Kristin Munro

Kristin is co-founder of The Backroad Ball, a women’s only motorcycle adventure weekend and campout held in Penobsquis, New Brunswick— which is exactly where she was when it was time for her photoshoot! Luckily she was able to take some time away from the event to ride to the Bay of Fundy, which is a destination I would recommend to anyone (motorcycle or not)!! The conditions were pretty typical for what you would think of the East coast, consisting of a wet misty fog and everything was damp. During the ride and photos Kristin, was accompanied by four of her closest friends; all of which she got into riding. She led her tribe as she encouraged, coached and mentored along the way— making sure everyone was on the same page and comfortable. We all rolled into the Village of Alma which is where you go to witness the highest tides in the world and while everyone else went to feast on lobster rolls, Kristin and I hung out on the wharf. We chatted about her attempt to attend The Dream Roll in Washington State, how she met my good friend Ria from BC and what inspired her to start up The Backroad Ball. Though Kristin is only in her third season of riding, her passion for riding and the motorcycle community ignited very strongly and quickly— which is very evident when you look at the success of The Backroad Ball from it’s inaugural event in 2016. Thank you for allowing the Women of Moto project to be a part of your event and I can’t wait to show you around Arizona sometime ;)  

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What inspired you to start riding?


I've always been drawn to motorcycles. The sounds, smell and whole image of freedom surrounding them. I had a boyfriend who rode street bikes when I was younger and although being on the back was better than not getting to go for a ride at all... It was never enough for me. I had planned to get my own but between break-ups, car maintenance and moving around it didn’t make it to the top of my priority list until a few years ago. When I hesitantly moved back home to Eastern Canada after some time out west (and adventuring with my current partner and his friends who had cruisers) I decided it was time for a new adventure in my hometown. A friend at work is an instructor for the Safety Services NB motorcycle course encouraged me to stop talking about it and just sign up so I ended up signing up for the course during one of our conversations and haven't looked back since.

What kind of motorcycle do you ride and why?


I ride a 2006 Harley Davidson Sportster XL1200R, comically enough, I always said I'd never own a Harley, but after borrowing my partners I quickly changed my mind. I love having the power to escape tricky situations on the highway and having a bit more weight to help with resistance to the wind. I also ride a 1992 Kawasaki KE100, which I'm learning to play in the dirt on so that someday I can get a street and trail bike and do some on/off-road trips as well.



What is your dream bike?


I love the bike that I have now. I've always been drawn to Dyna's and some street and trails but I'd say with a bit more customization my Sportster will be my dream girl for the foreseeable future. I wouldn’t mind having one of each though – one cruiser and one street and trail.



Who is your favorite person(s) to ride with?


I love riding alone or with my partner on long trips because we’re both kind of kooky in the way that we like to ride way too many kilometres in a day and constantly push our limits… Once we start, we have a hard time stopping! I absolutely love riding with my Litas as well, whether it be with one or two or a large group of us – there’s really no feeling comparable to riding with a group of women. I also really enjoy taking new riders out and leading them on their first rides to help show them the ropes and that group riding isn’t something to be scared of when you have the right lead.

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Were you intimidated by the male dominance in the riding community?


I’d say I was intimidated by the male dominance in the riding community to some extent, but also exhilarated by it because it just meant that there was so much room to grow. Luckily, I’ve been surrounded by encouraging male influences and have been somewhat of a tomboy over the years so this definitely made it a bit easier. I'd say that my area of Canada is even more heavily male dominated in the motorcycle industry than in the west as well, so I'm really grateful to be able to help change that and help make new female riders feel more and more comfortable with their decision to start riding.



How has riding helped you in your personal and professional life?


Riding gives me more and more confidence the longer I do it… I’m constantly getting more comfortable on two wheels. It helps me feel the freedom of the open road even close to home and it’s allowed me to make so many amazing connections and friendships over the past few years. Going on solo trips, in my opinion, has been the biggest confidence booster out there (even if nothing goes as planned) and this has helped me in all aspects of my life.

Did you have female friends that rode who helped you get started?


I knew one female friend loosely that rode when I started and one of my friends moms, but that's about it. As soon as I started riding, I started to meet and develop more friendships within the female motorcyclist community. I kind of think that I'm that friend now, who helps others get started - and I really like that - though it can be pretty heavy at times worrying about all my ladies riding around and so many inattentive drivers on the roads.



Do you have any women in the moto industry that you are inspired by? Why?


There are a ton of women in the motorcycle industry that inspire me, basically everyone I’ve come across on social media who’s just going out and doing it, taking chances and/or planning their own events. One specific would be Leticia Cline, for many reasons, but especially because when she’s on a long journey and she gets exhausted or shit gets hard she doesn’t try to make it look like rainbows and butterflies… It’s more like, “Hey! This is what I’m doing – it’s hard, I’m exhausted and slightly defeated, but I won’t stop because it’s still awesome!” I really like that attitude - it resonates with me a lot in terms of the kind of adventuring I like to do – the rawness and realness of the moment.

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How did the Backroad Ball come to fruition? What inspired you to create this event with Heather?


The Backroad Ball just came from one of those moments with a friend where you say that you should do something and then you just do it without looking back. Heather and I were at a winter meet-up at Spa Chance Harbour with The Litas New Brunswick and we both realized how bad we wished there were an all women’s event closer to home. She had travelled to Babes Ride Out in California and I had travelled to The Dream Roll in Washington (though I didn’t make it the whole way due to motorcycle malfunctions and sheer exhaustion) so the inspiration was definitely seeded from those journeys. We started scheming names and once we landed on the Backroad Ball it was all systems go. 

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Have you been to any other women’s only moto meetups? Which ones? How was your experience?


I actually haven’t made it to any other women’s only meet-ups yet! This year I was supposed to head to BRO East Coast and/or The Fox Run but some familial health troubles kept me close to home. As previously mentioned, I was on my way to the first ever Dream Roll a few years ago, but unfortunately, the bike I was on had other plans – after 20 hours of riding and repairing I had to call it quits about 1-2 hours from the event grounds on the Saturday night and slept on the side of the road alone in Yakima under a tarp, BUT – I got to meet so many amazing people along the way and got to ride back to BC with some rad Dream Roll attendees.

Have you experienced any competitiveness or negativity in the women’s moto community?


There’s going to be competitiveness and negativity in any community, especially one that has a large basis in social media, however, anything I’ve experienced in the women’s motorcycle community has been SO minimal. When you plan an event or do something that’s so different than what people are used to in a smaller area like Eastern Canada, there will always be one or two people that have something negative to say about it or don’t think you’re doing it right. The few times it has happened I mostly just feel bad for them because I’ve felt the magic that they’re missing out on!

How do you feel you have broken stereotypes as a female rider?


I feel like there’s a lot of stereotypes individuals have tried to place on me then later stand corrected on. Being able to be a “badass biker” (which is also a stereotype) but keep my softer, feminine side intact is certainly a bit of a confusing thing for some people. It seems like some humans like to put a person into one category and when you start to spill out of the box they’ve put you in they kind of panic and I love seeing that – mostly because it makes people question the limitations they’ve put on themselves. I remember in Wenatchee when I rolled into a campground with my bike loaded down I had a group of guys come over to me and they were absolutely dumbfounded when they caught a real glimpse of me – they had thought I was an “old dirty biker dude with long hair” until I took my helmet off and they couldn’t believe what they saw. I tend to get that reaction a lot when I’m on the road alone loaded down for a camping adventure and I really like making people question what they see and in turn, question what else they themselves can do.



Where do you see the women’s moto movement/culture in Canada heading over the next few years?


In the past two seasons alone I’ve had over a half dozen of my close female friends take the plunge into becoming motorcyclists and I’m so stoked to be able to say that the women’s motorcycle movement and culture in Canada is only going to get better. These women are all amazing people doing it for all the right reasons, gaining confidence constantly, and helping to ignite new life and passion into the existing community… When great humans come together great things happen!



Why do you think women’s moto events/groups/projects are becoming so popular?


I think that women’s motorcycle events, groups and projects have given women a huge outlet to connect and empower one another – this is really important because women can be just as intimidating or even moreso than men sometimes. We’re often pitted against one another because of our differences or our similarities in daily life so finding a common passion that’s a bit more unique for women helps us connect with more ease, regardless of everything else in our lives. Once I got one taste of what it felt like to go for a ride with all women with the Litas in New Brunswick – I couldn’t shake it! There’s so much encouragement and positivity and we’re all looking for more ways to share this feeling with more women and I think that’s absolutely fantastic. 

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What is your dream moto trip?


Ooooooh, that’s a loaded question! I have so many dream motorcycle trips for different reasons. I’d love to do all of America, with a strong focus in areas like Utah, Arizona and their surrounding states. I’d also like to do a trip from Alaska to Patagonia inspired by a friend’s journey (http://www.slowburningdreams.com/) as well as something like UK to India. I’d also love to ride with The Curves in Berlin as I have a friend over there now and who just did a trip with them and the landscape/roads looked unreal! Basically, if it’s (relatively) safe – I wanna go!



Describe how you feel empowered when you ride?


Riding makes me feel free, strong… And calm. As a person who sufferers from anxiety and who has a tendency to overthink a lot of things in life – motorcycling has provided an outlet to dive into an almost meditative state immediately. Sometimes when I’m riding solo and have had a particularly hard time recently the release it provides for me can make my eyes well up in the best way. It’s really empowering to be able to let go of feelings that, at their worst, can hinder my abilities in day-to-day life.

How do you feel the image of female riders has changed over the past few years?


Honestly, before I started riding I never really considered the image of female riders. I wasn’t exposed to female riders often where I grew up and never noted a particular image when I was. Of course, I thought that they were intriguing individuals who were outside of the norm and I really admired that but in terms of an image, I think in my area they seemed too scarce that there wasn’t much of one in particular. Now, an image is definitely building, but the best part about it is that the image is largely based around empowerment and recognizing the group riding aspect (to us, anyway). Individually, we all get to keep our own aesthetic but as a unit we, in my opinion, come across as a strong female energy with a side of non-conformity mixed in. We get the image of being total badasses which is a bit of a stretch for some of us because we’re just out there doing what we love, but I think that will evolve as time goes on and female riders get more and more commonplace.



What is your favorite place to ride?


Anywhere new, especially along a coastline. I love the rides around my hometown as well: lots of ferries and ocean views. I’m quite fond of the route from Penobsquis to Fundy that we do during the Backroad Ball as well as the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia that I did solo last September.

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Do you think current motorcycle trends cater to you?


I wouldn’t say that the current motorcycle trends cater to myself in particular, however, I can definitely appreciate the ones that do. I’m a pretty novelty human being so seeing sparkly helmets and lots of tassels definitely excites me – but I’m not even sure if those would be considered on trend because I always just kind of go for what I feel like regardless of what’s “in” at the moment.

What would you like to see in the moto community for gear, bikes, etc.?


I think in terms of bikes and gear there’s always room for improvement. Even when it comes to my own motorcycle – I think ergonomically some things could have been better off the get-go. For instance, the air breather on the right side of the Sportster gets in the way of your knees for someone my size and it reduces stability in tight and slow riding situations due to not being able to straddle tightly and equally… Something that’s quite important when you’re a small person on a heavier style bike! Gear-wise, you can usually find someone who does something similar to what you want – but I do find it hard to find jackets that have a comfortable long-length like most ladies like nowadays as well as arms that come down to properly meet gloves (I could also just be really lanky though). I definitely think there’s room for improvement in terms of jackets, riding pants, gloves and boots for women but I’d have to go a bit too far into it to tell you all the things I’d like to see, test and share!