Heather’s Korner: Collecting Moto Merit Badges
Collecting Moto Merit Badges
Two years ago this month, I rendezvoused with several women for a day ride to Sedona. We were to be part of a short documentary on Arizona women (starts at 8:49). We met at the customary starting point for almost any group ride, a gas station. There would be seven of us. For many, it would be the first time we’d meet and ride with the other women in the group.
This was the day I met Sam, a fellow gypsy soul who has since become a cherished friend. At the rendezvous point, while waiting for kickstands up, Sam and I swapped the basic introductory stories about how long we’d been riding and shared our mutual excitement for what the day ahead might hold. We’d both been riding for about a year. Sam and her boyfriend had built her first
bike, a bobber affectionately known as Amelia. She’d only ridden on surface streets to date. I’d owned Gonzo, a trusty Shadow 600 I bought used on Craigslist, for 17 months. I had learned and performed my first oil change the morning before this ride.
Throughout the day, we talked about firsts we’d recently experienced and those we we’d have that day. First group ride. First ladies-only ride. First time riding in the rain. Most miles we’d ridden in a single day up to that point. Many of the other women also self-identified as new riders, so there were a lot of firsts and a lot of talk of firsts. “I feel like there should be merit badges for these things,” Sam told me. I whole-heartedly agreed. We were just beginning our two-wheel journey. It was a time of discovery, when firsts come fast and furious, have weight and meaning, teaching us about our bikes, our selves, and what it means to be a motorcycle rider.
It stormed on us in Sedona, and while we waited out the worst of it, rain still fell as the sun set in the west and we set to return to Phoenix. We’d taken the long, scenic way to Sedona, up on 87 through Payson, then west on 260 to 89A. It’d been a leisurely ride with fantastic weather, but in the face of looming darkness and wet roads, we opted for a more direct route home. At the request of our ride leader, I took over lead duties as we approached I-17. It would be my first time leading a group ride and I’d log a new daily high of 358 miles.
Seven weeks later, Sam and I would earn more merit badges together, taking our first out-of-state moto trip for Babes Ride Out 3, an all-female campout in Joshua Tree. We’d ride there with the same women that had ridden to Sedona, plus a dozen more, and I’d log a new trip high of 851 miles.
I’ve been riding for nearly 3 and half years. I don’t experience moto firsts as frequently as I did when I met Sam, but I still tell her every time I have a merit badge worthy experience.
What are some your favorite moto moments and milestones that you think are merit badge worthy? Leave a comment below or connect with me on Instagram to share. Keep calm and throttle on!
In her professional life, Heather Lynne Herr is a digital marketing guru for a popular television show. At TEAM Arizona we know her as a passionate motorcyclist and all around bad-ass. When she’s not scrounging for clicks and “LIKES”, you can find her behind a camera or wrenching with her friends on a cool Chevy Montage truck build.