Happy International Women’s Day!

Well, it’s a girl’s prerogative to be late, isn’t it!

In 2009/2010 8.8% of new bikers were female. I’d like to tell you what proportion of the current number of licence holders that represented but the DfT doesn’t seem to think that’s worth publishing – though they are quite happy to tell me that 15.3 million women hold a car licence. (If you can find the info in these tables Please let me know!)

I’m in a tetchy mood about data because I’ve just done my census form, which asked how many cars and vans I had available to my household but displayed no interest at all in my beautiful collection of superior mechanical motivation.

You’d have thought, as a minority, that bikers would be of interest to government types…and of course lady bikers are a minority of a minority, which brings me back to where I’d intended to start this post…

Being a woman on a big bike is usually guaranteed to make me stand out in any given crowd of bikers. And if I’m honest – which is never an unconditionally good idea – I like the notoriety. In the same way that a fan of an obscure group can’t quite reconcile the opposing desires for them to be a success without having to share them with others, I am conflicted about increasing the number of lady riders to the point where we become unremarkable. I might become a small fish in a big pond!

But then I give myself a slap and say that riding motorcycles is one of the best things in the world and everyone who thinks they might like it should try it at least once. One of the joys of my plunge into the world of twitter has been getting to know a whole posse of lady riders, both here and in the US, from the fast and fearsome @MissBusa and coffee’n’customs connoisseur @FieryPinkGirl to two of he UK’s finest, @xemmasulway and @warriorwoman *

We are the minority of the minority. Which is nearly the same as being the best of the best 😉

I leave you with words from Theresa Wallach, who crossed the Sahara by sidecar and Panther, with Florence Blenkiron to do the spannering and the French Foreign Legion for entertainment. Before World War II she took a degree in engineering from University College London and rode in trials and at Brooklands . Her book, Easy Motorcycle Riding, was published in 1970 by the same company that produced Graham Hill’s Guide to Racing Cars. In it she says:

“You are on your own. You are not protected by two tons of steel, rubber, foam padding and safety glass. Neither are you steering two tons of guided missile toward other cars, people and property. If you are prepared to accept the responsibility of your own actions, then motorcycling can be both safe and thrilling. Riding is an art as well as a craft and no amount of explanation can take the place of experience.”

Here’s to all the artistes and craftswomen out there on two wheels – all 8.8% of us!

*other twitter friends – I love you too but there wasn’t room to put everyone in by name…



Filed under Riding

6 responses to “Happy International Women’s Day!

  1. What I have been blogging for two years to explain, Theresa Wallach says in one paragraph. I'm pinching that one for my quotes page!

  2. Encouraged by my late Grandfather, Edgar, I have been riding motorcycles since I was eight, my dear. Of course, I find it a little harder getting astride a really big one these days, but that's just part of getting older.

  3. hi Camilla! Teresa has encouragement for you also 🙂

    “many an elderly person now owns a lightweight to get about on. Physical fitness is not so important in this instance. The trouble lies with the physically fit rider who has not learned good riding. Any intelligent person with the right mental attitude can become a skilled rider, regardles of age, size or shape.”

  4. Higwaylass – there is a bit of something special about being one of the few 'lady riders'…. a bit of 'celebrity-ism' for an ordinary gal I guess. I have to agree with Ms. Wallach, a little common sense goes a long way when it comes to riding a motorcycle. I enjoy reading – keep posting!

  5. This day should be another public Holiday just like Lupercalian Goat Sacrifice Day should be too.

  6. Back in the 60s, a lovely lady called Mary Driver was the Secretary of the ACU. Quiet, efficient, helpful, she was also a Trials rider of no little skill and, if my memory is correct, was a regular entrant in the Scottish Six Days. But my best memory: the Ace Cafe Reunion Brighton run with my daughter….she on her SV650 and me on mine. Magic!

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