The 2006 AMA/FIM Women and Motorcycling Conference was a big success judging by the number of attendees. Nine hundred fifteen people registered for the event marking a 50 percent increase in attendees over the last conference held in 2002 in Buckhannon, West Virginia. This 2006 conference, held in Athens, Georgia, is the fourth time the American Motorcyclist Association has organized such an event. The economic impact on the city of Athens from the conference was $675,000 according to the Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau. The next conference report will focus on the vendors.
Click on images below for full size.
Patti DiPietro, AMA CEO, welcomes partipants during opening ceremonies. She spoke of this conference being the first to embrace the international community with the partnership of the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM). Eight countries were represented.
Lara Lee, Harley-Davidson Vice President of Enthusiast Services and keynote speaker at the opening ceremonies spoke about this conference being an historic event for women and motorcycling encouraging participants to “pass it on,” referring to their love of motorcycling. Harley-Davidson and Buell were presenting sponsors of the conference.
Singer/songwriter/humorist Eric Gnezda entertained the crowd during opening ceremonies. His singing and joke-telling kept the audience laughing as he spoke of men/women differences and joked about the personalities of women bikers. Eric used to work for the AMA.
Linda Ebert of Ashville, North Carolina, demo-ing a Harley Heritage Softail. Many women took advantage of the demo rides signing up for several manufacturer#39;s ride during the day.
Dennis and Karen Mclaughlin of Edmonton, Alberta, test riding BMWs. We spotted a several couples in attendance. Sixty men signed up for the conference, many with their wives. To be able to do the demo rides, one had to have registered for the conference.
Tom and Lynn Davis from Merchantville, New Jersey another couple attending the conference together.
Clay Ridley, owner and inventor of Ridley Motorcycles, talks with a conference attendee about his automatic motorcycles. Ridley offered demo rides. Many of the company#39;s bikes are sold to women.
Jay Ridley, of Ridley Motorcycles and son of founder Clay Ridley, being interviewed for the officially licensed DVD of the conference being offered through WomenRidersNow.com.
Several manufacturers#39; demo ride displays were set up in a parking garage nice protection from the hot 90-degree weather.
Cassandra Lawrence of Atlanta test riding a BMW. Later we saw her test riding a Harley. Ducati, Kymco, Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Ridley were also there offering rides.
Michele Monaco of Colonia, New Jersey, was a little nervous about demo-ing this Harley Low Rider. She currently rides a Yamaha Virago 535 saying “It#39;s not my ideal bike. I eventually want a Harley.” JoAnn Emmons (left), a volunteer with Harley, said some women were concerned about the weight of the bikes and not being used to forward controls. She encourages them by saying, “Ride it like you own it.”
Michele Monaco came back from her test ride with a big smile on her face. “I really like this bike,” she said dismissing any fear she had previously.
The BMW booth featured a banner with a women-inspired ad and pictures and bios of the BMW people working the booth.
Ridley, Suzuki and Yamaha had demo rides and displays in a nearby parking lot.
Check out Part 2 of the story with more photos here.