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I understand why it#8217;s hard to explain the life-changing experience of riding to people that haven#8217;t even been on the back of a bike. I used to be that woman. In 1995, I had my first ride on the back of a friend#8217;s sportbike, going 110 down I-5 north of San Diego#8212;definitely a thrill. A month later, a stranger took me for a short spin on his Harley-Davidson, and I loved the rumble beneath my thighs. But the memory faded as time passed, and my life took its turns and detours until one fateful day in 2007. A man I worked with took me to lunch on his 2003 Road King. I spent the next two months trying to decide if I was in love with him or his ride. Turns out it was both.
Fast forward a bit#8212;I rode on the back of my boyfriend Joey#8217;s Harley for just over a year, riding to the Republic of Texas (ROT) Biker Rally in Austin, Houston and Nacogdoches. I loved hugging the back of his bike, sorting through whatever was weighing on my brain at the time, nothing more.
Maria and her boyfriend, Joey, on the back of her 2008 Kawasaki Vulcan Mean Streak 1600. After a year of riding on the back of Joeys bike, Maria loves the freedom of setting out on her own.

There were two women in our group who rode their own bikes. The thought didn#8217;t cross my mind until they mentioned it. I knew I was capable, and the fire of my desire had been lit. Joey suggested I take the safety course just to see if I really wanted to entertain this notion. So in August 2009, I took the motorcycle safety course, and I haven#8217;t looked back since. A month later, I bought a used Honda 750 from a guy who#8217;d had it sitting in his shed for 10 years, during which he#8217;d put only 400 miles on it.

In June 2009, I had to take her in for new tires because we were preparing to go to ROT in Austin. Meanwhile, Joey took me over to check out the bikes at a resale shop a block away, where I fell in love for the second time. Id previously sat on the 2007 model of the Kawasaki Vulcan 1600 Mean Streak and had not felt comfortable. But this was different. Heavy, weighing in at 640 pounds dry versus the Honda#8217;s 540 wet, the 2008 model was lower to the ground, making it super easy for my 5-foot-6 frame (wearing platform clogs, of course) to handle.
Marias current bike, a 2008 Kawasaki Vulcan Mean Streak 1600. At 5-foot-6, she finds the 2008 model to be low to the ground and easy to handle.

Red and black, the 2008 Kawasaki Vulcan Mean Streak 1600 would soon be mine. She had a meager 283 miles on her, a showroom model ousted to make space for new models coming in. I went in the next morning for a test drive, prepared to pay, and off I rode on my new soul mate. As a new rider, many of my (male) friends insisted it was too much power for me. I not only informed them that I intended to use only the power I needed, but that they were just being petty because the girl in the group had more guns than they did. They knew I was right#8212;even the name was an indicative match.

That was just over a year ago, and we#8217;ve logged well over 10,000 miles together. As much anxiety as I feel every time I ride, I also anticipate the thrill of adrenaline coursing through my veins. I appreciate her power, giving me the ability to stay safe despite all the distracted drivers, debris on the road and other dangers out there. I still ride on the back of Joey#8217;s bike once in awhile, but I will always love the power and freedom I enjoy as a female rider, commandeering my own vehicle and mastering the road, never taking safety for granted, always vigilant.
Maria and Joey traveling from Austin to Dallas in June 2009.

So why do I ride? I ride for many reasons, among them power, confidence and freedom. I ride because I want to see what scenery is out there for my senses to behold, whether that includes beautiful foliage, butterflies and wild birds, or crazy fellow riders searching for fulfillment of their own dreams.

I ride because I can. I ride because too many people don#8217;t think I can#8212;don#8217;t think I should. Because sometimes I just need to get away from everyone and everywhere, just ride off into the obscurity of whatever destination I don#8217;t have planned. Sometimes I take Joey with me, sometimes I disappear on my own. Maybe I#8217;ll cover 30 miles of little back roads with stop signs or 100 miles of two-lane state highway. Bottom line#8212;I ride because I have the freedom, the will and the opportunity. And no one can stop me.
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13 thoughts on Reader Story: Her Mean Streak Makes It Happen

  1. Where did you get those amazing matching saddlebags? I want them!

  2. This sounds a lot like my story as well. I grew up in Dallas and rode mini bikes and mopeds as a kid. I gave up riding when I moved to Mass. My husband decided to buy a bike. We took the Safety Riding Course in Oct 2009, and I immediately bought a Honda Shadow 750 to start. I rode 12,000 miles my first season and decided it was time to upgrade. My husband had bought a Suzuki Hayabusa, but I also love the cruiser style. So I compromised with a sport cruiser and bought my baby a 2008 Mean Streak SE, just like you did Maria. I find it funny that we both took the course within months of each other. We started out with the same first bike and ended up buying the same bike after. I ride for many of the same reasons. Riding on the back is relaxing, but I prefer to be in control of what I want my bike to do. Love the open rode and love my bike!

  3. When I read this article I thought, “My gosh! I could have written this.” I too am a new woman rider and ride for the reasons given in the article; thanks for trying to explain the feelings associated with being a woman rider.

  4. Right on! As one of the other two women riders in the group, I can attest to your free spirit and independence. I enjoy every minute of every hour of every road trip that we all ride together. In a very short time I’ve made a lifetime of memories, and many more to come. Watch out for the bees! You rock, Maria!

  5. Ah, you ride because you ride. Male or female, nothing matters but the ride.

  6. As much anxiety as I feel every time I ride, I also anticipate the thrill of adrenaline coursing through my veins. Perfect quote!

  7. I’m happy to report that despite these pictures, I diligently wear my helmet these days, and Joey has learned to keep his paws on the handlebars. Thanks for posting, and for reading!

  8. Beautiful words, girl. I ride for the same reasons: the freedom, the opportunity, and the drive. Keep the shiny side up!

  9. As diverse as we all are who are readers of this site, it’s so amazing how similar our stories are! I love this sentence in the story: “I ride because too many people don’t think I can—don’t think I should.” Amen, sistah!

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