You would think that with a title like Women, Motorcycles and the Road to Empowerment, this book is only for women, but it is far from that. Author Liz Jansen has given us a good read that is part memoir and part anthology of women who have found motorcycling as a tool for confidence building.
Throughout the 10 chapters of the book, Jansen tells us a portion of her life story, and how motorcycling changed things for her, building her confidence, empowering her to move forward, and finding a career. She also provides the stories of 50 women who likewise are motorcyclists—some having ridden all their life and a few only taking up the sport recently.
One of my favorite stories was Audrey Alexandre, age 78, who began riding in 1947 and quit riding in 2003—that’s 56 years of motorcycling! Women were supposed to ride on the back, not take command of the motorcycle in the 1940s. After describing how she would ride in her dad’s sidecar, she wanted her own motorcycle in high school—her dad excited about it and her mother quite angry. “The freedom got me hooked. The wind is in your face and away you go. My first bike was from the Canadian Army, a 1942 45 cubic inch Harley. … My last bike was a ‘93 turquoise Heritage and I had ‘the wind beneath my wings’ airbrushed on.”
Other stories like Juanita Losch-Finlan who rides a motorcycle with a sidecar so she can take the family, and Andrea Tillmann who is a flight instructor, give us great stories about motorcycling—how they came to it and what it means. Ordinary women whose stories are just as compelling as some of the better known women motorcyclists like Carla King, Tigra Tsujikawa, Stefy Bau and Genevieve Schmitt, and not to take away from any of the others.
There are stories of tours, riding in the dirt, motocross, breaking speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats, accidents and crashes. Every story is compelling and comes with a lesson learned.
Here is what I found most intriguing. Even though this book focuses on motorcycling and empowerment, it is much more than that. It could be about cars, or airplanes, or bicycles, or horses, or backpacking or whatever. It’s about how individuals found a passion, and in that development of skills and experience, found truly meaningful life lessons that carried them forward past bad relationships, broken careers, and hard times. That passion solidified good relationships and found common ground for families to build upon.
Here’s another thing: This book is not just for the women. Men, you will learn quite a bit and be inspired too.
Liz Jansen is an entrepreneur, adventurer, writer, and rider extraordinaire.
She creates motorcycle experiences that instill a sense of adventure, freedom and community while traveling the transformative road to personal and professional leadership. Liz has worked with individuals, corporate clients, manufacturers, retailers and the public sector.
You can contact Liz through her web site
See you on the highway.