Before the rant, here are some facts.
I am a woman. I am single. I am a motorcyclist.
OK, now that's out of the way – if I were looking for a husband, I wouldn't be looking to steal someone else's. That would be messy.
The bottomest of all bottom lines is that I love riding my motorbike. I am in love with my bike, if that's possible. It's true, pure, unconditional love. The thing that gives me the most joy in my life is planning a trip, loading up the bike and just going! Sometimes I might be going on a solo trip with a cheap pub/motel room booked at the other end. I'll often take the laptop and cosy up with it after the ride, for a bit of very satisfying creative time. Sometimes I'll meet up with other riders. Most times I won't, though. Riding is inspiration time and thinking time for me, and that's often best done alone.
What I don't think about when I'm riding is seducing other women's husbands.
Sheesh – I have a pretty good life! Within some pretty tight financial constraints, I do my own thing – what I want, where I want. Why would I want complications in my life?
This is one of the very few downsides I have discovered in motorcycling. If you're a single female motorcyclist, some wives get twitchy if you go on rides with the husbands they have given “leave passes” to...
From my side of things, I can understand why they might feel nervous. They have no interest in riding, and they suspect the motives of women who do, and who ride with their blokes. They think you're looking for a bloke of your own, and you might want theirs.
Fair enough. I've been cheated on myself and I didn't like it. It made it hard to trust other women, and I already find it hard to trust blokes. They're fantastic as mates and riding buddies, though. At a bike rally I think it's brilliant that I can sit around the campfire with a bottle of red, and be as silly as the next person but not feel the least bit compromised by the fact that I'm female.
From this particular female however, here is the message that I would like broadcast – Betty is not after your husband. Betty is far more into bikes than blokes.
Motorcycling is a male-dominated pursuit, unfortunately, and given my age, most of the blokes I ride with are middle-aged married men.
Let me tell you about a woman I have never met, but who I absolutely love. Her name's Michelle, and she's married to my mate Clem.
Clem rides from Brissy to Phillip Island twice a year, once for Superbikes and once for motoGP. He's done it for years. For the last 2 years, Clem and his mate Leon (another married man) have let me tag along for the ride to PI for motoGP. Last year they stopped over at my place on the way, and on the two-day ride from here to PI, we stopped over at Clem's brother's place in Victoria. I feel safe travelling with Clem. I feel safe staying at PI with Clem (in separate cabins, coz Clem's snoring can be heard through walls – but I would feel perfectly safe in the same room as Clem. We're bike mates, full-stop.) And I love Michelle because she is not fazed by any of this (and quite rightly so.) She is so totally secure in her marriage to Clem that even though she has never met me, she knows damned well it's not a problem if Clem and I travel together. For that I am eternally grateful.
Michelle – thank you. I hope to meet you one day – I think you're pretty damned special because you don't automatically assume that I am some kind of desperate single female predator (sorry, but just the thought of that makes me giggle! - and no offence Clem, but if I was going to set my cap at a married man I'd probably go for Brad Pitt...yeah, as if I'd stand a chance next to gorgeous Angelina! ha ha ha)
Sexual politics suck. Not wishing to harp on it – but as a rape victim, it's really good to be able to feel comfortable in groups of blokes, and in biker company, the gender divide often seems to disappear. 'We're all just riders' seems to be the message, and for me, that's pretty bloody special.