Over the last two years, especially in the earlier days of the pandemic, we all had to find ways to stay positive and not go insane – whether it was going on hikes, learning to bake bread (that got really popular for some reason) or holding virtual social gatherings. For a group of motorcycle riding women, the cure for the COVID blues was riding their bikes together.
“It was our outlet to be able to hang out with one another and be OK with it,” Erin Taylor, co-founder of local motorcycle collective The Litas Humboldt told the Outpost in a recent interview at the Humboldt Bay Social Club. “It was safe because when we’re all riding we’re individually in our own bubble.”
Originally started as a group in Salt Lake City, The Litas is a global motorcycle collective that aims to bring women, trans and non-binary riders together to share their passion for revving engines. Since its inception, the collective has grown to more than 20,000 riders, with branches in 281 cities in 31 countries across the world.
“It’s an international collective of women riders,” Taylor said. “It’s not a club or anything, because there’s no commitment, there’s no annual dues or membership fees. It’s just literally a form of communication and connectivity that we have.”
Taylor, who has been riding motorcycles since she was 16, co-founded the Humboldt Litas in October 2019 to provide a place for local moto-enthusiasts to connect and ride together in an inclusive and non-judgmental environment. In the male-dominated motorcycle community it can be difficult to find other women riders and some women, especially newer riders, can be a little too intimidated to ask questions or show their inexperience. The Litas strives to embrace riders of all levels, Taylor said, even the “moto-curious” – folks who don’t yet ride a motorcycle, but are interested in starting.
“We’re just trying to bridge the gap,” Taylor said. “We’re trying to say ‘it’s not impossible. If you want to do it, freakin’ do it.’”
Since Taylor and two other gals formed the Litas Humboldt, the branch has grown to more than 50 members from different ages (the youngest member is 17 and several members are in their 60s), cultural backgrounds, professions, sexual orientations and gender identities. The only requirement to join the Litas is that you identify as either female or non-binary and that you be interested in motorcycles.
Depending on the time of year, the Litas hold at least monthly rides. These rides range in length and skill level – beginner, intermediate or advanced – which, Taylor said, the group plans based largely on the experience of the current active members. If the Litas have a lot of rookies, the group will plan more beginner level rides to help the newer members feel more comfortable. If there are more experienced active riders, then they’ll hold more intermediate or experienced level rides.
The rides center around beautiful scenery, and obviously there is no shortage of beautiful places to ride in and around Humboldt – from the beaches to the redwoods to the mountains – and the Litas members explore as much of the area by way of motorcycle as they can. In addition to planning for skill level, the group also has to take weather into consideration. If it is an extremely windy day, the group will plan a ride inland instead of on the coast. Or the group will ride on the coast if it is too hot inland.
With the beauty of our area, there also comes some unique challenges for riders, such as the winding roads, the sometimes rapidly changing weather and the deer. Danielle Sproul — one of the earliest joining members of The Litas Humboldt — said some of her scariest moments riding here have been turning the corner on a winding road and running right into a herd of deer crossing the road. Sproul has also been caught in torrential downpours of rain, hail and sleet. “It’s super, awesomely fun,” she told the Outpost jokingly.
But despite the inherent risks of riding a motorcycle, Sproul feels the experience is well worth it. “The view you get on the back of a bike is completely different than the same thing in the car,” Sproul said. “You’re more aware of what’s going on around you. You can see the most beautiful views and just really enjoy being out and about.”
Even with perfect weather and road conditions, there are many things motorcyclists have to consider when planning a longer ride – routes have to be planned around fueling stops. And because the rider is exposed to the elements, riding a motorcycle is much more tiring than driving a car. Riders have to be sure to hydrate frequently and take rest stops. Riders also have to be prepared for the possibility of their bike breaking down.
“If you’re willing to ride a bike, you’ve got to be willing to fix it,” Litas Humboldt member Ashley Ruccio told the Outpost. “I mean, you’re gonna break down.”
That is another area where being a member of the Litas can be really helpful – the group shares mechanical tips and resources, helping other members to find parts they need or sharing information on local motorcycle mechanical classes and workshops. The group has a monthly meetup, where members can discuss tips and trades, or they can also communicate over the group’s social media platforms. Taylor added that the Litas will help get beginner or aspiring riders signed up for the local motorcycle safety course. The group will often sign multiple new Litas members up for the same course, so that they can help support each other.
The Litas also strives to support the community by holding charity fundraisers. Through either selling merchandise on the group’s website, or holding fundraising events, the Litas Humboldt has helped raise money for fire support efforts, the local women’s shelter and even to help cover medical bills for a member who was diagnosed with cancer, Taylor said.
One of the great things about being part of a global collective, Taylor added, is that the different branches connect and help each other out too. If a Lita travels to a different city, state or country, they can hook up with the local branch and go on a ride, probably be lent a bike if they don’t have one, and possibly even be offered a place to stay. The Litas are always willing to help out a Lita in need, Taylor said.
If you ride a bike or are “moto-curious” and interested in learning more about The Litas Humboldt, there are several ways to get involved. You can join the group or email questions through The Litas Humboldt website. You can also attend the groups meetup on the first Wednesday of every month at about 5:30 p.m. at the Humboldt Bay Social Club.
The Litas’ next scheduled ride is on International Female Ride Day – Saturday, May 7. The group will meet at 11 a.m. at Redwood Harley-Davidson (2500 6th St, Eureka) and ride to the Trees of Mystery. Female and non-binary riders of all levels are welcome. If you are just “moto-curious,” you are welcome to come meet The Litas and hang out before they take off, and can follow the ride as a “support vehicle,” Taylor told the Outpost.