Shekelia Bussey first started riding motorcycles in 2007. The guy she was dating was an avid motorcyclist and she quickly realized she wasn’t comfortable as a passenger or a “backpack,” as she puts it.
“So, I asked him to buy me a motorcycle,” she said. “He said no at first, saying that it was too dangerous. I was like ‘If you’re doing it, I’m pretty sure I can too.’”
That attitude could have been dangerous, she said, had he not encouraged her to take a safety course.
“I figured that he could just teach me to ride, but he was adamant, thank God, that I take a class,” she said.
Now it’s Shekelia encouraging others to take safety courses, including the ones she teaches and is planning to teach.
“A lot of the times, in the bike world, people are trained by their friends,” she said. “That is a horrible way to learn safety, especially if you are a brand-new rider because someone is then just teaching you their bad habits.”
That’s why Shekelia has devoted her career to teaching safe riding. She quit her job in accounting in 2018 to focus on her work as a motorcycle instructor for the United States Navy. And, at the beginning of March, she held the grand opening for her own riding academy, called Moto Mob.
“I just love being a rider and felt like ‘hey, I can do this,” she said. “I had this grandiose idea that I could have my own academy and set out to do it.”
Shekelia has already seen an outpouring of support. Her grand opening drew more than 600 riders from across the country. She’s grown quite a following from posting about her two solo, cross-country rides.
“There’s no better fraternity than motorcycles,” she said. “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, if you ride a motorcycle, it’s almost like you’re a brother or a sister.”
That aspect of riding makes it all the more difficult to hear news of another bad motorcycle accident resulting in an injury or a fatality. Over the years, Shekelia has known several people who’ve suffered severe injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, and even a couple who have died in crashes.
“I decided that safety was going to be my no. 1 priority and I was going to teach people the right way,” she said.
She now dreams of growing the academy and expanding it to other states.
“Everything I do revolves around motorcycles,” she said. “It’s my whole life. It’s freedom and it’s therapy for me.”
As Shekelia approaches her 50th birthday, she’s grateful for all that motorcycles have given her. She said she knows how lucky she is to have a job she is passionate about and one that brings her joy every day.
“I live to see that smile on someone’s face when their like ‘Oh my God, I’m on a freaking motorcycle,’” she said. “I totally know how that feels and it’s awesome.”
Even as she grows her business, Shekelia is thinking about taking on another cross-country rider. In fall of 2019, she traveled more than 9,900 miles in 35 days and in May 2020, she rode from Seattle, Washington back home to Virginia for a total of 8,000 miles over 37 days.
She’s ridden in all of the lower 48 states and now wants to head to Alaska.
“That might be my next big adventure,” she said.
This story was told by Mara Klecker