Let’s say you’re out and about just doing your thing. You might be riding, you might be driving, you might be walking—and which one you’re doing specifically doesn’t matter.

But then, you spot a couple of bikes, and you think they’re cool. Maybe one in particular grabs your attention, so much that you feel the irrepressible urge to go talk to that rider about their awesome machine.

And then…when you go to talk to that person, you suddenly realize that they’re (gasp) a woman! Their companion is nearby, and if they’ve both stopped, chances are good that they’re both busy parking their bikes and maybe taking off their helmets and gloves.

Oh my goodness, what do you do? You talk to the person riding the bike you want to chat about, that’s what.

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If you’ve read this far and you’re a fellow woman who rides, then chances are you’ve already lived this experience more than once. And if you’re a fellow rider who is not a woman, maybe you think it’s an exaggeration unless you’ve been the other rider in this scenario. I’m here to assure you that it’s not.

Multiple times, on different occasions and completely different bikes, I’ve been out riding with someone else when a random person on the street decides that they want to chat about the bike that I’m currently riding. To be completely fair, there are plenty of times when that person just does exactly what you’d expect, and starts asking me questions about it as soon as I take off my helmet. Which is, you know, exactly what bike people do

But there have also been times when someone—usually an older person, and so far exclusively an older white man—seemingly can’t process that I, a woman with unnaturally brightly-colored hair, am the one riding the bike they’re curious about. You can almost see the cogs in their brains turning as they recalibrate their question-asking algorithms. Honestly, it would almost be embarrassing if it wasn’t so infuriating.

I mean, to whom should they direct their questions? Surely not the woman. At best, she’s a circus bear, trained to do a cool trick by some external (male) force. Surely she didn’t choose to ride this bike on her own, and surely she doesn’t know the first thing about it!

My partner, who is a man, also rides. We often ride together. The first time some old dude went up to him to ask about the bike I was riding, neither of us could believe it. We weren’t on the same bike, so why wasn’t he asking me? We were both flustered and in a state of disbelief. What was wrong with this guy? 

The next time this happened, my partner was better prepared. He said something to the effect of, “It’s her bike. Why don’t you ask her?” 

And then, that person did. They were clearly still having problems processing what was happening, as they kept anxiously looking over to my partner and directing both their face and their voice in their direction. You know, in case I said the wrong thing, or otherwise couldn’t properly form the answer in my puny, underdeveloped brain.

Did we get through to that person that day? I have no way of knowing. 

But if you’re out riding with a woman rider, and this happens to you, my advice would be to not give in to these troglodytes. They’re out there, but their numbers are dwindling, and I think they know it. Maybe that’s why they keep insisting on not moving forward. Don’t play their game.

Plenty of riders—male, female, and gender nonconforming—are some of the chillest, most awesome people you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting. That includes some old-timers, too. Age is not necessarily an indicator of attitude, and it’s what you do that matters.

But it’s guys like the ones described above that try to keep everyone else as stuck in the past as they clearly are. And we’re not. We’re not there anymore, and the majority of us don’t want to be. 

Motorcycling is for everyone. Let’s fucking act like it. All of us.

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