Back in the day, in the wild west of Australia, motorcycle rallies were downright primitive.

You really had to man up.
Even if you were a woman.

These motorcycle events were completely no-frills.
A bunch of riders would meet up, on a Saturday, in a paddock.
And that’s where the plan ended…

If you wanted any of the comforts of home, you’d have to bring them with you.
And failing that, you’d better be ready to harden up.

bike events make you tough

  • If you wanted any dinner…

You had to pack a can of beans to heat on the camp fire.
(Did anyone bring a can opener…?)

  • If you felt like a beer…

Too bad.
Beer was too bulky to carry, and there was no way to chill it.
Naturally, the solution was to bring bourbon.
No ice, of course – and mixer?
That’s for sissies, mate.

  • If you wanted entertainment…

You could wait until someone stumbled into one of the camp fires dotted around the paddock (it happened at 90% of motorcycle rallies).

Or you could head over to the camp fire where one guy is busy making his own music. He’s belting out a biker original, which at a guess is called “My Baby Wanks Me With a Hanky”. That’s how most of the words go, in any case.

bike event entertainment

And this guy has the moves, too.
His unplugged karaoke groove is part dirty blues grind, and part Morris folk dancer frolic.

  • If you needed a bathroom…

Find a bush to squat behind, preferably out of sight of the 200 bikers mere meters away.

Let’s hope a snake doesn’t bite you on your tender parts in the process.
If it does, and you start to black out, the last thing you’ll ever hear is verse 15 of a song about worrying things you can do with a handkerchief and the love of your life.

Motorcycle Rallies Were a Nature Experience

The night is endless when you’re trying to sleep on the hard ground with 20 kinds of bugs.
But after several hours, the rythmic lullaby of hundreds of bikers snorting and snoring has become oddly soothing.
It’s like bedding down in a cave with a very large family of bears.

biker rallies may involve bears

And every time, just as the sun comes up, an ear-splitting roar drowns out even the Bear Symphony.

The noise is coming from a guy known only by a nickname he got from a sexually transmitted disease in the ‘70s.  He reckons firing up his bike at 6am is the funniest idea he’s ever had. (Since the last motorcycle rally, anyway.)

A roar of protest goes up around the paddock, as last night’s bourbon takes its toll.
There’s a chorus of growling and grumbling from inside the bear tents.

But that obscenely loud motor continues its morning revving song. And soon there’s a crowd of seriously hungover admirers grinning at the spectacle of some pre-breakfast burnouts.

motorcycle rally burnouts

But that was all a long time ago.
Many years have passed, and everything’s different now.

We live in New Zealand, not Australia, for a start.

And motorcycle rallies have changed.

I have, too!

These days, shocking as it seems, I actually love going to motorcycle rallies.
Modern motorcycle events offer hot food, cold beer – and even bathrooms.

I no longer have to wear a fake beard, and pretend to be tougher than I am.
I don’t even try to man up.

And I’ve learned a few things about how to tailor the experience to be more female friendly.

Here are 3 things I do differently now at motorcycle rallies.

  1. Get a Room

OK, I’ll just admit it.
I hate camping.
HATE it.

When I try to sleep in a tent, something disturbing happens.
I go to bed as Liz, but by morning, she’s nowhere to be found.

Pulling back the tent flap in the early morning light, the Wicked Witch of the West scowls out at the day. Rough, tough bikers take one look, and start sobbing in terror.

And black cats suddenly start showing up as if by magic.

black cats at motorcycle events

So we don’t sleep in tents at motorcycle rallies anymore.

Now, we just find a motel room right near the rally site.
Or if we’re on a campsite, we book a private cabin.

This one decision changed everything.
With a good night’ sleep, a motorcycle rally becomes a fun weekend, not out-takes from The Wizard of Oz.

  1. Take a Motorcycle Rally Time-Out

Eventually, even your man will need a change of scene at a motorcycle event.

He’ll get seriously sick of hearing the expert opinions of Phil, a complete stranger who’s hell-bent on a male bonding weekend.
It seems that Phil and your man have the same model of bike – but Phil’s is WAY better.
And he has a LOT of theories about precisely why…

This is the right moment to take a break from challenging biker personalities.

Grab your man, and escape for the afternoon.
Head off on the bike through the local countryside and find a tiny little café.

Just enjoy being on a motorcycle holiday.

  1. See Motorcycle Rallies as a Treat (Not a Chore)

We only go to a couple of motorcycle rallies a year, so I want to make the most of them. It’s not like showing up to work on a daily basis for more of the same old, same old routine.

This is a change of pace.
It’s something different.
And usually, it’s even fun.

motorcycle rallies are fun for women

I love being around people who are truly passionate about motorcycles and riding.
It’s great to connect with other souls who ‘get’ how important bikes are.

Modern motorcycle rallies are not all about how much warm bourbon you can drink straight from the bottle.

In this new era, motorcycle rallies are pretty civilized events.
They’re a way to recognize the central role of motorcycles in our lives.

You don’t have to man up to love that.

[Photo credits: Anna Omelchenko; ronstick @]

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Written by Liz Hardy