While the leadership of the ADV Woman Rally is all female, the event is co-ed. We interviewed participants to hear their experience of the men of the ADV Woman Rally, and it was fantastic.
Dave came with a dear friend of his, Helen. Before the rally, neither Dave nor Helen had attended other motorcycle events, though Dave had been on a few group rides. His opinion of those rides? “I ride to explore, to go places I have never been. I ride to escape competition and connect with the land. I stopped attending group rides because of the heavy machismo that permeates them: a strong competitive atmosphere of seeing who can go the fastest and conquer the hardest terrain.” Helen discussed being in male dominated atmospheres for most of her professional and personal life. She has found herself participating in more women’s only events in recent years. “My kayak club has a women-only class called Boating Betties, and in those classes I hear and empathize with the other women that we learn and socialize differently and that this impacts our experience picking up an adrenaline sport. I’ve also joined a women-only pinball league called Belles and Chimes because even when we compete with each other, we tend to support and learn and teach with each other more cooperatively than in the male-dominated general events. Besides, it’s nice to play a pinball match without hearing disparagement that the other guy ‘got beat by a girl’, or on the flip get undue congrats for a win “because i’m a girl”.”
Justine attended with her husband Lane, but this was not their first ADV Woman Rally. They first attended in 2016. Justine says she started riding motorcycles in 2013, and it took her two years to convince her husband that they should get dirtbikes. She went to the rally hoping to learn a few things about body position and endurance, and found that she and her husband learned so much more. They enjoyed themselves so much, they came back as camp hosts in 2017, looking forward to meeting more like minded people and lifelong friends.
Adrian and Christine attended the rally because they wanted to explore Colorado’s backcountry on motorcycles. Adrian had more street riding experience than dirt, and Christine was pretty new to motorcycles. The blend of this event being woman centric and time they could enjoy together appealed to both of them, and following the rally, they had plans to ride the Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route.
As a woman who attended the rally, I remember the unique experience of being in the majority at a motorcycle event. A discussion with Adrian on this very topic was what inspired this article, and left me curious to hear more. Adrian introspectively and thoughtfully discussed his first concern, which was not wanting to alter the supportive dynamic he observed between women, simply by his presence. He felt that the instructors were high quality and well trained and as he spent time at the rally, he found most of the women respectful. Unlike perceptions that exist about women’s only events, he did not observe a culture of “man hating” or snide comments. He wondered aloud whether women would experience the same level of respect at a co-ed/male dominated event. He shared his hope that it would be so.
Adrian also discussed a “mild experience of being ‘the other’. The feeling of being different from the majority.” He heard stories of women who traveled from Canada and Britain to attend this event run by women, and started to realize what a rarity this was. He did notice that “being an outsider” was a bit draining after a few days. He attributes this partially to how much energy it takes him to socialize, especially with strangers, in general. He found himself happiest when riding.
I also had the opportunity to talk with Dave about the rally. He discussed his approach to the rally, which was that he was there to support the woman he attended with. His personal goals were “strictly secondary.” That said, he was impacted by the experiences and discussions he had. He found tears in his eyes when he attended a fitness seminar, where the discussion showed what was really on the women’s minds. “Every question contained a heavy context of struggle within a male culture; of being overpowered. Pat didn’t miss this. The session shifted from lecture to dialog, with Pat probing and challenging the ‘I am weak’ attitudes lurking behind the questions. It was powerful.”
The men took part in the rally in different ways. Some shared meals with all participants, but explored on their own during the day. Others took part in lessons and classes. Curious, I asked the women what they thought of the male attendees. Helen shared that she found all of the men respectful, and that she really liked being able to share the experiences of her day with her primary riding buddy. She also liked that there was a women’s only class option. “The women-only skills class afforded me all the space I needed to learn at my own speed. It was taught by women who understand how to break down the skills into building blocks, who communicate well, and who provide excellent constructive adjustments and general support.” She found her skills so improved, that she and Dave could complete a challenging ride together the next day.
Justine noticed that her husband learned grace and patience by being in classes with a woman instructor. She also found it helpful for him to hear that many women approach riding and learn differently than men, and it was not just her. She appreciated that her husband was able to observe, first hand, the true passion that women can have for motorcycles, the deep bonds of friendship that exist in the female riding community, and that riding skills is not gender dependent. She also says he felt part of something powerful, and become more humble as her teacher.
Adrian wrapped up his discussion feeling that he’d had an opportunity to be part of something fragile and rare. He shared his observations that the ADV Woman Rally is truly unique, and people who work on this rally do so because of passion, not profit. He was pleased that his wife had so much fun, was inspired learning from a woman, and made good friends. Helen found what she loved more than the training; the conversations over meals and the dancing. She reflected that the benefit of having respectful men at the rally reminded her that her motorcycle community can be co-ed. Justine shared her belief that female-centric events help empower women more if they include male counterparts. “In my experience, allowing men to observe and participate in women-centric events helps men to better understand and respect the female ability, strength, and camaraderie.” And Dave’s faith in the riding community may have been restored. “After the rally, it struck me that I really ought to participate in the riding community more. The machismo and debauchery aren’t necessarily everywhere.”
Interested in attending? Registration is open for the 2018 ADV WOMAN RENDEZVOUS!
Want to read more? Here’s Kris’s experience at the RALLY.