Women's Groups Pop Up All over Chicago Area
Byline: Linda 'Jo' Giovannoni
Don't be surprised if you find PTA members and possibly a few "desperate housewives" mixed in women's motorcycling groups. Any of them could be the "girl next door." These diverse groups have some similarities to male riders. Both span a broad range of careers, nationalities, religions, personalities and physiques. You will find everything from executives, professionals, truck drivers, housewives, secretaries and construction workers. All with one common bond ... a love of motorcycling.
Since the early 1900s, the number of women motorcycle riders and their organizations have grown, with a dramatic increase in the mid-1980s. True, we are still in the minority when compared to our male counterparts. Thirty years ago, there was but a handful but today there's a variety of women's motorcycle groups cruising the roads.
The groups all seemed to be formed with common bonds - a love of the sport and a yearning to share it with other women. Let's meet some of these ladies.
Women in the Wind (WITW): Unlike many women motorcycle riders, Becky Brown from Toledo, OH did not start out as a passenger. As a child, she rode horses and later graduated to motorcycles. Most people who ride horses and motorcycles will tell you they often feel a similarity. Of course, upgrading from one horsepower to nearly a hundred brings you into a whole new dimension.
That was the early 1970s - female riders were few and far between. She found herself riding mostly with men, which was fine, but there were times she desired the camaraderie of women. Becky placed an ad in her local newspaper promoting a "women's motorcycle ride." Eleven women joined her for a cruise along the scenic byways of the Maumee River. Little did they know that day would earn them a place in the history of women in motorcycling.
Becky was the driving force behind the creation of one of the oldest, still functioning women's motorcycle clubs, which began with that ride. 'Promoting a Positive Image of Women Motorcyclists Since 1979' is one of the first things you see when you click on the WITW web site. I am proud to say through Becky's encouragement I co-founded the second chapter of WITW in 1983, in the Chicago suburbs.
Q. Becky, tell me where WITW is today?
A. Seventy chapters and 1,600 members later, WITW now spreads throughout the USA, Canada, Great Britain and Australia. We hold two national meetings in different locations each year. Our 2006 meeting is in January and will be held in Las Vegas. In July, we will meet in Athens, Ga., in conjunction with the AMA's Women in Motorcycle Conference. Full-membership is available to licensed female riders. Our "Safe Mileage" program promotes safety and gives members a chance to win awards. We added the 100,000 Mile Club to honor our members who love to put the miles on their tires. Members have the option to wear a back patch bearing our club logo and name.
Six times a year we publish a club newsletter, 'Shootin' The Breeze." It's a way of tying the chapters together and bridging the hundreds or thousands of miles that separate us.
Q. What is the main purpose of WITW?
A. WITW strives to educate our members in motorcycle safety and maintenance, unite women motorcyclists with friends of common interest and promote a positive image to the public of women on motorcycles. We also raise money for a variety of worthy causes.
Becky appears in the '90s film documentary "She Lives To Ride." In 2002, she was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame for her work in promoting women in motorcycling. Something tells me she's only just begun.
Windy City Women Riders: As the home page for WCWR opens you see their back patch and their mission statement:
- To foster a bond of sisterhood among women motorcyclists for mutual aid, support, strength and friendship.
- To promote a positive image to the public regarding women motorcycle riders. …