There’s been an on-going love affair between women and motorcycles ever since the first day one jumped on a bike more than 100 years ago. The ladies covet the freedom of the road just like the men do, but with their own style and panache.
Author/photographer/rider Christina Shook has published a beautiful book titled Chicks on Bikes. It contains 156 pages and 140 photos and features stories about more than 30 female riders from a wide range of different worlds. Essays describing different aspects of riding kick off each section of the book, with titles like Sisterhood, Style, Risk, Journey, Mechanica and Speed. With her accompanying photos and prose, Shook is able to tell us their stories by focusing on their perspectives as female motorcyclists from different stages in their lives and careers.
This collection of images and stories is a fascinating and intimate dive into the lifestyle of female motorcyclists. “It’s all about the young, the old, the beautiful and the ugly, the tough and the delicate, the wild the sensible, brave and gentle, the factory worker and the corporate leader - united in the spirit of motorcycling,” according to Shook.
Shook described how the idea behind Chicks on Bikes began and what she learned while taking the photos and meeting this disparate group of motorcycling women. “I wanted to tell the stories of women bikers and wanted to get to know them in the process. I had a feeling that it might offer a large degree of visual appeal, but after I worked on it I realized that women’s stories were the biggest thing. I did it originally to be fun and hoped that it would look cool, but in the end what was most important was being able de-bunk the way women on bikes have been inaccurately portrayed for so many years. It ends being a story of how motorcycling has changed their lives in so many ways.”
“In these pages you'll find insight into how these women face risk and how they thrill to speed,” Shook said. “They find beauty amidst grease and wind. They form sister hoods of like-minded women from outlaw style clubs to Christian riders. Here you'll hear tales of adventure and journey. You're invited for an up close stare at the amazing women who ride. They are both ordinary and extraordinary.”
“There’s a biker saying that states Ride to Live, Live to Ride. I personally could say Ride to Shoot, Shoot to Ride. Chicks on Bikes has given me the opportunity to ride around on my motorcycles (I have three) and meet amazing women. A lot of the book is shot here in the San Francisco bay area because that’s where I live. I’m absolutely in love with San Francisco and I have no problem saying that it’s the motorcycling capitol of America, because we can ride here all year-round on some of the most spectacular roads in the world. I run a portrait photography business and sometimes show up for sessions on a motorcycle to surprise my clients. My two little girls think motorcycles are really cool, and my daughter Ella now rides on the back. She has all the proper riding gear from a full face helmet, armored jacket and riding pants, leather boots and gloves. She got all the gear for her 10th birthday. She loves riding!”
Individual stories about women riding Harleys include these amazing stories from the pages of Chicks on Bikes:
Jennifer Packer: “Jennifer holds a corporate job but with a background as a professional skydiver, she doesn't let that get in the way of her love of riding. She admits her bike has rudely loud pipes and she take a secret delight in setting off car alarms. She loves riding because it has the same thrill and freedom of skydiving but is much more accessible to jump on a bike.
The Pussy Cats: “This all-girl bike club in Toledo, Ohio is all about riding bikes and good times. They say riding with the girls is the best and it’s forged strong bonds of friendship. They'll drop everything and head out for a ride when one of them calls. These women are totally dedicated to the joy of riding and living that life.”
Sunshine: “Shasha Mullins, also known as The Chrome Cowgirl, is a musician and a writer. Her band Motorroadeo is a biker band that plays songs begging to ride to. She is also the author of a who's who book of the female bike world, called Biker Lady Living and Riding Free.”
If you’re interested in buying Chicks on Bikes, I’d recommend it. It’s a great read (some of the essays read like poetry!) and the photos are exceptional. Visit www.chicksonbikes.com to order a copy online ($24.95 and signed by the author (as opposed to $29.95 not signed through Amazon). It might make a great last-minute Christmas gift for the woman rider in your life.
And stay tuned for more inspirational stories about women riders from Shook, she said. “For lots more groovy stuff related to Chicks on Bikes like pictures, stories, updates, and upcoming events - read my Blog. I also like to tweet all kinds of information on photography, cool pictures and motorcycling – follow me on Twitter. And if that isn’t enough, you can sign up for my newsletter to keep updated about book availability, signings, and all other important information about Chicks on Bikes!”