Women and Motorcycles: Pamela Paterson Speaks
Trading in the Office for a Motorcycle Is Always a Good Trade
By Pamela Paterson
After a day at the office, I strip off that stuffy suit and suffocating nylons, and slip into the smooth, cool, black leather jacket. In the transformation from writing consultant to free spirit, I throw the heels into the backpack, pull on my boots, squeeze my coiffed hair into a helmet, and then as the final step, cover up my keyboard fingers with thick black gloves. The transformation is complete.
As I straddle my Ninja, I feel this surge of energy. I know a smile has come across my face. And I know in just a few minutes, when I am passing traffic on the highways in my pink helmet, that I’m turning heads as they realize it’s a pink helmet that just passed them. Yes, this is living.
Motorcycles have been a lifelong fascination for me. As a kid, I always wished I had a dirt bike and pretended my older sister’s bicycle was good enough. The faster I pedaled, the more I bought into the deception, until the sound of motorcycle engines nearby snapped me back into living an authentic life.
It wasn’t until my 40th birthday that I bought a motorcycle. As many people do, I started out with a Ninja 250. To me, that was like a rocket! Having sold my car as a deliberate incentive to ride, I put on 10,000 km in my first summer. I took it everywhere, loading that little Ninja up on the highway like it was a full-fledged touring bike. What freedom it was, to jump on the bike on a beautiful summer day and go through the twisties to another destination. To roll into a small town after a long day of riding, release my hair from the hostage of the helmet, and unload my night gear.
I rode that Ninja 250 through many rains, using frantic “hand swipes” across my helmet as a makeshift windshield wiper in the worst of storms. I didn’t know about heated clothing at the time, so wore layer upon layer in near zero degree temperatures. The extra bulk reduced my mobility—it was like fresh concrete had been poured all over me and hardened.
Since I began riding, I noticed surprising changes in me. This shy, reticent, writer of computer documentation became more confident with each new day on the road. Not only did my motorcycle skills improve, but so did my confidence with people. A particularly ornery character at the office, who I was afraid to even approach because he targeted me as part of his “who should I give a hard time” list, was like a fly that I had summarily squashed. He no longer held any power over me.
How was this possible? Was the motorcycle responsible for this? This hunk of metal? I believe it was. When you are going highway speed and competing for your little space against monster transport trucks, you get tougher. A lot tougher. My pink helmet is the only feminine part of me when I am on my bike.
I now own a Ninja 650 sport touring bike. I really notice the difference in power over my Ninja 250, and now understand why people cringed when I said I rode nearly two hours to the office on the highway—well, four different highways to be exact—on my little Ninja 250.
I’ve always wondered what common link female riders have. The best answer I have come across is “fearless”. I like that.