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Bike chicks hit the road


photo 3-289Mangawhai’s roads came alive on May 7 with the reverberating of throbbing engines as an all-female crew of 70 riders rumbled into town.

In a show of motoring girl-power and independent spirit, riders astride Ducatis, Harleys and Triumphs united for a 200km-plus round trip in celebration of International Female Ride Day.

Organiser of the event and avid bike rider, Jeni Hart says the day is aimed to promote the growing culture of female riders who want more from a bike riding experience other than taking a backseat as a passenger.

“International Female Ride Day is about encouraging women to give riding a go,” says Hart, manager of motorbike business American Custom Cycles. “We just don’t want to be on the back, we want control over riding.”

Created in Canada by Vicki Gray, director of Motoress, an on-line women’s motorcycle magazine, 2016 marks the tenth anniversary of worldwide participation and New Zealand’s fourth year for the event.

As well as highlighting female motorcycle enthusiasm, the ride also serves to create bonds with other women riders and enhance and develop friendships within the sport.

Individual participants and club members with riders from far away as Tauranga, congregated for an overnight stay in Drury before heading west in the morning, their designated route taking them through Helensville and Wellsford before converging at the Mangawhai Tavern for lunch and ending at the historic Puhoi Pub.

Hart says while the numbers of female bike riders are increasing, women are still subjected to some resistance from their male counterparts.

“Female riders are still not taken seriously,” she says. “There is a subtle opposition from some men, maybe they feel intimidated by female riders?”

Hart is an active promoter of female bike riders, competing regularly at Meremere’s drag races and various motorcycle events to highlight women in the sport and, along with photographer and administrator for NZ Bike Chicks Facebook, Shay Ron, co-produced a 2016 calendar of women riders.

Hart says the calendar is classy with the focus on women and their bikes.

“It was a very empowering project. Most of us have to juggle families, children and work to find riding time,” she says. “Every woman has an individual story of why she rides, I know some riders have lost children to suicide… when you ride you can forget about life for a while, it’s just you and the road.”

ROAD RAVE: The posse of ‘bike babes’ pictured at the Mangawhai Tavern on International Female Ride Day. - PHOTO / Shay Ron

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