Gaila Gutierrez

Today we have Gaila Gutierrez from my very own Washington state. Gaila first started out on a cruiser and eventually got into adventure riding. In fact she got into it so much that she did a little 40,000 km road trip all the way across Central America on her BMW F650 GS last year. Check out her story and get to know more about her thoughts about riding, her heroes and her riding dreams. [Rashmi Tambe, Editor, Global Women Who Ride]


Name: Gaila Gutierrez
Age: 50
Country: USA (Washington)
Years Riding: 5
Height: 5’5″
Inseam: 29″
Past motorcycle(s): 2001 BMW F650GS (single)
Miles per Year: 10,000


Please introduce yourself. I currently reside in Issaquah, Washington, with my life partner in a home I built 12 years ago. I work as an Event Planner for the Downtown Issaquah Association and absolutely love it. I essentially get paid to plan parties, and who doesn’t love a party?

I have found over the years that material things aren’t important but experiences are priceless. I would take an interesting experience any day! I love life and being engaged in everything and everybody that brings me joy. I’m passionate about the environment and helping people — I volunteer my time whenever I can.

I always dreamed of living life in a different way and finally decided to quit dreaming and make it reality. I achieved that goal in 2012-2013, which was to travel for a year or more – with no particular agenda, just wander and experience total freedom. It was the most amazing year of my life. My goal is to do it as much as I can and as long as I can take breath.One of my current goals is to figure out how I can earn an income while I travel and feed my wanderlust. It’s high on priority list as I have itchy feet.

What bike did you first start on and why? I took my endorsement test on a motorcycle provided by the company which was a Honda Shadow 250. Then I bought a Yamaha Vstar 650 Classic. I was scared to ride anything larger than the 250 I learned on, but knew I would quickly outgrow it — so I went with the 650 and after test riding 7-8 I chose the Yamaha V-Star — it was in my budget, looked beautiful and seemed to fit me just right :)

Women Who Ride: Early days on a Yamaha V-Star

Early days on a Yamaha V-Star

What were your early days in motorcycling like? I took a class with Evergreen Motorcycle Safety. I didn’t do any preparation at all – I just showed up and used one of their motos.  After I received my endorsement I was very scared to ride outside of the parking lot as that’s all the practice I had. My partner Tad got us Scala headsets (so we could talk to each other through the helmet) and then rode behind me coaching me which was very reassuring!

You soon left those days behind and crossed Central America on a dual sport. Yes, I rode over 40K miles on an epic 14 month journey across North and Central America!

Women Who Ride: Sun, sand and surf - it doesn't get better than this! In Baja, Mexico Image shows a woman standing on a heavily loaded adventure motorcycle.

Sun, sand and surf – it doesn’t get better than this! In Baja, Mexico

Can you tell us a good story from your trip? Not that it’s a great memory but it always comes up — I broke my ankle 4 months into my 14 month journey, when I crashed in deep sand on dirt trail – but continued to ride! It was quite the effort to get me out of the woods and to an emergency room. The Doctor didn’t put a cast on me, but said that my sturdy boot was best thing I could wear to keep it stable. I cried a million tears thinking my trip was going to be interrupted.

Thankfully, they advised I could ride on if I wanted to, but it would be to whatever my pain tolerance was. It was crazy painful! I stayed in a hotel for a couple days but then got very anxious to see if I could ride… so I hobbled out of hotel with a cane. People were looking at me very strange that I was getting on a motorcycle considering I couldn’t hardly walk. My boyfriend had to help me put kickstand up and down for about 3 weeks, as I couldn’t put any weight on it on my ankle without serious pain and agony.

Have you formed any close female friendships due to motorcycling?  Oh my gosh yes! Most of my best friends are moto riders. I have met so many amazing and fantastic women riders. Some of them were just getting their licenses around the same time so we’ve grown together in that respect. I think I have more moto girl friends than non- riding friends at this point.

Women Who Ride: Gaila with her riding buddies

Gaila with her riding buddies

Do you have any motorcycling heroes? I have a few. My boyfriend Tad Haas will always be a hero in my book because he taught me so much. Tiffany Coates, who has traveled the world solo for almost 20 years – she took off for her initial trip not really knowing what she was doing or how to ride that well. Now she is a global figure and ‘godmother’ of moto riding as far as I’m concerned.

Women Who Ride: Gaila Gutierrez with motorcycling legend Tiffany Coates

Gaila Gutierrez with motorcycling legend Tiffany Coates

And Mary McGee – a pioneering women rider who says “okay’ to just about anything!

Women Who Ride: Mary McGee racing (Image courtesy of American Motorcyclist)

Mary McGee racing (Image courtesy of American Motorcyclist)

Are there any motorcycling related issues that you feel strongly about? I would like to see lane-splitting allowed in more states. After getting used to in other countries, I got pretty good at it; and if there is a way to get through traffic why not? I also noticed countries recognized motos and lane splitting. They seem to watch out for motorcyclists more than in the US. I also think helmets should be required everywhere — its painful to see people not wearing them.

What do you think would attract more girls and women into motorcycling? I’ve heard statistics that since 2003, women motorcyclists has increased by 67%. That’s amazing and tells me that there is plenty of traction in that demographic. When women see other women riding, its sparks the fire and inspires them to get out and try it.

Is there a motorcycling event in Seattle that you try and attend regularly? Yes, I love to go to the Overland Expo each year in May. It’s not only motorcycling but focuses on exploring the world overlanding (traveling) via various modes of transportation. I also go to Backfire Moto in summer, and a variety of local rallies. I am also a BMW GS Giant and they have regional rallies I like to go to when I’m able. Super fun and a great way to meet new people and reconnect with old friends.

Women Who Ride: Gaila has fun in the mud on the Washington Backcountry Discovery Route!

Gaila Gutierrez has fun in the mud on the Washington Backcountry Discovery Route!

What would your dream garage contain? I would love to have a new BMW F700 GS, a moto with sidecar, a Ducati, a Triumph Thruxton, a Victory Kingpin and a few vintage motos.

If you could re-design the world to make it more motorcycle-friendly, what would it look like? Vehicles would have some sort of detector or alarm when a motorcycle is within so many feet of them. Lane splitting would be legal in all states and there would be roads designed specifically with the motorcyclists in mind,  twisties with no cars to slow us down! favicon