June 20th, 2024

Lethbridge’s Windsun Riders elevates the profile of female motorcyclists

By Justin Seward - Lethbridge Herald on October 26, 2022.

Herald photo by Justin Seward Windsun Rider Dixie Fowler, left, receives the Women in the Wind High Klick Club highest safest mileage award for 2021 from Canadian administrator Gail Lane after logging over 21,000 kilometres on her motorcycle last year without any accidents.

The Women in the Wind’s Windsun Riders Chapter was established in 2016 with a focus to unite women motorcyclists with friends of common interest.

The group also promotes a positive image for the public of women on motorcycles and educates their members on motorcycle safety and maintenance.

There are 10 active members in this chapter who range in age from their 40s to 70s.

“We form lifelong friendships through this group,” said Dixie Fowler, Windsun Riders treasurer and road captain. “And it’s about the camaraderie and improving our skills, improving the image of women motorcyclists and our accomplishments on the motorcycles themselves. We do some safety training, a lot of safety training, and maintenance. Everything that anybody could do with a motorcycle.”

President Faye Knitel said, “Because we handle these bikes and go on these long trips, we have to be independent and rely on each other. Like we feel like we’re strong women.”

June is safety month and the Windsun Riders host a safety event within their own group.

“This year, for example, we did pylons in a parking lot and did slow maneuvering,” said Fowler. “It’s something that every rider needs to think about. It isn’t all about going high speeds and handling your bike at high speeds – going at slow speeds and handling your bike upright is really important. It was very eye opening to say the least.”

The group does team up with Southern Alberta Bikers for a teddy bear awareness parade.

“It’s always early in the season to get people aware that motorcycles are on the road again, keep an eye out for us, and for ourselves to always stay defensive,” said Fowler.

Windsun Riders did get together with chapters in Alberta and B.C. Knitel said it’s a sisterhood.

“Some of our members have gone through life changes and we’re there for them,” said Knitel. “We throw a potluck or just a get together when the member is strong enough to have us there. On our Big Epic ride, that’s also almost like team building. I do have pictures on some of our epic rides and they’re always enjoyable.”

Earlier in the fall, Fowler was awarded the High Mileage honour for Women in the Wind Canada for 2021 for logging over 21,000 kilometres of safer riding, and fellow chapter member Nancy Mrak came second after riding 18,652 kms in 2021.

“I think it shows the level of commitment we have in our group and that we’re not just weekend riders,” said Fowler. “We have a lot of passion for the motorcycle group and it’s my number one activity, bar anything else that I do in anything.”

The group plans rides to places for overnight stays, day rides to Fort Steele, B.C. and back for lunch and a summer Epic ride where a nine-day trip commences to a chosen destination.

A Tuesday evening ride goes from April-October and riders usually clock 200-300 kilometres in that evening trip.

Since its inception in 1979, Women in the Wind has grown to 1,400 members over 80 chapters in the United States, Great Britain, Canada and Australia.

More information can be found on WITW Windsun Riders on Facebook or at http://www.womeninthewind.org.

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