Though it started in 2006 as a test to see how many people would show up, the Womens Sportbike Rally, held at the Fontana Village Resort in Robbinsville, N.C., began its second year with a boom. With twice the registered rally-goers, four times the activities as the previous year, plus a long list of new sponsors, its easy to see this event growing exponentially every summer.
The rally succeeded in raising more than $2,500 for the Tiffany Wierbach Melanoma Foundation. This year produced more than we could have hoped for,” said rally coordinator, Stephani McIntyre, who was inspired to start this rally in 2006 in honor of Tiffany, a passionate sportbike rider who died from melanoma at age 24.Tiffany maintained a Web site, SporbikeGirl.com, inspiring others to take up motorcycling. Stephani was so moved by her story, particularly when she, herself, discovered she had melanoma, she started the rally in her honor. Fortunately, Stephani caught the disease early and was able to treat it.
So, along with the help of Allison Gladis, countless sponsors, and a few dedicated volunteers, the Womens Sportbike Rally offered schedule packed full of activities designed to challenge and encourage the women riders who attended.
First on the schedule was the bike night-style “meet and greet” sponsored by Yamaha. The atmosphere was designed to attract women from all walks of life to share their passion for sportbikes. The cool mountain air was thick with excitement and anticipation for the next day of riding the famed Deals Gap highway nearby. Deals Gap, which also goes by the Tail of the Dragon, is known for its 318 curves in just 11 miles. The evening allowed the riders to check out each others bikes, get acquainted with the schedule, say hello to old friends, and meet new ones.
Many riders took part in the “sportbike challenge” held in the parking lot that evening. It was a fun way for riders to test their slow speed riding skills in a friendly competition environment. The night ended with anticipation of the morning to come, and the highlight of the rally testing ones riding abilities at “taming the Dragon.”
Saturday morning started with a buzz heard at the resorts breakfast buffet, among the cabins and lodge rooms, and in the air surrounding the Great Smoky Mountains. Women of all riding abilities would test their abilities on one of the most challenging roads in the country. As the bikes lined up for a group photo, nervous smiles and excited laughter were seen and heard throughout the lot. As the women were mentally preparing for the upcoming ride, a reminder of one womans strength was provided as encouragement as we all took a moment to remember Tiffany, the original “sportbike girl” and all she did for the female riding community.
A relaxed ride down to the famous Deals Gap Resort allowed everyone to take in the scenery before the challenging day ahead. Here, the riders were divided into smaller groups led by volunteers. Allison Gladis, Suzy Moody, Jenn Garner, and Paige Huston would set the pace for each group according to riding ability. The largest group was the experienced riders who set out to rip through the curves in North Carolina. Watching such a large group gather to follow a pace set by a professional racer was empowering and humbling for all who attended, including the men. By 11 a.m., the roads surrounding the Dragon were bombarded by women riders determined to test the edge of their limits.
The day ended with a huge party back at the Fontana Village Resort with a luau theme to keep things casual. More than $12,000 in door prizes were given away including a new scooter, a full set of racing leathers, countless jackets, several photo packages, T-shirts, and many other items.
The prizes were so tempting, that some women tried to play a “white elephant” version of the raffle and began some friendly stealing, trading and joking around with their prizes. By the end of the night, everyone had something new in their hands to take home with them, including countless new friendships and contacts. Tiffany Wierbachs parents were in attendance grateful to all the women who turned out to celebrate and remember the life of their daughter.
Raising money for the Tiffany Wierbach Melanoma Foundation while challenging women to reach their personal bests is only the tip if the iceberg for the Womens Sportbike Rally. Underneath the surface of this event lies a passion for perpetuating the sport of motorcycling in every way, not only for the ladies, but for all sportbike enthusiasts. Celebrating the strength and growth of women riders is what will fuel the growth of the Womens Sport bike Rally in the years to come.
Brittany Morrow has been an avid motorcycle enthusiast since age 16. Now, at 22, she currently owns and rides a custom 2006 Yamaha R6, a 2001 Honda CBR 600 F4i, and a 2007 Yamaha TTR125. In addition to working as a freelance writer in the motorcycle industry, she serves as a spokesperson for ICON, Rokkit Girl, BeFit4Riding,Voodoo Femme, SpeedFreak, and BikeStyles. She owns and operates Queen B Industries which focuses on promoting safe gear and creating benefit funds for downed riders across the USA. She is currently pursuing a degree in journalism from St. Leo University in Tampa, Florida, where she currently calls home. She can be found and reached at TheRoadRashQueen.com.