Women celebrate motorcycling
Harley-Davidson kick starts Women Riders Month
Rochelle Park, N.J. and Milwaukee, May 1—Today was the third annual International Female Ride Day and the first day of the Harley-Davidson Women Riders Month. And to mark these occasions, Harley-Davidson sponsored two female-only rides on May 1—one in the New York metropolitan area and the other in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
International Female Ride Day is the brainchild of Vicki Gray, founder of Motoress.com, an online community that connects women motorcyclists all over the world. In support of this day, Harley-Davidson declared May to be Women Riders Month, and along with these two women-only rides that took place, Harley scheduled a number of other female-focused activities throughout the month.
The East Coast ride, limited to 100 participants, was set to leave from the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, take a brief tour around the city and end at Bergen County Harley-Davidson/Buell in Rochelle Park, New Jersey, for a celebration. However, just a few days prior to the ride, Harley-Davidson received a notice from the New York Police Department that the permit for the ride had been canceled by the Mayor’s Office. Harley was given several reasons for the unavailability of a police escort—the company was told that the city’s tactical forces were deployed elsewhere that day—but rumor has it that it was because of the Air Force One photo-op flyover scare in NYC the day before the permit was pulled.
Organizers tried to re-route the ride to leave from Bergen County H-D instead, however, by that time, there wasn’t enough time to arrange for police escorts. The group made the best of the situation, though, and continued with the rest of the celebration as planned. All the women that registered had been informed about the ride’s cancellation and were invited to come directly to Bergen County H-D where the after-party was to take place.
Karen Davidson, H-D co-founder William A. Davidson’s great-granddaughter and creative director of general merchandise, was to lead the ride along with Jillian Michaels, fitness trainer and life coach for the television show The Biggest Loser. Karen and Jillian, along with Bergen County H-D owner Liz DiGennaro and Harley-Davidson’s Peggy Utphall, decided to take their own little ride over the George Washington Bridge for a brief tour and a photo shoot. Once they returned to the dealership, the party kicked into high gear.
Liz welcomed the women (nearly all 100 showed up!) and encouraged everyone to enjoy the live music performed by the talented Pink Baby band from Stamford, Connecticut, and the fantastic food provided by Frank Demarco, executive chef of Little Cypress. Cheryl Agodini from Wayne, New Jersey, won a style consultation from Karen Davidson, which included a new Harley-Davidson jacket, chapsor pants, and boots. The morning’s cool air and light rain transformed into a warm, sunny day, and we all had a great time.
In Milwaukee, the ride went off without a hitch. Nearly 300 women riders staged at Miller Park, the stadium that’s home to the Milwaukee Brewers. Country music singer Krista Marie led the parade of women riders along Canal Street, ending at the Harley-Davidson Museum. The celebration included an acoustic performance by Krista Marie as well as live music by Sue DaBaco and Wise Fools, a band from Burlington, Wisconsin. There was also a bike lift seminar, a Fit Shop seminar and a scavenger hunt. The H-D Museum debuted its new Women’s Display on May 1, and admission to the museum was free that day for the women who registered for the ride. The museum will also be hosting several other activities in May in honor of Women Riders Month.
Harley-Davidson itself also had a number of other activities planned for May. In addition to many women’s rides and events at Harley dealerships around the world, 1,225 women participated in new rider training the first weekend in May to help establish a world record for the number of women trained in one weekend. An even larger goal for Harley is to encourage 100,000 women to learn to ride a motorcycle, either through the H-D Rider’s Edge New Rider Course or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic RiderCourse.
Complementing these Women Riders Month activities are other Harley-Davidson programs that encourage women to ride, like the females-only Garage Party events at dealerships that help women learn more about motorcycling in a non-intimidating environment. The Motor Company distributes We Ride, a brochure detailing what a new rider or woman interested in riding needs to know about getting into motorcycling. Harley has also developed Share Your Spark: A Guide to Mentoring, a kit developed to encourage experienced riders to be a resource for new or aspiring riders (see harley-davidson.com/mentoring).
“I think there’s been a big cultural shift in the last 20 years,” said Leslie Prevish, Harley’s market outreach coordinator, who participated in the festivities at Bergen County H-D. “Also, from our market research, we know that more than half of women riders are interested in mentoring other women.” (www.harley-davidson.com/womenriders)