Women and Motorcycles: Sue Field Speaks

Women Riders Speak is an interview series with female motorcyclists. Through their stories, they illustrate the transformative role motorcycling has played in their life.

A chance meeting introduced Sue to a person who would teach her to ride. And change her life. Now, as President of Women in the Wind (WITW) Black Rose Chapter in upstate New York, she mentors other women.

women and motorcyclesWhat prompted you to start riding?

I really, really hate regretting not doing things that I want to do. At forty-three, my kids were getting bigger and it was time to do something for ME. I’d wanted to ride since age twelve but my terrified mom talked me out of it.

I tried to talk my nursing colleagues in theOBmother-baby unit into joining me. Although they were excited by the idea, they were on the fence about joining me. Then a patient arrived who changed my life. She was a local third-generation motorcycle instructor and over the course of her recovery, we bonded. She heard how badly I’d always wanted to ride and suggested private lessons. Given the challenges my shift work presented in joining a scheduled class, I jumped at the chance.

Although I kept my accomplishment from my mom initially, she’s come to accept the fact that her daughter rides a motorcycle.

What was your biggest challenge in learning to ride?

Keeping the information from my mom! Otherwise, it was learning to use a clutch as I’d never driven a standard transmission. I always knew I could do it and even the pouring rain during my first lesson didn’t deter me.

Where have you travelled on your motorcycle?

I have done several hundred plus mile rides, A shoulder injury eight years ago left me with pain and numbness on my left side and limits me somewhat. I’m very jealous of women older than me that can ride clear across the country.

What impresses you most about another woman rider?

The ability to ride hundreds of miles, travel far distances and the independent spirit required to overcome fears.

As soon as I learned to ride, I started looking for other women to ride with. I googled all the women’s organizations in the country until I found a chapter of an organization in my area, emailed their VP, chatted back and forth and met her at a local bike night. I joined WITW and in the five years since then, I’ve held various executive roles and am now starting my second year as President.

What is your greatest joy from riding?

The pride in myself to do what others fear, the self confidence, and the awe from others when they realize that you and your riding group are all women!

Riding a motorcycle is very empowering. Sometimes I feel a bit nervous before I ride. Maybe it’s been a long time, or I’m going somewhere I have not been before on two wheels. If I push through that feeling and just go, I’m always fine.

I like the quiet in my head when I’m riding. I get a chance to think; no kids, no demands. I like the smells of the road MOST of the time. I like the thumbs up when other women realize I am a lady too.

I like the fact that I can control this big bike. I was extremely nervous for my first ride as a prospect with my chapter. Positioned at the back of the group, I gave the throttle a twist and let go of the clutch. The bike lurched forward, and went down, taking me with it. I was SO embarrassed. The guys at the back helped me up and only one other woman, also a prospect, saw me. I brushed myself off and got back on that bike and completed my first hundred mile ride – complete with a downpour, thunderstorms and hail. I learned a great deal about myself and control on that ride!

And each ride teaches you more. I’m thrilled to be able to share these experiences and proud of all my WITW sisters!

 

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14 comments on “Women and Motorcycles: Sue Field Speaks
  1. I am so proud of you Sue! I enjoyed you as a student and love your strong passion and message! Well done, Christine Firehock

  2. sue field says:

    thanks Liz for the opportunity!

  3. Cris Sommer Simmons says:

    Congratulations and many more happy miles to come!

  4. Carolann says:

    Thanks for this post. It is inspiring. I chose to ride thinking I wanted a scooter so I could follow behind my husband and my sons. Now that the boys are grown and have their own bikes I was the one left out. Also my husbands bike is not passenger friendly so this was pushing me to get on my own. Once I announced my thought of learning to ride my husband went on a quest to get me a bike. And since they all have Harley’s he insisted on I too were to have a Harley and there would be no scooter. So for Mothers day last year I received a 2006 Harley 883 custom. I took the MSF course the end of May and actually gained more fear as I choked on the test. I passed but my mistake stuck with me. I have issues with making u turns and right turns and avoid inclines. I also do not enjoy having my husband ride behind me. A few weeks ago I went up to Harley Dealer to sign up for garage days. A woman working there over heard my conversation with my husband and told me I need to go out on my own. So I did twice now. Pulled the bike out of the garage (first fear done) went out making those right turns I hate. I had anxiety about going out on the bike every time I would try to talk my way out of it. So the fact that I pulled that bike out of the garage on 2 occasions all on my own while my husband was at work is quite a big deal. To be excited about the new riding boots that are on their way and disappointed that the weather is cold again as opposed to being happy its not warm so I have an excuse not to go out, well I thought that day would never come. I am still very nervous and really have to practice the turning and not object fixating. I think about things too much and I have quite the anxiety that I have been working on recognizing without the help of medication. I cant even believe that I am looking forward to summer so school parking lot is empty. Where I can ride myself and practice without anyone looking bored watching me make circles over and over again. So if you took a class with Christine and you found a woman’s group that means you may have found one in my area as I live in the Hudson Valley so where is this group?

    • lizjansen says:

      Carolann,
      Kudos to you for facing up to your fear and not letting it stop you. I’m sure more classes will build your confidence – you certainly have the determination! Sue is the President of the Black Rose Women in the Wind Chapter.

      Liz

    • sue field says:

      Christine is an incredible teacher, you are in Dutchess County. you should get in touch with her for sure…..xo

  5. Angela says:

    nice job sue, hey, that ride looks familiar! lol…..

  6. sue field says:

    Angela…I didnt have a decent picture of me on my vstar 1100…lol… I told liz this yes that picture is from the tail of the dragon!…quite an experience we all had that day eh???

    Carol Ann..where are you in the hudson valley….email me starmom@optonline.net we can chat……i UNDERSTAND where you are coming from completely..have been there and done that….xo

  7. sue field says:

    as a women, we dont have the “pride” issues that a male does…we make mistakes and can admit it, especially with riding, yes i have dropped my bike, yes i have had moments that my bike has stalled, yes in the beginning being on a hill and stopped and then getting going was not exactly smooth……5 yrs later i have my occasional “oh shit” moments…or oh geez moments… i think many do…. men will never admit it….females are cooler that way lol

  8. Carolann, You are taking all the correct steps. But there is one thing I can tell you: After more than 30 consecutive years as a front seat rider (even into my 8th month prego), having ridden almost every style and type of bike out there, ridden across this Country solo or along side my Mother, Diana (many times) and have handled NYC traffic to LA Freeways, the Dragon to the racetrack…I still head to a parking lot every Spring to brush up on my skills. As a 26 year veteran motorcycle instructor, I still sign up for a motorcycle course to learn a new trick each year…even if it is the same old course but with a new instructor. My Mother told me “the day you know everything about riding, is the day to hang-up your leather”. I own and have owned just about everything from my 1979 H-D LowRider 1340cc Shovelhead to my 2011 Ducati Monster 796cc, both in my garage at this moment…but riding an H-D is different from anything else out there. There are tricks to handling the weight, the throttle, and the rake of an H-D. We all can learn the hard way, or struggle through it…OR we can take a course/class with someone who knows to help to fast forward our riding skills, safety, and comfort on our bike. Each bike is different, just like a new job or relationship; they take time to get to know the best way to handle them. But a mentor can make all the difference. The MSF BRC was a perfect first step, but never stop learning. Keep practicing, hook up with ladies with more experience, and lets all keep taking a courses together to better learn how to help each other along this amazing journey of becoming a Motorcyclist. My contact info is simple http://www.cksKickStart.com or Google me. Ride Safe and Ride long, Christine Firehock

  9. Carolann says:

    Thank You Christine. I saw you also put similar post on facebook so I will put a comment there too as it may spark more discussion too. My only problem right now with getting to more classes is the distance I would have to ride to get there. I am just not ready for that long of a ride yet along with the possible weather conditions. So I am hoping I will find someone preferably a woman who I can go out and practice with. I recently went to a class at my library and the woman giving class mentioned she was in a womans sport bike group. Although riding that is different then my HD, her experiences will help me. Your programs are a bit far for me as I am on the other side of the Hudson Valley in Southern Orange County practically Rockland. There is a HOG group that gives follow up classes where I took the MSF and I am considering doing that, but not until I feel comfortable to ride there.

  10. Dorothy schwartz says:

    What a wonderful interview! I was the terrified mom, and am still concerned. Because riding does so much for my amazing, tenacious daughter I have to allow her to be the free spirit she always has been.
    Your loving mother

  11. stacey says:

    Hi Sue! Liked your story. I started riding at the same age. I hope you are keeping journal of your adventures! And great advice from everybody! Is anybody heading to Americade this year? My reservations are in: Stay safe, have fun!

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