Women Loving Life On Two Wheels

Photo credit: Connie Haeder

Cyndi Brandt’s first real recollection of motorcycles occurred when she was just five years old. Growing up in Balitmore, her family owned a Honda Mini Trail 50cc mini-bike. She loved riding on the back, and vowed when she grew up she would own her own set of two wheels, too.

Now 48, Brandt doesn’t own just one motorcycle, she owns three. She mostly rides a 2015 Harley Davidson CVO Street Glide, but also enjoys her 2007 Harley-Davidson Road King.

Completing her trio of bikes is a replica of a 1937 Flat Track Racer, which has since become a mascot of the Mid-Atlantic Women’s Motorcycle Rally that’s marking its 26th year this June 21-23.

For Brandt, riding a motorcycle is more than merely a mode of transportation.

“It’s a relaxation exercise. You have to put all your other thoughts aside and concentrate on what you’re doing. It’s like a form of therapy to be present and in the moment.” Brandt said. 

Beyond that, Brandt says riding has allowed her to make fantastic friends with other women who share her love of riding on two wheels.

“It’s like being back in college, being with friends who have your back and share camaraderie,” Brandt said.

For Alisa Clickenger, 52, riding motorcycles goes beyond enjoying the feeling of freedom she relishes when on two wheels. It’s her livelihood, too.

Clickenger, of Thousand Oaks, California, is the owner of Women’s Motorcycle Tours. As the company name indicates, Clickenger leads people, primarily females, on motorcycle sojourns. In July she will lead a seven-day tour through Colorado. The following month she will lead a group of 15 riders on a motorcycle ride in Southern Africa.

She also leads tours from one end of the United States to the other. In fact, she is currently planning a cross-country tour to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Suffragists, set for July through August 2020.

The Suffragists Centennial Motorcycle Ride will celebrate the passage of the 19th amendment of the US Constitution with three starting points on the West Coast. Riders will meet others along the way, with the trip culminating their arrival in Washington, DC, in mid-August. Her cross-country bike tours are for women and their favorite riding partner, while her week-long tours are for females only.

Photo credit: Alisa Clickenger

Safety is the top priority, and all of Clickenger’s tours are sanctioned by the American Motorcycle Association.

Vivian Eisenstadt, 46, is a California transplant from Brooklyn, New York. She bought her first motorcycle in 1995 while living on Long Island and attending physical therapy school.

She’d been wanting to own a bike since she was young, saying she dreamt of “flying low to the ground on a motorcycle.”

Soon after she moved to Los Angeles, she went on a date with a gentleman who rode a motorcycle. Although there was no love connection, that ride reignited her love for riding.

The day after that failed tryst, she bought a Yamaha V-Star 650, although, she admits, “I always wanted a Harley.” Problem was she couldn’t find a model that allowed her feet to reach the ground.

A few years passed, and Eisenstadt found herself engaged to a man who owned a Harley. One day, they went to a Harley showroom and that’s where she saw a 2006 Harley-Davidson Softail Springer.

“I sat on it and it was like the heavens opened up. My whole foot touched the ground. I looked at the price tag, then the ceiling, thinking, ‘Whaaaat?’” Eisenstadt bought it, anyway.

“When there’s a will, there’s an Oy-Vey,” she jokes. “I love the feeling. There’s no separation between me and nature. I feel like a Super Hero,” Eisenstadt said. 

For Connie Haeder, 45, from Arlington, Virginia, motorcycles have always been a part of her life.

“My dad owned a slew of motorcycles over the years,” Haeder said. As a young child she remembers sitting on the back of one of his motorcycles and loving how it felt.

In the mid 1980s she owned a scooter of her own. Then, in the late 80s, her dad bought her a 1979 Honda CM 450cc standard street motorcycle.

“It’s very old but I will keep it forever,” Haeder said.

She describes the feeling of riding on a motorcycle as “incomparable being out (on the road), unprotected. I love the wind going by and nature being so close. There is a sense of freedom and adventure,” she said.

While all four riders share a sense of serendipity from riding on their motorcycles, there are downsides to riding a bike. Haeder always wears personal protective gear.

“You still open yourself up to nature and risk,” she said.

Photo credit: Vivian Eisenstadt

Eisenstadt says she is most concerned about the lack of attentiveness displayed by many automobile drivers.

“There is a higher chance of accidents because of the people around me,” she said.

Brandt shares that concern, too. She is also confounded by the stereotypes some people associate with motorcycle riders. 

“There’s a misconception when a person pulls up on a motorcycle,” she laments. However, she says, “For women, it’s an empowering sport.”