That is the look of badassery on my face after I faced a fear and was enlightened to the fact that something I had been afraid of for years turned out to be one of the most life-opening things I've done in my life.
I know many women can relate to this. How many times has your Inner Perfect Girl convinced you that you cannot do something because well, she is afraid, and you let her fear stop you?
I confronted a fear
Never in my 40+ years of life have I ever ridden or even sat on a motorcycle, namely because I was afraid to - the jarring noise, crash horror stories, and scary biker dudes like in The Sons of Anarchy.
Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined myself riding a Harley-Davidson bike as my first motorcycle ride ever because I would consider that bike way too much motorcycle for me. Inner Perfect Girl would prefer to start off on a scooter.
I was invited by Harley-Davidson and BlogHer for a special blogger camp at Harley-Davidson headquarters in Milwaukee to introduce us to Harley Women Voices and Women Riders, the programs and events that help inspire women to ride Harleys. In full disclosure, my time, travel, and this post were sponsored by Harley-Davidson and BlogHer.
What a motorcycle has to do with healthy living
My initial reaction to the invite was honestly trepidation, and then I thought, "What does riding a motorcycle have to do with healthy living?" That photo of "We Don't Do Fear" is a sign hanging in the Harley-Davidson Marketing department, and that sentence says it all.
I'm sooooooo glad I side-stepped Inner Perfect Girl's fear because getting on that motorcycle actually has plenty to do with healthy living, and I'll tell you why.
This is not just a motorcycle; it's a life experience pushing you out of your comfort zone. We cannot evolve unless we are daring enough to live outside of our creature comforts and not let fear stop us from living the life of our dreams.
I know. I know. I sound like I've been drinking the Kool-Aid, but it's true, and I totally understand now why Harley riders are so passionate about riding. It's similar to how I feel about Whole Foods and Apple.
You have to experience it to understand it. Harleys may not be for everyone, but it sure is worth experiencing at least once because you are putting yourself outside of your comfort zone amongst the safety of friendlies and everyone will listen to a story about, "...that time I rode a Harley."
I did the girl thing and cried
With Harley, it's not just about the bike; it's about what you feel when you're riding, and for me the minute I got on the passenger seat and we rode into the street, I felt un-caged from fear. Inner Perfect Girl's presence disappeared, and I felt the burden of fear lifted from my chest, something I have not felt in a very long time.
In fact, mid-way through my ride, under my helmet and riding glasses, I cried a bit because I was so happy to feel that sense of freedom. I know this is going to sound totally emo, but on that bike, I felt a bit like the final scene in Shawshank Redemption when Red gets to the beach to meet his friend Andy and knows he is finally free. "Get busy living, or get busy dying." I know a bit dramatic, but that's the only way I can best describe the feeling I felt.
But don't just take my word for it. Here is Roshani from Gilbert, Arizona who is an 8th grade Math teacher and like someone we all know. Watching this video made me cry, and made me feel less afraid to get on a Harley.
On the first night we went to Hal's Harley-Davidson dealership for a Garage Party, which is basically an evening at a dealership designed with the ladies in mind. There is food and drink, and ladies can come in and learn more about Harley bikes, riding, and actually sit and rev a Harley on the Jump Start like what @Missmissea is doing in the photo above with Dana from Harley-Davidson.
If you think book club and makeup parties are fun, Garage Party is thrilling. Amanda from Harley-Davidson is sitting on a 2012 Softail Deluxe which is similar to the bike I got my ride on. That bike is badass, and I've already decided that I will buy one. It's on my Life List now :)
If you have a chance to experience the Jump Start, I highly recommend it. In fact, find a rumble at a Garage party near you. You're not even going anywhere, but to feel that power at your finger tips is empowering like you have no idea.
I want to host a Garage Party here in Silicon Valley and invite fellow female start-up founders to jump on a Harley because feeling the power from the bike translates so much to the feeling of power we need to create our companies in a male-dominated industry.
The Jump Start was only the beginning. The next day, we got an Introductory Motorcycle Experience in one of the parking lots at the Harley-Davidson Museum which, by the way, is fascinating. It's like seeing American History through motorcycles.
Here I am on my own bike, a Harley-Davidson Sportster! At first, boy did Inner Perfect Girl throw a bit of a mental fit. She was so afraid of falling down. But I was so excited I didn't even care. I went back to that feeling of freedom, living with no cages, I had felt the day before and had the time of my life.
It also immensely helped that we had two of the most incredible teachers, Deb and Katie. I was so enamoured with them, I had to get a groupie shot.
Oh, notice my pigtails. There actually is a whole science on what to do with long hair for bike rides, and braids are the ideal riding hair-do. I haven't put my hair in pigtails since I was a kid, so that part was actually kinda cool to relive.
Here is a group shot of the #harleywomen bloggers who were with me at Harley-Davidson Summer Camp. My time with them was truly a bonding experience I will not forget! Here are a bunch more pictures I took on the trip.
Every Harley rider I've met on the trip and in the last week since I got home has been so friendly and helpful. My perception of a Harley rider has completely changed, like 180 degrees! Who knew facing a fear of motorcycles could open my life up in ways I never thought possible. Most happily, it was wonderful to feel life with no fear again.
The next step for me is taking the Harley-Davidson Rider's Edge training course, and I'm telling you, I'm like a kid waiting for Christmas. If you'd like to learn more or sign-up for a training course, here's more information about Rider's Edge.
And now some fun for you guys, a cool giveaway!
Tell me what life with "no cages" means to you for a chance to win a Harley-Davidson Women's Pink Label Embellished Nylon Jacket.
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d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from July 31, 2012 to August 27, 2012
Be sure to visit the Harley-Davidson No Cages brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!