Do you know how much fun it is to attend a motorcycling conference of 500+ women spending four days riding, sharing, learning and laughing? If not, you should start making plans to attend the next International Women & Motorcycling Conference. This was the sixth conference of its kind and my third.
This year, an amazing and internationally diverse group of 500 very talented women set aside time in their busy schedules to travel 100 miles, 2,500 miles, and sometimes more to be with other like-minded and passionate women. The entire town of Carson City, Nevada, rolled out the red carpet for women from all over North America who love to ride motorcycles.
Organizing an International Conference
The AMA sponsors a women and motorcycling conference every three years. Some of us would love to get together more often, but planning a special event of this caliber can be labor intensive and quite costly — for everyone. Let me tell you, bringing together 500* or so women (*my unofficial estimate) from across the continent to enjoy a packed seminar schedule, more than 75 demo bikes from at least five manufacturers and a gymnasium full of vendors is no walk in the park.
The AMA's Tigra Tsujikawa did the lion's share of the pre-event planning. I worked with Tigra for over six years when she supervised the Riders of Kawasaki owners club at The Flying K. I know she did everything she could to make this year's women and motorcycling conference special and successful. I think she did a great job.
Meeting & Honoring Motorcycling Women
This year's conference was truly international, with individual attendees coming in from as far away as the Cayman Islands. We even had four women from the FIM (Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme) representing the voices and interests of female motorcyclists from around the world.
In addition to the abundance of recreational riders, I think this year the conference drew a record number of women who work in the motorcycle industry. On the first day, I was blown away by how many women were on hand for the Motorcycle Industry Council or MIC's "Women in the Industry Luncheon." This lunch was like a who's who of women; some I knew well and some I had only heard about. It was so exciting to finally have the chance to put names with faces.
With the MIC's Cam Arnold and event emcee Jessica Prokup sharing the welcoming duties, we went around the room and introduced ourselves in 30 seconds or less. There must have been 60 or 75 women in the room. We had legends, book authors, aftermarket business CEOs, tour company owners, representatives from the motorcycle makers, radio hosts, magazine writers, riding experts, powersports consultants and more.
On top of that, at this year's women and motorcycling conference, we honored three exceptional ladies including Mary McGee, a legendary female racer who is now 75-years young and still racing vintage off-road bikes. We recognized retired motocross champion Sue "Why Not" Fish, who will be inducted into the 2012 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame later this year. And we paid tribute to Grassroots Activist Nancy Sabater, this year's AMA Motorcyclist of the Year.
Just for the Record
Unfortunately, the 2012 International Women and Motorcycling Conference had to take place over the same weekend as the Moto GP races at the Laguna Seca Raceway, located just 300 miles to the southwest in Monterey, California. As I understand it, the AMA tried to schedule the women's conference on an open weekend, but as site selection requirements came down to the wire, a decision had to be made — and the AMA had to solidify the date and location of this year's conference before Moto GP Laguna Seca dates were locked in.
From someone who planned Kawasaki press events for the past eight years, I can understand and sympathize with these circumstances. I think many female sportbike riders had a difficult choice to make and I can't blame anyone for picking world-class sportbike race viewing over hanging out with a bunch of wild and crazy women. I do hope, however, that we attract more sportbike riders next time around.
There was so much more to this conference including pink hair, impromptu scooter races, bloodshot eyes, headstand contests, wooden sidewalks, and crazy stories from long ago, but there just isn't enough time to share them here.
To read more about the 2012 AMA International Women and Motorcycling conference as it occurred to this LadyMoto, please keep an eye out for my feature story as an AMA guest writer for the American Motorcyclist magazine. I think we are shooting for the October issue. I had better sharpen my pencil and get to work — I think my story is due in a few days! Gulp.
As Janieta Villagrana from Santa Fe Springs said, "You won't want to miss the next one. These are the types of women you read about in books."