Rania Madanat

Rania_main

Rania Madanat, a Harley rider from Pennsylvania

Name: Rania Madanat
Age: 38
Country: USA
Languages: English, Arabic
Years Riding: 16
Height: 5’4″
Inseam: 30″
Current Motorcycles: 2008 Harley Davidson Dyna Low Rider
Past Motorcycles: 1982 Yamaha Exciter 250
Gear: Harley branded jackets and boots, Revit Legacy jacket, Spidi NetTix jacket, Dainese Svelta boots, Revit Royal boots, Teknic Venom gloves, Firstgear heated gear, Olympia Horizon rain gear, Arai RXQ helmet
Kms Per Year: 5-10,000 miles

Please introduce yourself.
Hi, friends of the world, my name is Rania Madanat. I was born in Amman, Jordan, on Earth Day and lived for most of my life in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, in the United States. I am the oldest of five girls and an aunt to seven nieces and nephews. I am newly engaged to one of the most supportive, loving and caring men in the world. I graduated from Arizona State University with a BS in Human Communication.

I grew up Arab-American with a father who had a 1930s mentality of women. He did not support gender equality nor did he drive us to be the best that we could be. In his eyes, a woman’s place is in the home and to be a slave to a man. Perhaps it wasn’t so harsh but that’s what led me to become so independent. I actually ended up leaving home at the age of 16 and raising myself on the streets and putting myself through college.

My goals in life are simple: travel, meet as many people as I can, try to support change for the better in my community and the world. I believe we should all take on the philosophy of paying it forward. The small things we do have large impacts. This is how I live each and every single day as these are really my daily goals as a citizen to this world.

Please describe your path into motorcycling.
I was the kid who always pointed out, “Look, there goes a motorcycle, did you see it?”. Besides spotting them on the streets, I have a couple of memories involving bikes when I was a kid. Our neighbor had a Harley touring bike that he was always out riding on. I remember him saying that he had ridden it to the Tetons and Sturgis. At the time I did not really know those places were but from his stories it seemed like an amazing adventure.

Growing up, when my male cousins used to show up at the house with mini-dirt bikes or motorcycles to give us all rides my father used to send my sisters and I back into the house. We only watched from the windows as the boys rode around the property on these motorcycles. having the time of their lives.

I made a pact with myself that one day I would ride, no matter what my father said. When I was 21 I had a friend’s father call me up saying he had found a motorcycle for me at a garage sale for only $200. My boyfriend at the time and I hurried over to go see it. It was a 1982 Yamaha 250 Exciter . He test rode it for me and gave me the thumbs up that the bike would be perfect. That was the day I found my independence. My life has never been the same.

Describe your current motorcycle.
I currently ride a 2008 Harley Davidson Dyna Low Rider. I love my bike! In my opinion, Dynas are the best designed Harley Davidsons. They have the big v-twin motor that the touring bikes do but weigh less. I shopped for an entire year for a motorcycle before testing this out and knowing it was perfect for me. Best choice I ever made!

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Rania with her Harley Davidson Dyna Low Rider

What was the biggest challenge you faced when you were first learning to ride?
When I picked up my first bike, it was time to learn to ride. Tim, my boyfriend at the time, really had the patience of a saint. He had only ridden dirt bikes his entire life but taught me how to control my new motorcycle.

The first day on the bike, I think I dropped it a million times just trying to figure out how to keep it up. The next day I remember finally being able to hold the bike up and I could not have been happier. I remember him helping me to learn to brake and use the clutch. He then blocked off the alleyway saying, “go to the end and stop”. Well I was able to ride to the end and then when I stopped I dropped the bike again. It was trial and error for a few days, until I finally made it around the block. It was the best feeling in the whole world. I will never forget that day.

The next few weeks, he would follow me by car while I rode my motorcycle through the neighborhood or on small back highway roads. I would pull over complaining about wrist fatigue or control, and we would give me tips like “tuck your knees closer to the tank and just relax”. He is still one of my best friends in this world and because of his patience and knowing how important learning to ride was for me, he never gave up or become frustrated. Riding around the neighborhood turned into riding around the country. All of this freaks my dad out until this very day.

What’s your dream bike?
I do not really have a single dream bike. I’d rather have a garage full of all sorts of bikes, from dual sports, to naked bikes, to large adventure bikes.

Having said that, I do find the new electric bikes very interesting. I test rode the Brammo Empluse R and could not believe how fun that was. I guess it would be cool to build a solar powered bike that would just go and go with help from the sun. Maybe the solar panels can be incorporated into the gear of the rider as well. I am not an engineer so who knows if this is even possible.

Do you have a motorcycling achievement that you take pride in?
The achievement that I take pride in the most with motorcycling is knowing that I can do it alone. I have been across the country on my own so many times. I have crossed in and out of the Mexican and Canadian borders, meeting and connecting with my social media community along the away.

What’s your favorite motorcycling story to tell others?
Gosh, I have a million stories. One that sticks out most recently was when two of my girlfriends and I decided to do a weekend trip along a portion of the Mississippi river. The first day started off with great weather. Then we found ourselves having to cut day one short as we found out that a tornado had developed. High winds and dust making us ride at a 45 degree angle was not fun. We found shelter and continued on the next day. The second day started out great again until we found ourselves in one of the worst thunderstorms ever! So bad, you just could not see anything in front of you. What a hell of a trip we kept thinking. This happened to us the entire weekend.

However, the positive in all of this was the people we met along the way each day who helped us out. On the first day with the tornado, the hotel owner gave us their car to go buy food so we could have something to eat. On the second day we had pulled into a town because we could not see anything due to the heavy rain. A business owner saw us parking and came running out in the rain yelling “Follow me, I have a garage around back under the restaurant”. Well we went and he gave us towels and hot coffee as we waited out the storm.On the third day the rain was not as bad, at least in the beginning. We ended up having to stop at a small bar/gas station because we were soaked and another tornado warning was happening. The owner brought over endless hot coffee and made us feel at home with all our wet gear as we watched the news that a tornado did touch down 15 miles away. Anyhow, in the end, it was one of the best and worst weekends ever. It was a true testament to the fact that there are still good people in this world.

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Out on a road trip with friends

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Bad weather brewing

Have you done any long distance road trips?
My best long distance road trip was my 5,000 mile loop around the USA. My goal was to get to the International Women in Motorcycling meeting hosted by the American Motorcycle Association in Carson City, Nevada. I guess this was my “long way round” trip. It was the first time I finally meet other women like myself.  Most of them rode from far away places. It was truly inspiring. The parking lot was filled with more dual sports and adventure bikes than I had ever seen in my life.

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Riding in South Dakota past Mt. Rushmore

Is there any other kind of riding that you’d like to try your hand at? During my time in Arizona while I was in college, I was introduced to riding dirt bikes in the desert. I really enjoyed this a lot and it become a routine every time I was in Mexico. I have really been wanting to get into dirt riding. There isn’t much sand here in Pennsylvania, so dirt is the next best thing. I’ve thought about getting a DRZ400 or a KLR650. Even a 250 cc dual sport would be fine. I just cannot make up my mind. This is why I really just need a garage full of bikes. I also have an eye on a KTM RC390. Getting into track days would be fun as well. As you can see, I would love to do everything.

Where Harleys seldom go.

Where Harleys seldom go.

If you have or had a significant other, how do they feel about your riding?
My fiance has no real interest in riding. However, he seems to enjoy the idea of driving a chase vehicle. He supports my passion as much as I support his passion to fly planes. We have expensive hobbies but we all need something to do in this world to stay sane.

Do you ride with a club? 
I will ride with anyone who wants to ride. I do ride with various HOG chapters or other riding clubs. I will never say no to an invite. I have ridden with thousands in parades, to small clubs of just 2-4 people, and of course by myself.

Do you do maintenance and repairs on your bike?
I just started doing more work to my bike than I’ve done in past years. Once I took full ownership of the bike and was no longer paying the bank for it, I took on basic maintenance. I have always worked on my cars or trucks, so I already had a lot of tools. Fixing motorcycles just requires more patience. Basic fluid changes, exhaust, brake work seem to be easy so far. Changing a tire on a Harley is another thing! I just took a “change your tire” course at a Horizons Unlimited event in Virginia and I feel a bit more confident to tackle that. Especially since now I know which tools will work the best and how those tools actually work. YouTube and the maintenance manual have been the biggest help, as are another set of hands.

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Doing an oil change

Do you have any motorcycling heroes?
I have to say I have many heroes. All women that ride are my heroes. Growing up in a culture that does not support the independence of women was really hard. Even while being in the one country in the world where independence was born. I think all women who ride are heroes to me, themselves, and to other women.

If you could change one thing about the world of motorcycling, what would it be?
Judgement. At the same time you can argue that we need to change how people judge one another across many platforms. In the world of motorcycling I see or take notice of people judging one another often. Men saying to me – “What do you know about bikes, honey?” Or other men telling new riders to keep up. These aren’t the best examples but I think you get my point. Let us shoot for a judgement free ride zone. Ride your own ride!

Do you have any advice for people who want to get into motorcycling?
For anyone thinking about getting into motorcycling, I suggest you take a rider safety course. The information you gain from them is so valuable. I wish someone had pointed me in that direction when I started riding. After nine years of being on the road, I finally took a riders course. Even after nine years I walked away learning how to control my bike a lot better and how to properly use my brakes.

RIDING MOTORCYCLES IN PENNSYLVANIA

If I were to visit you and we went riding for one short morning ride, where would you take me? :)
The best road would be Creek Road. You ride along the Brandywine river and through the Brandywine battlefield. Along the way you see cannons and covered bridges, and plenty of twisties. [Link to Route]

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The Brandywine ride

What’s the best part about riding in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania has some great riding.  As you go further west and north, you begin riding in the Appalachian mountains. There are lots of trees, farms and beautiful rolling hills as you get to the southeastern part of the state.

What kind of food can riders expect to stop for on the way that is typical to your region?
Diners, diners and more diners! Pennsylvania has them all over the place. These are always the best places to stop for local fare. If you happen to stop for breakfast, be sure to order scrapple. If you stop somewhere for lunch, get a cheese steak. For dinner, order breakfast again! Other popular foods are more snack foods than anything. Foods like Philly pretzel, Herr’s Potato Chips or the famous Tastykakes.

If a motorcyclist from another state visited your state, what are the top rides you would recommend? 
You have to go across the northern part of the state on HWY 6. You are basically riding through the mountains, and while you are up there you should make plans to visit the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. This is truly one of my favorite roads in the whole state.  [Link to Route]

What are the best months for riding?
The best months to ride are basically April through December. I try to ride year round, weather permitting. Most folks around here are fair weather riders who ride May-September.

Is it safe to ride at night where you live?
Riding at night is not a good idea. in the city you deal with drunk drivers and in the country your biggest threat is deer. It is best to just get where you are needing to go and stop riding for the day.

Is motorcycle theft a problem?
In the city of Philadelphia it is a problem. In the suburbs, no one bothers you.

Are there any motorcycle specific laws? Are motorcyclists discriminated against in any way?
In Pennsylvania you are not required to wear a helmet on a motorcycle, but it is mandatory on a bicycle. I’m not sure who came up with those rules. I do not find myself being discriminated against in Pennsylvania as a motorcyclist.

Are there any motorcycling related political issues that affect your ability to riding?
None that I am aware of.

How do the police treat motorcyclists? How about car drivers?
The police are on motorcycles as well, so they do not treat us any differently. Car drivers on the other hand can get aggressive when you try to maneuver around them. It is like they want to hurt you.

Do you have access to high quality women’s motorcycling gear in your part of the world?
Yes I do, thanks to the importers who bring them in to the USA.

What kinds of motorcycling events are held regularly?
Every first Sunday starting in April until October, there is a motorcycle gathering at a VFW in Ephrata, PA. Every first Friday of the month in Philadelphia we gather at a few local bike shops and hang out at an outdoor art bazaar. Not to mention Two Wheel Tuesdays! That is always a great time as well.

Are any motorcycle related sports popular where you live and do women actively participate in them?
Absolutely! There are many women involved in all sorts of motorcycle racing. From AMA to amateur leagues to motocross. Women are riding in most motorcycle related sports.

How are women motorcycle riders treated by most people and by male motorcyclists?
Women for the most part have more equality in this country than most. There will always be prejudice or the guy who thinks that women do not belong in a men’s sport (like my father). In the end, you have to say you do not care and just follow your passion.

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Rania with her niece. Starting them young!

RANIA RECOMMENDS

Books:  Going Small 2.0, American Borders, Women, Motorcycles and the Road to Empowerment
Movies: “On any Sunday”
Magazine:  I read them all, Cycle World, HOG, RoadRunner  just to name a few
Professional Motorcyclist: Powerlily on LinkedIn
Female Motorcyclist: Women Motorcycle Enthusiast


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