Illustration by Griffin Mancuso.

Women on two wheels


by Savana Robinson

As far as I’m aware, there are only two women on motorcycles that regularly park on the Cal Poly Humboldt campus. I am one, and the other is Marilyn Koch, a jewelry and small metals instructor at Cal Poly Humboldt. She rides a 2014 Kawasaki Ninja 250 named Trixie and has been riding for 13 years. 

I think it’s a shame that only two women on this campus ride, mopeds aside. We’re talking highway-legal bikes. A lifelong goal of mine is to inspire other women to ride and claim their freedom. Koch is also in favor of other women riding.

“I’m so pro-women riders because I don’t understand why it’s such a male-dominated activity,” Koch said. “This is an activity that should be void of gender. Everyone should be on a bike.”

Koch has always had an affinity for two-wheeled machines.

“I’ve always thought motorcycles were just really badass,” Koch said.

Prior to riding, her taste in men was the more rebellious type, especially those with motorcycles.

“I realized instead of looking for a guy on a bike, why couldn’t I just be that badass person myself?” Koch said.

Koch decided to take a motorcycle safety course and get her license.  California Highway Patrol and other riding schools offer the California motorcyclists safety program all over the state. Koch spoke well of the program because it not only provides everything needed to learn, including a motorcycle, but it also gives riders the knowledge and confidence they need to ride safely.

“I highly encourage anyone that’s even interested in riding a motorcycle to take one of those courses,” Koch said.

Koch spoke of how the course is a great option for women especially.

“Generally, if you’re a guy, you maybe know somebody that has a bike or you’re a little bit more interconnected with the riding circle,” Koch said. “A lot of the female riders I’ve noticed are just so disengaged from that community.”

Koch noted that the exception to this stereotype is women who find groups such as The Litas Humboldt, who are only one part of a worldwide collective of women riders. They allow women of any riding level to join. Being part of a riding group is a great way to learn and become more comfortable riding and having fellow women to ride with can boost confidence.

I joined The Litas Humboldt in Dec. 2022, fulfilling my dream of several years. Part of the reason I came to Cal Poly Humboldt was because of The Litas. Being part of an all-ladies collective makes my heart soar; it’s like having a bunch of sisters to ride with. Erin Taylor, cofounder of The Litas Humboldt, once referred to that experience as ‘wind sisterhood’. There’s no other feeling like it.

Sometimes, men come up to me on my bike and say that I’m a badass. It feels good to hear it, but I can’t help but wonder if they would say that to another man. Koch shared a similar sentiment.

“When I get on my bike and I see people sort of staring at the bike… wondering who the owner is, and then realizing that the owner is a lady, they’re always somehow mystified as though it is even cooler that it’s a lady and not a guy,” Koch said. “It tickles me, but it also disappoints me. Why is it so astonishing for a lady to have a motorcycle?”

My dream is to have a bunch of girls on motorcycles riding to school. It would be so cool to see other motorcycles with scrunchies and pink bandanas on their mirror stems in any of the many Cal Poly Humboldt motorbike parking areas. I could talk all day about yass-ifying Harleys and other makes, but I digress, we need more women on two wheels. 

I would greatly encourage anyone that’s thinking about getting a motorcycle to take the motorcycle safety course, and for any woman that rides to join The Litas Humboldt at and on their Facebook page.

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