Reader Story: No Mans Getting in the Way of Her Love of Motorcycling

Life lessons of a true gearhead

By Chris Gibbany, Harrison, Arkansas
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No Mans Getting in the Way of Her Love of Motorcycling
Chris Gibbany with her 1981 Harley-Davidson Ironhead.

I have always been in love with cars and motorcycles—even as a child—I loved old hot rods and vintage iron. I began riding motorcycleswhen I was 16, learning to ride my brothersYamaha 125 Exciter before I learned how to drive a car. When I was in college I bought my first bike, a Yamaha DT Enduro.

After college, I married a man who didnt quite understand my love of the machine. He asked me to sell my first motorcycle in order to buy him an expensive birthday present. Later, without my knowledge, he sold my Yamaha 250 Exciter. The final straw came when he was pressuring me to have children, even though he knew I did not intend to have children. As a result, he “forbid” me to buy another car after I bought my first Corvette and was already planning my next car purchase. Over the course of our marriage, there were many “forbidden” things for me—having tattoos, learning to shoot and purchasing guns, to name a few. Before our divorce was final, I started working on completing my “forbidden list”: I had my tubes tied, bought and learned to drive my 4-speed Corvette, learned to shoot, bought a few guns, built the motor for my race car myself and even got a couple of tattoos.

Fast forward a few years, and I am with my current husband and soul mate, Gabe. I had decided that I would never again be with a man who would, or would attempt to, force me to do anything. Gabe is a man who understands my need to live and breathe for the machine. At first, we bought a pair of Yamaha Enduros to ride. As our love of riding increased, Gabe eventually purchased a couple of Harley-Davidsons and I bought a Yamaha 250 Virago. But after riding smaller bikes for so long, I finally decided it was time to move up to the larger Harley-Davidson.

No Mans Getting in Way of Love of Motorcycling Harley-Davidson
Chris riding her Ironhead, the day it was completed.

I was apprehensive about moving to a larger bike. As chance would have it, I met a wonderful woman named Kim who came from Texas to purchase one of the hedgehogs I breed. When I told her I was saving up for my first Harley she brought me a bag of parts and told me her story of “moving up” to a Harley. My first Harley was a 1970 Ironhead with a right-hand shift [Editors note: Harley-Davidsons with Ironhead engines were produced from 1957 to 1985.] I rode that bike while my husband and I built a 1981 Ironhead, which is the bike I currently ride. While I loved riding the Virago—and I am thankful that I learned the mechanics and logistics of operating smaller bikes—I now appreciate the power of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The encouragement from people in my life, such as Kim and Gabe, helped propel me to ride the larger bikes.

Riding provides me with such an amazing sense of power and boosts my self-esteem. I love the fact that when I am in a bad mood, depressed or just having a bad day, I can go out on my bike with $5 for gas, a bandana tied around my head and go where the wind takes me. I am not thinking about bills, the laundry or the drama of life—I am just thinking about how much I love riding my bike. Goals are an important part of my life and I keep a list of current and accomplished goals. I also live a very frugal life, having never made more than minimum wage. Currently, I am building a 1956 Harley-Davidson Panhead in my living room. This bike is going to be only kick-start, therefore, it is one of my goals to learn how to kick-start a big twin engine. What is important to me, both financially and personally, are my goals to live and breathe for the machine.

No Mans Getting in Way of Love of Motorcycling Harley-Davidson
Chris, enjoying life as a gearhead.

No Mans Getting in Way of Love of Motorcycling Trophys
In 2010, Chris won six of seven shows she entered.

Life has taught me to never let another person, or a lack of money, stop you from getting what you want and what makes you happy. I have the opportunity to be married to a man who is also a gearhead, be encouraged to pursue what I love by others and to save my money for the things that bring me happiness and freedom. For me, there is no limit to being a gearhead. Everything I do is for the love of the machine.

Do you have a story to share? Find out how to submit yours to WRN Reader Stories here.

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16 thoughts on Reader Story: No Mans Getting in the Way of Her Love of Motorcycling

  1. Good for you! I rode my brothers’ dirt bikes as a kid but really didn’t have the confidence to think I could ride a street bike, let alone a big one. One day, my husband heard me say that I didn’t think I could ride a big bike. He said “Why not? Yes you can if you want to.” So I took the motorcycle safety course through the state and got my motorcycle endorsement. I started out with a Suzuki Intruder 800. Next came a Honda Shadow 750, Honda VTX 1300 then a Harley-Davidson Street Glide. My current bike is a Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited and I’m lovin’ it!My husband has always been very encouraging and is the reason I am riding along side (or in front) of him!

  2. I just wanted to update everyone on my life since I wrote this story. So many amazing things have happened. First and foremost, I am still riding my 1981 Ironhead; going on six years now. Secondly, my Ironhead has been featured in countless national and international magazines, plus my story of being authentic and frugal has been published and rewarded as well. In 2014, I won the Garage Girls Ultimate Biker Makeover! My 1956 Panhead is now complete and I am almost finished with my 1939 Knucklehead (that I bought instead of buying a bigger, more expensive house). My photos were used in the Sturgis Museum for “My First Ride” exhibit, I was a featured model with my Panhead tattoo sleeve in The Horse Backstreet Choppers magazine and I am almost finished with my Knucklehead sleeve. Last year I became the Arkansas Representative for the Global Women Who Ride project and am now also a CRO (Cool Rides Online) Champ! =After being a Chevy girl my entire life, at age 41 I switched to MOPARS and sold my 78 Z-28 that I owned 23 years and sold my 1981 Corvette that I had 13 years, and built a 1974 Dodge Charger and am in the process of building a 1973 Dodge Rallye Challenger (my dream car)!Life is great! I would like to encourage anyone male or female, to live life to the fullest and never compromise. Anything worth having is worth fighting for. People have no idea how frugal I am to have the things that I do. It is possible. It just boils down to how bad you want it! At age 43 I am even on three calendars for 2015 and 2016!Also, I want to add that every time I ride I always wear a helmet. Since winning the makeover and seeing too many accidents, I am in love with my helmet, a statement that I never thought I would make!“When you want something bad enough, the whole universe conspires to give it to you.”

    1. Hi Chris,How wonderful to hear from you! Thanks for the update. We are all so impressed by your leadership and perseverance. You are model of going after what you want with grace and poise. Continued success to you Chris, and God bless.

  3. Great story! Yes, I remember a husband saying he didn’t want his beautiful wife to be disfigured by riding and possibly getting into an accident. I said to him that he might be disfiguring her soul. It’s really difficult when a partner puts the breaks on a rider’s enthusiasm. Great work going for it!

  4. Until you ride your own bike as I have for over 30 years, you don’t know what you are missing. Just do it!

  5. Great story of success and survival. I totally understand the power my motorcycle has over me and the total release from life’s struggles it provides. Good for you! (Agree with the helmet suggestion. We want you riding safely for years to come!)

  6. I cringe every time I hear “My wife won’t let me have a motorcycle!”, so I have to say I cringed as I read this story. Control knows no gender, so let’s lay off the male-bashing. The writer’s first husband probably didn’t give a hoot about motorcycles, he just didn’t want her to have anything she loved. And how did he sell her Exciter? I assume it was titled in her name, just like my bikes are. The only way my husband could sell mine is if I were dead!

  7. I have been wanting a motorcycle for a very long time. I dated a man with a motorcycle who was into classic cars and such. He was completely against me having a motorcycle. Said I was too little, and fragile (skinny). Well He is NO MORE! I have my eye on a real gem of a bike, a vintage 450, and I am so excited! Never let any man control your destiny. Thank you for the extra inspiration; it was right on time! I might get that tattoo after all, too!

  8. Please reconsider wearing more than just a bandana, that is, if you care at all for your brain. Maybe a DOT-approved helmet? You can get one that offers as little protection as possible and still feel like you’re “riding in the wind.” For me, give me a full-faced Shoei any day!

  9. Great story! Marc, my husband and best friend, taught me to ride. He and I share this passion and try and spend as much time as we can “riding the waves of life” on our “toys.” Awesome feeling and one of freedom!

  10. What a wonderful story and great example of truly living. Being with someone that encourages me to live free and never do an uninspired thing is amazing. I would love to see more from you on this site!

  11. Good for you Chris. It took me a while to get out of a very sick marriage with a very controlling man, but I too made it out and found me. My first purchase was a 1981 KZ550 and a butterfly tattoo. I had wanted to ride from the time I first saw a motorcycle yet in this marriage we lived and worked for what he wanted. Only when I began to follow my heart and my dreams did I experience wholeness and happiness. I too am married to my soul mate, who by the way, I met at a motorcycle club that I was the first female member of. I hope other women read your story and are encouraged to find themselves. Hopefully they don’t have to leave a relationship to do so, but if so, then DO IT!

  12. That is an inspiring story! Thanks for sharing it.

  13. Chris, God made you perfect! I am glad you found people who can appreciate that perfection and don’t try to put you into some type of mold that man created. I hope your article inspires other women to get out of bad relationships. God bless you on your journey sister.

  14. What a great story! Never let anyone tell you no. Have fun with your current build.

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