Barbara Pena embraces life. When you talk to her, you're quickly drawn in by her easy laugh and enthusiasm for pretty much everything.
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO LEARN TO RIDE?
I did a karate tournament, and I figured out you get a point every time you hit the other person on top of the head. And if you do it enough, they fall down. After the tournament, on my way home I saw a group of people on motorcycles. For some reason, I just thought I really wanted to do that.
So I went home and started researching it. I found the motorcycle safety foundation, and all of the sudden I had a huge desire to learn how to ride. I took the class, then bought a bike a month later.
Soon after that I did an Iron Butt in Houston. I was in love. That was about ten years ago.
HOW HAVE OTHER WOMEN MOTORCYCLE RIDERS INFLUENCED YOU?
The day I bought my first bike, some girls from Women on Wheels met me there. I hadn't been on a bike in a month, so I was nervous. They took me out on a ride, we were just going a short way then stopping off at a restaurant. I was so excited! I didn't want to go home!
I had a group of girls that did a lot of riding. Our all female group went to California on one trip. On another we went to the Kevin Schwantz Suzuki School at Road Atlanta. At the time I had this 750 Honda Shadow. I had to put water in the radiator and tape it up. I raced it on that track, and it was the best day of my life! I was so oblivious I didn't even think of the fact that if I wrecked, that (bike) was my way home.
Riding with a group of women, you just have these friendships. You're able to spill your guts out and tell your fears. Women will work with you. They have sympathy for whatever you're going through, because a lot of them have been through it before. There's camaraderie and friendship.
HOW DID YOU END UP OWNING 54 MOTORCYCLES AT ONCE?
(Laughing) We just kept buying bikes we liked. When my ex and I met, I had one motorcycle and one gun, and he had none. I loved motorcycling, but the bike I was riding to work I just got beat up by the wind. I loved that I could ride, but I hated getting beat up like that. I saw an ad for a bike I liked, applied for a loan and it went from there. I have seven right now, four Harleys®.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE HARLEYS® AND WHY?
My Heritage Softail, man I love that bike! It's white and teal, the color of it's beautiful. I got the handlebars moved back just today. It's super comfortable.
And my Dyna Low-Rider, but that one doesn't have a windshield. That one's beautiful too. It's a teal color with skulls painted with flowers and a lot of custom stuff done to it. Oh, and I love my '95 Fat Boy, that one's just old school. It's pretty too.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE WOMEN JUST LEARNING TO RIDE?
Don't learn from a boyfriend or a friend, take an actual course. Take an MSF or safety course, otherwise you might pick up bad habits. If you learn from an instructor, they'll correct you as you're making mistakes. Then follow up with an advanced rider course.
WHAT ADVENTURES HAVE YOU HAD ON TRIPS?
Oh, I dropped my bike on one of my trips. Right before I left I replaced my tires, and they put on a tire that was slightly off. When it swelled up, I started smelling burnt rubber.
We were on our way back, out in the boonies. It was night time, there was nothing but a desert. All of the sudden, it felt like I hit an oil slick.
I remember hearing if your front tire goes, you can just kiss your ass goodbye. Then as my speed dropped, I thought I might survive. I got to the side of the road, put the kickstand down and the bike fell over. Turned out it was the rear tire that was the problem.
The other girls were riding ahead of me, and there was a car in between us. They thought those headlights were mine. I had to wait for a flatbed tow truck to come.
I was more afraid of whatever life was in that desert than I was of the 18-wheelers flying by. I kept thinking of scorpions, snakes and bears. I wouldn't step off the pavement, I just kept looking down at the ground for whatever might be there.
The other time I dropped my bike, I was with a friend riding a Valkyrie. I looked over and she was tipping in slow motion. I reached out to help her and I dropped my bike too!
WHERE DO YOU RECOMMEND PEOPLE GO ON MOTORCYCLE ROAD TRIPS?
The Tail of the Dragon is 300 some-odd curves in just 11 miles. There's this tree at the bottom that has all the body parts of broken motorcycles. The ride was beautiful. I also like up the California coast on Highway 1.
We also rode through Yosemite. And once on the spur of the moment a girlfriend and I went through Tennessee and saw Elvis' house. That was just fun.
START YOUR OWN MOTORCYCLE COLLECTION
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