Just get out and ride

Women on Canada’s West Coast have a club to call their own—and a lot of fun to boot

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women in motorcycle garb mingle around their parked bikes.

Members enjoy free-wheelin' friendships and freedom. — Photo courtesy Alyson Nerker

Free Wheelin’ is a motorcycle club devoted to friendship, adventure and getting together with others who love to ride. With a diverse set of ages, experience and machines, there are only two things that define members. The first is that they have an interest in riding. The second is that they are women.

In an industry relatively dominated by men, the Free Wheelin’ Canadian Woman’s Motorcycle Club (FWCWMC) offers encouragement and camaraderie to women who are interested in motorcycling at any level. The goal is to foster a positive and safe environment while promoting the goodwill of motorcycling in general.

The art of motorcycle riding

The FWCWMC was established over 20 years ago and has been supporting female riders ever since. Current president, Alyson Nerker, has a pretty solid background in riding herself. She keeps seven bikes—BMWs, some as projects and some vintage, including a Harley-Davidson from 1930—and keeps at least two insured through the riding season.

“I got my first motorcycle in 1979, but didn’t get it running until 1980,” she said, “so 33 years of riding experience for me. I can remember one of my first memories of seeing some long-haired greasy bikers on the old Harley-Davidsons, just ripping down the road, and I thought it looked like so much fun.”

Club events are a main focus of the FWCWMC. At the end of each riding season there is a ramp-up party, but members continue to get together even when they are not riding. Different social activities, such as Christmas parties and bowling, show that members genuinely enjoy spending time together. The real fun, however, begins when the riding season amps up. There are generally two or three events a month involving day rides, overnighters or full weekends. Day rides are open to guests, and there is generally a good time had by all.

“The rides are pretty much catered to any level of rider, and all kinds of bikes,” said Nerker. "Some of our members ride scooters, touring bikes, vintage bikes, sport bikes—there’s quite a variety. Some members have been riding longer than myself and some members are fairly new at the sport with maybe two or three years of riding behind them. We accommodate everybody with their skill level and different styles.”

Joining in

The FWCWMC currently has 42 members with six lifetimers, mostly residing throughout the Greater Vancouver area. The members of the executive take their responsibilities seriously, helping to ensure a supportive environment. Women who are interested are welcomed to attend a club ride or meeting to learn a bit more. They can make inquiries through the club’s website or Facebook page. The club welcomes all sorts of riders, or even women who are interested but haven’t yet made the leap. The membership fee of $20 a year makes joining the group quite attainable.

“There are a lot of women that might be a little bit apprehensive,” said Nerker, “but I think all they need to do is see that we’re out there—we’re here for them if they want to join our club. It’s a great opportunity to just get out and ride.”

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