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thumb_IMG_5935Monica Holmes, former professional volleyball player and coach turned seasoned motorcycle tourer has just launched WomenonMotorcycles.com, a soon-to-be forum for female riders to share stories and experiences. Holmes was at BWM Motorcycles of Manhattan last month to deliver her own tales of cross-country adventure with her R1200GS, Spike, starting with the story of how her biking career was almost over before it began.

As a brand new rider, Holmes had used the low-traffic roads on Randall’s Island (between Manhattan and Queens, in New York City) as a practice track to fine-tune her riding skills. One day she inadvertently strayed from the safe loop and landed at the eight-lane tollbooth entry to the Triborough Bridge — probably the most frenzied, heavily-trafficked areas on the entire city.

It didn’t take long for a transit cop to show up next to the immobile Suzuki V-Strom in between lanes. Though he was adamant that Holmes would have to cross the bridge, she insisted back that she wasn’t going anywhere; it was her first lesson in biker persuasiveness to get him to stop eight lanes of traffic so she could could turn around and avoid a jaunt on the daunting bridge with hoards of city motorists.

“It was like the red sea parting,” she told a laughing audience.

After the incident, Holmes’ approach to motorcycling changed. She had come into it with romanticized notions about cool clothes and the sound of a revving engine, but says her “idealized fantasy” was laid to rest.

A humble attitude paved the way for good skills development and Holmes worked at accumulating riding hours. But even with her calculated approach, she still faced skepticism and wagging fingers. People suggested she spend time in the emergency room if she loved riding so much. Even her mother had told her, “When you get a bike, I hope someone steals it.” (She came around, though, and later became her biggest blog fan.)

Holmes persisted, and in 2008 she was struck with the idea of a cross-country trip. The notion was first spoken aloud on a Sunday; she left the following Thursday with a hundred dollars in her pocket, a credit card, and a few changes of clothing.

Monica Holmes' arrival in California.For six of the first eighteen days, the rainy aftermath of a tropical storm seemed to be moving at the same speed and direction as the biker. She pressed on through roads where the water was up to her footpads. But then the clouds parted, the road dried, and the west welcomed her onto its open highways and big skies. When she arrived in California, she set her camera up on a stone on a self-timer to record the accomplishment.

In the Q&A that followed the talk, Holmes underscored her message to the audience: “I don’t care how you get on the bike, just that you’re opening the world for yourself.”

Holmes has a trip to Argentina planned with Globebusters later in 2011. Until then, she’ll continue taking Spanish classes and developing WomenonMotorcycles.com as a forum for women to share their own travel stories, lessons learned, and challenges overcome.

BMW NYC manager Chris Connelly said this event was the first of its kind for BMW, but that the dealership hopes to see more like it in the future.

Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com

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