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Why Women Are Riding Motorcycles

Chynna Lockett

  The 75th Sturgis Rally brought riders of all types to the Black Hills. Women and men drove motorcycles in pairs as well as separately. But the idea of a woman riding a motorcycle alone isn’t something that comes up in conversation often.

Pepper Massey is a female rider and an honorary member of the motorcycle club Wind and Fire. She said the story of motorcycling is frequently told from a male perspective.

“I help people understand that since motorcycles were created women have been riding them and racing them and wrenching on them, we just don’t talk about it,” Massey explained.

She encourages women to take up motorcycling.

“I think that we have this idea that a big motorcycle is a scary thing for a woman. If you’re interested in riding, I would say two things. Do it and go and take a motorcycle safety course,” Massey said.  

A motorcycle can be intimidating to some new riders. Erica Schroeder rode her own motorcycle to the Sturgis Rally. She says she didn’t realize her passion for riding until she was forced into it.

“I was very content riding on the back of my husband’s bike. And he got sick and before he passed he says I want you to have the bike and I want you to learn how to ride it. And so that was my motivation to walk through the fear of learning how to ride a motorcycle,” said Schroeder.

She added that for her, riding was part of the grieving process.

“There is so much freedom and release from everything when you are behind the handle bars and you’re just in the open road. And there’s nothing else like it. And you have friends that share that common bond,” Schroeder said.

For some women, riding a motorcycle is an activity they will do for a lifetime.

Gloria Tramontin Struck started riding motorcycles in 1941 and is still riding today at the age of 89.

“Well, I’m considered a big inspiration to women riders,” she explained.

Struck travels the country, giving presentations. She said in the beginning a woman riding her own motorcycle wasn’t as acceptable as it is now.

“Well, I’ll tell you, when I stated riding women weren’t though of very kindly.”

Struck said when she started riding she was called names and refused gas and rooms to stay in.

“It was a different time period. Today, there are so many women riding that I predict in not too many more years, there are going to be more women riding than men,” she said.

It’s not uncommon to see women ridding their own motorcycle during the Sturgis Rally.

“Hi my name is Joanna Perez and I’m from San Antonio, Texas.”

Perez said she has been riding motorcycles since she was young but put it on the back burner when she had kids. Now that they’re grown, she is at the Rally on her bike again.

“Somebody did a quote one time, and it was four wheels moves the body, two wheels moves the soul. And ever since I’ve heard that I’m like that’s a perfect explanation of why one rides a motorcycle regardless if they’re women or men,” Perez said.

She added that she rides her own motorcycle for the awesome feeling and freedom it gives her.