Women Riders Speak is an interview series with female motorcyclists. Through their stories, they illustrate the transformative role motorcycling has played in their life.
Facing financial difficulties, Judy had to make the agonizing decision to sell the first bike she’d customized to suit her perfectly over five years. But life has a wonderful way about it. Four years later, her bike came back to her, unchanged. Here’s her story.
The urge took hold when I started riding on the back regularly in the summer of 2001. I decided I wanted to be able to go when and where I chose without relying on somebody else, so in September at age 36, I signed up for the MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) course.
I bought a brand new Harley-Davidson 883 Hugger and over the next five years, made many modifications so it suited me perfectly. Once I rode my own I never wanted to get on the back again. I liked the control and didn’t want to give that power to anybody else.
Along came a time in my life that I had some financial hardships and I made the agonizing decision to sell my bike. It felt as bad as losing my best friend.
Four years later, for some strange reason, my husband (not yet a rider and who I did not yet know when I rode) was browsing bikes for sale on Craigslist. I started looking at prices of bikes similar to mine and found an ad for MY bike!!! It hadn’t been changed one bit, had hardly been ridden and still had the inspection sticker on it from 2007. I had exactly the amount of money the seller was asking from a small inheritance I received a few weeks earlier. It was calling to me!! All I had to do was convince my husband that I was going to buy it back, help him find one to buy for himself and have him learn to ride also.
It didn’t take much convincing. I have MY bike back, feel like I have just found my long lost friend and will NEVER part with it again. We were just meant to be together.
What was your biggest challenge when you were learning to ride?
All the nay-sayers around me. Many people told me I wouldn’t be able to ride, especially not a Harley. They said I was too short, too weak, and heaven forbid…I was a girl! Well, it didn’t take long and I proved them all wrong!
I did find that riding takes a lot more mental power than I ever realized. Besides being able to maneuver the bike physically you always have to be aware of your surroundings, what others are doing, and make quick decisions, especially in city riding.
Where have you travelled on your motorcycle?
All over Western New York and the Finger Lakes Region. My trip to Americade during my first riding season was a great learning experience on curvy and hilly roads. I’ve ridden to Port Dover, Ontario for Friday the 13th a couple of times.
I went to Daytona Biketoberfest but had no way to get my bike there so I wasn’t riding. While I had a good time, I learned that I will never go to another bike event unless I am riding! Last fall I rented a bike in Miami and rode to Key West. Riding over the Seven Mile Bridge was awesome. This year I’m planning longer distance rides to other areas of New York State, Pennsylvania, and Ontario.
What impresses you most about another woman rider?
That they go against the grain of what society expects. They are doing what makes them happy.
What is your greatest joy from riding?
The freedom and the feeling that when I get on my bike and ride the wind blows all my worries and stresses away.
How do you look back on yourself as a beginner rider now?
As a new rider I was always anxious and had butterflies in my stomach when I was getting ready to go out for a ride. Sometimes I questioned myself.I wondered if that feeling was ever going to go away. With experience those anxieties subsided and I gained confidence in myself.