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Womens World Pushing the Societal Envelope

Published on December 20, 2018 under Women's News
Womens World Pushing the Societal Envelope

As bikers we tend to push the societal envelope every now and then. It’s not that we are out there to scare anyone; this is just who we are and it’s a love that non-bikers just don’t appreciate nor understand. As the saying goes, “If I have to explain it to you, you wouldn’t understand.”

I was the odd-ball in my family. This is something I’m definitely NOT ashamed of. I got my tractor-trailer license when it was unheard of for women to venture into that avenue of employment. Then – gasp – I got my motorcycle license. Again, that was not the norm for young women. My sisters still tell my parents that they were given the wrong baby at the hospital when I was born. I mean, how many people do you know take their pet goat to the yearly family picnic? (Yeah, I really did that; family members still talk about the matching pink bandannas my pet goat, Mandy, and I were wearing …)

When I decided to write a couple books about women motorcyclists, I was told by many book publishers that the books would never sell. In my mind those book publishers were horribly wrong (and they were!) So, taking my education and experience in hand, I started my own publications and marketing company. When someone tells me I can’t do

something, well … you don’t have to take long to figure out that I will eventually do what I’m told that I can’t do.

Do you have a family member that you might take after; maybe an uncle, aunt, father, mother, grandparent? There is a little part of me that takes after my grandmother. She was the coolest person and one that truly understood me and my avant-garde ways.

My grandmother was born and raised in England. She came over to America on the Lusitania. In fact, on May 7, 1915, on its return home to Liverpool, England, from New York City, it got bombed by a German U-boat.

Gram, as everyone lovingly called her, was a lady in all respects. Her tea time was precious to her as was her family. Wearing slacks was a no-no. You would always see her in a skirt, blouse, sweater wrapped around her shoulders, and nylons.

Gram would be the one that I could call and talk to, go over to her home and visit with her, and bring my friends over for conversation and company. She was a tiny, little woman, but her values and faith were larger than most people that I know today. There wasn’t anything I wouldn’t do for that woman.

When I got my motorcycle the first person I wanted to show it off to was Gram. She wasn’t impressed. In fact, my bubble burst when I drove it to show it to her and she didn’t respond in any manner. I was hoping for some great accolades and an occasional “atta girl” but Gram wasn’t the type to promote positive comments that way. In her mind, girls didn’t do things like that.

I tried coaxing her to take a ride with me on my motorcycle. When Gram said no, she meant it. As most of you may know, I wasn’t going to take that lightly. I wanted Gram to understand my love for the two-wheeled machine. How would she be able to understand this concept unless she could feel the freedom of two wheels, the sun in your face, and the absolute joy this motorcycle brought me?

Over a period of time, Gram started to lighten up about my two-wheeled friend and companion. She started to ask questions about the motorcycle and the trips that I took with my “motorcycle friends.” So, I shared with her my colorful stories (there were many of them!), where I went, what I did, the pictures I took, etc. I even decided to take the bike to her house to wash and wax it. Maybe that would keep the interest intact with Gram. It didn’t. She did, however, comment that she liked the color of the bike.

The day finally came when I asked Gram to take a ride. Of course, I knew she would say no. She did. But then she said, “Do you have your camera?” I answered her, “Of course, I do, Gram. You know it goes everywhere with me.”

Silence prevailed while Gram was thinking. Her eyes danced with consideration and contemplation. I thought she was deciding what flowering shrub or rose plant she wanted her picture taken in front of. I was looking around the yard figuring where the picture should be taken, how the light settings would be, when, in my shock Gram said, “If you help me get on the motorcycle, you may take my picture.”

Unable to breathe let alone utter any words of intelligence, I stammered, “You want to do what?”

With a coy smile, Gram said, “I want my picture taken on the motorcycle.” I helped Gram on the bike, told her to hold on to the handlebars, and ecstatically, I took one of the best pictures of Gram I had ever taken.
Gram passed away a few years ago. Many of our friends and extended-family came to her service. At her funeral the one picture that dominated the room was the photo of Gram on the motorcycle. So many people commented on that picture. In fact, some guests mentioned quietly that they didn’t realize Gram was a biker! Ah, our little secret, Gram ….

Gram did things her way, when she wanted to, and how she wanted. I’m the same way. I don’t let negativity deter my ambitions, dreams, and desires. If you want, ride that bike to Sturgis, publish your extraordinary road stories, and push that societal envelope – take your pet goat to the next family picnic!

Until we meet again,
Ride safe and free!
Susan Hurst