The thing about stereotypes is that they’re meant to be broken. Some people go at it with a pocketknife, others use a chisel. Robin Dail is using Thor’s hammer.
After decades of wanting to ride but only having done it once, mistaking clutch for brake and running into a wall when she was 10, Robin finally got her motorcycle license in 2012. That put her in with a segment that’s become the fastest growing, but arguably still least understood, within the motorcycle industry –women riders.
An associate professor in nursing at Duke University in North Carolina, a mother and soon-to-be grandmother, she’s not your typical rider. But she’s embraced riding with a passion to make up for lost time in the saddle with a vengeance.
“When I started dating, after my husband died of cancer, I met a guy who owned a motorcycle and he let me ride on the back of it. That relationship didn’t last, but it began my obsession for motorcycles.”
Obsession is probably putting it mildly. In the short time that she’s been riding, thanks to her current husband Scot’s fondness for bikes in general and Triumphs in particular, Robin now owns not one but four of them: a 2016 Triumph Tiger XCX that’s now her daily rider; a tricked out 2012 Bonneville; a 2007 Daytona she uses for track days; and a fairly rare 1966 Triumph T100 SR – her project bike.
Notice, we did say Robin owns a track day bike. Most male riders would be envious, female riders might be aghast. Robin is just plain thrilled.
I’ve always been an adventurous person, and I concentrate more on the experience I’m having at the time than what could go wrong.Robin Dail
“My husband said the best way to learn to ride well was to go to a track day. So initially I learned to ride on a prepped Suzuki Gladius in the novice class. I loved learning how to go into the apex and cornering, but I had a small wreck on that bike and knew I wanted to get something different. I eventually got the Daytona and was hooked!”
If track days and owning more than one motorcycle isn’t proof enough of Robin’s passion, she also has an online business and blog called Motogirl Café. She recently organised a multi-day event, mostly for lady riders, called Mountain Moxie that was held at the Little Switzerland Inn in Little Switzerland, North Carolina.
“I started Moto Girl Café in 2014 as a site dedicated to girls and motorcycling. I wanted to empower them to ride and try new genres of motorcycling. I interview women who do really cool stuff on motorcycles, and attend events such as Barbers vintage festival to promote their connection with motorcycling.”
The Mountain Moxie event was actually born from an idea Robin had last year while riding through the area of North Carolina that is home to the infamous Tail of the Dragon – a gnarly 11-mile stretch of asphalt that has 318 curves to it. Robin stopped at the Little Switzerland Inn (complete with an Alps-looking hotel) and asked if they’d be willing to play host to a group of female riders. They said ‘yes’ and Robin was committed to making the event happen.
She attracted noted riders like Gail Biddulph – the first woman to circumnavigate Great Britain – long distance rider Gwen Phillips, and the MotoGirlGT Race team. A slew of sponsors signed up to help defray the costs, and all 93 people who registered showed up. Not bad for a first-time event that Robin said will take place again next year.
With her former day job as a nurse and now nursing instructor at Duke University, you’d think she’d have more than enough reasons to not ride. But she scoffs at the suggestion: “I worked in neonatal intensive care, which is a very high-adrenalin situation. Most of the nurses and doctors I know who work in those types of environments are attracted to activities that feed that.
“I’ve always been an adventurous person, and I concentrate more on the experience I’m having at the time than what could go wrong.”
As Robin continues to meet other girls who might contemplate riding or might think it’s not for them, she has this piece of advice:
“Lades are really scared unless they have others there to support them. So I try to be that support. It’s like anything – dieting or quitting smoking – a person has to be ready. Some people are, some people never are. You can’t push them.”
She might also add a bit about not giving into stereotypes. Unlike a person, it’s okay to push those until they just don’t matter.
Words by Aaron Heinrich