Becci Stoner embraces the open road
By Sally E. Smith
The rush Becci Stoner feels blasting down the highway on her cherry red Honda Rebel doesn't come from adrenaline. Hers is a serenity high, achieved when the hum of her engine resonates with the purr of her soul. "As the warm wind blows in my face," says Stoner, "I feel like it's blowing all the cobwebs and nasties I've experienced throughout the day right out of my mind and body."
While Stoner, who lives in Tucson, Ariz. with her husband, James, grew up with motorcycles and began riding at age 12, "After getting married, I sold my motorcycle in favor of love and raising a family," she says. Then, a year and a half ago, one of her four children, Dennis, 29, bought a Ninja 500 and encouraged her to take it for a spin. "Trusting child!" exclaims Stoner. Recalling that ride with a wistful smile, she says, "The sense of freedom, the pure joy of riding, brought a rush of many wonderful memories. I was 'bit by the bug' all over again."
That "bite" led Stoner, an employment specialist who helps those with disabilities find jobs, to start shopping around for her own ride. It was only after studying websites and checking out local motorcycle shops that she decided upon the Honda. "Its low stride makes it easy for my feet to reach the ground. If I drop the bike, it will take incredible effort to pick it up - but I can do it. And it's maneuverability and sharp looks had me sold almost instantly."
Since then, this biker chick has made up for lost time, taking to the road at every opportunity. "I've set aside my nylons, high heel shoes and business dresses for a cherry red DOT helmet, leather gloves and safety glasses," Stoner enthuses. I've cut my hair short to prevent helmet hair. I've donned slacks and blazers and have four pairs of colorful boots to complete the ensemble. I carry my briefcase in my backpack."
At first, Stoner's journeys were mostly solo. Her husband didn't share her passion for riding, and there just aren't many women riders to be found. But then she discovered and joined a riding club called the Blue Knights, the membership of which is largely comprised of law enforcement personnel. According to Stoner, the members showed her the ropes and have been extremely patient, although she does take ribbing about her motorcycle. "They tease me that my Honda Rebel was a Harley before I left it in the rain and it shrank," she says with a laugh.
She's also met many riders through motorcycle events such as the Biker Rodeo rally and Hellerado Days in Tombstone, Ariz. Stoner describes last December's Sun Riders Toy Parade, in which she rode with 7500 other motorcyclists, as "the most electric, incredible experience of my life! In my section alone, we were twenty abreast. I could see riders a half mile ahead of me and a half mile or more behind me."
This spring, Stoner is planning to purchase a bike with more power so she can go on longer touring trips. As for her husband, he's decided he doesn't want to be left behind - Becci has signed him up for classes and their son is in the process of rebuilding a Suzuki for James.
In the meantime, Stoner will continue to follow wherever the road may lead. "No matter what my mood or what is going on in my life, a ride - short, long, no matter - makes my world brighter. Riding is a wonderful way to find balance, make new friends and be one with your surroundings, and it's given me tons of confidence that I never knew I needed."