Even though my V Star 650 was lying on its side in the snow and ice of Wolf Creek Pass in Southern Colorado, I never once thought about turning around and going home. They were waiting to meet me, and I was dying to meet them.
I was 1,000 miles into a 1,200-mile trip from San Diego, Calif., to Denver, Colo., to attend the Steel Horse Sisterhood Summit (SHSS) from May 2-4 when my spill happened. My husband, Steve Johnson, and I left a week early so we could take a more leisurely pace through the West. The entire time I was documenting the trip on the SHSS event’s Facebook group page.
Ever since I began riding a motorcycle 18 months ago, I’ve wanted to find other women riders with whom I could become good friends. In fact, I’ve longed for this closeness with women my entire life.
As my husband and I struggled to upright my V Star in near-whiteout conditions on the Continental Divide at 10,800 feet in late April the snow just kept accumulating up on the desolate highway. “We can’t just wait here,” Steve shouted with a hint of exasperation in his voice. “The snow’s piling up. We have to turn around and head back down to Pagosa Springs.”
Through the help of a kind and brave motorist named Jared—who actually rode my motorcycle 10 miles back down the snowy pass while I rode in his truck with his friend Taryn—Steve and I made it safely back to Pagosa Springs to wait for the snow and ice to melt.
A few days later, we arrived in Denver to armloads of hugs—hugs I’d been looking forward to. I felt triumphant! I battled and won against all the odds that Mother Nature threw at me on this trip. “Oh my God! I’ve been following you on Facebook!” Linn exclaimed to me when we met at the Summit. “I’m glad you made it safely!”
“Oh, you’re the one!” Deb said to me with surprise, as we met each other at the hotel lobby. “You didn’t dump your bike. That was a pirouette!” She’s the woman who gave me that colorfully descriptive word.
Sherri Abernathy, a former physics teacher, was among the first in line for the Firemen’s Bike Wash, where half-naked muscle-bound firefighters sudsed up and hosed down the women’s bikes. “There’s a low coefficient of jiggledge,” she said of the men, in her Texas drawl, referring to their minimal body fat. “I like the eye candy!”
For the next three days, I talked with more than 200 women and got to know many of them personally. There were speakers, workshops, rides and vendors. There was karaoke, yoga, breakfasts and even a female-Elvis impersonator at one of the evening’s entertainment activities.
Meeting the women in person, many of whom I’d met on Facebook months earlier, was the culmination of a long journey in more ways than one. We could put a face to a name and turn a social media smile and hug into a real one. Many of the women told me this event was about making a soul-to-soul connection, one that creates a lifelong sisterhood.
For me, the Steel Horse Sisterhood Summit was also a sort of coming-of-age as a female motorcycle rider, having never attended such an event before. Being accepted with open arms by hundreds of seasoned motorcyclists made it feel as if I had reached a milestone in my year-and-a-half experience of riding. No competition, no cattiness, no judgment; just kinship on an unspoken level.
The Steel Horse Sisterhood Summit wasn’t a rally. It was a more of a gathering, where the free spirits of women riders collected and coalesced, finding a place of belonging within the hearts and minds of one another, while celebrating what makes each person unique. It wasn’t trying to be the female answer to biker brotherhood, but rather it’s own unique phenomenon where you have to be a woman motorcyclist to understand.
There were Harley-Davidsons, Indians, Hondas, Kawasakis, BMWs, Yamahas, Victorys and Suzukis. There were cruisers, sportbikes, adventure bikes and trikes. There were club members and solo riders. There were moms and businesswomen, rich and poor, young and old. Over the course of the four days, approximately 400 people attended the event—either staying for the whole weekend or just coming to one or two of the activities. It was a diverse mix of women who rode in from all over the US, eager to gain something profound they couldn’t find elsewhere.
I’ve been told by others that what made this event different from other women’s motorcycling events of the past was the anticipation leading up to it. It gave the Summit a unique boost. You see, before there was this event, there was a group called the Steel Horse Sisterhood that motorcycle industry veteran Joan Krenning (also owner of Design Wraps) came up with while out on a ride. She envisioned women joining together as a group of riders on Facebook who can then share their stories with one another. Joan then envisioned an event that would bring all these women together to meet in person to connect on that soul level, thus creating a network of women rider friends all across the country.
It was exhilarating to finally see each other in person, hug each other and hear their voices after spending so much time communicating only on Facebook. “The way the Summit turned out exceeded my expectations!” Joan announced after the event. “I’m grateful to everyone who attended, and thankful for all of our volunteers. We’re already planning for next year!”
Visit my website here to read more about my harrowing snowy mountain pass ride and to see some incredible photos.
About the Author:
Sash Walker and husband, Steve Johnson, run their motorcycle marketing and media business while on the road traveling by motorcycles. While discovering a love for each other, they discovered they each had a desire to feed an adventurous spirit. Sash is the colorful blogger behind the popular Sash Mouth,“a former beauty queen turned biker, now living on the road, fulfilling her dreams along the highways of North America.” Her husband and her also own Road Pickle, and online motorcycle touring publication. Sash began riding in January 2013 and subsequently rode 15,000 miles over the next nine months chronicling her adventures along the way. She rides a 2012 Yamaha (Star Motorcycles) V Star 650. “Everyone I meet has something to teach me, as does every mile. I want nothing more than to learn.” Follow Sash at SashMouth.com. You can also follow Sash on Google+.
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