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Women riders open new world to 6-year-old

Molly Lukas wants a motorcycle. Molly is 6.

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Molly Lukas wants a motorcycle. Molly is 6.

I met Molly a couple of weeks ago on a day spent on the back of a Yamaha FZ1. I was on the back because I am not allowed to be on the front. That would require a motorcycle licence, which many of you know I failed to obtain last fall. I did, however, stay in touch with my instructor, Liz Jansen. Through her company, Trillium Motorcycle Tours, she offers motorcycle trips ranging from one day to a week.

She invited me along for a recent Women's Networking Ride, knowing full well I would be shifting on the back of her bike and yelling, "Are we there yet?"

As I pulled into the meeting place in Brampton with Liz's sister Mary – she was to drive the "chase car" – I saw 15 motorcycles. I also met 15 women who couldn't be more different if you'd called them up from Central Casting – some had been riding most of their lives, some were eager to try out newly earned licences.

A gorgeous tricked-out Harley, beautiful cruisers, a couple of starter bikes. Jeans, leathers, even a pair of pink chaps. A paralegal, a flight instructor, a banker, a military woman. Moms, wives, divorcées. A spectacular tangle of women clustered around Liz to receive instructions before heading out – the common bond being just the two wheels they leaned on.

Against the spectacular backdrop of Dufferin and Grey counties, we wended through farmland. Driving in the lead, Liz set the pace as the riders fell into natural patterns. With another instructor mid-pack, another at the rear, and Mary buffering in her truck, riders knew they would have built-in safety nets in case they lost the leader, or ran into problems.

While I've often seen groups of motorcycles, I've never actually been in one. When I was a kid, a large group used to make my mother nervous. She'd only let us wave after she'd ascertained they weren't likely to make soup from our bones. A funny thing happens when people realize it's women riding; little kids wave, men doubletake, and I swear I saw more than a few women give pause. Talk turned inevitably to differences between male and female riders. With more women on their own bikes, I wondered aloud about how riders might differ.

"Men rev their engines to scare the cows," stated Madeleine, an instructor herself. This struck me as just mean. "The cows run, which they think is funny," she continued. We didn't scare any cows, though I made a note to myself to ask my male colleagues about this. I'm sure they'll deny it.

As we stopped for lunch at the beautiful Walter's Fall Inn, Molly and her dad, on a break from visiting friends in nearby Meaford, were lunching a couple of tables overMr. Lukas told us that Molly was totally enthralled with the "Motorcycle Ladies." She'd insisted on eating on the patio with us, and was dying to sit on a bike.

She grinned from ear to ear while perched on a silver blue Harley-Davidson, and I made a note to forward Liz's card to the family.

Looks like Liz will have another student in 10 years.

Lorraine Sommerfeld's column appears Saturday in Wheels and Mondays in Living. www.lorraineonline.ca


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