What is your full name?: Heather Elizabeth LaCour
Do you have a nick-name?: Nope
What got you into motorcycles?: My husband Chris for sure. Seeing him so relaxed and re-energized at the same time when he would come home from a ride, was something that I envied and wanted to feel. But it took me a while to realize that it was obtainable for me too. I didn't think it was something that I could achieve or be a part of because where would I find time? Did I have the guts or strength to handle a bike? But the reality was that I never really asked myself if I wanted to, or gave myself permission to.
Once my husband had gotten his second bike, I just simply asked myself, “is riding a motorcycle something I want to do? And if it is, why am I not?”
I started to study for my permit and do the practice tests online. My husband was a huge support for me, and was thrilled that this would be something we could enjoy together. So one day I went to the DMV, completed my online test, and shortly after took the road course, passing both with top scores.
Becoming a rider, I learned that as life and the daily stuff fills your time, and space, it is so easy to forget about yourself and go after what makes you happy.
How long have you been riding?: This will be my 4th year riding. Heading into spring and riding for the first time of the season always has that excited yet nervous feeling of “do I even remember how to do this,” as winter always seems so long. I never really understood the “winter blues” till it became a reality once I began riding. Neither myself or my bike like the cold so, I’ll wait till its a bit warmer out.
What are some of your favorite events to go attend (if any)?: FUEL Cleveland has and will always will be my most favorite event to attend. It was the first actual motorcycle show I had ever gone to. Going to it and seeing such beautiful works of rideable art created from the builders imagination and put into physical form is amazing to see in person. I love that there is such a vast variety's of bikes featured in the show and the hundreds that roll into the lots as the event is happening. It's a show, within a show every year, and that's not even mentioning the Art show that's actually within the show as well. Such talented photographers and painters that line the walls of space giving captured movement to the room.
And Babes Ride Out East Coast is my most favorite women’s only event! Every women I have met at this event is so encouraging and up lifting. I have made some amazing friendships that I consider my Moto family and enjoy taking over the Catskills with them for the weekend. There are so many beautiful destinations to ride to, that you just might cross paths with fellow campers/riders along the way to discover a castle or new ice cream shop while sharing stories of where we just were. And to top it off nothing can beat coming “home” to a dance party, Karaoke and free beer!!
What was your first time on a motorcycle like? You as a the driver: My first time as a rider after the “parking lot training” and on the actual road was terrifying. Cars got so close, my vulnerability as a motorcyclist didn't mean shit to anyone, and blinkers (both mine and theirs) were worthless to the divers of cars.
It really did set into me just how aggressive I need to be on the road and plan for that motorist up there not seeing me. I quickly learned to trust my instinct, identify when I was getting tense and how to relax while being so exposed on a bike. All things that people tell you, but till you experience it yourself for the first time, it doesn't mean a thing. But when I finally got home, I felt amazing! I enjoyed talking to my husband about how we navigated our bikes thru tricky intersections and me actually accelerating from a stop on the hill and not rolling backwards. (understanding how much practice I would need on that hill again). How safe I felt on the bike and how much I loved riding next to him. I did have to say to him though, “I don’t know why I waited so long to learn to ride.”
Something interesting about yourself: I built my KZ440 chopper with my husband Chris for the Greasy Dozen in 2018. It was quite an experience learning how to take a stock bike and make it my own. Chris taught me how to do so much, and allowed me to make my mistakes. Now I totally get that love hate relationship with garage bikes. That's one thing I loved most about the build was he didn't do it for me, we did it together. I was learning, and he would guide me if I needed it, show me the tools needed and let me go at it. I didn’t lose a finger on the lathe, I learned the importance of all the sandpaper grits, I can maneuver a file damn well, and among other things it further confirmed that we make a good team.
Who is your favorite women in history?: Pinky Tuscadero! She was basically the female Fonzarelli!
But seriously, I’m thankful my grandmother Janet is still with me today. She is amazing and lead her life thru example and strong ambition. Her and my grandfather were smitten with each other from when they first met. They were both from small towns in England and decided they wanted more in life, so they packed up bags and hopped on a boat to America. Listening to her stories and adventures as a young women in a whole new world, how they ended up so far from where their planned course, and how she never would have changed a moment of it, good or bad. She taught me to be tough when the times are hard, find a way to make it work, take a moment when you need it, and embrace what you have now. She also taught me tea is best for every occasion, so go put the kettle on.
What do you think the biggest misconception is when it comes to women and the motorcycle “scene”?: I feel the biggest misconception is “Girls are just a bunch of wussy’s (or whatever)”.
I have met some really amazing women out there that have incredible riding stories and experiences that go beyond an instagram photo or how many likes they have because they look cute in the photo. There are a ton of women out there in the “scene” that know how to do amazing things, and are actually willing to teach you or share their stories and skills. But you have to listen to them not just “like” a photo of them in Instagram. A lot of time I feel a women is viewed as just a women on a bike, not about the story of the rider on the bike or the skills they have. So being a women rider, it is so comforting to know that those I have met in my travels have been uplifting, bad ass and always willing to help out if needed. And each one has had a supportive group egging them on.
As a rider it is imperative to be encouraging to other riders, because each persons experience is a learning tool for another and builds a stronger community not just for women, but for the community itself.
If you could give on piece of advice to a girl who is afraid of the “stigma”, what would it be?: Don’t be afraid. You got this. You can do it, and if you need help, just call.
Leah Taylor (@leahmichaeltaylor)
What is your full name?: Leah Michael Taylor
What kind of bike do you have?: Harley Sportster 1200
What got you into motorcycles?: My father taught me an appreciation for classic cars at a very early age and I grew up riding horses with my mother and sister on a farm in West Virginia. I think over time, those two worlds kind of came together building a curiosity that took me awhile to finally pursue. After moving to Baltimore city as an adult, my friends got more and more into motorcycles and building bikes. It was so much fun to be around and watch, and the desire to get on a bike myself grew. I decided to stop dragging my feet and take a class. So, here I am! I’ve never looked back!
How long have you been riding?: About 7 years
What are some of your favorite events to attend (if any)?: Gypsy Run will always hold a special place in my heart. It was my first longer trip where I had to pack for more than a day, and one that I knew would be a test for me. Not only was I pushed as a rider, but I met so many people that now have become family to me. Almost every event I have attended since has been about seeing places I’ve never been and travelling to support, and visit with, the friends that I have made in so many different areas of the country.
What was your first time on a motorcycle like? You as the driver: Terrifying and exciting all at the same time. I mean, it must have been pretty amazing or I still wouldn’t be doing this, right???
Something interesting about yourself: I come from family of strong women and entrepreneurs. I own a sustain-ably conscious hair salon called Smoke+Mirrors, in Baltimore, MD. As a woman, being the sole business owner has challenged me in ways that can be hard to admit, but it has also taught me to never give up on myself and my vision.
What do you think the biggest misconception is when it comes to women and the motorcycle "scene"?:
If you could give one piece of advice to a girl who is afraid of the "stigma", what would it be?:
To answer both questions at once, misconceptions and stigmas were both factors that held me back from getting on a motorcycle in the first place. But, in the end….who cares?! I got into riding because I wanted to, not for anyone else. Like any “scene”, there are cliques and people that are in it for different reasons. I’m here for my own reasons, to escape from everyday stresses, challenge myself, have fun and to ride with my friends.
Brittany Wood (@brittanwould) Photo by (@virninja)
What is your full name?: Brittany Wood
Do you have any nick-names?: Depends who you are asking...but most people just call me "Brittany" or "Britt".
What kind of bike do you have?: I ride a 1200 XL Sporty and a TTR 250
What got you into motorcycles?: So - this is a bit of a typical answer, because my introduction to motorcycles was through my dad who rode. Then I dated a guy who also rode. He broke my heart, and then in spite of him and to help myself regain my inner power and self-confidence, I decided one day "fuck it - I'm going to learn how to ride on my own."
How long have you been riding?: About 6 years.
What are some of your favorite events to attend (if any)?: Babes Ride Out, Escape to Hazzard County (RIP!!!), Sierra Stakeout, and Kernville. Honestly, any event is fun if my friends are there.
What was your first time on a motorcycle like? You as the driver: I want to say it was freeing, but let's be honest...I was so angry and frustrated. I was so mad I wasn't immediately good at it, and I just kept dropping this little 250 over and over again, not to mention stalling it out. It was maddening!
Something interesting about yourself: I'm really bad with directions, and likely will get lost on most car/moto rides. Which makes me a shitty leader. I'm pretty sure my friends know better by now, not to let me give them directions.
Who is your favorite woman in history?: Jane Austen
What do you think the biggest misconception is when it comes to women and the motorcycle "scene"?: That we all somehow hate men, and want nothing more than to separate ourselves from them.
If you could give one piece of advice to a girl who is afraid of the "stigma", what would it be?: You probably ride more/harder than them anyway ‾\_(ツ)_/‾
Jodi Drew (@paintmewinter)
What is your full name?: Jodi Drew
Do you have any nick-names?: none that people are saying to my face haha
What kind of bike do you have?: 1998 1200 Sportster Sport
What got you into motorcycles?: I wish I had a cool, independent woman, bad ass story, but the truth is.. about 10 years ago, this dude I was crushing rode motorcycles. Therefore, I wanted to get into it. Now he's my husband and I've been riding for almost 10 years. :)
How long have you been riding?: ^ I took the MSF course and had lots of parking lot practice time when I started. I learn something new about riding every single year, even all these years later.
What are some of your favorite events to attend (if any)?: We have such a solid group of friends that live all over the country that we get together with for events so the family reunion aspect of event season is my favorite. Fuel Cleveland is my favorite show that we set a booth up at, it curated perfectly and we love being a part of it. Lowbrow Getdown is an all out party which I LOVE getting rowdy with friends. It's one of the only events we aren't working for our store Spoke & Dagger Co, therefore we can fully enjoy it. Babes Ride Out is a sleepover vibe with your best girlfriends kind of trip and much needed during a summer with a bunch of sweaty, smelly dudes on bikes. I live for a great campout on the motorcycles and just riding state to state.
What was your first time on a motorcycle like? You as the driver: My husband (at the time boyfriend) Chris, brought me to a parking lot by his house and taught me the basics on one of the many bikes be pulled out of the garage that day. I loved every second of it and felt in my bones that it was the beginning of something pretty amazing for me. However, I rode a few laps and ended up dropping it in a turn (pulled the brake like a total noob) The clutch lever snapped and the turn signal shattered. It was only at that moment Chris told me it was his friends Triumph that was being stored in his garage. To this day, I get ripped on for this incident by the owner of the bike. :)
Something interesting about yourself: I don't know why this is such a hard question to answer. There isn't a whole lot interesting about me. I'm a hustler with an insane work ethic for my businesses which don't leave much time for anything else. (Spoke & Dagger Co. is a motorcycle apparel, parts and riding gear shop in Buffalo. My other gig is doing graphic design and branding for large corporations and local small businesses.) I'm working on finding hobbies that I won't try to incorporate into my business. I play on a volleyball league, foster cats and own 4 myself. I love to pretend I'm a chef and tend to my vegetable garden too. Pretty standard things found in anyone's IG bio lol. Not many cool things happening here, any down time I spend it riding motorcycles with my husband and hanging out with our friends.
Who is your favorite woman in history?: I'm not sure why but the first person who came to my mind was Maria Merian. I went to art school for graphic design and her story always stuck with me from that time. She lived from 1647 to 1717 which was during a time where owning her own business after divorcing her husband was way out of the question. She found peace and purpose in creating and selling her illustrative artwork which was a beautiful depiction of the life cycle of plants and insects. She set the tone for the current trendy style posters that are found in many hipster-y shops today. I have one reminiscent of her work in our house of a dandelion. Google it and you'll know the type of entomology illustrations I am talking about. The moral of this is that I just love how she didn't care what society said her life should look like as a woman, and she did what made her most happy and found purpose in.
What do you think the biggest misconception is when it comes to women and the motorcycle "scene" ?: I have a few answers to this.. A misconception for women who ride is that you have to be adventurous or masculine to be into motorcycles. I am awfully girly. I also am not adventurous. I get anxiety, can be shy, and am kind of a total puss. At least I used to be and I think that only started to change when I continued to push myself outside of my comfort zone through motorcycles. I've developed lifelong friendships through bikes, with motorcycles only being a tiny piece of the things that we all have in common. I live for the girls that support each other, don't give a fuck about whats cool or not, aren't afraid to be their weird/goofy selves or own that they have real life shit they are working through. Just because we ride motorcycles doesn't mean we must be tough as shit physically or emotionally. It's totally my type of vibe for anyone who is just straight down for a rad riding, camping or hang session without judgement or cliquiness of any kind. I often hear about the misconception where you have to join a women's riding group to have a voice or a say or people to ride with. I don't love the idea when women put a title to a group of riders which tells you if you are allowed to hang out with them or not. That just feels really exclusive or segregated and not the only way as women, to make friends or be inspired to give motorcycles a try. It is deeply important to me that is doesn't matter who you are friends with, if you don't know any other women riders, what your experience level is, what kind of bike you have ... it literally doesn't matter. You ride motorcycles and happen to be a chick too? Sick, let's hang! We are bonded as women who are putting ourselves out there to take the step to get on a motorcycle and each of those women get SERIOUS props for that. That's who I will learn from, grow with, laugh with, and that's who I feel are helping change all the misconceptions about women in the motorcycle scene.
Separately, I hate the old school mentality that women are property in the motorcycle culture, or women ride on the back of the bike, or they need to be in a thong bikini sprawled out on the motorcycle for a photo. I am not going to lie, while most of our older male customers are the kindest loving dudes I've met, there is a certain type of them where I could be helping pick out a part for their bike or talk them through a mechanics issue at our store and they tell me I don't know what I am talking about or assume I don't ride or know anything about it. Chris will tell them the same answer I said and it's only then, when they acknowledge the guidance or say some smart ass comment about how Chris must have "trained" me well or how I'm "not just a pretty face but also smart too" (eye roll)
If you could give one piece of advice to a girl who is afraid of the "stigma", what would it be?: Fuck it. Who even cares. Don't be afraid to start slow and take the time to practice riding. Get the education for the safety while on two wheels and just ride to what you feel comfortable with. If someone has something to say about it, they suck and probably don't need to be a part of your life anyway.
Text and interviews by Kaitie Rosiu
Tune in next week for Week Four of Women Who Ride in celebration of Women's History Month.