If you’ve never ridden a motorcycle before, chances are you have a certain image of “who” rides motorcycles. And chances are, you don’t think grandmother of twelve, yoga instructor or jewelry designer.
Those are exactly the women who I met last weekend riding with the WindSisters. And while we may not look like the typical biker, what we share in common is: a love for the open road and cruising on two wheels. The WindSisters’ motto is “Two wheels unite us”.
When I agreed to spend a weekend in Port Burwell with a group of “WindSisters” I had never met before from around Southwestern Ontario, I had no idea what to expect. I had just read this story about the Blue Mountain Motorcycle Club though, and a group ride sounded like fun. Having never rode with a group myself, it also was a good opportunity to learn and get some experience.
As a bonus, we also stayed in this beautiful Bed & Breakfast. When we rode up and the owner had a fire and coffee waiting for us, I knew it was going to be a good weekend.
While I was getting onto the basics of riding with bikes around me, I was also learning the strategy involved with group riding. The leader is critical, not only because she makes sure the group gets where are going, but she also tries to keep them together as much as possible. Before proceeding around a corner, the leader may wait until it’s clear for the entire group to turn. Ultimately, the group is safer together.
This consideration for the group may not be how every group rides, but supporting other riders and creating a safe and fun environment is central to who the WindSisters are. I respect their desire to create a positive, classy image of women riders and over the weekend, I was pleased to learn how much I had in common.
Most of all, I also formed a friendship with ten other incredible women, from completely different backgrounds from myself and with more life experience. Like me, they did not have any girlfriends with bikes so they joined WindSisters to meet some other local women riders.
But unlike me, these women got into motorcycles for themselves. Some had husbands who rode, but mostly, riding a motorcycle was their thing. It was on their “living list” or a hobby they enjoyed before family and life got in the way.
(A living list is like a bucket list, but it puts the focus on the now and the things we want to do in the present while we are here to enjoy life, as shared by one of my new friends.)
Sitting around the campfire (built by one of the neighbour kids keen to help the guests next door), we swapped stories about what else was on our lists. Listening to their stories, I reaffirmed how important it is for younger women to have older friends. There was a common thread to their stories. They were finding happiness and living on their terms. And perhaps it was the setting but I couldn’t help but feel a little emotional.
“I needed to hear this,” I said to the sister next to me.
As we rode out the lane the next morning, I found myself thinking about the previous evening. No one had regrets for how they had lived their lives. They had put everyone else first and now was their time and they were happier than ever.
I found myself thinking about the compromises women make for others and contemplating my own decisions as we rode the country roads of Norfolk County.
(I was never so deep in thought I wasn’t fully aware of the road and the ride. I just have always found snowmobiling, and now biking, to be good thinking time.)
Life gives us all sorts of cues. Sometimes we pick them up, other times we miss them and never know, and then sometimes, we need to be reminded. These women reminded me we are far happier, and I believe further ahead personally and professionally, when we put ourselves first. Not in a selfish way but in a being true to ourselves way. Like my friend Katie has always told me, “you can’t be the best for someone else if you are not your best self first.”
Cruising down the road, seeing them in my rearview mirror made me think how cool it was to have this experience. Ironically, it likely would not have happened if I didn’t buy a bike to ride with my ex-boyfriend, so in that I am also grateful. As I pulled away from my new “sisters” to head for home, it sounds cheesy, but I rejoiced in being alive and able to do this.
I also resolved to never compromise on my dreams and now more than ever, I will focus on what that inner voice tells me is the right direction. It hasn’t let me down yet.
If you are a Canadian women looking to ride with other women, be sure to check out the WindSisters private group on Facebook. Their mission is to unite women who ride while fostering a sisterhood of female riders. They encourage riding often, riding safe, friendship, mutual support, personal growth and having the time of your life.