A Ripple Relay is moving through B.C. to promote a women’s worldwide motorcycling event, and on May 31, a group of the bikers converged in Chilliwack.
About two dozen women riders met at Mountainview Harley Davidson to prepare for their leg to Kelowna. Some were old friends, others were just meeting for the first time. They were every size, age and background, but they all share the love of the open road. And they had an adventure ahead.
The ride began at Mile Zero of the Trans-Canada Highway near Victoria, B.C. earlier this week. A group of nine women from Vancouver travelled there to kick it all off, and met with 11 women from Vancouver Island. They rode the Malahat together, even through terrible weather.
“We’re talking biblical rains, and fog so thick,” said Teresa Udell, who got the B.C. Ripple Relay going. “But we did it, and it was amazing.”
Once in Vancouver, the women rode around Stanley Park, out to Fort Langley, and to White Rock throughout the week. When the leg that took off from Chilliwack got to Kelowna, they were to meet another group headed to Balfour, near Nelson.
Cat Ablett, one of the Chilliwack bikers, says that women are the fastest growing demographic of riders — and the industry is starting to stand up and take notice.
The Ripple Relay is about increasing that presence, and showing there is room for women on the road.
But it’s also about connections, and many of the riders have met women online all over the world. The Ripple Relays are meant to build momentum for the Women Riders World Relay, that got started back in February. It will hit about 82 countries and connect tens of thousands of women riders. The ride is being tracked online with a GPS-fitted baton.
For the Ripple Relay, the women travel with a large, handmade coin. And before they set out from Harley Davidson on Friday, they took turns taking pictures with it, signing their ride banner, and writing their names in a ledger for posterity.
Every one of the riders has her own story. When Pat Jacobsen wanted to start riding motorcycles, she had never even ridden a bicycle.
“We lived in Vancouver and our mother said it wasn’t safe, because we might get hurt,” she says, laughing. Now, she lives in North Delta, and she rides whenever she gets the chance. She’s been all over North America, including three trips to Sturgis.
“I didn’t want to waste any time,” she said. “I only have so many birthdays left.”
Eline Mets is a motocross rider with an injured shoulder. She’s joined the rally to bring awareness to women riders in that sport. By chance, on that same day, she launched her television show Diaries of Badass Chicks. It’s been in the works for a few years, but during the stop in Chilliwack she nervously hit the publish button. Once done, she took a look around at the gathering crowd of women bikers.
“These are the women you don’t see on TV,” she said. “You don’t hear about them, you don’t read about them.”
Chilliwack’s Karen Norvell was in the crowd, but unable to make the Kelowna trip. People around town would recognize her by the pig-tailed helmet she sports while on her bike.
“There’s so much freedom in riding,” she says. “It is a scary thing, but it’s a freedom like no other.”
She grew up riding on the bike of her dad’s bike, and as a mom she encourages her own kids to get on the road, including her daughter Abbie. They love the biking community, and want to see more women get involved.
“People you don’t even know become your sisters, your brothers,” she says.
“This ride gives a voice to the women,” Udell adds. “We matter, we’re here.”
The Women Riders World Relay comes to Canada on September 14.