After a bit of a hiatus, Women Who Ride is back! I am stoked to present our first trials rider. Glennel Warren lives in Hawaii in the United States. She talks to us about how she got into dirt biking and quickly progressed into trials riding and started competing in local races. As someone who has always been in awe of the incredible skill and stamina needed for trials riding, this has been one of my favorite interviews. I hope some of you who read this get inspired to give this sport a shot, just to try something new. Perhaps you’ll get hooked too! [Rashmi Tambe – Editor]
Please introduce yourself.
Hi, my name is Glennel Warren and I live on the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii. I have been in Hawaii for about 15 years and spend my free time dirt biking, surfing, and kitesurfing. I have been surfing most of my life but just in the last several years took up dirt biking. The North Shore of Oahu is world famous for the surf but what alot of people do not realize, is that the dirt biking here is also world class. Hawaii has extremely lush and beautiful mountains that are perfect for dirt biking.
Professionally, I am a financial advisor and when I am not working with my clients I am either playing in the ocean or in the mountains.
Please describe your path to how you got to where you are with motorcycling today.
When I was 25 years old, I took a surf trip to Mexico to a town called Puerto Escondido. I was there for a month and did not have a car so I decided to rent a scooter. I had never ridden a scooter before and to be honest could barely ride a bicycle. The guys who rented me the scooter had to teach me how to drive it. I had so much fun that month in Mexico that when I was flying home to Hawaii I told myself on the plane that I would buy a dirt bike when I got home. I had no idea what kind of bike I wanted or where I would get it but I knew I would get one.
I asked one of my local guy friends if he could help me and two days later he had found me a perfect starter bike – a Honda 230 CRF. It was a 4 stroke and had an electric start. After we bought, it he took me to the pineapple fields. In Hawaii, there are thousands of acres of land with pineapples growing. In the fields there are miles long of dirt roads going through them. They are the perfect place for someone to learn to ride. When I first got on my bike and started going I was so excited out of my mind. All I wanted to do was turn the throttle and go as fast as possible. Riding through those pineapple fields that first time was so memorable that I will never forget it. The happiness and excitement I felt was unbelievable. I thought dirt biking was by far the best experience ever.
I rode every other week or so on the weekends for about a year and stayed a very average beginner dirt biker. When I met my current boyfriend, who just happened to be obsessed with dirt biking, he noticed how much I struggled being a small female with a huge bike in the technical trails. Hawaii is an extremely technical place to dirt bike and will challenge even the expert riders. There are rivers, trees, mud, rocks, and everything in between on the trails. My bike was over 250 pounds and I only weighed 130 pounds. It was very challenging and I would fall a lot and struggle to pick my bike up. He suggested that maybe I should try this bike called a “trials” bike. He said it was much smaller but still very powerful. I was completely open to the idea and a month later we bought one.
It’s been three years since my first trials bike. I am now on my third one and will never go back to a traditional dirt bike. For Hawaii trail riding, trials bikes are the best.
Describe your current motorcycle. I currently ride a 2 stroke, 2013 Trials Sherco. It has a 300 cc engine and is extremely powerful. Trials bikes have no seats. You remain standing the entire time. Most people initially have a reaction that they cannot believe that you don’t sit down. I actually prefer it and I never have the desire to sit. In Hawaii the trails are extremely technical. There are trees that you will ride over, riverbeds that need to be crossed, mountains to go up. The trials bikes are small yet because of their huge engines, they are perfect for the terrain here. At first glance they might seem like slow bikes but in reality they are extremely fast and strong. I love my bike because I can make it through areas that grown men who have been riding their whole lives will struggle with. The only think I dislike about it is that when I do a wheelie and flip it, it breaks. I need an indestructible bike, but they don’t make those yet.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when you were first learning to ride?
My biggest challenge was that my bike was too tall, too big and too heavy. For trail riding, you need to be able to maneuver your bike easily. You need to be able to touch the ground, and lift your front end if it’s necessary. I am 5’7” and weigh 130 pounds and a bike over 250 pounds was just too much for me. I am very strong yet I struggled so much. Sometimes when I would crash and I couldn’t lift my bike I would sit in the middle of the trail and start crying. Not because I was hurt or scared, but because I was so frustrated that I couldn’t move my bike how I wanted to. When my boyfriend saw me cry for probably the tenth time, that is when he started recommending that I look for a smaller bike.
What’s your dream bike?
The new model of my bike every year.
Do you have a motorcycling achievement that you take pride in?
The last trial race I did was a Hare and Hound race. I placed second in the women’s B class and 11th overall among all the men B riders. I think there was about 150 riders that day.
Is there any other kind of motorcycling that you’d like to try your hand at?
I would like to get better at more Trials style of riding. Real trials riding involves hopping on your back tire, balancing while your bike is not moving, hopping from rock to rock without putting your feet down, and launching over massive rocks and trees. Trials riding has so much good technical skill involved with it to make you a better rider. Hopefully I can increase my skill in that area.
Do you pop wheelies on your bike?
I can do a traditional wheelie. I love wheelies so much! I am trying to keep my wheelie in the air longer. I have also started doing nose wheelies. That is when you lift your back tire off the ground. It is super fun but also a little scary because you are always worried about falling forward over your bike.
If you have a significant other, how do they feel about your riding?
My boyfriend is so extremely supportive of my dirt biking. Without him I couldn’t have come as far as I have at all. He pushes me so much to do better. Following him on trails for the past three years has really taken my riding to the next level. He is not easy on me at all and I love it. He is also the first one to recommend that I buy a new bike, get new boots, new gear, etc. I am always invited on any ride he does with his friends. I am never left out. I think he’s extremely proud of me and loves that I love to dirt bike.
Do you do maintenance and repairs on your bike?
I can change my own oil and clean my carburetor, but mostly anything after that I leave it up to my amazing man. He can fix absolutely anything on dirt bikes. I am really lucky. When I got my first bike and I didn’t have a boyfriend, I just went on YouTube and found countless videos on how to change oil and do basic maintenance. I borrowed tools from people and just figured out how to do stuff. Usually if you are open to learning and you want to do it yourself, someone would love to teach you. It is very rewarding figuring out to fix your own bike.
Do you have any motorcycling heroes?
Yes, this girl Ann who always gets first place in the trail races. She even beats all the guys! She is absolutely unstoppable. She also trains about five days a week and I probably only train once a week so I doubt I will ever get to beat her. She is super fast and never gets tired, it really is amazing. They call her the “Animal”.
Do you have any advice for people who want to get into motorcycling?
Don’t fall into the trap of borrowing someone else’s bike. If you want to ride, make the investment and buy your own bike. Show interest and people will help you every step of the way.
RIDING MOTORCYCLES IN HAWAII
If I were to visit you and we went riding for one short morning ride, where would you take me?
The Kahuku Motorcross track. It’s five minutes from my house. You park here at the track and there are thousands of acres of trail systems to ride in. From beginner to advance we would see your skill of riding and ride trials that fit what you were comfortable in. You can ride for an hour or all day, there are so many trials that it will suit whatever you are looking for. [Link to Route]
What’s the best part about riding in Hawaii?
Hawaii is so gorgeous to ride in. We ride in the jungle with beautiful plants all around us. It’s like a nature walk but instead a nature dirt bike ride. Just yesterday we went on a ride in the middle of the island in the jungle. We started by parking at a friends house and then riding across the freeway and entering into the middle of the island. From there we started the gradual ascent up the mountains. Once at the top of the mountains we found a ridgeline and started riding out to the end of the mountain ridge. The mountain ridge has trees on all sides and usually one side of the mountain where you can fall off. One of our friends did accidentally slip off the side and his bike went about 10 feet down, not too far so they were able to retrieve it. After we got to the end of the ridge, we took a line down the ridge and into the valley. In the valley was a river probably about 2 miles long that we rode through. At some points the water was only a few inches deep and at others it almost came up to my crotch. It was a bit challenging and some of the riders got extremely exhausted. In Hawaii there aren’t any native animals, however pigs are around which are invasive. As you are riding through the muddy rivers you will smell the stench of pig poop, which is a sign they have been there. They are very mean and it’s best not to come in contact with them.
What kind of food can riders expect to stop for on the way that is typical to your region?
If you go for a dirt bike ride you better bring enough food and water with the intention that if something happens, you might be spending the night in the mountains. So whatever will fit in your backpack is what you bring. During the summer there are thousands of strawberry guava trees which the most delicious fruit on them. If you are dying of lack of sugar they will do the trick to keep you alert. :)
If a motorcyclist from another state visited your state, what are the top rides you would recommend?
It highly depends upon their skill level but the Kahuku motocross track (the only one on the island) would be the first place to start. From there there are thousands of acres of trail for any skill level.
What is the traffic like and how does it affect motorcycle riding?
I don’t ride my bike on the street unless I am accessing a trail in the mountains. There are street riders here but Hawaii has horrible traffic and the drivers are very bad. I wouldn’t recommend street riding here. In my opinion there is too much of a risk of getting hit.
What are the best months for riding?
All year long! The weather in Hawaii is always in the 70’s and 80’s. However when it’s raining prepare to get muddy! The mud can get stuck in your tires and make it very challenging to ride. Only experienced riders should go in the mud because you need to keep speed.
Is it safe to ride at night where you live?
Not in my opinion. Again, I don’t trust the drivers in Hawaii.
Is motorcycle theft a problem?
Yes, theft of everything is a problem here. Bikes get stolen all the time. It really is a shame. Always lock up everything when you can.
Are there any motorcycle specific laws?
Yes, you must have a motorcycle license to ride a bike on the street. Most dirt bikers will ride on the streets for short distances illegally however.
Are there any motorcycling related political issues that affect your ability to riding?
Technically the only legal place to dirt bike off road is at the Kahuku motocross track. The entire island does have places to ride however they are not considered legal. In general most people do not get in trouble riding off road.
How do the police and car drivers treat motorcyclists?
It seems that the police are aware that dirt bikers ride illegally on the roads a bit, but they don’t seem to care much. From my experience I have never had any problems with them. Everyone is pretty considerate with the motorcycle riders on the island but in my opinion, riding on the streets is dangerous as the traffic is really bad here.
Do you have access to high quality women’s motorcycling gear in your part of the world?
Not really. The dirt bike shop on the island usually only has one or two different kinds of women gear. However, I don’t buy a lot of new gear that often. It’s get muddy very quickly so there is no point to have new clothes. When I do need something, I usually buy it online.
What kinds of motorcycling events are held regularly?
There are trail races every couple months or so. There is always a women’s class. I try to participate in every race if I am on the island.
How are women motorcycle riders treated by most people and by male motorcyclists?
Women that dirt bike here are looked very positively upon. The guys love seeing girls getting out there. There are not many girls who ride dirt bike so when they get out in the dirt, they get a lot of support.
All content on this page is copyrighted to Global Women Who Ride and cannot be excerpted in any form without written permission from the owner. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.