“I want to see the little things” Maggie told me as we chatted one Sunday evening in late January. For Maggie Barta from Northeast Tennessee, riding is not about where she is heading, it is all about the journey. As Maggie painted the picture of her grandparents rambling down the rural roads outside of St. Louis in their Dodge Dart, I understood exactly what she meant about the little things. She enjoys finding an experience similar to that of her grandparents when riding through small town America and stopping at the corner drug store for the best burgers around, the Tastee Freeze with the memorable ice cream custard cones and a bit of conversation with someone that wants to tell the stories of those days gone by.
Watching Maggie ride a motorcycle, one would think she has been riding the biggest part of her life. I was actually surprised when she told me she started riding in 2008. I say this because Maggie is graceful when she rides and on her face is a beautiful peaceful smile. She bought her 2005 Honda Shadow Spirit, which is still in her garage today, enrolled in a motorcycle safety course and never looked back. The excitement of that moment so many years ago resounded in her voice as Maggie revealed “I knew immediately it was going to be the best thing in my life.” She stills feel the same way today.
These days, you can find Maggie riding her Electra Glide, “Azreal” and happy to have a partner that enjoys riding along with her. She is also coaching motorcycle safety for Harley-Davidson Riding Academy and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Coaching motorcycle safety was something on her mind from the day she took her course. I have the privilege to coach with Maggie and she is as passionate about coaching as she is riding. She loves having her previous students ride their motorcycles in just to let her have a look at them or get a text saying “I heard your voice telling me to turn my head today”. A little advice from the rider coach to new riders; learn on a motorcycle that fits you and “don’t get frustrated by your fear.”
As an advocate for women motorcyclists, Maggie encourages participation in women’s motorcycle rallies and other events adding “ … we should have fellowship and camaraderie with each other. There is nothing more encouraging than for women to help other women”. The motorcycle can be a common denominator for friendship and fellowship. Well, it certainly has been for the two of us. If not for motorcycles, I would not have met Maggie.