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All-female riding network in P.E.I. hopes for more members

Erin Gillespie, shown on her motorcycle, founded a P.E.I. branch of The Litas, an all-woman, international motorcycle club.
Erin Gillespie, shown on her motorcycle, founded a P.E.I. branch of The Litas, an all-woman, international motorcycle club. - Contributed

The world of motorcycles may seem very macho to some, but Erin Gillespie hopes she can make the ride smoother for would-be women bikers.

Gillespie got the idea to bring a female riding network to P.E.I. a couple of years ago when she took part in the all-woman Backroad Ball bike weekend in New Brunswick.

“There was about 100 women,” she said.

There she met a couple of members of The Litas, an international all-female riding network with more than 5,000 members in 200 cities around the world. The group started in 2015 with an initiative to connect motorcycle enthusiasts who happen to be women.

“The first time I was on a bike, I got on the back with my dad,” said Gillespie, who has been riding for more than 10 years. “I think that is often the first step for a woman.”

Gillespie said the group of guys she frequently rode with were welcoming and supportive, but she still felt like an outcast.

“If you go up to a table it is usually your husband who is greeted,” she said. “It’s a bit macho, just because typically more men ride. I don’t know if that’s ever going to change, even with women riders at these events.”

“It has been eye-opening to see how nice and supportive the female biking community has been to one another.”
-Erin Gillespie

In October 2016, Gillespie started P.E.I.’s branch of The Litas. It now has 10 members provincewide.

“It has been eye-opening to see how nice and supportive the female biking community has been to one another.”

Gillespie is hopeful that membership in The Litas on P.E.I. ramps up over the summer. Everyone who is part of The Litas comes on their own type of bike, wearing their own unique outfit.

“We have one chick who is coming with us to the Backroad Ball and she is getting her licence the day before.”

Gillespie thinks there is a big community out there, but young girls are not presented with the same options as young boys.

“Little dudes grow up and they are given dirt bikes; it’s just not a culture that is presented to little girls.”

Gillespie was always interested in motorbikes. When she was 16 she didn’t want to drive a car, she wanted bike. Her parents thought it was a bad idea. She didn’t get her motorcycle licence until she was 27.

“I signed up for the motorcycle safety test and told my husband. Then he signed up.”

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