For her 50th birthday, Cindy Stofft bought herself a set of skull mirrors for her metallic blue Yamaha VStar 650 motorcycle.
Stofft, whose birthday is July 13, began riding her bike three years ago. She is one of at least a dozen Routt County women who have traded in the passenger seat for the fast lane.
On Wednesday, 11 of these women gathered in the Planet Powersports parking lot to rev their engines and talk about riding. And they all agreed it's better to have their hands on the handlebars than wrapped around the waist of the driver.
Angie Pay, operations manager for Planet Powersports, likens women riding bikes to the faded Virginia Slims slogan, "We've come a long way, baby."
"Girls always used to ride on the back, but not anymore," she said. "Riding your own bike is absolute freedom. It's you, the bike and the open road. There's nothing confining you in."
Pay and Stofft, who also works at Planet Powersports, are trying to organize a women's riding group to give women more opportunities to ride together.
During a recent ride to Clark, Pay said she got a lot of "thumbs and honks" when people realized who was behind the handlebars.
"People trip on the fact that there were these three girls on motorcycles," she said. "It's just not something you normally see."
The female riders were equally surprised to find there were so many others like them in town.
Heather Vincent said she has ridden bikes for at least 10 years, but always with men.
"I've always ridden with a bunch of guys, and I've always been the only girl," she said. "Lately, I've been riding around town seeing other women on bikes saying, 'There's another one.'"
Stofft said she has been tossing around some names for the developing group including "Hell's Angies" and "Steamboat Women Out Riding Motorcycles" though nothing has been finalized.
Stofft began riding after realizing how thrilling motorcycles can be.
"My boyfriend rode a BMW and went 120 mph with me on the back. I decided I'd rather drive," she said.
Stofft's story is a common one.
Jessica Maynard began riding in May after deciding it was time for a new hobby.
"I've always had a fascination with riding," she said. "I'd always see people riding and couldn't stop staring."
Maynard, who named her Honda Shadow VLX Deluxe 600 "Stella," said she has never been a good passenger.
"I'm not one for riding (on the back)," she said. "I like to pick my own path."
Before going for a short ride west of Steamboat Springs, the women lined up their bikes for a quick photo.
JR O'Brien, a friend of several of the women and a fellow motorcyclist, said the lineup was impressive.
"I think it's sexy as hell," he said. "What's cool is that they're not only moving from the back of the bike, they're moving to their own bikes. It's cool to have a girl on the back, but it's great to have them next to you."
It's a familiar reaction, Pay said.
"I think guys dig chicks on bikes," she said.
Pay said the ladies might participate in Fort Collins' Thunder in the Rockies or other regional rides in the future.
"It's all about the thrill of the ride," she said.
For more information, or if you're a biker babe interested in riding with the group, call Pay at 879-1542.
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