On a Canada-wide relay, women motorcyclists met at the Kirkella rest stop on the TransCanada where a baton was passed from Saskatchewan to Manitoba riders. They revel in the exhilaration and freedom of riding a motorcycle, but this was a tough ride on the cool and blustery Saturday, June 22.
These women are part of WRWR – Women Riders World Relay –a global movement of female motorcyclists who want the world to know that women ride. It was started in the UK; Canada’s relay began in Victoria, B.C. on May 25.
The two organizers of the Manitoba run, lead rider Denise Riel and rear gunner Laurie Cardinal both rode out of Winnipeg early Saturday morning with two groups of six riders.
A westerly wind was a factor. “It feels like a tornado!” said Riel. Coming out from behind sheltered areas, wind gusts can affect how a bike handles and makes for a more tiring ride.
They travelled to Kirkella for the baton pass-off at about 1:30 p.m. and returned to Virden for a late lunch.
On this “ripple ride” the group expected to pick up bikers along the way for the next leg, down Hwy 21 to Hwy 2, travelling through Souris and doing a bit of sightseeing at the Swinging Bridge. They will head eastward to pose with Sara, the Glenborough Camel, on their Hwy 2 route back to Winnipeg.
UK founder of WRWR, Hayley Bell, “wanted to ignite a global sisterhood of inspirational women to promote courage, adventure, unity and passion for biking from all corners of the world…” She also wanted to “Wow the industry into realizing the global market for women in Motorsports….”
Cardinal pointed out that although there is some equipment made for women (often with the traditional pink flair) the branded (Honda, Suzuki, etc.) merchandize is almost exclusively for men.
Both Cardinal and Riel, who started to drive about five years ago, are safety conscious for their group. They find out who are the new riders or who is new to group riding.
The women explain that all riders must take driver training in order to get a license. “That safety course is so important,” says Riel. She had never ridden a two-wheeled motor bike before she embarked on the training. She had no bad habits to break.
It’s important to know where the horn is and be prepared to use it. “I’ve got a really loud horn,” says Riel.
Focus and safety-minded concentration are important. “A motorcycle is not a vehicle to get on when you are in a bad mood… you need to be thinking.”
“You’ve got to act like you’re invisible for every driver out there. You can see the cars and trucks; you don’t know if they see you,” said Riel.
Another unwritten rule among bikers is the signal for help. “A lot of people don’t know this, but if you see a helmet on the ground behind a stopped bike, that means biker in distress – please help,” said Cardinal.
Winnipeg WRWR riders got back to the city at 10 p.m. and were up and at it at 9 a.m. Sunday, for the pass-off of the baton to Ontario riders at Kenora.
Denise Riel called the Manitoba run “awesome”.