A Ripple squadron roams BC promoting a global motorcycle event for women, and a group of bikers gathered in Chilliwack on May 31st.
About two dozen female riders met at Mountainview Harley Davidson to prepare for their stage to Kelowna. Some were old friends, others were just meeting for the first time. They were all sizes, ages, and backgrounds, but they all share a love of the open road. And they had an adventure ahead of them.
The drive began earlier this week at Mile Zero on the Trans-Canada Highway near Victoria, BC. A group of nine women from Vancouver traveled there to start it all and met with 11 women from Vancouver Island. They rode the Malahat together, even in terrible weather.
“We’re talking biblical rain and such thick fog,” said Teresa Udell, who started the BC Ripple Relay. “But we did it and it was amazing.”
Once in Vancouver, the women drove all week through Stanley Park, Fort Langley and White Rock. When the stage, started by Chilliwack, reached Kelowna, they were supposed to meet another group heading to Balfour near Nelson.
One of the Chilliwack bikers, Cat Ablett, says women are the fastest growing rider population – and the industry is starting to stand up and take notice.
Ripple Relay is about increasing that presence and showing that there is room for women on the streets.
But it’s also about connections, and many of the drivers have met women all over the world online. The Ripple Relays are intended to give momentum to the Women Riders World Relay, which started back in February. It will hit around 82 countries and connect tens of thousands of women drivers. The journey is followed online with a baton equipped with GPS.
For the Ripple Relays, women travel with a large, handcrafted coin. And before they left Harley Davidson on Friday, they took turns taking photos with it, signing their ride banners, and writing their names in a ledger for posterity.
Each of the drivers has their own story. When Pat Jacobsen wanted to take up motorcycling, she had never ridden a bicycle.
“We lived in Vancouver and our mother said it wasn’t safe because we could get hurt,” she says with a laugh. She now lives in the North Delta and rides whenever she has the opportunity. She has toured all of North America including three trips to Sturgis.
“I didn’t want to waste any time,” she said. “I only have so many birthdays left.”
Eline Mets is a motocross rider with a shoulder injury. She joined the rally to sensitize female drivers to this sport. Coincidentally, she started a Kickstarter for a television show Diaries of Badass Chicks that same day. It’s been in the works for a few years but during the Chilliwack stop she nervously hit the publish button. When she was done, she looked around the assembled crowd of bikers.
“These are the women you don’t see on TV,” she said. “You don’t hear anything from them, you don’t read anything from them.”
Karen Norvell of Chilliwack was in the crowd but unable to make the Kelowna trip. People in town would recognize her by the braided helmet she wears on her bike.
“There’s so much freedom in riding,” she says. “It’s a scary thing, but it’s a freedom like no other.”
She grew up riding her father’s bike, and as a mother, she encourages her own children to take to the streets, including her daughter Abbie. You love the bike community and want more women to get involved.
“People you don’t even know become your sisters, your brothers,” she says.
“This ride gives women a voice,” adds Udell. “We are important, we are here.”
The Women Riders World Relay is coming to Canada on September 14th.
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The women receive safety instructions for the journey. (Jessica Peters / The Progress)
Women sign their names to show how many took part in the ride. (Jessica Peters / The Progress)
Teresa Udell poses with her bike and the coin that she is taking with her. (Jessica Peters / The Progress)
Karen Norvell from Chilliwack and her unique helmet. (Jessica Peters / The Progress)
Eline Mets was delighted to launch her new television series on the same day as the ride. (Jessica Peters / The Progress)