Darlene Khan, from Alabama, was definitely a late blooming two-wheeled rider. In 2007, at the age of 61, Darlene bought her first motorcycle – a Harley-Davidson Sportster 883. She soon traded that 883 in on a 1200. Today Darlene rides a 2010 Softail Deluxe – a gift from her husband, David.
In a reverse order of how most women start riding, after owning a couple of bikes, Darlene decided to take a motorcycle safety course. The class was taught by a local police officer who also trains the motorcycle officers. Again, better late than never seems to be Darlene’s lifestyle.
So what makes Darlene ride? She loves the feeling of freedom when on the road. She likes living in Alabama where the riding season is all year long. She gets a kick out of the shock value when people pull alongside her and realize it is a woman holding the grips. And she likes the escape from the aches and pains of arthritis that forced her into an early retirement (in addition, she has recently been diagnosed with Kidney Disease – still not keeping her down, though).
How does her family feel about Darlene’s new passion for riding? Obviously her husband approves and rides alongside her on his Harley. Her son-in-law has a Gold Wing but her daughter isn’t so keen on motorcycling and in Darlene’s words, “she [daughter] will ride almost any horse but is afraid of the bike. She will ride occasionally but much prefers a truck.” The daughter, who is a Registered Nurse, knows the dangers of motorcycling and has even rendered roadside assistance after witnessing a motorcycle wreck. She gave Darlene strict orders to never purchase a motorcycle. Darlene laughed and told her that she had been riding her own for well over a year.
Darlene knows the risks and has even had her own close call. While riding through the mountains on the back roads to Little River Canyon near Ft. Payne, Alabama, Darlene and bike took a tumble. She was making a right hand turn when an SUV ran a stop sign, forcing her off the road. As she left the road surface, the she rolled off the bike, tumbling head over heels but still landing on her feet. (David gave her “10” on the dismount.) The bike continued downhill. Fortunately the driver of the SUV stopped to see if everyone was okay after this accident he had caused and helped drag the bike back up the hill and onto the road. Darlene counts her blessings because if this accident had been just a few feet further down the road, both she and the motorcycle would have gone over one of the bluffs and would have resulted in a long crash down into the valley. A prayer before each ride is one of the reasons Darlene is able to relate this story.
Bottom line for Darlene is each one has to decide whether to go out by quietly lying down or go out fighting tooth and nail to survive and doing what you love. Darlene is a fighter who refuses to give up just because she is older in numbers. She is convinced that maintaining a healthy attitude and actively doing what she loves keeps her mentally in a much younger age group. And as she says, “I’m going to ride until I can’t then I will get a Trike. I love my Harley!”
As the fastest growing segment of the motorcycling public, women are more inclined than ever before to move from the passenger pillion to the front of the seat and to grab those handlebars. In this series of articles called “She Rides Her Own” we will profile a woman motorcyclist, what makes her unique, and how she got started riding on two wheels. If you would like to share a story with our readers on icedjamb.com, email to: [email protected]
Other She Rides Her Own articles:
- Meet Flo: motorcyclist, adventurer, crusader
- Meet Lisa: a motorcyclist who knows perseverance
- Meet Ralyn: leaping head on into motorcycling
- Meet Cat: she really does have nine lives
- Meet Brittany: teaching us how to avoid being skinned alive
- Meet Linda: showing us that love endures
- Meet Robin: her inner strength changed her life
- Meet LeftLane: living a life that matters
- Meet Abby: she rode back from Hell
- Meet Pinky: she is passionate about motorcycles
- Meet Laura: enthusiast, racer, and mentor
- Meet Jackie: trading up and enjoying the ride
- Meet Lori: living a meaningful life
- Meet Leilani: finding a motorcycle that is just right
- Meet Karen: finding blessings in unusual places
- Meet Liz: Making my way to the motorcycle
- Meet Sharon: she overcame addiction to find passion and purpose