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Editor’s Blog: All-Women Events for 2012

More on AMA Conference & Biker Belles, plus auto and snowmobile events

By Genevieve Schmitt, Editor
12/12/2011


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Biker Belles 2012 Just Announced!
Just got word that the Biker Belles 2012 ride date has been announced. It will take place on Wednesday, August 8, 2012, during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The schedule and format of the ride look much the same as last year, but of course we’re hoping that three times as many women show up. This past November, a $1,000 donation was made to the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame on behalf of the Biker Belles ride. The museum plans to use the donation to expand and enhance its exhibits featuring women riders and their role in the history and culture of motorcycling. For more details, visit BikerBelles.com. To see a WRN video of the 2011 ride, click here
      

More Details on AMA Women’s Conference
The big news over the last two weeks was the official announcement for the 2012 AMA Women & Motorcycling Conference. Women riders everywhere were wondering if the AMA was going to hold a 2012 conference, considering the late date of the announcement (seven months is not much notice for planning to attend an event of this kind), and if so, where in the country the event would take place. We now know Carson City, Nev., has been chosen for its proximity to Lake Tahoe and the surrounding area’s scenic riding. I’m told that, in addition to all the options for lodging nearby, the city of Carson City and the state of Nevada are working with the AMA to provide discounted lodging for all conference attendees. Tent camping sites are also available only 10 minutes away for those who like to rough it.

And for those who were unclear on registration fees as described in the AMA’s press release posted on WRN last week, here’s the deal. Early registration, at a cost of $125, has begun exclusively for AMA members. It makes sense that the AMA would cater to its members first, as it’s a member-based organization with an annual membership fee of $39. If you don’t belong to the AMA and want to take advantage of early registration, you’ll first have to pay that $39 to join the AMA, which you can do on the conference Web site, and then sign up for the conference by paying the $125 registration fee, for a total of $164.   
     
Non-members of the AMA will not be able to register for the conference until April 30, 2012, and they'll have to pay a registration fee of $235. On that same date, registration will increase to $175 for AMA members, so if you wait until after that time to join and register, it will cost you $214 (AMA membership fee plus registration fee).

It will be interesting to see if forcing membership like this will affect registration numbers. The AMA puts a lot of effort into producing this event, so the organization has every right to use it to boost membership. I just wonder if this will backfire, as those who have an aversion to joining groups or clubs will be put off by this effort to increase membership. However, you can’t really blame the AMA—it is the only national organization that has stepped up to the plate to organize a full-scale motorcycling event aimed at women, so why not use the event to further its agenda?

Beginner’s Guide Overhaul
During the holiday period and through January, my editorial assistant, Amy, is working on overhauling the Beginner’s Guide section of WRN. We’ve temporarily turned off all of the links outlining how to get into motorcycling, including our beginner’s bikes and MSF stories. Bear with us as we give this section a fresh new look with updated information.
  
Exciting Women’s Off-Road Auto Event
I’ve learned of an exciting women’s automotive event that organizers want me to share with you. Taking place on March 17-30, 2012, the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles is the only all-women rally raid in the world. It is a nine-day, completely off-road competition through southern Morocco’s most challenging terrain. It is incredibly grueling, both mentally and physically, and pushes competitors to their limit. The competition involves only the driver and navigator, a compass, maps and more than 50 checkpoints—no pace notes, no GPS, no help.   

USA Team #109 in the Erg Chebbi dunes in Merzouga, Morocco.
USA Team #109 in the Erg Chebbi dunes in Merzouga, Morocco.

This race is the ultimate test of navigation and driving skills. The rally is also known and respected for its extensive humanitarian efforts. Its focused initiatives, along with staff and competitor support, have brought significant improvement to the health and welfare of the region. Organizers are seeking US participants, as there have been only a few over the years and organizers are hoping more women will want to compete.

A French team after finding a very difficult checkpoint.
A French team after finding a very difficult checkpoint.

The ceremonial finish parade in Essaouira.
The ceremonial finish parade in Essaouira.

It costs a minimum of $16,000 to compete in the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles, and there are ways to rent a vehicle in France through the organization. To learn more, visit RallyeAichaDesGazelles.com. Click here to view a video on YouTube describing the event. You can also visit the US Facebook page for more information. Anyone seriously interested in participating can contact the US liaison at kellan@soulsidenetwork.com or 203.249.1340.  

All-Women Snowmobile Rally
Here’s an all-women snowmobile competition (it is winter in most parts of the country) taking place on January 21, 2012. It’s the 28th year for the Women’s Rally 4 A Reason in Island Park, Idaho, the longest running all-women snowmobile rally in the lower 48 states. If I hadn’t just signed up to join Diva Amy in Park City for the Sundance Film Festival in January, I’d consider attending this “cool” event. I think it’d be interesting to attend another women’s event in the powersports industry and see how it compares to our women’s motorcycling events. Visit IslandParkNews.net to read a story on the rally.

Around-the-World Motorcycle Trip
And from a newspaper in the UK, here’s a story about two women riders, ages 62 and 58, who just returned from an epic trip across the globe. These two women are well known in motorcycling circles for their long-distance adventures, and it seems they’ve been at it again. Click here to read the story.   

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Reader Comments


Just a quick response to Jill Gatwood's comment about the AMA's work to keep land for offroad riding: She commented that there were plenty of dirt roads for dirtbikes and ATVs to ride. Unfortunately, dirtbikes and ATVs are not legal for riding on public roads, therefore creating the need for offroad trails. Also, dirtbike riding is designed for non-flat riding, just like mountain bikes, the challenge of climbing rough terrain is what draws riders to the sport. If you've never tried a dirt bike, I recommend it, as it teaches motorcyclist techniques that you will never learn on the street. I am in my 50s and ride both sport bikes and dirt bikes and recommend both. Thanks for the sportbike area.

Gayla O'Brien
Springdale, AR
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Love reading your blogs and articles with the rapidly expanding world for women and riding. Thank you.

There is one point to clarify. Although Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles claims to be the only all-woman rally in the world, there is at least one other.

Trophée Roses des Sables is a similar rally, also in Morocco and goes across the Sahara. Sponsored by BMW Motorrad Canada, Chantal Cournoyer (whose story is featured in my book Women, Motorcycles and the Road to Empowerment) and Stephanie Gagnon, were the first women to complete this grueling adventure on motorcycles.



Liz Jansen
Orangeville, ON, Canada
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Good newsletter! I plan to attend the Women's Motorcycle conference, though I join the AMA grudgingly. It's not that I am opposed to joining any organization at all, but that I disagree with some parts of the AMA mission. I joined the AMA to get a good price on the last Women & Motorcycles conference in Colorado and so got their newsletter for the next year. I saw a lot of articles about AMA advocacy re: fighting to open up more wild lands for motorcycle and ATVs use. I feel that there are plenty of dirt roads to ride on all over the country and that, at this point, we should support conserving wilderness areas and keeping them off-limits to vehicular traffic. Turn off your engines and go for a hike sometimes, for godsakes.

Jill Gatwood
Albuquerque, NM
Tuesday, December 13, 2011


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