It is Friday morning and you are heading out to run a couple errands before the roads get crowded with afternoon traffic. At the traffic light on the Gulf Road, you hear a slight rumbling over the radio, and it is getting close. There is no construction anywhere nearby, so you look in the rearview mirror. Behind you, a flock of Harley, BMW and Ducati motorcycles are coming towards you, clad in the leather and jeans that exude cool.
As they approach the light, it is clear there is something distinctly different about a few of the riders in this group. You don’t want to stare, but you can’t help but notice that one of them is wearing a black leather jacket with pink lining. There is a tuft of hair spilling out of another’s helmet and the heel of a third’s boot is a little high for a men’s shoe.
Don’t be surprised. What you are probably watching is The Moto Lady Club on their morning ride. Perhaps you are seeing Emiranda Winter, an executive in the banking industry on her BMW 1200 cruiser or Suzy Elbehairy, a PR Manager in the hotel industry on her Ducati 696. You might even be catching a glimpse of race horse trainer Astrid Poirier on her BMW GS 1150.
The 14 female motorcycle riders started the group October 2nd 2013 with a motto “who said motorcycles are only for men?”, and a logo that features a stenciled high heeled shoe that turns into a race track.
“The club’s mission is to encourage ladies to ride and to encourage the community to support ladies that ride,” said Dania Tyan.
Tyan started riding motorcycles in Lebanon when she was 18 years old, and attributes her family’s love of the sport to her current passions. She says that since she has been in Kuwait her skills have improved with training and communal rides on her BMW 650s. For many of the women, it is that family connection to biking that keeps them coming to the road.
Henriette Schoeman was sick of riding passenger on her husband’s bike. He was an avid rider who spent the early mornings of the weekend with his bike, and she did not want to be left out. With their two children they had already gotten diving and sailing licenses together, and so this seemed like the perfect family adventure. Soon enough Shoeman was grasping her own handles as she took her place next to her husband and children in her own red BMW F650 GS for a day of riding fun.
According to the ladies of the club the best way to experience the fun is to first be a passenger with an experienced rider. “Ride with someone first,” said Rana Elm. “You realize it is not as dangerous as you think, as long as you follow the safety rules.”
When you are done, if you describe the rumbling motor, the first bit of wind that began to hit your body and the incredible sense of freedom you felt as a spiritual experience, then motorcycle riding is for you. The women of the club use words like freedom, peace and relaxation to describe the experience. For Schoeman it’s all about the view.
“It gives you a completely different perception,” said Schoeman. “When you ride, your view is not restricted so you see everything you may have missed in a car.”
For Elm, that unobstructed view was breathtaking the first time she rode behind Tyan, and also caused a bit of confusion. As she looked up to the sky she saw a beautiful cloud, and so she pointed to her comrades on the other bikes, and kept tapping Tyan on the shoulder to get her attention. Elm, in her excitement, had forgotten that most hand gestures were signals to warn of danger or sharp turns, just one of the many safety precautions the riders use when in a group.
Those safety procedures give the women the confidence to get on the road. Many of them, even the experienced drivers, have gone through the TriStar Academy training. The program comprises of 10-12 classes that teach everything from how to sit on a bike, to sharp turns and how to deal with sudden car maneuvers on the road. Students learn how to coordinate their hands and feet to change gears and apply the brakes. They start with a theoretical lesson on the basics of motorcycle driving, followed by basic training on one with automatic gears and finally move to a bike with gears. At the end of the training session, the Academy sets a training exam for licensing and recommends the best bike based on the rider’s habits and body type.
According to the academy’s operations manager, Salem Al Rumaid, women find the most difficulties in training their hand and neck muscles to be able to handle the strength of the gears and the weight of the helmet, respectively. For Tyan, who had been riding for years but still decided to go to the training, TriStar training was integral for her solo rides.
“Not only do you learn how to ride the bikes, the rule and regulations,” she said. “You also learn how to become one with your bike and how to react in the safest way to any situation you might encounter on the road. We do lots of exercises for safety, body position and we learn things that will help us ride on the road and in traffic jams.”
For the ladies of The Moto Lady Club, discipline is key, particularly in an environment that is not accustomed to female riders. Vehicles sometimes swerve towards them as their drivers try to get a closer look, or stop suddenly. Riding solo requires a lot of caution, and the ability to make a split second decision that could save your life.
We met up with the ladies of the club at a breakfast hosted by the Gulf Hotel for riders in Kuwait. Outside the door dozens of BMWs and Ducati motorcycles lined the sidewalk. Inside, behind the displayed Ducati, a row of helmets covered the entire front desk. The group of about 50 people were all like family, catching up over Friday morning breakfast.
“It’s the beautiful camaraderie, the friendships and special bond that develops between riders in a way that your biking community becomes your second family,” said Tyan. “We all stand by each other and watch over each other.”
After breakfast the group headed outside where a raffle was drawn for gifts from TriStar and the hotel. Finally, it was time to ride. Engines revved as the group prepared for a few moments away from the hustle and bustle of their every day lives. Moto Lady Club ladies put on their helmets and at once blended into the large group, proving that women could be just as great at riding as men.
For more information on TriStar Academy training call 2240 5194 or email them at [email protected].
For more information check out Safety and Passion, our article on the riding community in Kuwait and our coverage of the Kuwait Motorcycle Show.