103 East Albemarle St., Edenton, NC 27932; 252.482.3641
I can tell you, with utmost certainty, that the Inner Banks Inn, a Select Registry property, is not to be missed. I’ve stayed at this property on two occasions, and will continue to visit throughout my travels around this area. The proprietor, Susan Beckwith, has turned several adjacent historic buildings, which comprise the Inner Banks Inn, into a glorious retreat, brimming full of Southern hospitality and style. The attention to detail, combined with gorgeous antiques and an air of relaxation, has taken this Select Registry property to a level that’s hit #1 on my list.
And they LOVE motorcyclists! The parking is very motorcycle friendly and safe.
The Inner Banks Inn is located within the historic district of Edenton, North Carolina, and has a fine dining, farm-to-table, restaurant on premises – The Table, serving breakfast, brunch (weekends) and dinner. Let me tell you – the food is over-the-top! Chef Ron has taken his award-winning expertise in the culinary world and cleverly combined it with the soulful lessons in his grandma’s kitchen as a kid. End result: a true Foodie’s destination! In fact, this restaurant consistently ranks in the top 1% of the +2600 restaurants in Trip Advisor’s North Carolina Coast Region. AND…breakfast at The Table is included in your room rate! WIN!
The rooms at Inner Banks Inn maintain the utmost level in luxury and comfort, yet have the perfect touches of antique furnishings and detailed pieces that give this historic property such flair…all in distinct and classy taste. I’ve stayed in both Room One and Room Six, and both times my beds were divinely comfortable with luxurious linens which made my nights so dreamy. Each room has its own bathroom, finely stocked, and the surroundings in all rooms send off an aura of historic luxury.
So, I must ask…what’s not to LOVE?! A gorgeous, historic property, brimming with character; superb relaxation in luxurious rooms; fabulous dining on-site; within easy walking distance of historic Edenton…AND, motorcycle friendly! Why haven’t you booked yet?!
Click here to check it all out:
Where am I off to now?!?!
I recently took a trip to Motorcycles of Charlotte in Charlotte, North Carolina, to test ride several of the newest BMW motorcycles on the market. Watch for the full story in the July 2017 issue of BMW Owners News Magazine! But, until then, here are a couple of “teasers”….
(Originally published in the January 2017 issue of BMW Owners News Magazine.)
Stop just a moment…seriously, just pause, close your eyes and take a breath. Now while you’re body and soul is still and relaxed, think through your wildest dreams and goals. Think about the same dreams and goals that reach out to you on a consistent basis…but in your current situation, just don’t seem possible. (I promise, this is not a clever prelude luring you to some sordid, expensive, self-help seminar.) Seriously. Just try the exercise. Think about the things that emerge from within your being that are calling out to you, but yet, you suppress…because your brain says “you can’t.” Happy January!!! Yes, it’s RESOLUTION TIME!
Like it or growl about it, why not jump on the annual bandwagon and set goals for yourself that take your personal bar higher this year? While it’s certainly good to be nicer, healthier, and more thrifty in the new year, I’m actually encouraging my fellow riders to reach inside and pull out your inner Moto-Beast…yes, “Moto-Beast.” It’s within all of us that ride. We secretly desire a higher level of riding in some way, shape or form. Some of us want to conquer a bigger bike, more annual mileage, a special “expert-level” road, an extreme long-distance journey, super-sharp curves…or even a first ride on your own motorcycle. The journey is personal, and it belongs to YOU…so rock your “Moto-Beast!”
I realize that discovering your own Moto-Beast might not come so natural or be easy, but as you recite your “moto-goals” to yourself and to the world, even going so far as scribbling it down on a piece of paper and sticking it to your refrigerator door for daily vision and reminder, those goals are easily achievable. You can do it! Typical New Year’s resolutions dissipate by about March…maybe April? This year, give yourself the gift of doable goals that are truly within your reach. Want to scoot forward from the pillion seat and take the controls? You can! Have a burning desire to conquer the Dragon? Absolutely, you can! Is it time to move up to a bigger motorcycle? Well, then DO IT! The philosophy that has gotten me through many a struggle in life, big and small, is – “where there’s a WILL, there is a WAY.” It works!
This is your time to dream. It’s January, and most of us are grounded and fantasizing about the riding season to come…at least, that’s what I do. In fact, during this time of “grounding” and reflection, I let my inner Moto-Beast take over and dream and scheme about the fun and adventurous possibilities of the upcoming riding season. Let me be the first to put my personal
“Moto-Beast” out there and be accountable for some goals that are important to me…
—Accomplish an Iron Butt Association 50CC – (Coast-to-Coast in 50 hours)
—Ride at least 15,000 miles during our BMW MOA spring/summer mileage contest (April-October)
—Ride across the Mackinac Bridge – TWICE! (I’m highly phobic of heights…Big Mac is all grated offering a peek of what’s below and is the longest suspension bridge between anchorages in the Western Hemisphere. That’s super-scary stuff for me!!!)
—Test ride ALL the new BMW motorcycle launches from 2016-2017
Another item that I would like to accomplish for 2017…hearing from all of YOU, and what your Moto-Beasts are shouting out to your souls. There is nothing more encouraging than being inspired by your fellow compadres. So bring it! Give it! Share it! Let’s make it OUR year to go out and dream, ride, explore, and unleash our inner Moto-Beasts!!! HAPPY NEW YEAR 2017!! 💃🏻
Hi, my name is Deb “The Iron Butt Fashionista” Gasque, and I’m a motojournalist, motorcycle gear product tester, blogger, etc., etc. During the past year and a half of this super badass venture (and hoping for many more), I have done a few things of the aforementioned pretty darn well…but “blogging,” in its truest form, was not one of them. My intentions were good, but we all know how the old saying goes – and my plan is to NEVER ride down “that” road.
So with this new year comes one of my heartiest goals – to be a regular blogger. Of course, I will still be writing my regular column in the BMW Owners News Magazine and doing product reviews, along with writing regularly for the soon-to-be-launched Modern Moto Magazine, as well as my other side ventures that I participate in (Loud Pipes! podcasts, etc.). So where in the world will I find time to (finally) keep up my blog posts? Well I’m not sure yet, but I am sure that while I’m on my 2-wheeled journeys, I have a lot of random, fun and fairly interesting stuff to pass along. And that, to me, is the essence of a true “blog.”
So…without further ado (and now that I’m on my first 2-wheeled journey of 2017), I present to you:
DAY 1 – “The Last Nine of 48”
Prior to launch this morning, my excitement was large, and for some reason my anxiety was as well. I hadn’t ridden in three months, but no big deal, right? Contrarily, it was a big scary deal prior to my departure. I’m thinking that during the sedentary months of November, December and January, I need to take up some weird hobby to keep my mind from overthinking every single angle in this world. Needless to say, I left this morning and all was well with the world…except it was 40 degrees and overcast for the first half of the ride. And, no, I don’t yet own heated gear. After the first hour on the road and all the settling that needs to be done with gear, bike and mind adjustments, I began to really enjoy myself – despite the frigid temps.
As I traveled south through South Carolina and into Georgia, the sun peeked out several times and the temperatures rose to a happy medium for February. Aside from the random idiots in their 4-wheeled dwellings who were either angry at the world or intently texting on their smartphones, the roads and ride were pleasant. I did get to experience a couple of moments today that make riding a motorcycle so stupendous – the breathtaking scenery that takes you by surprise. One of those fabulous moments was near Savannah, Georgia where I rode the short jaunt down Highway 170 through the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge – it was truly an OMG moment!
I, admittedly, was thrilled to get to my hotel after 400 miles on the road. With the chill in the air and being out of riding shape, I was whipped and ready for some downtime. I got in just in time to enjoy some all-American excitement via Superbowl Sunday. This trip has a dual-faceted mission – one to cover a travel story for the upcoming April 2017 issue of BMW Owners News Magazine and the other to visit dear friends at the tail end of the journey. For now, my lights have dimmed and I’m ready for sleepy time – but there will be much to report on after I arrive at my destination tomorrow…so stay tuned! 💋
(Originally published in the November 2016 issue of BMW Owners News Magazine. Be sure to visit the BMW Owners News original article featuring the gorgeous photography of Allen Phelps which was featured with my article: “Catching a Tradewind to Eden and Beyond.”)
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
Ahhhh…wise words from ol’ Mark that fit the bill for a solo roadtrip I took earlier this fall. I’ve lived near the Southeastern coast for twenty years now and should know better than to plan a trip, much less one on a motorcycle, during the height of Atlantic hurricane season. During that time of the year, there’s always a risk involved that a trip planned can quickly become a trip cancelled when there’s a disturbance brewing offshore. In fact, two days before I departed on this particular solo trip, there were TWO tropical disturbances bouncing around in the Atlantic – Tropical Depression #8 and Tropical Depression #9. But my bad case of “wanderlust” and strong passion for adventure took over, and I rebelliously threw off my bowlines and sailed away – my two-wheels caught a fabulous trade wind, and off I was to “Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark would be proud!
My beginning destination that week was 70 miles inland from where Tropical Depression #8 was set to come ashore along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I was heading to a sweet little hideaway nestled in the Inner Banks of North Carolina – the town of Edenton, named by Forbes as “One of America’s Prettiest Towns.” Although I took backroads from my home in Conway, SC, Edenton can be accessed via I-95, as it sits just 80 miles southeast from Roanoke Rapids, NC if you’re traveling from the north, and just 87 miles east from Rocky Mount, NC if you’re traveling from the south. I realized I was playing a game of chance by traveling with the threat of two strong storms that were knocking at my door, but I maintained a strong will to stay the course and a positive outlook that it would all work out favorably. At my final fuel stop prior to arriving in Edenton, I did a quick check of the weather which was very encouraging, as T.D. #8 was already fizzling out.
The choice of accommodation for my stay in Edenton was a delightful B&B, the Inner Banks Inn (InnerBanksInn.com), a Select Registry Inn. It was amazing and highly recommended!!! This property, which spans 250 years of history, is a collection of four historic homes and a carriage house which has been converted into an onsite restaurant. The main house, The Lord’s Proprietor, is a classic Southern Victorian mansion which features a dreamy wrap-around Southern porch that just beckons to guests to sit and unwind. I stayed in room “One,” which was beautifully decorated with graceful antique furniture, and I enjoyed two nights of beautiful sleep in my luxurious king-sized bed. Additionally, the onsite restaurant, The Table, is a TripAdvisor “Certificate of Excellence” restaurant (TheTableNC.com), so I dined there both evenings – it was THAT good. Chef Ron displays his extraordinary epicurious talent precisely with a plentiful helping of soul. It was divine! I also had the distinct pleasure of spending a couple of hours chatting with the proprietor of the inn, Susan Beckwith, who is very pro-motorcyclist. She has generously extended some very special rates to our BMW MOA community. This place is truly worth a visit!
As I began to explore Edenton, established in 1722, I knew immediately this village called deeply to my rebellious spirit. Following a highly informative session at the Historic Edenton Visitor Center (108 N. Broad Street), I found out about 51 of my bygone kindred sisters. The Edenton Tea Party, organized in 1774, was headed up by Penelope Barker and 50 of her fed-up, female compadres. This group of sassy women let the British know that they weren’t going to put up with the steep taxes on British tea and cloth, amongst other items, so together all 51 women signed an agreement to boycott the goods coming in from Britain. I was already liking the vibe in this town!
As I made my way down historic Broad Street toward the waterfront, I truly enjoyed the town’s vintage feel, including the sweet character of the locals and their exchanges of lovely sidewalk pleasantries. An immense assemblage of historic buildings and homes line the streets (with the oldest dated from the mid-1700s), and architecture styles that range from Jacobean, Georgian, Federal, and Greek Revival to Victorian. I enjoyed visits to the Chowan County Courthouse (est.1767), the Cupola House (est. 1758), the Iredell House (est. 1800), the Barker House (est. 1782) and the Roanoke River Lighthouse (est. 1886). I was also able to find the historic Edenton Tea Pot, a 250-pound cast bronze teapot which is mounted upon a Revolutionary War era cannon standing as its base. The ornate teapot marks the site of the residence in which 51 of my kindred revolutionary friends signed their boycott of British goods. It’s a great historical marker worth seeing…and fun to find.
Also while traveling down historic Broad Street, I spied The Chowan Herald office and couldn’t help but dip in and say “hello” to fellow journalists. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting the Herald’s office manager, Sue Bunch, a true born and raised local of Edenton. Sue has been at the paper since at least the 1950s, and I’m certain could tell some great stories. I loved the feeling of “character” in their office. Following that impromptu visit, I boarded a trolley ($10) to enjoy a great hour and a half narrative tour and history of Edenton. It was fantastic and allowed me to see all that this historic gem had to offer. Once I departed the trolley, I padded down to the waterfront. There I took a break for some quiet time to take in the panoramic, breathtaking scenery. As I sat in sweet silence, watching the seagulls float fluidly over the gently lapping water, I smiled knowing I had discovered another piece of heaven on earth. These are the moments that I treasure so deeply – finding the secret “Edens” of the world – and it makes me so grateful for being a long-distance, off-the-beaten-path type of motorcyclist…who truly digs adventure.
It was time to head back to my homebase for the night, but a stop into the Edenton Bay Trading Company was a delightful detour. I enjoyed the decor in this fun place with its exquisite embellishments and was thrilled at their amazing wine and beer selection. I spent some time with the owners and their friends over a glass of wine and truly enjoyed their superb hospitality. They introduced me to several locals who streamed in for evening libations, so I was able to grasp an even deeper understanding of the village’s character. It was the perfect way to end an ideal day of exploration.
Following another delicious meal at The Table and another beautifully restful night, it was time to say “goodbye” and set sail on my two-wheeled vessel out of Edenton, as the next storm was steadily approaching. Tropical Depression #9 had gained intensity and now had a name – “Tropical Storm Hermine.” I decided to catch another adventurous trade wind and breeze through the Outer Banks to explore that area before Hermine showed up. I took Hwy. 32 out of Edenton, to Hwy. 94 and then to Hwy. 64 East. Along that route, I crossed through the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and discovered several “Bear Crossing” and “Red Wolf Crossing” signs. The scenery was spectacularly grand, and I enjoyed an exhilarating breeze while I scanned the landscape for wildlife. Continuing on Hwy. 64 East, I traveled over a series of bridges with remarkable scenic water views. Upon nearing the Outer Banks of North Carolina, I crossed through Roanoke Island and near the town of Manteo, the birthplace of English colonization in America in 1587 and the birthplace of the first American-born English child, Virginia Dare. This is also where the “Lost Colony” has kept many scientists and archaeologists searching for answers. I plan to thoroughly explore this area in the future.
Six miles east of Manteo, I arrived at the intersection of Highway 12 which is the main thoroughfare of the Outer Banks. Traveling north on Hwy. 12 for 18 miles is historic Kitty Hawk National Memorial where the Wright Brothers pioneered our journey into the skies. I’ve visited there before, and it’s amazing. A turn south on Hwy. 12 from Hwy. 64 East will journey through Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Rodanthe, Avon, Buxton and Hatteras (58 miles). Due to time constraints, I chose the southern route. As I traveled through the massive sand dunes and enchanting coastal scenery, I enjoyed a visit to the famous Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. After snapping a few photos, it was time to board the ferry to Ocracoke (no fee). Boarding the ferry on two-wheels was smooth and provided another level of adventure. Following an approximate hour of viewing stunning scenery from the ferry deck, it was time to throw my sea legs over the saddle again and ride my steed onto the island of Ocracoke.
Ocracoke is a happy little village full of seemingly happy people. With their stunning sunsets, pristine beaches, historic maritime village and fresh local seafood, this island has plenty to offer, so I recommend an overnight stay. On a previous visit to Ocracoke, I stayed at the Silver Lake Motel & Inn. It was cute, quaint, clean and reasonable, plus was just across the tiny road from the festive Jolly Roger Pub and Marina – a great place have fun and to view breathtaking sunsets. Be sure to study up on the ferry schedule from Ocracoke to Cedar Island prior to your visit – the schedule is somewhat limited, and ferry service takes 2 1/2 hours to get to the mainland. The cost for motorcycles is $10, and it’s a great way to do some sightseeing on the water. As I departed out of Ocracoke that day, the water was somewhat rough due to Tropical Storm Hermine’s approach. I carefully secured my precious cargo (’94 R1100 RSL) as the ferry sailed away from safe harbor. It was a little rugged at times, but highly adventurous.
Upon departure from the ferry onto Cedar Island, I traveled south on Hwy. 12 to Hwy 70 into Beaufort, NC (38 miles). This cool seaside town has a fun energy. There are several quaint shops, taverns and restaurants that dot the waterfront. But, my favorite part of this visit was Shackleford Banks – the Southernmost barrier island in the Cape Lookout National Seashore. A small pedestrian ferry delivered me to the nine-mile long uninhabited island ($16/round trip) which is the home to approximately 100 feral mustang horses, the oldest documented horse population in North America. The shelling on this barrier island is fantastic also, but the horses are what drew my attention. After a few unsuccessful attempts to get these wild stallions to pose for a photo that was magazine-worthy, along with the knowledge that a nasty storm was on its way, I took the ferry back to Beaufort and decided it was time to roll that throttle on and deadhead it to my destination for the next two days – Wilmington, NC.
I departed out of Beaufort heading south on Hwy. 24 and then picked up Hwy. 17 South in Jacksonville all the way to Wilmington (105 miles). The weather was still holding up well, but was forecast to begin diminishing in the early morning hours of the next day. I checked into Angie’s B&B (angiesbandb.com), located just a mile and a half from downtown Wilmington. This bed and breakfast (circa 1917), located in the “mansion” section of the city, was quaint and loaded with character. The owners, Angie and Chris, are of Greek descent and made my stay feel like I was visiting close relatives. They insisted on putting my motorcycle in their garage for safe haven to which I didn’t resist. After a hot shower and donning my fashion pick for the evening, I called an Uber and headed downtown. A super-hip city located along the banks of the Cape Fear River, historic Downtown Wilmington hosts a bevy of things to do and see, including the charming Riverwalk, live theatre productions, boat tours, Battleship North Carolina, museums, carriage tours, and much more. The restaurants and pubs are plentiful, and many places host live music at night that you can hear as you peruse through the city. I went casual fare that evening and enjoyed a delicious meal and craft brew at the Front Street Brewery. After a long day of riding and sightseeing, along with knowing Hermine would be knocking on the door within a few hours, I headed back to my room to get a good night’s sleep.
No surprises as I awoke the next morning…Tropical Storm Hermine had arrived and was making sure everyone in town knew she was present. Thankfully, she was just super sassy and not horribly destructive. My delightful Greek hosts made sure I was well taken care of all day, and even fed me a homecooked, ethnic meal for dinner. The Wilmington area endured an entire day and night of heavy rain and moderate wind. I was forced indoors, and my rebellious side didn’t appreciate it one bit. My adventures were cut short by Hermine’s impolite presence. And I knew that upon her departure, I too would have to depart and head back to my homestead. But…disappointment? Absolutely NOT! I would have been completely disappointed at MYSELF had I cancelled the whole trip in the beginning due to the threat of storms. Instead, because I truly believe in those wise words by Mark Twain, I dreamed, explored and discovered – I threw off the bowlines, caught a tradewind, and found my Eden and beyond. 💋
With the snap of a finger, mid-November is here. And right around the corner is Christmas and the frigid months of January and February (for us in the Southeast). For a motorcycle rider, typically the colder months are spent doing indoor activities like bike maintenance and maybe catching up on your favorite Netflix series. For me, it’s scheming and dreaming for the next riding season! The past two winters, I have spent my “downtime” working out routes and schedules for an action-packed riding season to come…and this winter won’t be any different!
What’s next for me? Well, the Iron Butt Association 50 CC (extreme long-distance ride of 50 hours coast-to-coast) had to be delayed from my original planned date of late September of this year…so that will be rescheduled for the 2017 riding season. I’ll be traveling from Jacksonville, Florida to San Diego, California in less than 50 hours on a motorcycle. I’m super excited to achieve another Iron Butt ride after a year off. Sometimes life happens, and it’s way more important. But, I’m ready to rock it this upcoming year.
Another lofty goal I have is learning to do more wrenching. I did a nice article on a step-by-step, simple oil and filter change last March 2016 in the BMW Owners News Magazine (view this article under the top menu “Published/Media” and then “BMW Owners News”). I truly enjoyed mastering something mechanical on my own motorcycle. Very empowering! So, this year, I am aiming to master a few more mechanics. I plan to rely heavily on the vast inventory of BikeBandit.com to assist in my endeavors, as their prices seem extremely reasonable and they have many of the OEM motorcycle parts I will need.
I have ordered from BikeBandit.com in the past for clever Christmas gifts for my motorcycling family, as well as certain items I have needed to keep my fleet up and running. They’ve got a great selection of riding gear and accessories. Check it all out!: BikeBandit.com
As far as other big trips and routes – I know for sure that I will be traveling West again this summer. And as I hone in on other routes/destinations/adventures, I will be sure to share them here – with you. Also on my wish list, just for in-town fun, is a vintage bike with a sidecar unit. Gah!!! I’ve wanted one of those since last Christmas. I can see myself saddling up all sassy for a day’s ride, and picking up my local buddies for a fun ride around town in a vintage vessel, sure to create smiles and laughs! That’s what it’s all about for me!
Stay tuned, as when I’m into the “Season of Scheming & Dreaming,” anything goes!!! 💋
(Originally published in BMW Owners News Magazine – August 2016.)
Grinning a giant grin, I threw my leg over the seat of my sweet, pearly two-wheeled steed and set the GPS for the mountains of North Carolina – destination Little Switzerland. That May weekend, women from all over the country were gathering near the Blue Ridge Parkway to check out the first annual “Mountain Moxie” women’s motorcycling conference. My excitement that morning came on several levels. First, I was traveling on a motorcycle, and second, I was traveling solo. But I believe my biggest joy came from the anxious anticipation of attending this gathering of women motorcyclists, for an entire weekend, and celebrating our passion for two-wheeled adventures together.
As I made my way to the Blue Ridge Mountains that morning, choosing the quaint, sleepy backroads as my route, I passed a billboard advertisement that highlighted the phrase “Make Your Passion Your Paycheck.” That set off a couple of hours of deep thoughts. But, little did I know how far that statement was going to ring true over the weekend. In fact, it was a bombshell that totally rocked my world.
Mountain Moxie was a longtime dream of the woman who developed Moto Girl Cafe (a site dedicated to women who love motorcycles), Robin Dail, and she did an all-around amazing job on every aspect of the conference. Robin is nothing short of a superhero – she is an associate professor at Duke University in the School of Nursing teaching in the graduate programs and doing research around the thermal stability of premature infants to decrease their morbidity and mortality. Like I said, a superhero…AND, she’s a motorcyclist. Boom! Robin put her dream into motion – a dream of creating a gathering of women who ride so they could learn about new products, better safety techniques, hear inspirational stories about women leaders in the motorcycling world, and just simply hang together, ride together and share their passion together. Ah, there it was…my first example of that profound statement from the billboard taking place before my very eyes.
During that weekend in the mountains, I heard from many woman leaders: our very own BMW MOA member, Laura Smith of Worse for Wear, who was one of the three major conference sponsors and has just launched her fabulous “Crosstown Jeans” (see my Product Review on this site); extreme long-distance BMW rider, Gwen Phillips, who is truly iconic in the travels she has logged and the MacGyver-type doodads she has invented to make her travels more smooth; Sofi Tsingos, a brilliant, young custom motorcycle builder; the first woman to have circumnavigated the coast of Great Brittain, Gail Biddulph, who through her life experiences, empowers other people to live to their full potential; the first African-American woman to road race in the United States, Joi “SJ” Harris from the MotoGirlGT Team; Breeann Poland, a woman who has been involved with motorcycling most of her life and is now the Social Media and Digital Marketing Manager of Royal Enfield North America; a Motorcycle Law Group attorney (and another major sponsor of the event), Liz Sorrell, who passed along her vast knowledge of laws affecting motorcyclists; as well as several others that inspired us over the weekend. As I listened to each of these women tell their stories and explain how their passion for motorcycling has shaped their lives, I again heard the whisper from that billboard… “Make Your Passion Your Paycheck.”
Reflecting on what I took from Mountain Moxie and the theme from that billboard that crept into my experience over-and-over, I thought about the distinct pleasure I’ve had over this past year of personally watching that statement in motion as I’ve kept up with the aforementioned Laura Smith and her women’s riding apparel company, Worse for Wear. When I first interviewed Laura and her husband Scott back in 2015, they were hard at work putting those passionate wheels into motion, making Laura’s dream of providing women with safe, durable and stylish riding gear that fits come true. It’s been quite an inspiration to watch this chrysalises first-hand.
Considering recently published statistics which report that 25% of people who throw their leg over a motorcycle are female (including pilots and pillions), it’s no secret that we ladies are hard-core on the hunt for more riding products, such as those from Worse for Wear. Over the years, riding gear has slowly trickled over to our female gender, but typically is an altered version of men’s gear, and is usually uniformed in pink or purple. This Fashionista, for one, can’t swallow that princess-colored pill…sorry guys. With our demographic steadily on the rise, I have observed other women throughout the country, like Laura Smith, with the goal to create gear made especially for women and our needs. Most recently, I’ve come across a network of very clever women in California who are making breakthroughs in this industry and have embraced the concept that I spied on the billboard that very fateful day – “Make Your Passion Your Paycheck.”
What really drew my attention to this group of women in Cali was the fact that they are all separately creating their own products, but are collaborating closely together to support one another. Epic concept! I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking in depth with two of these women – Debra Chin of MotoChic and Aliki Karayan of VnM Sport. They both share the same motivation for joining the world of women entrepreneurs – their passion to create riding gear made specifically for women, a passion which was hatched out of sheer desperation from an obscenely limited ladies’ riding gear market.
Debra Chin, founder of MotoChic, is originally from New York and now firmly planted in San Francisco. She is the creator of the sassy “Lauren” bag (see my Product Review on this site) and the more compact “Valerie” bag. Debra’s passion began on the rear seat of her boyfriend’s motorcycle. As a pillion, now rider, she became extremely aggravated when she discovered that the gear options available for women “were limited to the ‘shrink it and pink it’ approach taken by most mainstream manufacturers.” Through the combination of her genuine knowledge of fashion (previously owned a bridesmaid boutique), astute marketing background, and a serious leap of faith, Debra launched her product line in the spring of 2015. Her bags are selling very well as they are highly fashionable, extremely multi-functional and their unique versatility crosses over to many lifestyles, not just motorcycling.
But Debra hasn’t kept all the glory for herself. She has collaborated with other women breaking into the industry and has included them on her e-commerce site, as well as booth space at events. Debra not only made her passion her paycheck, but has reciprocated her good fortune with other women so that they, too, can see the fruits of their labor.
I had the amazing opportunity to speak to another one of those women – Aliki Karayan of VnM Sport. Aliki is one cool chick, let me tell you! She spent her young life in Canada, then joined the military at age 18 and began a stint as a heavy machine operator. It was there in the military that she was exposed to motorcycles through her teammates who were all guys and loved fast machines. When Aliki sampled her first ride on two wheels, she was hooked. Almost 20 years later, she is a California resident living the dream – contracted by Honda, she is racing, demo riding and teaching track days. Once she was submerged into the super bike world, she also felt the pang of desperation to find gear designed specifically for women. In her words, she “started riding tracks and got pissed ‘cause I couldn’t find good gear.” With absolutely no design experience or garment manufacturing knowledge, Aliki started her unsurmountable quest with a huge passion in her heart to overcome the odds. She did, indeed, turn her passion into a paycheck – her company, VnM Sport produces high-performance compression base layers with high-quality fabrics that work when it’s “bloody hot and bloody cold,” including designing matching base layers to SuperBike teams. (See my Product Review on this site.) Aliki is also a big proponent of women-helping-women in this industry. She sees herself and her California compadres as being a team, rather than competitors…they work together for the good of all women in the motorcycling world. What an impressive and noble vision.
Flashback to that spring morning in May, when I was riding to Mountain Moxie…the ride was completely intoxicating as the fragrance of new blossoms and the delicious dewy air permeated into my helmet. Indeed, I was smiling big. And, as I fatefully raised my head towards that billboard and read, “Make Your Passion Your Paycheck,” I fist-pumped at the statement, not truly understanding the depth of those words. And then I arrived that day at the Little Switzerland Inn, and in good time, it all became very, very clear. 💋
(For more information on Mountain Moxie 2017 and Moto Girl Cafe, please visit motogirlcafe.com; for additional information on Worse for Wear, please visit worsewear.com; for more information on MotoChic, please visit motochicgear.com; and for VnM Sportgear products, please visit vnmsport.com.)