Bike Night

Photo By Author

If you’re a Midwesterner like me, you know the feeling of when that first cool breeze hits. The feeling of impending doom. The doom of winter. The end of riding season.      

So, if you’re anything like me or most other Midwesterners I know, you’re probably out trying to hold on to every last possible second of summer. For my family and I, unfortunately, this past summer was a whirlwind. Between being generally overworked both in our occupations and with craziness at home – we really feel like this summer was a flash of lightning – hot and gone in an instant. 

Nonetheless, before I make the haul back to corn-land at U of I, my family and I are putting a little something special into our summer in a way that we know and love, as unconventional as it may be to other families. We are heading to Bike Night at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee.

Photo by author

While this is an average occurrence on a Thursday night in summer, compared to the past, my family and I haven’t gone nearly as often. It really is a special experience every week, though, and I feel so thankful that we all managed to make time to go this Thursday. 

Even though my mom isn’t huge on riding, she sure loves the bands that play at bike night and enjoying the music with my dad. My sister is there mostly to enjoy the food, because let’s face it, not only does The Motor Bar & Restaurant have stellar eats, but just thinking about the Wisconsin cheese curds and house-made ranch dressing at the Iron Horse down the road is making my mouth water. For my dad and I, I think the whole atmosphere of the experience is the best part. From riding to Milwaukee and arriving to hear the rumble of hundreds of fellow motorcyclists – it really is a uniting and simultaneously serene experience. After bike night, I usually feel exhausted, but incredibly restored and revived.

Mom & Dad off to Bike Night – Photo by author

Bike Night at the museum is one of my favorite parts of summer. What I believe many people perceive about the riding community is that motorcyclists are “hardcore” individuals who are no good to associate with. That’s exactly what Bike Night invalidates, and summer after summer it does so flawlessly. The Harley-Davidson museum grounds become filled with college students from Marquette, ladies out for girls night, babies in strollers and toddlers on dad’s shoulders, you see people of all walks of life and of all ages at Bike Night, because…

motorcycles are for everyone

Photo by author

I think that’s why I felt the need to write about Bike Night. As The Feminist Motorist, my ambition is to showcase the ways the riding community represents a conglomerate that is accepting, empowering and absolutely fun. This is a realm in which women are able to feel both enabled, empowered and welcomed. Bike night is a subtle representation of how wonderful the riding community truly is. So, if you aren’t busy, and you’re in the area – ride on over to Bike Night. I’ll see you there.

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Moto Miss Monday

Graphic created by author

Sarah Lezito

The French tend to be recognized for fine cuisine, exquisite wine and the latest in modern art and fashion. This Moto Miss Monday, I’m highlighting the French for another reason, their motorcycle stunt superstar – Sarah ‘Lezito’ Vignot.

Image courtesy of Twitter

If you’ve been to any motorcycle show, or have even seen an action movie, odds are you’ve seen some pretty impressive motorcycle stunts. While the superstars on the big screen tend to be the ones we recognize, there are people who have a handle on these two-wheeled machines like real superheroes might.

Sarah Lezito is one of these impressive individuals. Not only is stunt-riding her full-time job, she has also been in movies such as “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, taking the place of Black Widow on a custom electric LiveWire Harley-Davidson.

Video courtesy of Harley-Davidson’s YouTube Channel

At the age of about 13, Sarah started her stunts on a quad bike. Once her riding acrobatics strengthened in her later teens, she moved up to a Yamaha 125 DTX. Since, she has performed on a wide array of sport bikes, simply attributing to the impeccable ability she has to share a rhythm with and understanding of each motorcycle she rides.

Her talents have certainly garnered well-earned attention across social media platforms. From a booming Instagram, to a highly popular YouTube channel. If you’re looking to see her practice new stunts, fall and get back up with ease, avoid getting discouraged, and succeed with some amazing stunts – absolutely give her a follow.

Image courtesy of Twitter

Despite being at a skill-level that is seemingly unattainable to most riders, Sarah’s ambition as a female stunt rider is to simply inspire other women to take up riding. She hopes that her growing popularity through both cinema and social media will help spark an interest and maybe even encourage women to showcase their own stunts and skills on platforms that can generate communities of support.

Video courtesy of Sarah Lezito YouTube Channel

While most of us probably aren’t out looking to do motorcycle acrobatics, I admire Sarah Lezito for doing something unconventional and daring. Her skills make it evident that riding a motorcycle, intricately understanding the mechanics of a bike, and even doing crazy stunts is something anyone can do if they are passionate – regardless of gender. Breaking down barriers and enabling other women to do the same is something Sarah Lezito has surely accomplished, embodying the true spirit of what it means to be a feminist motorist.

If you have any suggestions for future Moto Miss Monday posts, please feel free to message me as well! Until then, ride on, lades.

Gif courtesy of Giphy

Moto Miss Monday

Graphic by author

Grey, rainy, overcast – that’s the Monday we woke up to here in Chicago. Thankfully, it’s Moto Miss Monday which means there’s something to brighten up a dreary start to the week! Today, as opposed to covering a female rider from history, I am going to talk about an outstanding artist, small-business creator, Lieutenant and adventurer extraordinaire from the riding community.

Kayla Koeune

As I mentioned in my last post about helmet safety, Kayla Koeune of Inferno Art Studio designs some fantastic helmets, motorcycle tanks and even canvas prints that leave me wishing I wasn’t a poor college student. Her work is absolutely splurge-worthy.

Art by Kayla Koeune, photo courtesy of infernoartstudio.com

What I love about keeping up with Kayla’s adventures is, frankly, that they are so constant. I find that most people hear ‘motorcycle’ and think stunts, racing and biker bars. In actuality, what many people in the riding community seem to love is the access to simultaneous freedom and adventure – that’s what Kayla’s personal riding account captivates. Keeping up with her evident wanderlust makes me incredibly excited for the riding journeys that lay in my future.

Kayla Koeune – Sturgis Blog Post

Something I also love about the way Kayla captures the true spirit of being a rider is the way she showcases the people she meets along the way. Certainly, many of her photos are filled with breathtaking scenery, her spouse and plenty of motorcycles – but what people don’t realize about riding is that you generally have a chance like no other to meet some incredible individuals. From riding in India, Europe, Mexico and all around the United States – Kayla has interacted with all kinds of people from all around the globe.

While I am admittedly inspired by Kayla’s plentiful riding adventures, which you can keep up with on her own blog, I am also amazed by her ability to capture the spirit of riding in her art.

Art by Kayla Koeune, Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Kayla’s work is incredibly detail-oriented. From portraits and gorgeous landscapes to incredible looking helmets – if you feel like adding a canvas to your wall or want some sweet looking gear it is certainly worth contacting her if commissions are open. If any artist successfully captures the spirit of riding adventure in cohesion with the peace of mind it provides, it’s Kayla Koeune.

While I have yet to ascertain one of Kayla’s pieces, I will gladly be following along with both her adventures and her artwork. If you are interested in checking out this outstanding modern example of what it means to be a female rider, definitely give her a follow @kaylainfernoart and @roadsareforjourneys!

If you have any suggestions for future Moto Miss Monday posts, please feel free to message me as well! Until then, ride on, lades.

Image courtesy of Giphy

Will you people please just wear a helmet?

I was on my lunch break at work today, sitting outside and enjoying what I could of a beautiful summer afternoon when I heard that familiar and exciting rumble – a motorcycle. Hearing this sound has left me with the automatic impulse of popping my head up and taking a peek. Unfortunately, this impulse has recently left me feeling sour, as the hot weather and scorching sun seem to have become a lame excuse for people to leave their helmets at home.

Today, on my break, I glanced up to find the rumble coming from a couple riding a beautiful souped-up Harley into the parking lot. I watched them stroll into my work for a bite to eat, chit-chatting and relaxed. I couldn’t help but wonder if they knew how abruptly their peaceful nonchalance could end through their decision to omit proper gear.

I have mentioned it before on the blog, but helmet safety really hits home for my family and I. Without a helmet, my Uncle, Mark Zdeb would have never been my Confirmation sponsor in 7th grade. He would have missed the birth of my little sister. He would have never made it to Rolling Thunder, Sturgis or even taken a trip to Disney with my family. He wouldn’t be able to dress as Santa each Christmas for children in Chicago who have been impacted by gun violence. In case it isn’t clear – without a helmet, my Uncle Mark would be dead and the rest of us would be worse off for it.

My Uncle Mark, my little sister and I.

If you’re one of those motorcyclists who consistently doesn’t wear a helmet, this post is for you. I don’t really mind if you feel called out. Sure, you may have the freedom to choose, but the choice you are making to not wearing a helmet is a selfish one that indicates a total negligence for the people in your life who would be impacted if something happened to you.

I mean, can you imagine your dog sitting by the door for the rest of its life waiting for you to come play catch…and you never come back because your pride was too swollen for you to wear a helmet?

Think about that for a second.

My Uncle Mark (right) and my Dad (left) at Rolling Thunder

My Uncle Mark was always infatuated by motorcycles, and always knew he wanted to ride. His first bike was a 1993 Honda CBR 600 F2. After trying out friend’s bikes for years, he finally felt confident enough to get one for himself. He strolled into the Honda dealership on Northwest Highway in Arlington Heights, which is still there today, and bought himself a Honda bike with a Honda helmet to match.

Little did my Uncle know that just a few years later he would be in and out of consciousness in the back of an ambulance after being hit in a low-speed collision. Little did he know that by making the responsible decision to wear proper gear his life would be spared from the hands of a foolish driver going the wrong direction down a one-way street.

Waking up, my Uncle’s first thought were filled with a desire to hop back on and ride.

Waking up.

That’s the key that I do not believe clicks for motorcyclists who decide against wearing helmets. My Uncle Mark woke up in the hospital. He woke up to breathe another breath, to buy another motorcycle, to take more adventures with his nieces, to eat more scrumptious oysters at the Public Market in Washington D.C. and to always give us unsolicited advice.

Uncle Mark trying oysters in Washington D.C.

My Uncle Mark became a Nationally Certified Riding Coach after his crash, not only did this allow him to get riding time in while he was scrounging money for a new bike, he also took it as an opportunity to share the relevance of his story with fellow riders. In fact, in the perspective of my Uncle Mark, a helmet isn’t even nearly enough gear, but it’s certainly better than having your brains being scraped off the freeway.

Today, there is no excuse to not wear a helmet. Technology has become so sophisticated that helmets are lightweight, offer cooling mechanisms that feel like air-condition for your head, and simultaneously will protect your precious noggin from harm more sufficiently than ever.

Art by Kayla Koeune, Image courtesy of ChopCult

Helmets come in a plethora of styles with a million different artists out there who are eager to customize one for you as well, a personal favorite of mine being @kaylainfernoart. Besides, wearing a helmet means that all of those bugs that you’ve been snacking on while riding the highway and the countless pebbles that have given your face a good smack will no longer be an issue.

While there are a plethora of extraneous factors involved in riding safety, claiming to have experience or even expertise is an unreliable excuse to ignore full-gear. Professional racers, stunt riders, everyone in my family who rides despite over thirty years of experience – all wear helmets. There is no excuse. If the Sons of Anarchy are represented in helmets, you should seriously be wearing one too.

SOA Gif courtesy of Giphy

Moto Miss Monday

Graphic by author

P!nk

Alecia Beth Moore, born in the little city of Doylestown, Pennsylvania would grow to grit her teeth at social norms and pave the way for other ladies shining an “I don’t care what you think” attitude. Alecia, who we all know as P!nk is notorious for making waves. Rocking a pixie cut since stardom, tattoos and dark makeup through the neon and glitter phases of the early-2000s, and being sure to stay true to exactly who she is has left this lady with a lot of support and criticism alike.

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

While there are a myriad of reasons I find P!nk to be quite admirable, I really love her family dynamic and the interests she and her husband are able to share. Her husband, Carey Hart, a former professional motorcycle racer and freestyle motocross competitor has definitely not fallen into the stereotypical role of a man telling his wife not to do something because of some strange gender norm.

In fact, Hart made P!nk a custom Indian motorcycle as a “push present” when their son Jameson was born. With a Rosie the Riveter painted beautifully on the back, you really can’t deny this rock star is a genuine feminist motorist.

Photo courtesy of Carey Hart Instagram page

As for my continued admiration for their family dynamic, P!nk and her husband set an excellent example for both of their kids as well as fellow riders. Just because you have experience and know what you’re doing, you should never become overconfident. Riding can be dangerous, but that danger increases when you don’t wear proper gear.

This hardcore lady and her husband both wear proper gear when out riding. P!nk notoriously sports a wide array of amazing looking helmets, boots and other gear when she hits the road on two wheels. The two know how to represent what smart and responsible motorcyclists do, and I totally admire them for setting this example, in style no less.

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

As for the nature of their family, the couple have gained much criticism from the “parent police” of Instagram for exposing their kids to the joys of riding. Despite being with a parent who has professional riding experience, and wearing proper gear, people still find room to let the stereotypes that exist about riding culture pervade a representation of a fun, healthy family experience. While other kids sit on the couch and stare at screens all day, parent’s like P!nk and her husband are off showing their kids what life is really about – cultivating opportunities to take adventures and make memories.

Mama Hart – Photo courtesy of P!nk’s Instagram

P!nk is a true representation of what being a member of the motorcycle community is. Despite her fame and popularity, she manages to stay humble by attending riding events and participating in charity rides, such as the Ride to the Flags in commemoration of those who lost their lives in 9/11. Beyond riding dirt bikes and motorcycles, this lady and her husband racked up over 100 miles while pedaling for charity on their bicycles, raising over $75,000 in the process as well.

Whether you like her or not, you can’t deny that P!nk is definitely deserving of a spot for Moto Miss Monday. She represents a modern version of what a woman who rides is like. She is carefree but careful in her demeanor and I admire her adventurous spirit as well as her style in fashion, riding, performing, parenting and as a spouse. Let’s just hope the internet trolls manage to lay off of her for a while.

Gif courtesy of Giphy

If you feel inspired to know more about P!nk, check out her Instagram page! If you or a fellow lady rider are interested in being featured, message me via email or through Instagram and Facebook @feminist_motorist. If you have any suggestions for future Moto Miss Monday posts, please feel free to message as well! Until then, ride on, lades.

Sturgis

Photo by author, summer 2015

Tranquility is embodied by this place, with its glorious hills of green, bison enjoying their afternoon snacks of prairie grass, tree after tree generating a crisp clean air with a silent serenity that can only be captured in this woodland haven – until the bikes roll in.

Sturgis, South Dakota

Photo by author, summer 2015

All year long, Sturgis remains the quiet ideal of small-town America. With friendly faces that greet you as they hold open the door of any shop, and people who refer to you as “sweetie” or “honey”, you really can’t ignore the tranquility that exists in a town like Sturgis. However, this leisurely little town holds its breath and braces itself come August for the annual uproar that is the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

With this year’s Rally being less than a week away, I figured it would be a great time to highlight the history of the event as well as the relevance it has in the riding community.

Photo by author, summer 2015

The first Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, held back in August of 1938, was actually called the “Black Hills Motor Classic”. This event was organized by the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club, and Clarence “Pappy” Hoel, owner of an Indian Motorcycle shop in Sturgis. The first rally consisted of racing, ramp jumps, head-on collisions and board wall crashes. A circus tent was set up in Pappy’s backyard to house guests who came to view this exciting escapade.

Dad’s Trip to Sturgis, Summer 2016

Today, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally extends ten days and encompasses more events and excitement than Pappy likely could have imagined. With over half a million attendees on an annual basis, along with a 5k run, a Harley-Daivdson Rally Point, big-name sponsors, vendors galore, multiple rides supporting various charities throughout the course of the rally, and performances by popular artist like Ozzy Osbourne, Keith Urban, Styx, Skid Row, and Snoop Dogg – what was once an event attended by 175 people has truly erupted into a special tradition. Nonetheless, the rally still holds to its roots with motorcycle racing and stunts on the schedule as well.

Dad’s Trip to Sturgis, Summer 2016

While you’re in the area, you would be foolish not to explore the beautiful scenery and landmarks that surround Sturgis. From the Black Hills of South Dakota to the Crazy Horse Monument and Mount Rushmore, there is plenty to do just a short ride away. The Sturgis Rally is saturated in history on its own, but the area that surrounds it speaks volumes when it comes to Native American culture and history alongside the effects of Western expansion.

While I have yet to attend the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally for myself, I can attest to the beauty that exists in South Dakota. Visiting Sturgis for the rally merely presents an opportunity for an adventure through one of the most dazzling and historically saturated parts of the United States. So, whether you can make it from August 2nd to 11th for the Rally, or decide to ride over another time of year, this is definitely an adventure worth taking on two-wheels.

Photo by author, summer 2015

If you would like to know more about visiting South Dakota, or about the history of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, click away! If you have gone to Sturgis and have a story to share, please feel free to message me on Instagram or through Gmail. If you’re heading off to Sturgis this coming week, keep the shiny side up and the rubber side down. ✌️

Moto Miss Monday

Graphic by author

Adeline & Augusta VanBuren

Pushing the boundaries of what “average little girls” are supposed to be interested in – that was the way for my sister and I. Born five years apart, just like the VanBuren sisters, my sister and I would play catch in the yard, play with the worms while we were fishing in the woods, and obsess over hockey in winter and motorcycles once warmer weather finally arrived.

My sister & I

For years, society has taken pleasure in restricting women from doing what was socially acceptable for boys and men. These fabricated societal regulations are, and have always been, nonsensical. Adeline and Augusta VanBuren must have agreed back in the early 1900s when they sought to prove to the U.S. Military that women were fit to serve as dispatch riders.

As descendants of former President Martin VanBuren, these two sisters were supposed to be classic “society girls”. But before women were even granted the right to vote, these ladies were fighting the limitations society had placed on their gender through their unconventional participation in wresting, swimming, skating, and of course motorcycling.

Image courtesy of AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame

The VanBuren sisters were decidedly aware that convincing the U.S. Military to allow female dispatch riders would be no easy feat. They planned for a transcontinental journey meticulously with the knowledge of what was riding on their adventure – an increased access to equity and independence for American women.

On the Fourth of July, 1916 – still four years before the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the two sisters set out on their journey. Their bikes of choice were the Indian Power Plus and would carry them from Brooklyn through Chicago, Omaha, Salt Lake, the Rockies, becoming the first women to ride Pikes Peak, the Colorado Springs, San Francisco, Los Angeles and finally to their last stop in Tijuana.

Image courtesy of AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame

These ladies rode coast to coast before highways were paved as gloriously and conveniently as they are now, they rode through rough terrain and handled unprecedented adversity. These “society girls” were arrested multiple times in the smaller towns outside of Chicago for the terrible crime of wearing men’s clothing. Thankfully, they reached a compromise with the law after explaining that corsets and petticoats were not as conducive for a transcontinental journey as men’s leathers.

Despite this noble journey, the military and the media took these feats as a petty joke rather than a valiant adventure. Adeline’s application to become a military dispatch rider was rejected, meanwhile the media praised the Indian motorcycles rather than these two sisters for enduring such an adventure. Their ambition to prove a point may have failed in their time, but would carry an effect in the next war, as women became dispatch riders swiftly during WWII.

Image courtesy of AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame

There is no documentation or evidence that these two ladies continued riding after their transcontinental journey, but they certainly never stopped pushing the boundaries of what was “acceptable” for women of their time. Adeline became an English teacher, just like a certain Feminist Motorist we all know, and eventually completed her law degree at NYU. Her sister, Augusta, became a pilot and member of the 99s – the flying group created by fellow gender-equity pioneer Amelia Earhart.

These ladies pushed the limit and worked to prove that, as coined by Augusta:

“Woman can if she will”

If you feel inspired to know more about the VanBuren sisters, check out the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame page. If you or a fellow lady rider are interested in being featured, message me via email or through Instagram and Facebook @feminist_motorist. If you have any suggestions for future Moto Miss Monday posts, please feel free to message as well! Until then, ride on, lades.

Gif courtesy of Giphy

Ride On, Milwaukee

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Milwaukee Museum of Art, Summer 2018

While I love my “sweet home, Chicago,” as I aimed to highlight in my ‘Ride On, Chicago‘ post, I cannot deny that Milwaukee has taken up a special place in my heart. This mid-size city has a mellowness to it that can sometimes be difficult to attain in the midst of Chicago’s hustle and bustle. What’s more, for us motorcycle enthusiasts, Milwaukee has one thing that Chicago certainly does not – the roots of Harley-Davidson.

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Photo by author. Harley-Davidson Museum, the shed that started it all

If you’re looking for a city that has motorcycle culture irrevocably intertwined in its history – Milwaukee is the place to be. From displays at the Milwaukee Museum of Art that showcase the early days of Harley-Davidson racing on the beaches of Lake Michigan, to the riding restaurants and motorcycle-themes sprinkled down every street – Milwaukee is practically made for motorcyclists.

Through my many adventures to Milwaukee, I have gathered a few favorites that I would love to share with fellow riding enthusiasts. While these suggestions do not exhaust the array of riding-related stops in Milwaukee, they are some of the places I always enjoy visiting.

If you decide to venture to the charming city of Milwaukee, you cannot skip a trip to the Harley-Davidson Museum. This big-name motorcycle giant was started in a small shack right here in Midwestern Milwaukee, and it is truly amazing to see the expansive impact they’ve had. Each year, Harley-Davidson throws a big party for their Anniversary. This past year being the 115th, drawing out thousands of riders from all over the globe.

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Photo by author – Harley-Davidson 115th “Where Are You From?” Map

On any given weekend, however, the Harley-Davidson Museum has plenty of exciting events going on. During the summers, Thursday’s are Bike Nights at the Museum. With live music, good food and tons of bikes this is an excellent way to kick-off a weekend. Throughout the summer, the Museum also hosts other exciting events such as stunt shows, custom bike shows and their outstanding Autism Speaks event. If you’re looking for something to do on a rainy day, a visit to the museum is still a great call. HOG members can gain free admission, but paying the $22 for general admission is well worth the cost.

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Photo by Author – Bike Night

If you’re feeling interested in checking out the Harley-Davidson scene in Milwaukee, but don’t necessarily want to commit a day to the Museum, visiting the Harley-Davidson Motor Bar & Restaurant is a great option. The food and drinks are excellent, and you get a gorgeous view of the river as well. This is probably one of my favorite parts of spending summer nights in Milwaukee.

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Photo by author – Motor Bar & Restaurant

As for other motorcycle-centered places to check out in Milwaukee, a favorite of mine has to be the Fuel Cafe in Riverwest. With amazing coffee and a stellar selection for brunch, you can’t go wrong with stopping in to start your day. Beyond their food and drink selections, as well as the motorcycle-theme, this cafe is super aesthetically pleasing. Be ready to post on Insta after a trip to the Fuel Cafe!

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Image courtesy of fuelcafe.com

With the deeply-rooted nature of riding culture integrated in the history and growth of Milwaukee, you really can’t escape discovering regular riding and stunt events, or even seeing shows at the Harley-Davidson stage on the Summerfest grounds. Motorcycles and riding life is everywhere in this city. If you’re looking to immerse yourself – check out the HD Museum. If you prefer to keep your riding-related exposure low-key, well there’s surely something Milwaukee will have to offer.

If you’re a Milwaukee or Wisconsin native and have more exciting riding-related events, restaurants and shops you want me to chat about or visit, please message me on Instagram @feminist_motorist and I will be happy to add to this post! Until then, as always, ride on!

Gif courtesy of Giphy

Moto Miss Monday

Graphic designed by author

Bessie Stringfield

Race is definitely one of those topics that, like feminism, is considered a controversial and “hot button” issue. Nonetheless, I stand firm to my belief in equality – particularly the equality that can persist in a community as welcoming as the riding community is today.

Photo courtesy of The Miami Herald

With the recent announcements of both a black Little Mermaid and a black female Agent 007, I thought now would be the perfect opportunity to emphasize my support. My identification with feminism is rooted in a knowledge of the history of inequality that has persisted in the United States – for all women, but surely for some more than others. A prime example being – while white women were granted suffrage in 1920, it was not until 1960 that some southerns states finally granted black women the right to vote. That was less than 60 years ago, and such injustice carries lasting effects.

While black women have undeniably been a prominently marginalized population throughout history, they have also been historically resilient. From Harriet Tubman, who not only completed 13 missions through the Underground Railroad and served as a general during the Civil War, to Bessie Stringfield, the valiant black female rider who toured through the Southern U.S. during the Jim Crow era – resilience has been a clear and prominent trait.

What makes me so excited about sharing Bessie’s story is that to her – she was a woman doing exactly what she felt like doing – riding her motorcycle. While what she was consequently accomplishing was successfully desegregating the riding community.

Photo courtesy of BessieStringfieldBook.com

In 1930, Bessie Stringfield became the first African-American female to ride her motorcycle across the United States solo. It was through this valiant adventure that a path was paved for fellow African-American motorcycle enthusiasts who wanted the freedom to ride everywhere and anywhere they chose.

Despite sleeping on her motorcycle at various gas stations through the night, having been denied access at various places to rest her head due to the color of her skin, Bessie made eight long-distance solo rides through the United States. She faced violence and harassment along the way, but that didn’t stop her from doing what she felt she had every right to do – ride her motorcycle.

Her hardcore attitude only increased when she started her work for the U.S. Army as a motorcycle dispatch rider during World War II – as the only female in her unit.

Photo courtesy of AMA Motorcycle Museum

Bessie’s resilience persisted through her life and stood out thanks to her passion for motorcycles. From disgusing herself as a man to participate in a Miami motorcycle race – only to be denied the prize upon removing her helmet, to eventually earning her rightful title as a Motorcycle Hall of Famer in 2002, it’s clear that her resilience seems to have an endless lifespan.

Bessie Stringfield rode her own ride while simultaneously trailblazing for the many women and women of color to follow the path she paved. Despite the struggles she was forced to overcome at the hands of injustice, it is thanks to her resilience that the riding community could morph into what it is today – a space for everyone to ride free.

Photo courtesy of Atlas Obscura

If you feel inspired to know more about Bessie Stringfield, check out the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame page. If you or a fellow lady rider are interested in being featured, message me via email or through Instagram and Facebook @feminist_motorist. A big thanks to @kcycle_chronicals for today’s suggestion! If you have any suggestions for future Moto Miss Monday posts, please feel free to message as well! Until then, Ride on, lades.

Image courtesy of Giphy – Empowered Women Empower Women

Ride On, Chicago.

My family and I were scanning our menus at a restaurant in Downtown Disney. I was probably in middle school, looking for the food item that contained the most cheese possible. Our waiter came along and greeted us happily, and the minute we started ordering beverages he stopped us – “Lemme guess, Chicago?”

Photo by author

I was baffled. How was it possible this man knew we were from Chicago? My parents laughed, acknowledging the prominence of our Chicago accents. Our waiter jaunted away to grab our drinks and I stared at my parents with my eyes bulging out of their sockets. I had no idea us Chicagoan’s had accents. This blaring memory of insecurity was only temporary, as I have always been glad to come from a city with such rich culture and history.

My dad constantly likes to remind me, the morning after the Chicago fire, the city was up and about rebuilding and planning. Chicago had a Midwestern work ethic with a good mix of its own kind of crazy – it still does.

Photo by author

Growing up near the city left me with an exposure to all that Chicago has to offer. There is really something for everyone, including motorcycle enthusiasts. As a Chicago native, I want to pinpoint some of the best motorcycle related events, restaurants and shops in Chicagoland, while emphasizing some of the other hidden gems the city has to offer.

Chicago has a number of ideal restaurants for those who love to ride. Twisted Spoke is a favorite of my family’s and is easy to spot with its iconic skeleton riding a motorcycle.

If you’re looking for a rooftop bar with highly reviewed Bloody Mary’s, notoriously good food and a motorcycle theme – Twisted Spoke is the place to be. As for local gems, this restaurant is just down the road from Great Lakes Tattoos – a place that specializes in Traditional American tattoos with some of the best artists around. So, after you fill your belly, you’ll be all set to get some ink.

Photo courtesy of The Chicago Traveler

Another great choice if you’re looking for a moto-themed bite to eat is the Five Star Bar, which hosts Motorcycle Monday’s and leaves you ready to come back for Taco Tuesday’s. With some of the most reasonably priced meals available in the city, along with the excellent selection of drinks and motorcycle atmosphere, you will definitely want to check out the Five Star Bar.

Located in West Town, this restaurant is in one of my personal favorite areas of the city. From the outstanding sweets and Dark Matter coffee served at West Town Bakery, to the vintage motorcycle gear found at Tarnish – the best kind of thrift store for a motorcycle enthusiast. West Town is quaint and exotic in a way that only Chicago can accomplish.

Photo courtesy of Jet Set TImes

If you’re belly is full and you’re on the prowl for some motorcycle apparel and gear, Motoworks Chicago, Dainese Chicago and Chicago Harley-Davidson are all great options. Motoworks is where you’ll want to go if you’re searching for a new bike, and Dainese is where you’ll want to head for gear-centered options. Meanwhile, Chicago Harley-Davidson, located in Wrigleyville, is a great place to check out first thing in the morning. With Do-Rite Donuts just next door and a coffee bar inside the Harley dealer, it’s a great location to sit and enjoy the city while surrounded by motorcycles, riding gear and apparel.

Photo courtesy of Motoworks Facebook

If you’re a Chicago local or even a tourist to the area in search of a motorcycle event or ride, Chi-town has plenty to offer. From long-distance trips like a Route 66 Guided-Tour to the Progressive International Motorcycle Show held in Rosemont annually, there is always something motorcycle-related to do and see in the Chicagoland area. A little bit of digging, and you’ll be sure to find the right event or ride for you.

Many of these events are hosted by Harley dealers in the Chicagoland area. With the overflow of ongoings in Chicago, the best way to keep up to date with moto events is to follow your favorite dealers, restaurants and shops on social media – show your support while scoring memorable nights at outstanding riding events, that’s the best way to be involved in the riding community.

As a Chicago native, I can say with confidence that these suggestions are not exhaustive, as there is always something new and exciting popping up in the city. If you know of more motorcycle gems that I missed out on mentioning, feel free to comment or message me and I’ll be happy to write an updated “Ride On, Chicago” post in the future! Want to know of more exciting places to check out as a Midwestern motorcyclist? Keep an eye out for next Thursday’s post as I begin my weekend adventure to Milwaukee. Until then, as always, ride on!

Gif courtesy of Giphy