Reading the book – Chicks on Bikes – by photographer Christina Shook, reminded me of a trip I took to the Women on Wheels rally in Michigan in 2007. What I saw there made me look forward to getting older and it made me realize some of the best moments of my life could happen after the age of 60 as long as I have a motorcycle.
Women rode solo and in groups to the rally from several states away, across thousands of miles of open highway through rain, traffic and uncomfortable temperatures just so they could commune and laugh with other women like themselves. They rode GoldWings, fully dressed Harley Davidsons, Can Am Spyders, sport bikes and pretty much anything with two to three wheels. It didn’t matter how big the bike was or how small the lady was, most of these women rode with the same finesse it takes to pilot an airplane. Some of them were frail, some of them were young, some of them didn’t learn to ride until after the age of 50. Some of them had been riding their entire lives. I was only 26 at the time riding demo bikes for Kawasaki. The funny thing was these women impressed me just as much as I impressed them. This mutual respect between my generation and theirs made the Women on Wheels rally a benchmark in my motorcycling career.
Chicks on Bikes reminded me of the amazed and inspired feeling I had when I attended the rally. When I saw these women, they each seemed so powerful to me in their own way. They didn’t care what anyone thought of them. They just rode because they wanted to, some because they had to. Life couldn’t stop them. Time couldn’t hold them. They could go anywhere they wanted and be anyone they wanted as long as they had two wheels.
A motorcycle does for women what steroids do for men, but without all the nasty side effects. A motorcycle enhances a woman. It makes her sexier, stronger, happier and more resilient than she ever could have been without it. A motorcycle can make a woman independent, indelible, persevering, determined, motivated, adventurous, unafraid of loneliness and sublimely happy. It doesn’t matter if she was cheated on, has cancer, was abused in the past, if she was laid off or fired from her job. It doesn’t matter if she was a burn victim, a soldier with a missing limb, a mother who lost a child. Nothing matters. It’s amazing how a combination of wind, wheels, motor and open highway can have more healing power than any medicine on the market. A motorcycle is as close as we can get to the other side while still breathing. Motorcycling is the ultimate way of life and it’s the Chicks on Bikes who get to live it.
The women in the book made me remember all the women I’ve met and learned something from while riding motorcycles. It’s these women who taught me to never settle for a dead end. They have proven there is always a trail, a road, a path to get to where I need to go. For women, motorcycles can carry us to places that would otherwise be unreachable.
Christina Shook not only took photographs of so many unique and amazing women, but she also learned a little about them, lessons of which she wrote on the pages alongside the unforgettable smiles of the women in her photographs. Christina captured them and brought out their spirits in ways most male photographers would overlook.
The book Chicks on Bikes gives the reader a glimpse of women riders in their true forms at a time when they were or are happiest and strongest – a time when they’re riding a motorcycle. Christina Shook’s book will keep the memories of these women alive long after they’re gone. Their legacy will thrive on the pages of Chicks on Bikes and they will continue to inspire us as motorcyclists for years to come.
If you haven’t read the book or seen the photos, purchase a copy here.
Photos for review by Salvador Maltbie
Words by Rachael Maltbie