WRN Build Team Honoring the past, preparing the future
No question about it, this Tiny Strider Custom, spearheaded by racer Erin Sills and enabled by other women at WomenRidersNow, has a pointed message: women have been providing inspiration in motorsports for decades, encouraging by example and leading by action.
To that point, the WRN Tiny Custom is proudly decorated with daisies whose white petals carry the names of over 200 compelling female dignitaries.
According to Erin, the Women Riders Now team reflected on their own two-wheeled childhoods to develop their 2020 Strider project entitled “Progressions.” The project takes inspiration from the evolving role a Strider, a bicycle, and eventually a motorcycle may have in a girl’s life.
“What little girl doesn’t love customizing her own banana-seat bike with stickers, baskets, tassels and bells, then ripping it down the sidewalk to the park with her friends? And what better role models could there be for that young one on two wheels than the pioneering women in motorcycling – past and present?” explained Erin.
Want to meet all the 2020 Female Builders (other than one)? Surf Over to the 2020 Flying Piston Benefit – Strider Custom Builders page.
The WRN Progressions Strider is adorned with daisy petals carrying the names of over 200 influential, historical and contemporary women who serve the American motorcycle community. The names include female motorcycle industry leaders, entrepreneurs, racers, bike builders, journalists, authors, celebrities, award winners, and more. A few examples: Augusta and Adeline Van Buren, who were the first women to cross the country by motorcycle in 1916; the courageous Elena Myers who made history at age 17 as the first female to win an AMA Pro Racing sprint road race; and the late bike builder and racer Jessi Combs who inspired so many women to participate in the industrial arts. Said Erin, “The daisy petal word-clouds are filled with those we look up to and admire.”
But this little gem’s impact goes beyond surface treatment. The WRN team customized their Strider with the requisite leather banana seat, supporting frame, and ape hanger-style handlebars … then added motorcycle-inspired gearing, chain, and headlight. The team chose to forgo the tassels in exchange for hand grips that turn, mimicking the throttle action and sound of a real motorcycle. A Clearwater Lights headlamp lights this little one’s ride as she cruises down the road to her next adventure, displaying a license plate that reads “GO WRN.”
In addition to its beauty and function, the WRN Tiny Strider Custom stands as a testament to collaboration, optimism and vision. We applaud the effort and the spirit it embodies.
The build team from WomenRidersNow, the leading resource for women in motorcycling, includes:
Genevieve Schmitt is founder and editor of WomenRidersNow.com, an online magazine for women motorcycle riders. As a trained broadcast and print journalist, Genevieve has been working in the motorcycle industry for nearly 25 years and focusing on women riders for the last 15 years. She has inspired thousands of women to ride.
Genevieve is a 2001 inductee into the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame. She was inducted into the Las Vegas Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2017. In February of 2019, Genevieve received the 2019 AMA Bessie Stringfield award, which recognizes efforts to introduce motorcycling to new or underserved markets.
Erin Sills serves as WRN Co-chairwoman and is leading the construction and design of the WRN 2020 Strider. Erin is a 45-time world and national land speed motorcycle speed record holder and an off-road adventure riding coach. Erin has been named the AMA’s Female Athlete of the Year and the American Marketing Association’s “Woman to Watch” for her business accomplishments. Erin and her team at Hunter Sills Racing have set two Guinness Book World Records, and she is a member of four 200 MPH Clubs.
Erin serves on the AMA Specialist Sport Commission, the FIM Women in Motorcycling Commission, and the AMA Heritage Foundation board.
Tricia Szulewski has worked in the motorcycle publishing industry for more than 20 years as the Creative Director and Staff Writer at TAM Communications, publisher of American Iron Magazine. She has written hundreds of stories for TAM’s various titles. She began contributing to WomenRidersNow in 2014 and now heads the editorial department. Tricia began riding motorcycles in 1995 and in 2008 she became an MSF RiderCoach. She is the site manager of Connecticut’s Fairfield range where she runs an annual women-only Basic RiderCourse. Tricia loved the BMW R nine T she reviewed last year so much, she went out and purchased her own BMW, an R 1200 RS.
Sarah Schilke brings decades of sales and marketing experience in motorcycling. Sarah, an avid street and off-road rider, originally got into the motorcycle field as an MSF RiderCoach and continued her career from there, working with Hein Gericke and Schuberth, as well as the AMA and the International Motorcycle Shows. Sarah led BMW Motorrad’s marketing team and served as their NW Regional Aftersales Area Manager until recently joining SW-Motech. Sarah was the first woman elected to the Board of Directors of the MIC and was an original member of the FIM Women in Motorcycling Commission. In 2019 she was named one of the “Top 100 Leaders in Powersports” by Dealernews.
About Flying Piston Benefit’s Tiny Strider Customs:
The Flying Piston Benefit events are produced by Marilyn Stemp of Iron Trader News and Jeff Najar of Horsepower Marketing. The premiere event is the annual Flying Piston Builders Breakfast, a celebrity-strewn meet & greet presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys and held at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip on the first Sunday of the Sturgis Rally. The annual Breakfast brings together cutting-edge custom motorcycle builders and motorcycle industry influencers to meet the public. Proceeds from the event support veterans dealing with PTSD through Motorcycle Missions, and provide funding to AllKidsBike, a non-profit aiming to teach every child to ride a bike as part of kindergarten P.E. class.
In 2018, through an initiative with Strider Sports, Int’l, stock 12” balance bikes were sent to top-name builders for customization. The Tiny Strider Customs were unveiled to much acclaim at that year’s breakfast and ultimately sold at the prestigious Mecum Auction in Las Vegas. That program continues, bringing in a new ‘class” of custom motorcycle builders each year.
New ridership initiatives are the focus. Beneficiaries include Motorcycle Missions and AllKidsBike. For more information contact Marilyn Stemp at 828-205-8482, www.flyingpistonbenefit.com and visit Facebook.
The WomenRidersNow Build Team
Genevieve Schmitt is founder and editor of WomenRidersNow.com, an online magazine for women motorcycle riders and those thinking of riding. As a trained broadcast and print journalist, Genevieve has been working in the motorcycle industry for nearly 25 years and focusing on women riders for the last 15 years. Through her articles and speeches she has inspired thousands of women to ride. Over the years Genevieve has been quoted as an expert in numerous articles, radio shows, and television documentaries on the topic of motorcycling, including articles in the New York Times, BusinessWeek, USA Today, and the Chicago Tribune. She’s been interviewed by NPR and BBC World Radio, and included in a TV segment on Fox News Channel’s Geraldo At Large.
Genevieve is a 2001 inductee into the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame in recognition of her work raising awareness of women riders. She was inducted into the Las Vegas Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2017. In February of 2019, Genevieve received the 2019 American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Bessie Stringfield award. This award, which memorializes the accomplishments of AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Bessie Stringfield, recognizes efforts to introduce motorcycling to new or underserved markets. Because of Genevieve’s endeavors in putting the spotlight on women and motorcycling, the AMA board of directors chose Genevieve as the 2019 award recipient.
Erin Sills serves as WRN Co-chairwoman and is leading the construction and design of the WRN 2020 Strider. Erin is a 45-time world and national land speed motorcycle speed record holder and an off-road adventure riding coach. In her professional life, she spent 30 years in marketing and advertising, most recently as Global Director of Insights for Facebook, Inc. In 2016, she packed away the corporate attire to pursue life on two wheels full-time. Erin has been named the American Motorcyclist Association’s “Female Athlete of the Year” for her motorcycling accomplishments and the American Marketing Association’s “Woman to Watch” for her business accomplishments. In 2014, Erin was named University of Cincinnati’s Lindner College of Business “Alumni of the Year.” Erin and her team at Hunter Sills Racing have set two Guinness Book World Records, and she is a member of the Bonneville 200 MPH Club, the El Mirage 200 MPH Club, the Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials 201 MPH Club, and the Mojave 200 MPH Club with her fastest average speed of 242 mph to date.
Always seeking a way to give back to the industry, Erin currently serves on the AMA Specialist Sport Commission, the FIM Women in Sport Commission, and the AMA Heritage Foundation board. At heart she is an avid sport-touring traveler, having journeyed over 300,000 miles since she began riding at the age of 35. Erin enjoys advocating for women in motorcycling and, with her late husband Andy Sills, she founded the sheEmoto Scholarship to support women in the sport.
Tricia Szulewski has worked in the motorcycle publishing industry for more than 20 years, working full-time as the Creative Director and Staff Writer at TAM Communications, publisher of the best-selling motorcycle magazine on the newsstand, American Iron Magazine. While at TAM, she’s worked on its other motorcycle publications, such as Motorcycle Tour & Cruiser, RoadBike, Motorcycle, and Garage Build magazine and has written hundreds of stories for all of these titles, from motorcycle reviews to gear reviews, tech and how-to installs, riding skills, tours, and more. She began sharing her stories and photos with WomenRidersNow in 2014, and today heads up the editorial department. As Editor, Tricia’s WRN duties include writing, editing, and proofing stories, as well as performing a myriad of other tasks that help keep this website running smoothly.
Tricia began riding motorcycles in 1995, and in 2008 she became an MSF RiderCoach and is now the site manager of Connecticut’s Fairfield range where she runs an annual women-only Basic RiderCourse. She especially enjoys sharing her passion for motorcycling with other women, and is always looking for opportunities to mentor new and experienced riders. Tricia loved the BMW R nine T she reviewed last year so much, she went out and purchased her own BMW, an R 1200 RS.
Sarah Schilke rounds out the team, bringing with her decades of sales and marketing experience in motorcycling. Sarah is an avid street and off-road rider who has more than two decades in the motorcycle industry under her belt. She originally got into the motorcycle field as a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) RiderCoach and continued her career in motorcycling from there, working with several aftermarket companies, including Hein Gericke and Schuberth, as well as the American Motorcyclist Association and the International Motorcycle Shows. Sarah led BMW Motorrad’s marketing team and served as BMW Motorrad’s NW Regional Aftersales Area Manager until recently leaving to join SW-Motech as their Vice President.
Sarah was the first woman to be elected to the Board of Directors of the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) and was an original member of the International Motorcycling Federation’s (FIM) Commission on Women in Motorcycling. She is a lifetime member of the AMA and has received numerous leadership awards in motorcycling including “Powersports Industry Leader” by Powersports Business and was named one of the “50 Makers of Motorcycling” by Bonnier Motorcycle Group. In 2019 she was named one of the “Top 100 Leaders in Powersports” by Dealernews, a leading powersports industry trade magazine.
Words by Marilyn Stemp
Photos compliments of Strider Sports Int’l