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LONG BEACH, Calif. — There's something about the sensory experience of a motorcycle that appeals to Porsche Taylor. The smells that come with riding through the open air. The movement of two wheels rolling across the asphalt.
"You've got sights, sounds, smells, the rumble of the bike. And then you get to see everything," said Taylor, who has spent this past week riding from her home in Long Beach to Cleveland, Ohio, to join with 100 other motorcycling ladies of color for the 15th annual International Female Ride Day, taking place globally May 1.
The founder of Black Girls Ride magazine, Taylor, is the epitome of the event's message: to encourage women to "just ride" and raise awareness that motorcycling is an equal opportunity activity.
"There are thousands of black females, women of color that are motorcycle riders," Taylor said of her rationale for founding Black Girls Ride ten years ago. "I just wanted us to have representation in the sport."
According to the Motorcycle Industry Council in Irvine, when Taylor founded the magazine in 2011, one in ten motorcycle owners was female. Today, it's one in five.
Like many women who get into the sport, Taylor was first introduced to it through a man. Her cousin inspired her to ride in 2003 when he took her to see the movie "Biker Boyz," an action drama about an urban biker gang in Pasadena.
"It was the cheesiest movie ever, but in that movie, the women were all riding their own bikes," Taylor said. "And they weren't little bikes. They were comparable to what the guys were riding, so that gave me the inspiration that I could do it."
The deal was sealed when she hitched a ride on the back of her cousin's bike and experienced the thrill first hand. So when she came into some extra money with a bonus check from work, she was all in.
"It was either get a big screen TV or get a motorcycle," Taylor said. "I got the motorcycle, and I just never looked back. It's been one adventure after another."
After buying a Kawasaki Ninja sportbike and "toddling" into bike nights, she met another female rider who took Taylor under her wing and taught her how to ride.
"That to me meant everything because I was learning what I could from my cousin, but he's got more of an aggressive riding style," she said. "Learning from women tends to be more nurturing."
Having the benefit of a female mentor, "I knew that I wanted to foster that community of female motorcyclists."
At first, she tried to foster that community through the existing media landscape as a contributor to various motorcycle magazines, but she was rebuffed.
"Unfortunately, it just wasn't as inclusive in that space, nor did I see anyone that really looked like me," said Taylor, who decided to "be the change and just create something" instead of taking no for an answer.
That something was Black Girls Ride — a magazine for women of color who ride motorcycles that also puts on events like the Beautiful Bikers Conference. It isn't a formal organization, but it does have an international following. Its Facebook group has 6,000 members, many of them from Europe, South Africa and the Caribbean.
Whether they're into dirt bikes or sport bikes, cruisers or customs, Taylor welcomes them all. It's the shared experience and sense of community that appeals, even if Taylor is personally partial to the touring bike she calls "Black Beauty."
"It allows me to see the country in a way that you just don't get to see inside of a car," said Taylor, who rides an Indian Chieftain. "So often we're worried about our elderly, our kids, our spouses, our company. You very rarely get a moment of peace to be self-contained or even self-absorbed, and this allows me the space to reflect."
Last year, she rode from California to the March on Washington in the nation's capital, where motorcycling proved to be a unifying force.
"Even in the climate of that very hot and contentious summer, we were embraced," Taylor said of her cross-country trip during the aftermath of George Floyd's killing by a Minneapolis police officer and the political unrest that ensued. "I had conversations with people from different political backgrounds, and we kept it about motorcycling. That seemed to be the bridge that could bring us together."