To Melissa Paris, racing motorcycles is a genderless activity. The motorcycle doesn’t care if you’re male or female – what matters is beating the person in front of you. She’s carried this mindset throughout her racing career. She hadn’t even ridden a motorcycle until the old (in motorcycle terms) age of 20, but she took to it like a fish to water and rose through the ranks quickly, eventually becoming a regular fixture at AMA, then MotoAmerica competition – beating plenty of men along the way.
Motorcycling has always been more of a male dominated sport, and I think that’s the result of the obviously inherent dangers that come with the territory of swinging a leg over a bike. If you actually think about it, the idea of riding a motorcycle is pretty crazy. When you’re going down the road, assuming your tires are properly inflated, there’s only about a square inch of rubber on each tire that’s touching the ground at any given moment. Yet somehow, we are able to control the bike with great precision and steer it in any direction we choose. And then there’s the obvious risk of being completely out in the open with no sort of a cage around you, which is the main factor why people are hesitant to ride. Despite this being a fact of life, more and more girls are jumping on bikes and doing incredibly impressive things.
Motorcycling, rather unfairly, has long been considered a man’s sport. Maybe it’s because of the egos involved, or simply the result of society clinging to an outdated view of gender roles. Thankfully those views are changing. Women represent one of the fastest growing segments of motorcycling, and there are female motorcycling ambassadors like Melissa Paris, Avalon Biddle, Elena Myers, Michelle DiSalvo, and many others paving the way for the next generation.