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Williamsport 'Garage Party' gives women a handle on handling motorcycles

April 07, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

WILLIAMSPORT - After years of traveling on the back of her husband's motorcycle, Nancy Lavigne thought it would be a good idea to learn how to operate it herself, just in case.

"I just took the class because I realized I wouldn't know what to do if he got hurt," she said. "Then I got hooked."

Now, Lavigne, 53, of Williamsport, has her own pair of wheels, and rides separately on road trips all over the country.

Lavigne was one of several female motorcycle enthusiasts on hand to answer questions Sunday at a "Garage Party" event at Harley-Davidson & Buell of Williamsport designed to introduce women to the sport.

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An increasing number of women are entering the business, including many who, like Lavigne, are moving from the back seat to their own set of controls, said T.L. Lewis, general manager of the Williamsport store.

"I think the stigma isn't there anymore, that it's a man's sport and it's only for men to do," Lavigne said.

Ten percent to 12 percent of new Harley-Davidson purchasers nationwide are women, Lewis said.

"We believe there'd be more out there if they just had some good information about the business," he said.

At Sunday's event, potential riders learned about parts and accessories available to make a bike more comfortable, where to sign up for lessons, and how to use their backs and legs to lift a bike that has overturned. Participants also got an opportunity to climb onto a yellow Harley-Davidson V-Rod and practice lifting it upright.

Donna Conway, 61, of Hagerstown, was one of three women who showed up to the event.

"My husband's been encouraging me to try," she said. But she said she had some reservations.

"I just feel like the bikes are big and heavy, and I probably would have trouble handling it," she said.

The weight of the bike is a common fear for new riders, but Nancy Moore, 52, of Keedysville, said it is quickly overcome.

Moore said she has come to appreciate a heavier bike because it feels sturdier in strong wind.

"I wouldn't trade it away for anything," she said.

For information about future garage parties, potential riders can send e-mail to gm@hdwilliamsport.com, Lewis said.

Motorcycle safety training is offered through the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration at Hagerstown Community College and costs $244 for Maryland residents, plus a $5 registration fee.

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