Motorcycling Changed Her Approach to Life

By Kat Baker
Dirt biking grandma, MSF RiderCoach, and MSF DirtBike School Coach in Pennsylvania and Maryland

My journey to becoming a RiderCoach started in 2006, when my professional and personal life had become a bit mundane. Our children were grown and out of the house, and my career seemed to have hit a plateau. I wanted to challenge myself. I had the brilliant idea to run the Marine Corps Marathon and learn to ride a motorcycle. Mind you, I was not an athletic person. Quite the opposite. I was more of a couch potato.

While completing the marathon was exhilarating and rewarding, the challenge of motorcycling was a completely different sensation – filled with a sense of utter fear and doubt. So you can imagine how ecstatic I was to have successfully completed the Basic RiderCourse and obtained my M endorsement.

I allowed my ego to choose my first motorcycle rather than the wisdom and advice of other more experienced motorcyclists. I had my heart set on purchasing a motorcycle that in retrospect was too big and way too heavy. It definitely was not an appropriate starter motorcycle especially for someone of very short stature, and not that physically strong. This is a lesson I pass on to my students now – choose a motorcycle that matches your skill level and physical abilities, then slowly move up.

After a few mishaps, I changed to a motorcycle more manageable by a new rider. Over time and additional training courses, I gained more skill and confidence. This confidence-building impacted my life in ways I never imagined. My professional life improved and what I had perceived as limitations and roadblocks, I now viewed as tasks to overcome – pushing beyond and exploring new possibilities. It was intriguing how motorcycling has really changed my approach to life and living.

I began to see more clearly how I allowed preconceived ideas to manifest into fear and doubt. I am so thankful to have such a supportive husband, who is also a RiderCoach. He stood by me (physically and emotionally) as I pushed beyond my comfort zone and perceived boundaries. One of those boundaries was becoming a RiderCoach myself.

For many years, I accompanied my husband to his classes mainly for the purpose of spending time with him. I would help with cone management for the exercises, and most importantly provide smoothies and cookies to keep their energy up. Multiple RiderCoaches asked, “Why don’t you become a RiderCoach? You’re here so much and you know the curriculum.” I personally didn’t think I had enough experience as a motorcyclist nor did I think my skill level was sufficient. The thought of joining the RiderCoach cadre was intriguing as I love motorcycling and working with people. 

From my vantage point, it appeared the state motorcycle safety program was composed mostly of middle-aged men, with very few women and limited cultural diversity. I viewed becoming a RiderCoach an opportunity for me to help show women of all ages and sizes that they can become a motorcyclist. I don’t want to give the impression that I am breaking new ground – I am definitely not. There are many highly skilled women in the motorcycling world who have much more experience than I. But becoming a RiderCoach has allowed me to personally contribute my experience, knowledge, and love of motorcycling to my community. To be part of the excitement and sense of accomplishment as a new rider overcomes their fears and builds their motorcycling skills is such a rewarding experience.