St. Stephen – Nearly 20,000 women from around the world are currently taking part in the World’s Largest Motorcycle Relay, including a team of riders from Canada. This event began in Scotland in February, and the Canadian leg began on September 14. The final leg for the Canadian team will begin on Tuesday, September 24 from Edmunston, through Fredericton, with a slight detour through Hartland so they can ride across the world’s longest covered bridge. The team of 30 Canadian women will then arrive in St. Stephen the same day to hand-off the baton to the US team.
New Brunswick organizer Catherine Lawrence said Canada is the 54th country taking part in the relay, which has already gone through 53 other countries, including Scotland, Ireland, Albania, Nepal, India, and Bangladesh. She said there are a few reasons for this event. One is to enhance the sisterhood of bikers throughout the world and bring them together. The other is to bring awareness to the motorcycle industry that there are women of all sizes and shapes, and that they need to be catered to more than they currently are.
“We have quite a few places where we don’t do business, because we go in and they don’t wait on us because we’re women,” said Lawrence. ”It’s really about bringing awareness to women on motorcycles. It’s inspiring to women. It’s so nice to get out with women and ride, and represent the gender.”
Lawrence said most women take part in their own countries, but there is one woman from Australia who is doing the entire relay. She even mortgaged her home in order to be able to afford the journey. She carried the baton from New Zealand to Canada, where Canadian riders picked it up to take to the US team. She purchased a bike in Vancouver which she has been using for the relay.
When asked why they are doing this, Lawrence said most women say they feel that this is history being made, and they want to be part of it. She said some women don’t have other women to ride with, and this is a way that they can gather together and share their love of motorcycles.
“Different people are coming together for different reasons. It’s really about empowerment and the global sisterhood,” said Lawrence.
While this has been a fun event for the most part, Lawrence said there have been some challenges in some countries. For instance, there are countries that “aren’t too keen on women being on motorcycles”. Another instance had a lady in an accident in a third-world country, and she needed surgery. A couple of the relay ambassadors set up a Go Fund Me page, and her surgery was paid for. Lawrence said this really speaks for the sisterhood angle.
Lawrence is an avid motorcycle enthusiast, and regularly rides with a North American group called the Motor Maids. She said some of the women in this group are seniors, and one lady is in her 90’s and still riding. They all have similar goals, including the desire to see changes within the motorcycle industry.
“Some of us like pink, but not all of us. What happens is they make guy stuff, and it’s built for guys. It’s not tapered and not the right sizes. And they make pink stuff. Women come in all sizes. Their legs may not be as long, but they ride, and they want good bikes. There are two different bikes for smaller women on the market, without having to get bikes altered. It’s really a challenge for ladies. You couple that with a dealer who’s not trying hard to sell you a bike, and it can be super frustrating.”
Lawrence said they don’t let these things get them down. But, when this relay opportunity came to them, they saw that they could send a message to the industry while at the same time having a chance to bond with other female riders.
“It really is historical for us,” said Lawrence.
The World’s Largest Motorcycle Relay will take place at around 5 or 6 p.m. on the Ferry Point Bridge. The members from the US will walk across for the baton exchange, and then they will all head to 5 Kings for dinner. This is an open event, and anyone who would like to meet and talk with the ladies is welcome to attend.