Fast tracking towards the Horizon

Shirley Galea

Have you heard of the Litas of Salt Lake City or the Miss Fires of New York? It seems that women biker groups from all around the world are becoming a united society where the empowerment and freedom of the woman are at the core of their organisations.

I bet you would be even more surprised if I told you that the first women biker group was composed of mother and daughter duo, Avis and Effie Hotchkiss, who in 1915 took off for a road trip that no woman had ever embarked on before.

A century later in the beginning of July of 2015, Lanikila Mac Naughton together with her female friends, known as the ‘Highway Runaways’ decided to follow in the same journey. Mac Naughton, a photographer from Portland, started riding a motorcycle after recovering from alcohol addiction. The 4,500-mile journey she and her friends embarked on lasted for four weeks and included plenty of pit-stops to meet other communities of riders. The journey photos were posted online along with the Women’s Moto Exhibition on www.womensmotoexhibit.com.

The goal of the travelling photography show was to encourage women to take the front seat and ride for themselves. Mac Naughton hoped that the photographs inspired other women to get on a bike.

Ladies of Harley

Vixens Malta and Ladies of Harley are two local Women Biker groups. VIDA has sat down with Shirley Galea, Ladies of Harley officer of the HOG MALTA CHAPTER to discuss the role of the Ladies of Harley within the Harley Davidson Owners Group (HOG MALTA) and whether the endeavour to encourage women to ride is truly universal.

So when did your passion for motorcyles start?
“It all started three years ago when my other-half Charles Attard and I started to meet others for a ride with our bikes. In those days we did not have a Harley and I did not have a license or the passion to ride myself so we ended up buying a Harley and I rode pillion. That is when the passion started and the feeling that a Harley gives you is second to none….. I can’t explain it because only those who ride a Harley Motorcycle can explain that feeling. I had some ups and downs as I am not tall, but I am stubborn. I wanted to ride a Harley Davidson!”

Asked about her role in the group, she said: “As the Ladies of Harley officer, I try my best to keep all the Ladies united and to love each other like sisters; that is what matters the most. We do not call ourselves a group; we are a family.”

So when do The Ladies of Harley ride?
“We meet almost every weekend where we start off with a ride, wherever the wind takes us. We then have lunch together so you can just imagine the racket! After that, it is off for another ride ­— this time for sweets and treats. We never get enough and end up going home late in the evening, tired but with a huge grin on our faces.”

So what is a typical Ladies of Harley event?
“A typical LOH (Ladies of Harley) event is usually a relaxing ride followed by dinner. As the Harley family is bigger now, we sometimes take up half the venue. We enjoy ourselves with simple things: our bikes, a drink, food and some music and that are more than enough to keep us happy.
We also take part in most Charity rides as well as Bike awareness rides throughout the year, which are not to be missed.”

What is the message that the Ladies of Harley want to pass on to women out there?
“Today woman are really independent and come in all different shapes and sizes. However, with the right amount of determination any woman can do whatever she wants. As I said before, I am a short lady so I try to encourage other ladies to ride. If I can ride, then you can too! I miss being on the backseat sometimes, but nowadays if I had to end up riding pillion again, I would miss my bike even more. I would rather travel and ride with my own bike as it makes me feel independent. It takes me wherever I want to go and has introduced me to a wonderful life of freedom and that is why I would never trade my Harley Davidson.”