Who says there's no place for men at Femmoto? There were a few fellows on hand for the women-only event, but participation was limited to brolly dolly status.
"Hey, umbrella boy! What's a girl gotta do to get a little shade 'round here," asks the woman seated atop the black Ducati S2R. Unlocking his gaze from the nearby Tuono, the man steps closer to his leather-clad significant other and angles his parasol between her and the desert sun. The shade lasts until it's her turn to accelerate onto the road course at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Although a motorcyclist and track day enthusiast himself, the umbrella boy's gender doesn't allow him to participate in the back-to-back trackday event. Femmoto is for women only, and unlike previous years that included some male participation, for 2006 their presence is limited to spectating and rider-support.
"Femmoto is not about bashing men," says event organizer Bonnie Strawser. "It's just that we have a different style of riding, and we need different things out of a motorcycle than a man does."
What Femmoto is about is providing female attendees a selection of motorcycle models from which to choose and ride in a friendly and controlled environment, and without the pressure or intimidation of their highly competitive Y-chromosome counterparts.
"I want to make women feel more comfortable on bikes that aren't their own," says Strawser. "Most of the novice riders have never been on a track before, and this is a way to get them to feel more confident."
Now in its fifth year, the truly annual event more than doubled last year's turnout by welcoming 330 women from across North America, and increased its donation to the fight against breast cancer from $5,500 last year to more than $10,000 this year.
"I'm amazed at the diversity of the women that were there," says Kawasaki's Jan Plessner. "Older, younger, every type of background, and it wasn't a local crowd. It may have been in Vegas but it was definitely an international group."
Strawser also confirmed another milestone for 2006.
Next year's event figures to be bigger than ever and sure to attract even greater participation by the OEMs.
"A big thing at the event that I was quite proud of is that I had an all-female staff, and that is what I've always wanted from the get go," she says.
Joining returning supporters Aprilia, Buell, Kawasaki, Kymco, G by Hein Gericke and Moto Guzzi were Ducati, ICON, Scorpion and Triumph. The motorcycle manufacturers (except Triumph) brought a selection of models for the women to ride during the day, while the apparel companies (plus Triumph) displayed their female attire during the fashion show at night.
Aprilia added to this year's excitement by hosting Supermoto rides aboard the company's SXV 450 V-twin, and by having AMA Supermoto pro, Michelle DiSalvo, on hand for the occasional extreme Supermoto riding display.
In addition to the company's roadbike support truck, this year Kawasaki brought a second semi tractor-trailer from which to provide basic dirtbike instruction. Featured instructor was none other than factory Kawasaki motocrosser Tania Satchwell.
"If we can get the word out early enough I'd love to see some half-day motocross classes next year," says Plessner. "Of course we're not going to teach an intermediate rider how to jump triples or anything like that, it's more about being comfortable and confident on an actual motocross track."
Both the Supermoto and dirtbike options provided attendees with only roadbike experience an opportunity to explore an avenue of motorcycling they previously may not have entertained. According to Plessner, all eight dirtbike classes were 80% full.
AMA Supermoto racer, Michelle DiSalvo, was backing it in as Aprilia hosted rides aboard its SXV 450.
Strawser is confident in the continued growth of the Femmoto event. An idea she's considering for next year is the possibility of having basic motorcycle instruction from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
"I'd like to see that because then I'm covering the whole range of women and motorcycling," says Strawser.
Another idea is providing demo rides on non-sportbikes. According to Strawser, both Harley-Davidson and Victory have expressed interest.
Of the Big Four, Suzuki is a possibility for next year, while Kawasaki's presence is guaranteed.
"I can't think of a reason why we wouldn't [attend], the thing is growing every year," says Plessner.
For more about Femmoto, female racers and female riding apparel or other trackday events visit www.femmoto.com
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