Name: Vickie Norton
Residence: Huntington Beach, California
Profession: Commercial Airline Captain
Bikes Owned: 2000 Kawasaki Vulcan Classic 800, 2005 Suzuki Boulevard C-50 850, 2006 Honda CRF250X
Favorite Bike: Anything I get the chance to ride...most recently, a Harley-Davidson Road King in Bullhead City, Nevada, and a BMW R1200RT through the windy roads of Albuquerque, New Mexico, all in the same month!
Dream Bike: Still gathering data... :)
Editor's Notes: Okay, so every once in a while you come across someone who really stands out from the typical successful professional female; someone who lights the room with enthusiasm, possibilities and a great attitude. Vickie is that someone. She has spent her life and career raising the ceiling and providing a great example for other women to follow.
But at the same time, she's all about having fun, helping others and laughing the entire way. Vickie is a serious proponent for motorcycle safety training, but due to limited space for this particular profile, I didn't include her thoughts on that right now. Another story with this Energizer bunny? Perhaps.
What does motorcycling mean to you?
To me, riding represents freedom from so many of the things that bind us in our daily lives. Freedom from schedules, freedom from the demands of others, freedom from the confines of walls and freedom from convention. Ultimately, it represents freedom from those who would choose to limit what you can accomplish in life.
How would you explain your riding experiences to someone who has never ridden?
Riding, to me, is experiencing life in its most visceral form, as if I'm filming a motion picture from behind my own eyes. Commanding a responsive, powerful machine through windy roads without a care in the world opens your eyes, your lungs, your mind, your heart and your imagination. It affords me a temporary break from the stress and complications of life that few other things can...when I ride, I feel more connected to the world around me, and so much more aware of the beauty that waits to be explored.
Even as I ride along side my friends, I am alone with myself and my thoughts, having pushed the big "pause" button for a few glorious hours. When I ride, I do all sorts of things I mean to do everyday, but don't. I sing inside my helmet, I smile for no reason, I reminisce about good times I've had and of people I've lost, I breathe deeply, I nod to perfect strangers and I forget to care about time. When I ride, I simply am.
When did you first get on a motorcycle?
My Dad put me on the tank of his motorcycle when I was three years old, gently but securely holding me in front of him with his arms and legs outside mine, promising that I wouldn't fall off. I still remember the small crossbar I would hold on to, and his instructions for me to "duck" if we encountered a police officer coming in the opposite direction.
(Mind you, I'm not advocating this to you parents out there, but it was 1969 on very rural, Michigan roads.) It was also the age that I knew I was hooked on bikes, and my story wouldn't be the same without sharing that experience. It wasn't long before my Dad had to push his bike down the road a bit before starting it if he had any thoughts of riding solo, and it didn't take long for that trick to stop working.
When did you get your own bike?
I had my first bike at six years old, a shiny yellow beautiful Yamaha YZ 80. It was 1972 and my Dad and I rode our local Michigan trails together. He would ride his big Honda Elsinore.
Did your dad play a huge role in your professional career as well?
Absolutely. Our first trail ride together and every ride after instilled in me that I could be and do anything I wanted in life. I've owned many bikes, both street and dirt, in the 40 years since my Mom took a picture of our first ride together, but I've never forgotten who first inspired me and how he went about it. During the 34 years that followed, I rode along side my Dad until he left us at 80 years of age, his passing the only thing to successfully keep him from his bike. Not a day went by when we rode together that wasn't as inspiring as the first.
My Dad not only taught me to ride, but in doing so, taught me so many other life lessons that go hand-in-hand...knowledge, independence, self-confidence, overcoming fear and showing respect for the things you are fortunate enough to have. He taught me that spending time with family and friends, doing the things you love together, is far more important than what you earn or what your title is; it is the very essence of being alive. I ride because I was lucky enough to have a Dad that knew what it would teach me and that I would love it for life, even when we could no longer do it together.
What would you tell a woman who is just not sure she has what it takes to be a motorcyclist?
If you are a lady out there who has always wanted to ride but never tried, or if you've never even considered it, I urge you to give it a try. If you have wrongly been led to believe that being female is somehow a limitation, I can assure you that it is not. All manufacturers offer bikes in a wide variety of sizes and power bands, and most offer models specifically suited for ladies.
If you don't think you have "what it takes" to ride, I can promise you that you are selling yourself short! All it takes is the desire to ride and the commitment to go about learning the right way!