Joy of Motorcycling®, the Early Years
The Crash of 2000 . . .
Back at the turn of the millennium, life was looking pretty good for Joy from the front seat of her GL1200 Honda Goldwing Aspencade. “Yes, life was good in 2000. Everything was going great! We had just started the drill team in Southern California, and I was riding over 25,000 miles a year on my Wing with my chapter,” Joy remembers. Then, one bright sunny Saturday morning, life took a very sudden and very painful turn for Joy.
On the morning of Saturday, April 1, 2000 (no Fools!), Joy was on her way to a chapter skills practice, when she was t-boned in an intersection, “It was an uncontrolled intersection. I saw the driver coming at me, preparing to make a left turn. As I closed in on the intersection, I saw that the driver was not slowing down to give me the right-of-way. He was going to blow right through the intersection. Already past the point of no return, I figured that the driver would not see me until it was too late. I calculated that by the time he would see me and slam on his brakes, he would stop directly in my path, effectively leaving me to hit the van on the passenger side.”
Hitting the side of a van was not what Joy had planned for this beautiful Saturday morning, so, “Instead, and without hesitation, I very quickly glanced at the right lane to make sure there were no vehicles. Then, I down shifted, accelerated, and swerved as sharp as I could to the far-right side of the intersection. I calculated that I would be able to swerve around him and avoid a crash. Unfortunately, I made a mistake.”
Joy’s mistake that day was to assume that the left-turn driver would see her at the last second and slam on his breaks, effectively blocking her path and causing her to hit the van. Her course of action was meant to avoid that impending scenario. However, what happened next was something Joy had never considered before, “Apparently, the driver did see me. But, instead of slamming on his brakes, the driver chose to accelerate in an attempt to out run me through the intersection.” With both vehicles accelerating, the result was a high-speed impact at the far-right side of the intersection, “The driver t-boned me square on the left side of my Wing, knocking my motorcycle out from under me. I hit the hood and fell to the ground, at which point the driver then ran me over.”
Joy sustained several life-threatening injuries that fateful day, including a collapsed lung, “The driver never even stopped. But, he did leave his calling card,” Joy jokes. “He ran me over leaving his tire print burned across my torso. He broke my collar bone and a number of ribs, and also collapsed my left lung. I had quite a few injuries that took two years to heal and left me with chronic migraines. I wasn’t even able to ride for almost a year.” Joy credits, her gear, her motorcycle, and of course, the awesome Emergency Medical Services who arrived at the scene, for helping save her life.
As would be expected, that crash in 2000 had a major impact on Joy’s outlook about motorcycle safety, but not about riding. “It’s funny how people react to a motorcycle crash. My friends who don’t ride were absolutely shocked that I wasn’t planning to give up riding. Why would I? Do people stop driving cars whenever they have a car crash? Of course not. So, why should someone be expected give up riding a motorcycle just because they had a crash?”
Joy’s riding friends, on the other hand, weren’t surprised at all when she bought a new GL1500 Goldwing a full six months before she could even ride it. As Joy puts it, “I love riding, but unfortunately sometimes crashes do happen. This is why I always wear my gear, I constantly practice my skills, and I always do whatever I can to minimize the risk while riding. Operating this way for over 30 years has prevented many other near crashes, and allowed me to have a lot more fun motorcycling!” According to Joy, “Riding is my life. I have no intention of ever giving it up!”
Starting Joy of Motorcycling® . . .
Although Joy had no intentions of stopping riding, she did feel the need to get more training. She also felt compelled to help other riders avoid what she went through. So, not yet healed, or even able to ride her brand new GL1500 Goldwing, Joy started researching everything she could about motorcycle safety and training in the United States. Joy even conducted her own statistical analysis of motorcycle crash databases she found online. After learning the reality of motorcycle injuries and fatalities, especially in California, Joy decided she was going to create a classroom-based training company focused on managing motorcycling hazards. That’s when Joy started Joy of Motorcycling®.
Joy knew she didn’t want to simply teach what everyone else was teaching on the range. She did become a riding instructor for other schools, including the military, but wanted to cover topics people wouldn’t necessarily be exposed to during range training. “I wanted Joy of Motorcycling® to complement, not compete with, riding schools. Range-based schools are extremely important for practical riding skills, but in my time on two wheels, I’ve learned a lot of things not typically taught in range-based classes. I spent a lot of time researching motorcycle issues and analyzing statistics to determine the best topics to teach.”
Joy now had a mission to go along with her passion for riding, “My body was still broken, but my mind wanted to go, go, go. So, I got on the computer and went, went, went. I wanted to create something that would help riders learn how to manage motorcycling hazards and reduce the risk of riding, while at the same time, learn to have more fun motorcycling.”
Joy successfully developed and taught a number of seminars and courses covering topics, such as: lane-sharing, motorcycle traffic laws, defense strategies, situational awareness, crash management, and hazard management.
Joy also spent lot of time speaking and training at motorcycle events throughout the Western US. One of Joy’s most requested presentations was her motorcycle pick-up demonstration, during which she taught many women how to pick up her 1,000 lbs Goldwing. “One of the biggest rewards for me is seeing women, not more than 5’, come up and successfully pick up one of the largest motorcycles made. The confidence these women gained was amazing! I have had a lot of positive feedback from women over the years, telling me how learning to pick up their motorcycle helped them become a more confident and independent rider. Many women are afraid to ride alone, and one reason for that is because they don’t know what they will do if they happen to slip and drop their motorcycle. Learning how to pick up a motorcycle opens all kinds of riding opportunities for women.”
Joy of Motorcycling® kept Joy very busy during those early years, but Joy still wanted to do more . . .
Your Ticket to Safe Riding™ . . .
During her continued research on motorcycle safety, Joy discovered that there was an opportunity to help reach more riders by starting a traffic violator school in California. So, with a new business plan in hand, Joy expanded Joy of Motorcycling® to become the first licensed traffic violator school in the United States dedicated to motorcycle riders. (As far as Joy knows, there has never been another school like it in the country.)
“’Your ticket to safe riding,’ became the school’s slogan, thanks to my late sister, June. My sister was always my biggest fan. She came up with the slogan one night at dinner while I was telling her my idea. It worked perfectly! June always had great ideas like that.”
According to Joy, starting a traffic school isn’t the easiest thing to do, “There were lots of hoops to go through, since it was a state-licensed business. I have started a number of businesses and non-profit organizations over the years, but I have to say this one was the most challenging. There was a lot of paperwork, a lot of expensive requirements, and I had to get creative with some of the course curriculum requirements. It was actually a lot of fun developing the 8-hour course. It’s something I am very proud of.”
Joy’s motorcycle traffic violator school ran successfully until 2007, when the economy, unfortunately, forced Joy to shut it down.
“Joy of Motorcycling” Trademarked . . .
Although Joy had to close the traffic violator school, she continued her mission with Joy of Motorcycling®. Joy continued providing her signature training and speaking activities, including her well-known motorcycle pick-up demonstration, at hundreds of events, to thousands of riders.
Joy even acquired the trademark rights to “Joy of Motorcycling” in 2009. “I wanted to take Joy of Motorcycling® to another level. I wanted to start writing books and expand what I was providing. I love attending events, speaking, and training. Being a motorcycle mentor is an awesome calling. I will gladly continue, whenever and wherever I can. I certainly have no plans to stop!”