Photos by Josie Koler
The Weekly Newspapers recently discovered that women are the fastest growing demographic when it comes to owning and riding a motorcycle. The image of a biker babe perched on the back of her man’s saddle is being replaced with hog hotties twisting her own throttle.
“A lot of people are surprised to find out I do ride. Maybe I don’t fit the stereotype. They think they’re all tough with tattoos, but they’re not!”
Barrie Smith is a retiree, living by Sombrero Beach with her husband and two hogs – a Street Bob and an anniversary Dyna Low Rider.
“I got my first one in 1992 and I rode other bikes before that. I’ve been riding motorcycles a long time,” she said. “The first one I owned was a ’79 Honda. The low-rider is a lower version and I like the anniversary colors: copper and black.”
Smith and her hubby, a former L.A. motorcycle cop she describes as “the original Chips,” hop on and cruise to Key West with the rest of the enthusiasts for Bike Week to unleash their passion for open pavement.
Frances Strauss is a Raymond James financial adviser. She moved to the Middle Keys 16 years ago and this past October made an investment of her own.
A 2008 Softtail Deluxe. Ooh. La-la.
“It’s beautiful. Out of seven days of the week I would go for a ride for five.”
Frances and Barrie are not alone. In fact, according to Tracy Morehouse, motorcycle Rentals and Inventory Manager for Phil Peterson’s Harley Davidson South, (who rides herself) admits Harley is attracting women who love the wind in their long hair, the sun on their tank-top covered back, and the freedom of the open road under their leather boots.
“They’re lawyers, bank clerks, and administrative professionals, there’s no limit as to their career,” Morehouse says. “Any lady can get on a bike and enjoy the hobby. We see all backgrounds on all economic levels. Professional women are getting into it because they’ve met a boyfriend, or come from a family of bikers, or once in awhile a woman comes in and she’s going through a divorce, or her children have gone off to college. There’s a dramatic life change. These women are looking for freedom, something for themselves. Riding is a very big stress reliever.”
Which is why Frances began to ride. Plus, she fits the category of “my boyfriend does!” They’ll cruise down for Bike Week, only she’ll probably act as a passenger not a rider.
“I enjoy riding on the back of his bike. I can look around and enjoy the beautiful scenery instead of concentrating on the road.”
Missus Smith on the other hand is the ladder who grew up in a family of bikers and brothers always toying with their two-wheels.
“I took classes to ride in the early 70s, and I used to ride my brothers motorcycles.”
That sense of empowerment Barrie recognized from an early age – a feeling women of all ages continue to find in a bike, Morehouse points out, and with today’s customized cycles women riders are respected.
In this instance, they’ll all be cruising down US 1 for Key West Bike Fest and the Phil Peterson’s Harley Davidson Motorcycle Poker Run!
Barrie is convincing, “the scenery is pretty hard to beat when we’re riding across the bridges and the water. I just enjoy it.”
Barrie Smith was a teenager when she started riding. “Riding is a great feeling. You’re out there. It’s not like sitting in a car. You’re out in the fresh air. It’s like a ride at the fair and you don’t have to ever get off!”
With one of her two babies, Barrie Smith rides scenic HWY 1 every year she can for the Key West Bike Week with her husband Harry. “It’s a bunch of people making stops and everyone ends up in Key West looking at everyone’s bike. It’s fun to do.”
Raymond James’ wealth management specialist Frances Strauss decompresses by hitting the road on her own hog.