“Let’s make women and motorcycling as commonplace as men in the kitchen.”
-Genevieve Schmitt during her AMA Bessie Stringfield Award acceptance speech
If you’ve ever spotted a female reporter on the back of a motorcycle or read an article about motorcycles from the female perspective in the last 30 years, chances are you have been acquainted with the works of Genevieve Schmitt. Genevieve is a career journalist, editor, and a two-time female motorcycle hall of famer, a title held by just eight women in motorcycling history. She is considered an expert on all things women and motorcycles and the leading female voice in the industry.
Surprisingly, Genevieve never liked motorcycles growing up in Woodstock, New York. In fact, she said she would cover her ears whenever a motorcycle went by. In college down in Florida, she had rebelliously hopped on a few motorcycles, but they were never really on her radar. Instead, she had her sights set on the glamour and fame of Hollywood, where she spent 10 years as a producer for such networks as, ABC, E! Entertainment, and the TV show EXTRA
However, that all changed one fateful day when ABC’s “Good Morning America” sent her on an assignment to do a piece on women and motorcycles. Knowing little about it, she went to a dealership to interview fifteen women riders. According to Schmitt, the women “exuded an independence and confidence” that she’d never seen before. There was even a “Hollywood movie moment” in which one of the ladies removed her helmet, revealing a long, golden fountain of hair cascading down her back. From that point on, Schmitt said she was hooked on the motorcycle lifestyle.
Fortunately for her, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, wanting access to a prominent journalist who could promote riding for women, paid for her to attend a motorcycle riding class. After that, she bought her first bike, a 1982 Honda Shadow 500, and became a freelance reporter for Speedvision (now Fox Sports) for the show “Bike Week.” From 1997 to 2003, she brought everything motorcycle-related to a mainstream audience and became the first female journalist to report live from the saddle of a motorcycle (and an ATV on The Outdoor Life cable network). She covered motorcycle rallies, events, and trade shows all over the world and interviewed celebrity riders including Larry Hagman of Dallas fame, Lorenzo Lamas from Renegade, Lyle Lovett, and Cher.
As entertainment news shifted towards more salacious stories and invasions of privacy, Schmitt made the difficult decision to drop her six-figure salary as an entertainment producer and turned her side gig of writing about women and motorcycles into a full-time career. She was asked to turn around Asphalt Angels, a struggling women’s motorcycle magazine, which at first she “didn’t want to touch with a ten-foot pole.”
Said Schmitt, “I didn’t think of myself as a female rider. I’m a rider who just happens to be a woman.” Thus, she didn’t want to promote a magazine that was just about women and “sisterhood” since she didn’t think women needed to be set apart. Instead, she felt that there was a camaraderie in motorcycling that she didn’t see in other sports which created an inherent bond among all people who ride. So, she aspired to write content that appealed to everyone.
Eventually, she did agree to take over the publication, and in 2001, she transformed it into Woman Rider magazine. Although it was written from a female perspective, what made it so unique was that it did not exclude men, but appealed to the interests of all riders. Then in 2006, at the advent of the internet, Schmitt wasted no time in going digital, launching WomenRidersNow.com, which grew to become the largest, most successful magazine for female riders. If you were an advertiser for anything motorcycle-related that appealed to women, you likely spoke with Schmitt.
As a result, Genevieve was inducted into the Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Las Vegas Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2017, joining an elite group of only eight women in history to become two-time hall of famers. Later, in February of 2019, Genevieve was selected to receive the 2019 AMA Bessie Stringfield award, an award named after the first African-American woman to ride solo across the country and a motorcycle rider for the World War II effort. In May 2019, Genevieve was named one of the “Top 100 Leaders in Powersports” by Dealernews, a leading powersports industry trade magazine. All of these honors recognize those who successfully bring the motorcycling lifestyle to new and underserved markets.
More recently, after 32 years of working in the fast lane, Genevieve has decided to put on the brakes, enjoying a more balanced life with her husband in Montana, a place that has been calling to her since she first rode her motorcycle there in 1997. Now she can enjoy riding her 2008 Harley Street Glide “surrounded by the mountains that speak to her heart” for the rest of her days.
When asked about her future goals, she said that she would like to write and edit others’ work in faith-based publications. Also, in her back pocket, she’d like to write articles to promote her home state of Montana, which she considers the most beautiful place in the world.
For now, she is focused on mentoring others and giving back to her community.
“I want to encourage people, no matter where they are in life, to stay true to their divine calling and not be moved away from that by other people or influences. A lot of folks get sidetracked. I encourage them to pray and ask God what his purpose is for their life. When you find out what it is, you will know in your heart that it is right. There is no greater feeling than doing what God has created you for while you’re here on earth.”
If you would like to support Genevieve, you can follow her on Facebook and Instagram @genevieve_schmitt. She also still contributes articles to WomenRidersNow.com so be sure to subscribe to their newsletter.
This story was told by Rebecca Karli, edupreunuer and motorcycle enthusiast.