posted in: Motorcycling, Outdoors, Travel | 0

Last Sunday, I joined hundreds of other female motorcyclists at the Triumph factory in Hinckley, for the World’s Largest Female Biker Meet. I was there to help set a world record…

Rolling up just after 11am, I was biker number 563. By the cut off time of 3.30pm, 1,549 female bikers had gathered in Hinckley, and a new world record was set. It was a fabulous event to be a part of. And, of course, I can now say I’m a world record holder!

Splodz Blogz | Arriving at the World's Largest Female Biker Meet - Photo by Stanley Kaye
Arriving at the World’s Largest Female Biker Meet – photo by Stanley Kaye

World’s Largest Female Biker Meet

Organised by Moto Advisor, a social group set up by biking enthusiasts Sherri Woolf and Nimi Patel, the event aimed to bring together female bikers in a friendly show of our place in the wider biking community.

The pair already hold the world record thanks to a meet up of 1,332 female bikers in 2017, but were looking to increase that record. They teamed up with Triumph and The Bike Insurer to put on the free-to-attend meet up, which also included live music, trade stands, and a raffle to raise money for charity.

Splodz Blogz | World's Largest Female Biker Meet
All the ladies… can you spot me?

I saw the event appear in my Instagram feed a few months ago and signed up straight away, doing my best to encourage other female bikers I knew to attend too. There was something about the pull of a world record that got me interested, even though I would normally shy away from busy gatherings like this.

I’m so glad I went. Yes, they could have done with more food and drink stands, but it was a fun event with a fantastic atmosphere, celebrating women who, just like me, love to ride. Even queueing to get in was fun; ladies had to wait in line to be photographed and counted one by one, in order to meet the requirements for the world record.

A nice and unexpected bonus was being given the official photo that was taken as I was counted, along with one from another photographer who spent the day capturing all the bikers coming onto site. And my husband also got a handful of photos (he rode over with me), which you’ll see dotted through this post.

Splodz Blogz | Arriving at the World's Largest Female Biker Meet - Official Photo
World’s Largest Female Biker Meet official photo by The Bike Insurer

My Place in the Biking Community

What was really very cool about the whole thing, what the World’s Largest Female Biker Meet demonstrated to me personally, was just how broad and varied the motorcycling world is. And how I, a 41-year-old outdoors loving lady, riding a little 14-year-old GS with an 800cc engine and lowered suspension, is a member of that community.

Apparently there are something like 300,000 women in the UK with a full motorcycle licence, but when I’m out riding I hardly ever see another female rider. I like riding with my male friends, but it was more than a bit special to find myself in the middle of that mass of bikes all ridden by fellow females.

Splodz Blogz | World's Largest Female Biker Meet

On this particular occasion, I was one of over 1,500 different ladies, riding one of over 1,500 different bikes – alongside a bunch of men riding more bikes, too. People and machines of all shapes, sizes, styles, colours, and the rest.

There were electric bikes, dirt bikes, scooters, adventure bikes, sports bikes, cruisers, choppers, café racers, tourers, trikes, and everything else in-between. Very old bikes, and brand spanking new ones. Really (really) big bikes, and very small bikes. Bikes covered in stickers, with bashed up paniers, with sparkly mods, with bespoke paint jobs, with eyelashes on the headlights, and even a bike with a dog basket on the back.

When wandering around the parking area, I spotted a sister to my GS – another 2008 F650GS twin, in the same colour, and even some of the same stickers on the luggage. And later I found another similar looking GS with a sidecar to match; how fantastic!

Splodz Blogz | World's Largest Female Biker Meet
F650GS with sidecar!

There really was a bike for everyone, something that suited the riding style, preferences and level of experience of each individual person there. Being just one lady in amongst that spectrum filled me with joy. Sometimes it takes seeing a thousand other people to help you realise your place in the world.

Morocco. Booked. Again.

Apart from being part of an amazing world record attempt, it was also a lovely opportunity to catch up with Julia and Kevin Sanders of Globebusters. We did our Iceland trip with them last year, and should have gone to Morocco with them this Spring, but you know, politics (rather than COVID) put paid to that (read Weekly Blog Episode 101).

I actually spotted Julia as I was heading to park up after being officially counted. She’d not long arrived on her new Triumph Tiger 1200, and clearly she also spotted me as I arrived – what a lovely welcome. Apparently, I have a particular look on my bike which makes me very recognisable; I’ll take that.

Our chat with them was all the motivation we needed to get Morocco rebooked. We were sad it had to be cancelled this year, but as the ferries between Spain and Morocco are now running again, and my boss has said I can take the time off next Autumn, we signed up and paid our deposit.

If you’re looking for a way to have an adventure on your bike with the comfort of someone else doing the planning for you, definitely check out what Globebusters have to offer. Everything from ten-day trips on tarmac in Iceland and Turkey, to full blown expeditions in Southern Africa and the Americas. Worth a look.

Never-Ending Search for a Suit

I hope bike clothing manufacturers have taken note of all the different shapes, sizes and riding preferences of the ladies represented at this female biker meet. Because we really are still very much second-class citizens when it comes to bike gear.

My old and trusted Alpinestars Stella Andes Drystar motorcycle suit – my waterproof textile jacket and pants – is done. I’ve had it for years. It has been a brilliant suit, really – I’ve worn it to ride thousands of miles, asked it to deal with all manner of weather (including a sandstorm in Death Valley), and it has always been comfortable and dependable. I’m actually quite sad it’s time to choose a new outfit, and not only because I hate shopping for clothes!

So far, I’ve tried on 20 pairs of motorcycle pants on two separate visits to Sports Bike Shop, and am yet to find something that fits me well. And to be honest, I’m feeling pretty down in the dumps about it. I can’t shake the feeling that if I was thinner, and taller, this task would be much easier.

Splodz Blogz | World's Largest Female Biker Meet
At the meet – in my (stretchy and short) jeans!

Choice of Leg Length

The biggest problem for me, I think, is length. While men’s trousers tend to come in three different length options; the women’s version seems to only come in one standard length. And that standard is far too long for me. That is apart from Richa, who do a short leg length, but their trousers don’t have anywhere near enough material around the lower leg for me. (And yes, I’ve tried on men’s trousers, too.)

Normally I just put up with trousers that are a bit too long, but the knock-on effect when a motorcycle pant is too long, is that the knee armour is then in the wrong place. Knee armour halfway down my shin really isn’t what I want; uncomfortable on and off the bike, not to mention pointless when it comes to safety. And getting them re-hemmed doesn’t quite work as then the opening and fastening around the boots is lost.

What I’m Looking For

My requirements are pretty simple, I think. I’m looking for a waterproof (via a membrane rather than removable liner) adventure-style suit, with legs the right length, knee armour over my actual knees, and enough material around the calf so I can get my adventure boots inside the trousers. Venting for hot weather, pockets, and a colour other than black are also on the wish list – but they’re all second to the fit and waterproofing.

There are some things I could do. I could lose some weight and tone up a bit, that might make me closer to a standard fit, especially in the lower leg. I could also compromise on waterproofing by putting up with a removable inner liner and having to decide what the weather is doing before each ride; could get something with less protection, so it doesn’t matter where my knees are in relation to the armour; or, I could swap my boots from tall adventure style monsters to ankle boots, and not ride off road. But in all honesty, as a rider of an adventure bike, I really do want a suit that is fit for purpose.

Splodz Blogz | World's Largest Female Biker Meet
Bike 563.

Am I a Misfit?

I’ll admit that after the buzz of the world record beating meet up on Sunday, and booking our trip to Morocco, I ended up one very upset female biker this week. Not being able to find clothing that fits well has sapped my confidence and motivation, and I feel like I’m a bit of a misfit.

I go from feeling really angry at how hard it is, wanting to shout at manufacturers about stepping up and treating female bikers much better, to being much more stoic about it and being hopeful about finding something that will do the job well enough. There will be something. I’m sure.

I’ve had a couple of people make some helpful recommendations of brands I could try, but I’m all ears for more if you’ve got suggestions. I’m on a bit of a deadline, I really could do with a new suit before our next trip in early September – here’s hoping I find the right thing soon.

Splodz Blogz | World's Largest Female Biker Meet

Record Breaker

I need to stop whinging about the lack of suit options and concentrate on the fun experience I had last weekend. But the two things do go hand in hand. A show of just what the women’s motorcycle community looks like here in the UK these days, and a demonstration of how ladies are not that well catered for by the industry.

Honestly, though, being one small part of the World’s Largest Female Biker Meet was a great experience. Maybe one day I’ll set an individual world record, but until then this group meet certainly means that original bucket list item from 2005 has been well and truly crossed off.

If Moto Advisor try to beat their own record again next year, I’ll be there.

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