Sure there was the usual event pin and cool keychain/air-pressure gauge, but any thoughts that this was your average motorcycle gathering disappeared when participants opened their pack of registration goodies and found a nail file and folding brush-and-mirror combo.
This was the AMA's Women and Motorcycling National Conference 2000, and such handy personal hygiene tools proved a hit among the nearly 700 participants, only 50 of whom were men. There was no way to overlook the second Women and Motorcycling conference July 13-16 when it converged on the University of Ohio in small-town Athens, 70 miles southeast of Columbus. Riders with obviously female forms carved their way along the twisting, rolling roads on the way into town.
Thursday through Saturday morning, on a large lot at the edge of campus, BMW, Buell, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha displayed their bikes and offered demo rides-one of the most popular attractions of the weekend. Participants lined up and enjoyed ride after ride, many changing their minds repeatedly about their favorites.
"I rode the entire Honda lineup," said Helena Nygren, a Swede who pulled into town on a Honda Shadow 1100 and attended the conference while in the States doing a cross-country ride with another female rider. "The riding was great. Loved the seminars, too, and the chance to meet so many other lady riders."
Friday brought a full day of seminars and workshops, from Racey Women to Make Your Bike Fit You. Participants were invited to relate their motorcycling experience on video for the Living History program and to watch motocross demos by Debbie Matthews. Following a late-afternoon storm, the fun continued downtown with a bike show and street party. Saturday afternoon the entire cast and crew packed up and rode about 50 miles to the AMA headquarters for the opening of the Women and Motor cycling exhibit at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum. In this more intimate setting, women who'd shared dorm rooms or crowded into local hotels together all weekend continued to bond and swap stories while enjoying a barbecue, fashion show and workshops on topics like how to pick up a dropped motorcycle.
With women becoming an ever larger segment of motorcycling, expect events like the Women in Motorcycling conference to gain popularity. It's also a wake-up call to manufacturers of motorcycles and apparel that women are becoming an even greater part of the mix; ignore them at your peril. -Marry Sorensen