motorcycle rider was both exceptional and chic (with expensive taste in perfume).
In contrast, motorcycles were not considered socially acceptable for women in the industry’s early days. The trailblazing Van Buren sisters repeatedly were arrested for wearing men’s clothing during their 1916 cross-country trek. One hundred years later, women account for 25% of all motorcycle riders (operators and passengers). We wear customized riding gear, including pants. In addition to street bikes, women are exploring motocross, sport, and adventure bike riding.
This year’s buzz in women’s motorcycling is the latest world record for the most women gathered in a single all-female riding event. The record was first set in April 2016 at 1,002 women in Dubbo, Australia. On July 19, 2017, the English set the bar higher at 1,132 women. Anticipation is mounting for Lace, Grace & Gears 2017’s Parade of Sisters to bring this record to the U.S. for the first time.
LGG2017 is based at Twin Elm Ranch, just north of Bandera City, from September 28 to October 1, 2017. The four-day rally brings a full program of guided rides, an area-wide scavenger hunt, special events, and live entertainment. The only all-female event is the Parade of Sisters. Both women and men must purchase their $40 pass for access to the rally grounds and official events.
Several influential women in motorcycling will join LGG2017. Industry influencer and owner of Powertrip Industries, Moira Zinn brings her voice and unquenchable love for motorcycles as emcee to this fingers-crossed, record-breaking gathering of women bikers. Appearing on the “Sheroes” speakers panel are Porsche Taylor, Founder and Editor of Black Girls Ride magazine and Lupita Velasquez, motorcyclist rights activist, among others.
Guest of Honor Gloria Tramontin Struck was a founding member of the first women’s motorcycle club, The Motor Maids, in 1940. At 92, Ms. Struck has witnessed most of women’s motorcycling history. During her 2016 induction to the American Motorcycle Association Hall of Fame, Ms. Struck was quoted as saying, “My next goal is to ride across country on two wheels when I’m 100.”
With Ms. Struck in our midst, LGG2017 promises to celebrate and inspire women riders of all ages. For more information and rally registration, see lacegracegears.com
Julie Nordskog writes, translates, and rides motorcycles in Austin, Texas.
*For the girls paying attention…322 miles if you suck it up and take 35E some of the way.
This is going to be brief because I can’t find my inner writer today. Something has to be said for posterity. First, I have to tell you what a great ride it was with Jenni, Julie and Carla. None of us had leadership issues. Other than a truck driver trying to take out Julie, I think we all held tight and rode well together. I mention the near miss because at that point we almost had a tete-a-tete about Harley v. Honda LOL. Julie took off to cool off and I missed the cue. A mile apart later, we had to stop in Lampassas to play catch up.
Side note – My Honda registers 5-8 mph higher than the Harley. Once we figured this out thanks to Jenni and her cruise control the world could be right again.
We rode hard North to Dallas with a couple of fuel and water stops. I had no idea that my comment “No 35” would impact the rest of our journey. If you have been on THE 35 from Austin to Waco you’d know it’s a bloomin’ mess and not fit for bikers. So as we sat at the crossroads, 67 & 35W, we decided to continue on the biker roads to Strokers. This meant a little bit of 20, 30 and too much of 12.
Side note – Disadvantage of 100+ degree weather and being on bikes is that you can’t always say “Hey did you see that sign that says The 12 is closed 7-3 on Saturday?”
We were parked. No lane splitting allowed. Bikes sputtering and heat stroke setting in. Jenni redirected us down the side of the highway to the offramp. Half way down we saw this massive parade of women bikers trying to get past us. When I say parade, I mean we had one helluva parade to bring us in to Stroker’s.
Side note – Not to be too goofy, but I think by the time we hit Stoker’s, stroke was the key word of the day.
Stroker’s is notoriously old school biker. Don’t know what that means? Well in my world it means the free-spirited male with or without beard, a little bit dirty, a little bit charitable, and a whole lot of easy rider cool. With the rising up of women rider’s from the ashes of another time and place, the skies the limit in how we dress, behave and ride. What made me love Stroker’s more was the Honda hidden in the back near what appeared to be a garage area. The bikes were parked in front of a mural of Rick Fairless on his ride.
So this ride out to Dallas was about LGG: Lace, Grace and Gears Rally. We were hell-bent and determine to be counted in that day to represent Austin, the Hill Country and Dallas. The women who rode out to support the Kick-Off party were amazing. If the goal is 1200 women in Bandera, Texas then I think we are well on our way. It’s starts with a lot of promotion and more sharing.
Side note – What sets Bandera apart from other towns? Well, this is just the starting point for the rally at Twin Elm this year. The HC offers several well knows rides and some back roads for discovering. The HC is this oddity of hills, rivers, maple trees, armadillos and the list goes on. The hot spots to stop: Camp Wood (Three Brothers Ride), Frio Canyon (Leakey), Motorcycle Museum (Vanderpool), The Old Timer/Rusty Dawg Weenie Wagon & The Apple Store (Medina), Luckenbach, Willow City Loop, Mac n Ernies (Tarpley), Lost Maples Cafe (Utopia), Garvin Store (Mountain Home)…and the list goes on!
I told Julie it was mostly about the Journey was some interesting destinations. That night after we had cooled off, we talked about how we would get home. With Jennie home in Dallas, we had to put on our big girl pants and get us out of Dallas. I tucked the notes in my back pocket and we rode out via The 35E to 67…sorry THE 67. Somewhere between 67 and 174 I thought I would pull off my glove and take a quick look at my notes. Poof! It took me a second to realize that the notes flew past me and off in to the sunrise. My helmet steamed up from laughter I realized that was the clearest message the universe could send.
It’s not always in the details…just let go, ride out the storms, and laugh as much as you can!
As I sit here thinking of what I need to pack for tomorrow’s journey I am reminded of all my camping excursions. First aid kit, liquids, protein snacks, wet weather gear, extra socks, shirt and panties (don’t laugh). You’d be amazed how those luxuries pay off. A bar of soap is better than a bottle of liquid goo that can explode in the heat. If we are going to be really real then a hand towel is just as good as a towel. Pack light, but pack out what you pack in.
Tomorrow will be my first big journey with a group of women rider’s. First part involves a solitary ride to Johnson City, Texas in the wee hours of the morn. The light will just be coming up over 87 North as I head for the 290. The first minutes will lead me down my favorite road, Elm Pass with it’s rutty roads and smooth curves. The transitions reveal tall hills and in some places extended views out to the small towns. There’s only one sharp turn that is a blind-sider just as you get close to the 480.
After 480 transition comes the 27 to Comfort then up the 87. As a newer rider I am a bit of a nerd. As a seasoned beginner I still wear chaps on the longer trips because of the gravel and heat. They push that stuff off of me. As the SWEEPER I will most definitely carry additional provisions and make sure I have an extra helmet and glasses. Photos to come.
“I can see myself on the back of my horse hanging on to his mane as we face each twist and hill with the ease of a bird on the wind. Every second of gain in momentum the closer we come to take off until the only sound we hear is the wind beneath us. Hoof glides like water over sand as clouds seem ever closer. I can’t close my eyes because he needs my sight as much as I need his strength. I can feel us lean in to the curve of the landscape but my thoughts remain forward. We can only move forward.” J. Nimmrichter, 2017
Yes! We have entered one of my favorite seasons next to th Harvest. Spring is about planting seeds. Spring is about nurturing those flowers that are just waking up from a Winter’s nap. Spring is about the unexpected wildflower and much anticipated adventures the Sun inspires.
So if you are reading this my hope is it’s sometime in the evening after a good days ride.
All the colors around seem to be washed out when there are no clouds. The intensity of the sun covering the landscape creates a faded palette. We tend to ride on the sunniest days, but the photos are washed out like an old Polaroid. While my eyes wander to take snapshots, my mind wanders much like the hills themselves.
My favorite days to ride are after the rains. The Texas Hill Country is one of those oddities where Mother Nature is more like an indecisive girl trying to pick out the right outfit for the dance. One minute we are drizzling then sunny, then hot then cold. A local once told me that the H.C. has about 20 different ecosystems. I never looked this fact up, but living here is proof enough.
I was telling Larry last month when we were out riding that I was on the hunt for the money shot. He asked me if I wanted to take the lead but I said no. The sun was so warm but there were no clouds. The sky looked washed out. The greens were dull. At best I could get silhouettes of the hills but nothing stood out as “Hey, share me.” If you are patient then by mid to late afternoon the light shifts enough to get the rivers to sparkle and grasses to green.
My favorite rides are when the sky seems its bluest against the white puffy clouds. There’s a contrast of light and darks where the sun hits the top of the clouds creating dramatic shapes. These are the rides where I take snapshot after snapshot hoping to remember that place and that moment as my bike floated over the hill revealing a hill country landscape or curved among a sideline of overhanging oak trees.