This is our second week of Women's History Month where we feature some women who enjoy riding motorcycles. if you missed it be sure to check out Women Who Ride: Week One!
What is your full name?: Megan Margeson
Do you have any nick-names?: “Chopper Girl”
What kind of bike do you have?: 1964 Panhead Chopper
What got you into motorcycles?: I was raised in a motorcycle-loving family. I grew up riding dirt bikes and riding on the back of my parents’ Harleys. I always knew I wanted to get my M1 as soon as possible, which I did when I turned 18.
How long have you been riding?: Dirt bikes since I was 7, street since I was 18.
What are some of your favorite events to attend (if any)?: Babes Ride Out—there is nothing more empowering than surrounding yourself with 1500 badass babes!
Fats Run—an event I’ve been attending for most of my life. It’s a bunch of old timers who ride up to Kern River and camp out. We’ve been doing it for 25 years now! I just love sitting down with them and listening to all of their crazy stories from “back in the day”.
Born Free—The bikes are amazing, but I really go for the booths! So many talented individuals all in one place! (pro tip: they have really good milkshakes there, too!)
What was your first time on a motorcycle like? You as the driver: I borrowed my friend’s sportster for my first ride. My parents and I rode to Walker’s Cafe, an old biker destination in San Pedro, about a 30-minute ride from our house. I was feeling so many emotions: excited, sentimental, terrified…. I was so stoked to finally be riding on my own—an entirely different feeling than riding on the back! If you’ve ridden, you know the undeniable feeling of freedom and genuine happiness. I was also cherishing this special moment with my parents: I felt so lucky to be able to share my first ride, riding alongside my Mom and Dad. However, I was also overwhelmed with utter anxiety. I was shaking, nauseous, my heart was beating out of my chest. I had spent my entire life riding dirt bikes in the desert, but nothing can prepare you for cars whizzing by you and getting cut off. I was in a whole new ballgame. Your first ride is difficult; you’re not only focused on the riding aspect of being on a motorcycle, but you’re also learning to navigate the streets without the safety and comfort of a large metal cage and seatbelts. We did that same ride, probably around 4-5 times, before venturing off on longer rides. Each time, I got a little more comfortable and gained confidence on the road. It all comes down to seat time and experience. Now, I go on 5,000 mile road trips and enjoy every single second of it.
Something interesting about yourself: This year will be my fourth season performing with the Victor McLaglen Motor Corps. The World Champion VMMC is the oldest motorcycle stunt team in the world, having been established in 1935. We stunt on old panhead and shovelhead Harley-Davidsons and do stunts that involve building pyramids, doing handstands, and hanging upside-down off the sides of the motorcycles. I am a climber and am currently learning the motor(wo)man position. As climber, I climb on top of people and the bikes during stunts, and am at the top of our famous pyramid stunt. As a motor(wo)man, I am the one riding the bike during the stunt. I have driven stunts that involve up to five grown men hanging off the bike as I ride it. I am currently the only female in the US that does this type of stunting… but I’m really hoping that changes really soon! Any girls interested?? LET’S DO THIS!
Who is your favorite woman in history?: I feel like this is such a generic answer, but: my mom. If you’ve met her, you understand, as she may also be your favorite woman in history, too. She’s the complete package of: kindness, compassion, creativity, spontaneity, badassery, loyalty, and love. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her fail at anything she has put her mind to. Ride a chopper across the country? No problem. Learn to make stained glass art? Professional. Be the best Mother and friend? With grace. I never went through a phase of being embarrassed of my Mother; I always knew how lucky I was to be her daughter. She has always been, and will always be, my absolute best friend, and the person I strive to be every single day.
What do you think the biggest misconception is when it comes to women and the motorcycle "scene" ?: I think a big misconception is that women don’t know about motorcycles, specifically the mechanics of a motorcycle. I can’t tell you how often complete strangers (men) take it upon themselves to pop quiz me, often times on my own bike! “What is that?” “My right-side electric start.” “Okay, well what does this thing do?” It can get frustrating, but at that point, I just want to prove them wrong and pass their quiz!
I work at California Harley-Davidson, and I get comments from customers pretty often. I’ve had men try to get me to ride on the back of their bike because that’s where I “belong”. I’ve even had a guy tell me the only reason for a “chick” to be in a Harley dealership is to give lap dances. As you can imagine, I’ve gotten pretty good at coming up with creative come-backs.
While these men exist in the world, most of the men I encounter are incredibly supportive of woman riders. So, don’t let those few leave a bad taste in your mouth. There’s way more encouragement out there than not.
If you could give one piece of advice to a girl who is afraid of the "stigma", what would it be?: “Those who mind, don’t matter and those who matter, don’t mind.” Do what makes you happy and don’t worry about what other people think.
Kat Arnold, Photo by Virginia Cagney
What is your name?: Kat Arnold
Do you have any nick-names?: LadyWolf, Katushka, Starla, Tootsie
What kind of bike do you have?: I have a 2016 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail 1680 & a 2001 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200
What got you into motorcycles?: Motorcycles have always been in my family. My dad, uncles and brother rides. My first attempt was on a minibike in the backyard when I was a preteen. I freaked out and forgot how to stop the bike and ran into the pool filter . As a teen, my dad had gotten me an Yamaha XT 300, it needed a lot of work and unfortunately, I never got to ride it. Fast forward to 2011, my husband, Mikey and I started going to motoshows. Mikey got a motorcycle and we started going to moto campouts and events. After a season of me riding on the back, and him modifying the bike more and more which ended up being super uncomfortable for me—I said no more. I want my own and I want the freedom to go wherever I please.
How long have you been riding?: Since 2012.
What are some of your favorite events to attend (if any)?: Babes Ride Out East Coast: it’s like a slumber party in the woods with the simple pleasures in life (like swimming), good friends and of course motorcycles. Fuel Cleveland: I’m bias with this one, but it’s my favorite motorcycle show because all of our friends from around the world come to Cleveland for one weekend for an unforgettable good time. Mikey, Tyler and & Jesse do an amazing job curating the show each year, keeping out the bullshit and keeping it free—all while making it better ever year! El Diablo Run: I’ve been on EDR 3 times and while I know what to expect now, every time is always different! I love riding the canyon roads in California, the desolate deserts of Baja, and swimming in the Sea of Cortez.
What was your first time on a motorcycle like?: I used to ride on the back of my dad’s bike as a kid. I honestly don’t remember the very first time.
You as the driver: See comment above in regards to the mini bike but as far as big motorcycles, I had purchased my first bike which was a 2013 Harley-Davidson Iron 883 and I didn’t even have my license yet. I remember Mikey rode it across the street to the school’s parking lot for me. I got on it and road in circles and practiced stopping and turning. After I was feeling confident enough, I also took the motorcycle safety class and got my license.
Something interesting about yourself: I’ve been a self-taught digital designer for the past 20 years. In 2001, I created a “social media” website before the days of MySpace, where in order to be on the site you had to post a picture of yourself in your underwear with your AIM name and location. I had underwear parties at local bars and I sold my own line of underwear.
Who is your favorite woman in history?: It’s hard for me to think about every nuance of history other than what I’ve been honored to witness in my lifetime. I’d have to say Lady Gaga, because she is an amazing, talented artist with a good heart that shares her gift with the world and is always fighting for the underdog and human rights.
What do you think the biggest misconception is when it comes to women and the motorcycle "scene" ?: That women are the same. As humans, we are all individuals with our own stories, dreams and fears. I often hear “women don’t know how to ride” and “she’s coming with us?” Lets say, I’ve gotten some shade thrown my way by men who doubted me. After one ride with me, their mouths are zipped tight.
If you could give one piece of advice to a girl who is afraid of the "stigma", what would it be?: You do you. You are the only one responsible for your life, your behaviors and your actions. Curate a life that brings you joy no matter what anyone else says!
What is your full name?: Nicole Andrijauskas
Do you have any nick-names?: Biscuits
What kind of bike do you have?: Currently, 2019 Harley Iron 1200
What got you into motorcycles?: I like going fast.
How long have you been riding?: 17 years
What are some of your favorite events to attend (if any)?: Dirt Quake up in Castle Rock, WA put on by See See was probably my favorite, but I think it’s called something else now. Anything with flat track races are cool. I like most of them…don’t really have any one show I go to year after year. Honestly, planning your own camp-outs and rides with buddies is better than any show.
What was your first time on a motorcycle like? You as the driver: As the driver, my first time on a motorcycle just felt right. I picked it up pretty quick and took off. “Faster, faster until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death.”
Something interesting about yourself: I paint motorcycle helmets and tanks, which brings me to a lot of events where I get to meet new people, collaborate, and see old friends.
Who is your favorite woman in history?: Any woman that decided she wouldn’t settle for less than what was deserved. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is up there.
What do you think the biggest misconception is when it comes to women and the motorcycle "scene" ?: One misconception I get a lot is that I can’t handle “such a big motorcycle”. It’s just a little Sporty. The idea of “can’t”—can’t ride the bike, can’t fix the bike, can’t hold my own in sticky situations, is old fashioned.
If you could give one piece of advice to a girl who is afraid of the "stigma", what would it be?: I’m not sure I understand this question. But, as a motorcycle instructor, I feel pretty stoked to welcome women into such a rad skill set/hobby/way of life. I give advice all the time and it’s usually about safety and avoiding looking like a kook.
What is your full name?: Jacqueline A Karlsen
Do you have any nick-names?: Jacque
What kind of bike do you have?: 883 sportster
What got you into motorcycles?: I grew up riding and showing horses and eventually made that my career. I love going fast - im a total speed freak. I got my first bike a few years back when I needed an outlet from work and life but still something that I could do by myself and get that feeling of release. I guess I really got into it though the first time I took my buddy’s iron head chopper he had just built for a spin around the block - it was right then and there I knew I needed a Harley and was really hooked.
How long have you been riding?: 4 years
What are some of your favorite events to attend (if any)?: Twin Rivers Chopper Campout is a must and so is Backyard BBQ. I really love North Carolina and the people that live there.
What was your first time on a motorcycle like? You as the driver: My first time on a motorcycle was something else. I had to figure everything out myself. I had an ‘87 Honda Rebel 450 and knew absolutely nothing. I don’t know how many times I stalled out. I lived on a pretty large farm I was running and learned to ride up and down dirt and gravel roads.
Something interesting about yourself: I still work with horses but instead of riding and training I went the route of being a farrier (blacksmith) for sport horses. Learning more about metalwork has really gotten me more into fabrication and I’d like to get to a point where I can start making custom parts for bikes.
Who is your favorite woman in history?: Hands down: Emma Goldman.
What do you think the biggest misconception is when it comes to women and the motorcycle "scene" ?: I’m fortunate enough to be around very supportive people - both men and women. But I wouldn’t be where I am now in my career and with bikes if I didn’t have people saying that I couldn’t - for no other reason than I wouldn’t be physically strong enough, or mentally tough enough. Take the misconception that women can’t and use it as fuel to project forward.
If you could give one piece of advice to a girl who is afraid of the "stigma", what would it be?: Fuck ‘em. Do what you want.
Juli Willows, photo by Erika Gene Clark
What is your full name?: Juliana Willows
Do you have any nick-names?: I’ve had a bunch over the years, my brothers called me variations of “Hulia” growing up and friends called me Louie for years.
What kind of bike do you have?: I have 4 very different bikes! I love them all for all of their weird quirks and temperaments.
16’ Harley Iron 883
79’ Yamaha xs650
76’ Kawasaki ke175
72’ Honda xl250
What got you into motorcycles?: The idea of riding a bike hit my like lightning one day about 6 years ago. I had just moved across country to a very small town in Idaho and essentially started my life over again. I was alone with my husband and very depressed. No friends, no family and only as many things with me as I could fit in my shitty old Chevy cavalier. I make decisions much the same way as someone rips a bandaid off of a healing wound. Quick with an initial wince knowing theres a good chance of immediate satisfaction to follow. I know that may make me sound like rebel, or that I am giving my self way too much credit in the “cool and carefree” department than I actually deserve. Truthfully I am a perpetual over thinker, anything that can be picked apart and over analyzed has been worked through in my brain more times than I care to share. Sometimes I find myself starting to think of all the places I want to travel to, next I find myself thinking- “will I ever see Antarctica? how can I make sure I see all of this world? Oh my god there are multiple planets! What if I never see mars!” and then what usually follows is a short lived panic attack.
So there I was, sitting on the edge of my mattress one morning, categorizing all of my irrational fears and having my morning existential crisis when BANG! “WHY AM I NOT RIDING A MOTORCYCLE!”. I had never once thought about it, I had always accepted riding a bike as something I just wasn’t cut out for, I’m not sure if that was something I told myself or something society had instilled in me “Don’t try, you are a girl and girls don’t ride bikes”. There it was, something I had never tried and immediately thought of how I couldn’t live my whole life without at least trying. I turned on the computer, hit up Craigslist and page 2 there it was a 1976 Kawasaki Enduro 175 KE. It called to me, sounds so silly but as soon as I saw that tiny Craigslist picture it had already felt like I knew that bike, like it had been mine in another life. I bought that bike for 400 bucks and for 400 bucks I extinguished all “Don’t try, you are a girl and girls don’t try that” ideas. I may have spent money on that bike but the empowerment that came along with it was priceless.
How long have you been riding?: 6ish years
What are some of your favorite events to attend (if any)?: I’ve been to more women’s events than co-Ed. The Dreamroll, Babes Ride out East and west coast. There’s something about being amongst a bunch of women who share a similar passion that really feels special. This past year my husband and I were happy to join our friends Kat and Mikey at the Lowbrow Getdown and HOT DAMN the lowbrow crowd knows how to party! We had so much fun and are already looking forward to this years event!
What was your first time on a motorcycle like? You as the driver: Indescribable! But maybe I can try?
I had mentioned before that I had been struggling with depression when I first started riding, being someone who also over analyzes everything can only act as a catalyst to said depression. Everyone goes through stuff at some point in their lives, it’s good for you, it challenges you and you grow exponentially from it. Riding a bike is therapeutic. It can help an over worked brain, sit the fuck down for a little while. The lessons you learn from riding run completely parallel to lessons you learn in life when going through a hard time. Don’t believe me? Listen to this gospel. One of the first things you learn is to look in the direction you want to go, don’t become distracted by what is happening around you, wherever your head points—your motorcycle points, look at danger and you will head towards danger, look to your exit and you will head to your exit. You then learn to look ahead, far ahead, do not look down or become distracted with what is nearest to you or you will end up right there, on the ground where you don’t want to be. Acknowledge hazards but do not focus on them. Plan your escape route calmly and execute when you can safely. How beautiful is that? That should be everyone's mantra, sometimes when I ride my bike, I become distracted by a road I’ve never been on, I start to panic a little with a tight turn or start to wonder if I’m going to fast, I say to myself in my helmet “You are ok, look ahead, the road is still there”. I find myself saying that a lot through little moments of panic, I can thank my bike for that lesson.
Something interesting about yourself: I work in a cardiovascular interventional cath lab and I absolutely love my job. I guess that actually makes my job interesting and not myself? Haha I don’t know. Anyway, you can catch me flying down the freeway in scrubs with my pager taped to my tank when someone in Cleveland is having a heart attack, love a good STEMI page!
Who is your favorite woman in history?: I have thought long and hard about this and really feel guilty picking one woman to be my favorite. I have tremendous gratitude for the women who fought and continue to fight for equal rights. Marie Curie discovered radioactivity (and was the first woman awarded the Nobel prize), a woman invented Kevlar, Malala Yousafzai is an absolute boss and I work with a cardiovascular interventionalist that at 8.5 months pregnant, saved a man from having his leg amputated.
What do you think the biggest misconception is when it comes to women and the motorcycle "scene" ?: That there is a scene at all! Women all across the world ride motorcycles, some ride with children hanging off of them or cargo strapped to their backs and shoulders. They ride through deserts, jungles or congested streets without traffic laws and all do it without a haunting thought about a “scene”. We are not just women, but human first, cut from the same cloth, we owe it to one another to see ourselves as equals who happen to share a passion for two wheels.
If you could give one piece of advice to a girl who is afraid of the "stigma", what would it be?: There are no rules about riding, pick a bike YOU like, ride how slow or fast YOU want to ride, go alone or ride with friends, it is the ultimate choose your own adventure story. Be in charge of your own ending, don’t let those “Don’t do that, sit pretty” ideas hold you back from trying something that may end up changing your life.
I would like to think that we can help contribute, even in the smallest amount, to removing the “stigma” out of being a woman motorcyclist. I have always been a person who likes to challenge someone’s beliefs, I want to force them to see or think of something completely unexpected, I want an idea to hit them like a tidal wave and consume them only to have them fully support their initial beliefs after or think of things a little differently once they dry off. It’s so great to pull up to a traffic light next to a Ford F69,000 and have a guy look down from his giant truck at my bike as I shake my pigtails out of my helmet and check my lip gloss in my mirror. I see it in their face, the same look every time “Holy shit, that's a woman, riding a bike without a man”. And that tiny seed of change has been planted. Sometimes I roll up behind a group of high school girls walking on the sidewalk, they hear my engine and put a little extra waddle in their step until I roll past them and they see I am indeed a small framed girl like them, I look back in my mirror and usually get a fist in the air with a smile at my peace sign and roll on. I see that little seed planted “Women can ride motorcycles, equality is sexy, I can do that”. My other favorite little moment is when I pull into a parking spot and a little kid looks at me and then back to their parents and say something to the effect of “Mom/dad that's a girl!” I love that. Let’s all be part of that moment, where someones ideas are shaken around and they are a little bit different from that point on, let’s get rid of the stigma.
Do you have any nick-names?: “Mundy” or Kate
What kind of bike do you have?: I have a chopped 1999 Honda Shadow VLX600 called “The Snake Shaker”. I learned from the guys at Retrofit Cycle Works how to chop it. I learned how to weld and how to have an eye for proportions and line flow. I took all of the 90’s plastic off, chopped the frame and welded on a TC Bros universal hardtail kit. I also put on 2’ over fork tubes just to kick the front of the bike up a bit more. I had my buddy Greg from DN Seats help make a custom seat with faux snakeskin. The paint is just VHT spray can engine paint with Spraymax 2K clear over top. The bike came out exactly how I saw it in my head when I was daydreaming. The name “The Snake Shaker” came from a bottle whiskey we had in the shop one night called “Rattlesnake Rosie’s Apple Pie Whiskey. The top of the cap said, “Shake The Snake”. The name stuck. I also have a 1920’s art deco-themed half sleeve of a Snake charmer on my arm. The tattoo and my bike both signify the meaning of facing your fears. I had lost my mom to cancer that year, so the bike build was an expression of art and a way to deal with grief.
What got you into motorcycles?: Freedom. I think once I had the idea of freedom to roam and the creativity that came with building and riding a bike, I became obsessed. Before that, I would ride on the back of Cal’s bike. I enjoyed the ride but as a spectator. Once I started realizing women could do the same that’s when my imagination started to run wild. Also, the support from other women on social media blew my mind.
How long have you been riding?: About four years.
What are some of your favorite events to attend (if any)?: Babes Ride Out-East Coast and Strange Days are my favorite events. I also enjoy the Gypsy Run and Cheap Thrills. I really enjoy packing up the bike and go camping.
What was your first time on a motorcycle like? You as the driver.: I was terrified but I knew I wanted to learn how to ride. There was a lot of frustration and even tears. I would get so mad at myself, and I was hell to deal with. Poor Cal for teaching me. I learned how to ride on a 1975 Honda CB360. The battery was weak, so I had to use the kick starter. Unfortunately, then every time the bike stalled, I would have kick it over. I kicked the bike over so many times, I would wake myself up during the night kick starting an invisible bike in my sleep.
Something interesting about yourself: I like spooky things. Graveyard trips, reading ghost stories about local legends. Sussex county NJ has a lot of fascinating background and history.
Who is your favorite woman in history?: Well aside from my mom, I would say Jane Goodall. Jane Goodall is a scientist who studied apes and advocates environment conservation. I feel so connected to nature, especially riding my bike. Nature is my church. To be a woman in the wild is very empowering. I also think wildlife is incredible.
What do you think the biggest misconception is when it comes to women and the motorcycle "scene"?: Well, I love seeing the look at people’s faces when I say it’s my bike. Then the face they make when I tell them I built it. I see more women on the road and I think that is really awesome.
If you could give one piece of advice to a girl who is afraid of the "stigma", what would it be?: You can do more than just sit on a bike if you choose. You can build, you can ride and you can empower. It’s never too late to learn something new! ♥️♥️♥️️
Savannah Rose, Photo by Errol Colandro