For 65-year-old Sue Slate, motorcycles aren’t just a form of transportation. The two-wheeled bikes are a way of life and something she has never been without.
Today she spreads that lifestyle to as many people as she can, including at Hollister Hills earlier this May. For the second consecutive year, Slate and her Women’s Motorcyclist Foundation hosted the Progressive Adventure for the Cure at Hollister Hills. The four-day camping trip teaches dirt/dual sport biker riders all skills needed on the dirt, Slate said. The goal is to open up something new to the riders.
“The more you see yourself the more you are open to the idea of trying something new,” she said. “Someone went before you. People that are here have a pioneering spirit to begin with or they wouldn’t be here.”
Slate, who calls New Jersey home, has dedicated her life to the motorcycle and giving other women the same opportunity that she has recieved. Slate, along with Gin Shear, created the Women’s Motorcyclist Foundation in 1984 and since they have opened up the world of biking to women across the country.
Tied with breast cancer research, the trip raises money for the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation as well as the Hollister Hill Off Road Association’s Your Rider Education Program.
“It’s a two-fold program,” Slate said. “We are historically a charitable rider education organization. So we want to marry the two together so everybody wins. We are hoping that we will produce, as a result of this, long-term dual-sport riders. And that they will share this wealth with the next generation.”
The training session has already grown in just two years. After attracting 11 riders last year, the 2013 event drew 16, including six volunteers.
This year, they allowed men to join the all-women group. Next year, they hope to bring in families.
“We believe in accessibility,” she said. “We also think that it’s hard to wrap your head around trying something new and different if you’ve never seen it yourself. Part of our mission is to diversify the ranks of motorcyclists – not only to bring more females into motorcycling but also to make minority riders more visible.”
Hollister Hills volunteer Cathy DaCosta thinks it’s a good thing to have a class focused on women riders, she said.
“It’s super important for me because dirt biking is a dudely sport,” DaCosta said. “If you look at supercross it’s so dudely. I’m a girlie girl and I love the dirt. It’s important to me to show girls and the guys that it’s a sport we can do. It’s so pretty out here … I come out here and take photos of the wild. It’s unbelievable and it’s amazingly rich and it lets me come out here and love it.”
The class is aimed to give the riders all the necessary tools to ride on the dirt, which is much different than riding on the road, Slate said.
Slate, who got her motorcycle license at 18, decided to try out dirt bike riding in 2006. The difference was dramatic but it as fun as she expected.
“I just ride, ride, and ride,” she said. “A lot of those were road miles. This is a whole different set of skills here. I just said what else is out there? So in 2006 I decided to ride dirt biking and took my first course. I never looked back.”
And the lessons bring some attention to Hollister Hills, park guide Debra Cable said.
“This is a very good thing for us,” she said. “It’s always a good thing to get new riders.”
It’s equally important to teach the new riders the correct things to do on the dirt, DaCosta said.
“It’s a wonderful, wonderful thing,” she said. “They are a wonderful, amazing group of ladies and gentlemen. It’s a wonderful place for people to come out and enjoy. It’s also nice for the community to see that motorcycle riders are not hooligans. We are not slobbering, horrible beasts that are going to ruin nature. We are all very passionate on how we ride. We are very passionate about preserving this for future generations and showing the world the beauty that is out here.”
The Adventure for the Cures is hosted once a year in early May at Hollister Hills. Registration is $350 and it includes motorcycles, fuel, coaches, ride guides and camping. For more information visit womensmotorcyclistfoundation.com.