Women Who Ride To Work Every Day

Two-wheeling it to the office

By Margie Siegal

“It wakes me up, gets me thinking and moving. It puts me in a good mood.”
Jean Goldsborough, New London, New Hampshire

“I arrive with a big smile on my face, having had fun for 30 minutes or so!”
Anke Conzelmann, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts

“By the time I get there, I have a permanent smile on my face.”
Diana Wallace, San Franciso, California

Believe it or not, these women are going to work! Commuting on two wheels turns the usual miserable slog into quality time and adds a little happiness to the week. Although many people who own motorcycles consider them a recreational vehicle to be used only on weekends, a significant minority rides their bike to get to work and run errands.

These women are among the many whove found that riding to work increases the fun factor in their lives. Women who ride to work have a problem that men dont face: the skirt question. Skirted suits, pumps and nylons are not functional on a bike. The women we spoke with all have technical or managerial jobs at companies where the office uniform is “corporate casual.” This look lends itself to quick changes into and out of motorcycle gear.

Dressing for Success
Diana Wallace keeps a jumper, skirt and shoes at work and wears a nice blouse and tights under her leathers. She can go from leather-clad biker to “work ready” in less than a minute.

Diana Wallace rides her BMW R 1200 C to work nearly every day in San Francisco.
She goes from road-worthy to office-ready in less than 60 seconds.
Blouse and tights are worn under her leathers; the loose jumper slips over her riding pants, which unzips easily.
Quick change of shoes and she#39;s off to work.

Amanda Alegado of San Francisco, is the finance manager at a unit of a major corporation. She keeps flats at work, but wears her leather riding pants around the office without comment from fellow managers. “I wore suits for years. Ive done enough suits.”

Marina Cohen of San Diego carries wrinkle resistant dress slacks and changes in the ladies room. Marina programs computers and sometimes teaches college. “Most of my co-workers enjoy the idea of me riding a motorcycle. There are a few who have negative opinions of anyone who rides, or women who ride. Many people make any number of assumptions about me because I choose to ride a motorcycle. Most of these assumptions carry negative connotations. I find that younger people dont tend towards such prejudices.”

Anke Conzelmann has gotten different reactions. “Most think its cool, some think its dangerous. Some probably think I am crazy, but dont say so. Everyone thinks my K 1200 RS BMW is beautiful!”

Anke Conzelmann rides her BMW K 1200 RS to work even in winter to her job as a product manager for a software company near Boston. In winter, it#39;s often dark by the time she leaves the office.

Diana has worked with the same people for more than 10 years as a computer programmer in San Francisco. When she started riding two years ago, her co-workers were all very concerned and a bit fearful. Now, “They see the great fun I am having and are glad I am having a good time. When I go on trips, I usually call one or two of them periodically to say that everything is fine.”

Cool Commute
Most of the women we spoke with ride about 10 miles to work. “Ten miles if I go the direct route, 20 miles if I take my time and add some twisties and less trafficky roads,” smiles Anke. A brave soul, she has been riding almost every day through the Massachusetts winter, unless there is hard rain or snow on the road. “I like doing this! It starts my day off doing what I love to do. There is no comparison to just going to work.”

Marina Cohen lives in the opposite corner of the country: San Diego, California. She resorts to four wheels when it rains. “Southern California drivers just dont get the whole concept of diminished traction. I can stay upright, even on snow covered roads, but the car drivers make it dangerous.”

Jean Goldsborough rides 30 miles each way. “Unfortunately, it is almost entirely highway beautiful highway because I live in rural New Hampshire. But only once in a blue moon do I have time to take the back roads to work.” She rides almost every day during spring, summer and early fall and is planning to buy electric gloves so she can extend her riding season.24

Safety Gear
Women who ride to work believe in wearing safe riding gear. All of the ones we spoke with wear full-face helmets, leather jackets, leather riding boots and gauntlet gloves. “Leather, leather and more leather!” says Diana. Anke and Amanda wear jeans on warmer days, but Jean will only wear jeans if it is really hot and humid. Wearing leather and a full-face helmet is easier in the early morning before the air has time to heat up.

To ride to work without worrying, you must arrange secure parking for your motorcycle. If you plan to ride to work on a regular basis, and your regular ride is desirable to thieves, Andy Goldfine of Ride To Work, Inc., a nonprofit organization supporting riding motorcycles as every day transport, suggests buying a second “beater” bike that is mechanically perfect, but cosmetically challenged.

There are other options. Amanda works in a gated industrial park, and simply parks her Buell in front. “I like to see my bike out of the window.” Jean parks outside the main doors of the health and sports club where she works as a department manager. “All I do to prevent theft is lock the steering welcome to New Hampshire!” Diana, who works swing shift one night a week, has found an indoor garage near her job in San Francisco that charges $3.00 a day. This is about a quarter of what it would cost to park a car in the city.

Health Benefits
Andy Goldfine explains that riding to work can improve your life. “Its fun. Its also awakening, enlivening, energizing, economical and efficient. If you hate going off to work every day, riding to work changes that. Riding to work can produce wonderful changes which affect your psychological and social perspectives in ways that are both positive and useful.”

Andy also believes that riding to work is beneficial for the environment. “As a group, motorcycle commuters reduce parking problems, traffic congestion, energy consumption and wear on transportation infrastructure.”

Marina lists other plusses of riding to work. “I get to work faster, and spend less time stuck in traffic because lane splitting [riding between two lanes] is legal in California. I tend to experience fewer colds than my co-workers, which I attribute to the healthier lifestyle of spending more time outdoors. I compare the difference between riding a motorcycle to work and driving a car to be the same as the difference between taking a walk and sitting on the couch.”

“Riding is such a thrill to me,” says Jean. “Not only is riding my passion, but it is a fun and economical way to commute.”

Visit RideToWork.org for more information.

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News: Ride to Work Day is Monday June 15

29 thoughts on Women Who Ride To Work Every Day

  1. My kiddos think I am the cool teacher. I teach 4th grade math and science and I am the only one that rides at my school.

  2. I ride to work two to three days a week with a 20-mile one-way commute. It is a wonderful experience. I learned to ride about few years ago and I love it! Sometimes I wish home was farther away. I own a Kawasaki 600 and riding gives time to just think about my day, time spent with my family/club, or nothing at all; just enjoying the ride. Ladies, it is a beautiful feeling to throw your leg across that machine and to know that you are doing something that is mainly considered to be manly, but you are all woman. Have a safe and happy ride!

  3. Great stories and comments. I agree; there’s nothing like starting and ending your work day with motorcycling. I ride a HD Street Glide with Vance & Hines pipes; not the quietest, but I “sneak” in to work around 7 a.m. I’m a physical therapist/department director at a senior community. I usually have some of the “guys” who live there meeting me. They love talking bikes and share their personal stories. The ladies always tell me to be careful and when my husband and I go off for a long trip, they all are praying for our safety. I remind them to watch out for all motorcyclists and I think my riding makes them more cautious drivers.I ride almost daily from April to November and the occasional surprise warmer day in the other months. I ride full leather attire and boots; have a curling iron, make-up/touch-up stuff at work; and my professional attire in the saddle bags. One of the first days riding, I was parking and two of the younger staff came running out saying, “Joyce, we always thought you were a cool lady, but now, knowing you ride a motorcycle. Wow, you’re really cool.” Quite a treat to make an impression with the younger and older generations.

  4. I’ve been commuting on my Harley-Davidson 1200 Sportster for almost two years now. I love it! I ride every day about 20 miles each way, but that includes a ferry trip. It’s perfect because I am allowed first on and first off, never miss the ferry, save ferry fees, save gas, and get front row reserved parking at my crowded work lot. I wear Firstgear TPG pants and jacket. They are waterproof and perfect for all seasons, zip right over my work clothes with little wrinkling, and keep me dry in our notorious rain. I also wear a full face helmet, gloves for the season and riding boots. I wear a Corazzo underhoody when it’s really cold. The only time I don’t ride is when there is ice or snow. I love it so much that my hubby got jealous and learned to ride too.

    1. To read our review of the Firstgear TPG jacket and Escape pants, similar to what you have, visit our review in the WRN Apparel and Gear page.

  5. Riding a motorcycle to work is a great way to start the day! I only have five miles to travel to work but I love it. I started out riding a Honda 250 Nighthawk then six years ago moved up to a Honda 750 Spirit named Beauty, which is about the same time I started riding to work. At first a co-worker and I started riding on Fridays because we could wear jeans, but for the past 3 1/2 years I have been riding every day except when it’s raining in the morning. I really need to get a rain suit to remedy that! I don’t mind riding in the rain on the way home. The lowest temperature I’ve rode in is 17 degrees and it was nice. I love it all — the heat in the summer to the cold in the winter. During the summer I wear jeans and a T-shirt and by the time winter gets here I’m ready to bring out the gloves, leather coat and leggings. I carry my work clothes in a bag that I strap down on the back seat. Like most of the others, I pull my hair back in a ponytail to keep from getting helmet hair. I also ride her to run errands, go to the gym, go visit my mom, etc. To all of you who ride have fun and be safe!

  6. Confession – I'm a fair-weather commuter. My trip is less than 10 miles one way and it's hardly worth the gearing up for the commute if it's raining, etc. (especially since I don't have a garage at home or covered parking at work). I do ride down to about 45-50 degrees and have been known to turn that short commute into a 65 mile “detour” on the way home. Sometimes you just have to clear the mind.

    My gear:
    -Shoei TZR full face helmet
    -Olympia Airglide 2 overpants (sometimes I cheat and leave them home in summer when it's really hot; or on a fall day I might just wear some fleece lined jeans).
    -Olympia Airglide 2 jacket, hi-viz (almost never leave home without it)
    -Olympia Ventor Gloves (warm/hot weather)
    -Olympia #181 Monsoon (cool/cold weather; water proof – but I haven't tested that yet)
    -Revit Farenheight H2O gloves (Cold weather…but Olympia Monsoon seems to be just as effective and at much lower $$$…BUT Revit has hard protection over knuckles)
    -Silk glove liners – cold weather

  7. I have owned a Burgman 400 scooter for about a year and ride it to work 34miles round trip, every day. Fortunately, our winters here are not too bad, so year-round riding is pretty easy. I recently bought a Suzuki Savage and am learning to ride it, too. Way too much fun to ever go back to riding in a cage!

  8. I have been riding my 250cc Vespa to work every day for the past two years, rain or shine and it is absolutely the best way to start and finish the day. I'm a waitress so I just leave a change of clothes at work and long hair (ponytail) is the answer to helmet hair.

    I'm currently learning to ride my partner's Ducati 696 monster and I want to thank WRN and all the women who write in for being a constant source of encouragement when I'm feeling overwhelmed. The bike reviews are wonderful, I'm looking at buying a Triumph Scrambler so the Bonnie review was a great guideline. Keep up the great work and safe, happy riding to all!

  9. I would rather ride my motorcycle than drive a car any day of the week. I am a professional pet sitter so I travel between 50 and 100 miles a day for work visiting my furr kids. I starting riding August 2008, just before I turned 49, and have more than 12,000 on my bike. I ride unless there's ice or pouring rain and can think of no better way to travel.

    Full protective gear is the only way I'll ride. Helmet hair is unfortunately part of wearing a helmet but it beats being trapped in a car all day. Riding is SOOOOOOOOOOOO COOL!

  10. I love to ride to school every day. Fortunately, I teach at an alternative high school so jeans and sweatshirts are ok. Since I live on the cold, windy plains of Wyoming, I do have two weather requirements though. First of all, no ice on the roads, second is the forecast has to reach a high of 50 for the day. I realized I was a real fanatic this spring when I passed the bank one morning and realized it was 27 degrees.

    My students love that I ride, especially the boys. Discussing the merits of crotch-rockets vs Harleys (I ride a Heritage) is a great way to bond with my students.
    I'm always in a good mood when I get to school on my bike. But sometimes the 6-mile commute just isn't long enough!

  11. When I first bought my Deluxe, I was convinced I couldn't ride it every day. how was I supposed to run errands or tote the laptop? Boy was I so wrong (newbie). Not only do a ride my Deluxe every day, it's become my main source of transportation. The SUV sits for weeks! If I wake up not wanting to be at work, it's all gone in minutes of my commute. And if the day was hectic, I take the long way home and enjoy the desert landscape or if I'm in the California offices, through the farming valleys. I do have the luxury of have a very casual working environment. On days where I work at the corporate office, I'll wear wrinkle free slacks, and throw on the Dr. Martins.

  12. I commute more than 50 miles one way to my office in Columbus, Ohio, and ride my 2007 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 to work every day that I can from early spring into the fall. I always wear full protective gear including leather chaps, leather or padded mesh jacket, full face helmet and gloves. I recently changed to a shorter hair style and now find drivers staring at me longer as we pass each other. I can almost read their minds, “Is that a woman on that bike?” I am still working on ways to reduce the helmet hair effect, but will not let that stop me from riding.

  13. I ride to work as often as I possibly can. I do, however, draw the line at 40 degrees or less or a downpour. It takes a little more planning, but it's so worth it! I have my own office, so that helps. I wear boots and jeans and a full-face helmet on the bike, leave a pair of dress shoes there, bring an outfit to change into, spend a few minutes un-doing the hair-by-helmet, and voila! I think my boss — who's a great guy — secretly gets a kick out of being the only executive with an assistant that rides! It does go both ways — ask me how many times I've gotten a charge out of the jaws dropping in the parking lot when they see it's a WOMAN parking that bike. In terms of riding improving your outlook, how could that not get your day off to a great start?

  14. I, too, ride to work on a regular basis. I am a Xray Technologist at a clinic 45 minutes from my home. It wakes me up in the morning and allows me to unwind in the evening. I just tuck my scrubs in a saddlebag and change when I get to work. I keep my work shoes at the clinic so I don't have to lug them around. I also am a certified professional photographer and often load my camera gear in the saddlebags and I'm off on another shooting adventure. I ride a Harley Davidson Softail Deluxe which suits my 5-foot 2-inch frame nicely.

  15. I ride my bike to work whenever I can. I'm a real estate agent so I can only ride on days that I'm not showing houses (no one ever wants to ride on the back) or delivering signs. I roll my slacks up and carry them in one saddlebag and my shoes and jacket (if I'm wearing one that day) in the other. I have hair products at work for touch-ups. t's a great way to start your day.

  16. I also ride to work everyday unless it rains. I ride a Buell Blast and it is truly a blast to start my day on my motorcycle.
    My commute is 40 miles round trip on nice country roads,which I find very relaxing and it is a plus not to have to worry about heavy traffic, some mornings I basically have the road all to myself!

    I work in a very small town (less than 5000 people) so parking is never an issue, but female riders are a rarity, that's for sure!

  17. A co-worker and I ride to work almost every Friday me on my 2007 Harley Softail Deluxe and her on her scooter, weather permitting, because it's casual day. My co-worker has longer on length hair and I have shorter hair and I haven't figured out how to not have helmet hair when I get there, so I don't ride any other day. Any suggestions? I'd like to ride more because at our office we can dress business casual which is easy ride gear, except the boots, which I can switch out when I get there.

  18. Oh I think this is a great article! I just rode my V Star '07 650 Classic to a workshop today. I must say the ride in was exhilarating and undressing in the parking lot was sort of fun too! I am a teacher and my students want to see my bike all the time.

    I am beginning to see more women ride and I promote the Rider's Edge program by H-D constantly. It was the best thing I did for myself prior to purchasing my motorcycle. I just purchased my motorcycle after riding with a friend for over 14,000 miles in one season. So at 47 I thought I better get started with my own as soon as possible!

  19. I work as a speech pathologist and I serve many kids within the community and often ride 50 to 60 miles a day. It's 18 miles one way to my home base. Riding my bike is the best way to spend my time to and between sites. I have learned lots of ways to pack odd things on my bike, and I often get stares when drivers look over and see dollhouses or toys strapped to my luggage rack. Living in the Atlanta area enables me to ride nearly year around, except when it is too hot. I bow to you who ride year round in Boston.

  20. I enjoy commuting by motorcycle. Most days, I arrive at work in a good mood because I've already gotten a ride on my bike. When the day is over, my coworkers have to tolerate the commute, while I get to enjoy going for a bike ride.

    When riding my Yamaha FJR1300, I will use the HOV lane and sail past the cars waiting in slow traffic. Other days, I will ride my BMW 650 GS and take the scenic route. The joy of having choices!

    Medical scrubs are the perfect thing to wear under riding gear. I keep a pair of clogs in my locker, to change out of the motorcycle boots into. My gear is stored in the employee break room, and gets a lot of positive comments.

    I do have a car for the days when it rains (CA drivers struggle with driving in the rain, and pose a much greater threat to motorcyclists on those days). I will also use the car now and again if I don't feel that my concentration is good enough for the bike that day.

    Riding daily is an excellent way to sharpen and maintain riding skills.

  21. I ride to work most days. I only commute about five miles, but it does have a different feeling than riding in the car. When I get to work there are always comments about “here comes motorcycle mama” and then laughter. It makes everyone else feel good too.

  22. Yeh! I'm not the only one. I ride to work every day even through the winter. Don't ever see any women ride around here much, just nice weekend days. My bike is my work transporatation and my grocery getter.

  23. I, too, ride to work everyday. I live in south Texas and the summers can be brutal, but I find the joy and benefits of riding outweigh that problem. Riding the 30 miles to/from work each day truly helps me maintain a better attitude.

  24. My commute is 18 kms each way and I'm usually going against the rush, which is nice. My work day begins at 3 a.,m., so it's always dark when I leave the driveway. The biggest challenge in those hours is watching out for wildlife. Even in the city, deer and raccoons are an issue. I'm always more alert when I ride my bike to work and I've been known to take the long way home in the light of morning.

    I started commuting with the bike in April this year, so the heated vest was a must. I am also a firm believer in safety gear, so I keep footwear at work and don't don my boots again until it's time to leave for the day. Chaps are great over dress pants, leather pants are acceptable as dress pants, and I also have armoured jeans, so I can easily change up the wardrobe. I haven't tackled a skirt on the bike as yet, but you never know. Remembering to take earrings with me is always a challenge.

    I have had items stolen from my saddle bags while parked at work, but have made it a practice to use the steering lock, so the bike has always been waiting for me when it's quitting time. Because I ride at odd hours, I do take the cage on rainy days. My bike is a stress reducer and a welcome part of my work week. Riding to work is great!

  25. I teach high school chemistry and ride my Harley to work more days than I drive my car. I carry school clothes in my saddlebags, and change in my chemical store room. I leave 20 to 30 minutes earlier than when I drive so I'll have time to change before 8:00, when my day officially starts. I wear a helmet, gloves, and jacket every day, along with my leather boots.

    In winter the helmet is full-face and the jacket is a heavily lined one with armor for the back, shoulders, and elbows. In warmer weather, the helmet is three quarter, and the jacket is mesh, with elbow and shoulder armor. Chaps are for cold weather, too. My students think it's cool, and those who see me in full gear marvel at the change from “traditional” teacher to Biker Mama. (or Biker Grandma, as I'm 55 and have grandsons.)

  26. I love, love, love riding my bike to work. I work at Northern Louisiana Medical Center as a Respiratory Therapist. As a therapist we are required to wear scrubs, so I pack my scrubs were my jeans and t-shirt to work and change, takes maybe two minutes. In La. it is way to hot to wear leathers with all of our heat and humidity, but like the other ladies, riding to work wakes me up, (I have to be at work at 6 a.m.) puts me in a good mood all day. Oh by the way did I say I LOOOOOOOOOOVE it?

  27. I ride to work every chance I get Generally in the summer, they loosen up on the dress code so I can just stay in my jeans, but even before and after that, I just pack my office clothes in my backpack with my lap top and off I go! A lot of people in my office have taken to calling me the “Pink Power Ranger” with my pink full faced helmet and pink riding jacket. Just about everyone comments on my helmet and most of the ladies in the office, if we are on the elevator alone will talk about how cool it is, but if others are on with me, they generally don't say much. As the weather warms up everyone starts looking for my helmet on top of my cube over head bins.
    Riding to work has also made me some new friends, because they also ride. The women who look down their nose at my helmet hair, I just laugh at. I had more fun coming to work then they did!

  28. I love riding to work instead of driving my car. My commute is 50 miles one way. I live North of Kansas City, Missouri, and work south of the city on the Kansas side. I arrive to work in a much better frame of mind when I ride my bike. Makes for a much better day. I work in one of those business casual dress offices. I wear black jeans with a long top to hide the fact that I am wearing jeans. What better way to arrive at work, but on a motorcycle!

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