We are living in an unprecedented era of women empowerment. While we as women still have a way to go before we break through glass ceilings the fact is, that women are doing more than in past decades. Flock to the Rock is a testimony to what women can accomplish and I feel very honored to have been able to attend this empowering event. Women of all motorcycle types and skills attended and the joy and camaraderie were palpable at each workshop and throughout the entire three days. I want to share with you, dear reader, a snippet of each day in the hopes that you are enticed to join the adventure at next year’s Flock to the Rock. I promise that it is an event worth attending!
This year saw an almost 50% increase in attendance from last year’s Flock to the Rock, which is a huge increase! Key speakers were Elspeth Beard and Pat Jaques, both accomplished women in the world of motorcycling. There were door prizes and a larger raffle event, with wonderful items such as KLIM and REV’IT! women’s riding suits, Sena bluetooth devices, ICON jackets, and many other items too numerous to list here.
Thursday opened with an introduction and welcoming speech by Ruth Belcher, founder and CEO of Global Moto Adventures. Ruth is the main host and organizer of the Flock to the Rock event and she detailed what was in store for us in the next two days while attendees ate the delicious dinner that was provided. Ruth then introduced the opening key speaker, Pat Jaques, founder of ADVWoman. What an amazing lady! Pat shared her story of how she came to create ADVWoman, a training skills company “for women by women”. Pat’s journey to overcome those that say “You can’t” was truly an inspiration to all; she is a true pioneer! The evening ended with a Q&A session and door prizes. We all left with a sense of excitement about the next two days to come.
Friday started with a scrumptious breakfast where we all got a chance to sit, eat and mingle with everyone. The first workshop was “Moto-camping Packing” presented by Marissa Rose. Marissa provided all of us with a comprehensive array of items to be used for camping off the motorcycle. Some of the items in Marissa’s presentation were new to me, such as a helmet bag with built in lock and Nite Ize hooks for moto-camping. Marissa’s presentation was lively and very interactive. Her presentation was then followed by “Roadside First Aid” by Erin Graham. Erin is an EMT and firefighter and her presentation included many useful tips to ensure we are prepared for the unexpected. For example, having a small first aid kit prepared that is packable on the motorcycle with a few must haves, like band-aids, gauze, large syringe for irrigation and iodine. After Erin’s presentation, we all broke for lunch.
After lunch, we descended upon the convention center again for the afternoon session, which began with “Off road Workshop” presented by Pat Jaques, who has over 51 years of riding experience. Pat showed us a few simple exercises that strengthen our balance and position on the bike, without even having to leave the garage! Even if you don’t ride off-road, these exercises would still be beneficial to ensure proper balance and less fatigue while riding. Because as Pat pointed out, “Women ride differently than men…because we are built different than men.” Some of the things we need to be aware of is our body position and that we must use the strength of our legs instead of upper body. Pat’s intern, Kris Fant, demonstrated these exercises on a motorcycle and we could all see how these changes could improve our ride.
Friday concluded with the “Chikistan Panel” which consisted of Cassie, Dionne, Elspeth, Liza, Michelle, Ruth, Sheila and Tiffany; there were a total of 12 that went to Pakistan but only the eight were represented at the panel. What an adventure these ladies had in Pakistan! The panel session contained picture slides of the group’s motorcycle journey in Pakistan. Their journey was not your typical motorcycle touring trip, many times they would each ride by themselves and then meet up at the end of the day. They started the session with debunking the misconceptions about the country, for example, the women are kept always inside or that the women do not ride motorcycles. The common theme during their stay in Pakistan is that they didn’t need to speak the same language, love was felt by all there.
Liza asked each panelist, “Why did you decide to go to Pakistan?”
Ruth: To ride with twelve bad ass women and see the local women and teach them how to ride motorcycles.
Elspeth: To see the country she had missed out on before. The trip exceeded her expectations.
Dionne: It was a no brainer!
Tiffany: She didn’t have a choice; Liza made her go!
Sheila: Since she was a kid, she wanted to go because of the K2 (Karakoram Hwy).
Cassia: Looking for adventure and making new friends.
Michelle: Ride the K2 (Karakoram Hwy) and ride with women on her biggest moto trip. She wanted to blow the stereotypes out of the water and piss her family off!
For anyone who wishes to have more information on the upcoming trip in 2019, you can visit RidetheKKH.com. Also, Liza hosts a motorcycle podcast called Motorcycles and Misfits. It is worth a listen!
Saturday arrived with much excitement for all “Flockers”. Not only were we all going to be riding together, but we were all riding at the same time as all our wind sisters internationally – it was International Female Ride Day (IFRD)! We all met for group instructions and layouts at the Seaside Convention Center and then headed over to Astoria for the group picture. The excitement, the laughter, the jokes and the camaraderie that day was intoxicating! We all had our adventures and then converged for lunch at The Columbia River Roadhouse in Washington. I have never seen so many motorcycles in one small space. I met riders that had been riding for only five months and others that had been riding for over 50 years. One of the couples I met, Gayle and Angie Culver, provided the drone footage for the IFRD ride across the Astoria bridge. These lovely ladies met during a past IFRD ride. What did they have to say about IFRD? “It is so cool to know we are all connected in one day all around the world”. Well said!
Saturday evening, we met for the last featured speaker presentation by Elspeth Beard, author of Lone Rider. She spoke of how she came to be the first British woman to ride around the world. Elspeth bought her first bike at 16 and then at 17 she bought her 1974 BMW R60/6. The thought of riding around the world was not taken on a whim. She had thought how wonderful it would be to ride around the world a year before she decided to do it. Elspeth talked about how going around the world did not happen all at once; it occurred in stages. Sometimes she would have to work a little in order to continue her journey. On a private interview with Elspeth, she spoke of how different it was back then to travel. There was no GPS, no instant messaging, no one there to rely on except herself. There was no way to tell people what she was doing or what she had done. She was truly on the edge of exploration! In 2009 she found out that she was the first British woman to have ridden around the world. When asked why she wanted to ride around the world, she said she rode for herself. The experience of finding her way and getting lost is what “Sharpens you up. It’s real … that raw reality is a bit lost with modern technology. When it is just you, you that has to fix the bike, it adds an element.” Elspeth’s experience and story is truly inspirational. I highly recommend reading her book, Lone Rider. She is my role model!
As the day ended, we were all so sad to leave, there were many hugs and kisses as we all said goodbye. It is my sincerest hope that those of you reading this become inspired to join us next year. You will not regret it!
Story and Photos by Melissa Rodriguez