Monica Adair

Monica Adair— an Architect from Saint John, New Brunswick who challenges mediocrity, where people believe things are good enough. As co-founder of Acre Architects, they have created a practice of storied architecture, where they inspire people to live great stories. In only her second season of riding, Monica tries to get out as much as she can on her Bull’s Eye, her dirt bike (HONDA CRF230). It has been a great starter bike for her. She took up dirt biking as advice from a friend to become a better street rider, and then she just fell in love with dirt biking and she now craves it. When we met Monica at The Backroad Ball we could tell she was exactly the type of woman we were looking for to profile. She had no issue riding her bike down the street to one of New Brunswick’s iconic covered bridges and rip around in the mud for some photos. When we asked her to use one word to describe how riding makes her feel, she said “alive”— and you can really see that in her eyes when she’s on her bike!  Enjoy her interview below :)

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What inspired you to start riding?

Someone once asked me about our business and how we measure success in our practice. I joked that in both life and business I measure things in heartbeats. It’s not far off.

When I was young my father had a ski poster that said: No guts – No Glory. It resonated and I think those are the heartbeats that bring me to want to start anything new and adventurous.

I had a Vespa when I lived in Taiwan, and I think I knew I would always ride a motorcycle, but life kept me busy and I never did come around to getting my licence. One day I was on a beach reading a book and came upon a chapter that asked “What am I putting-off in life?”, and I put the book down and signed up for the course that next weekend. 

Describe how you feel empowered when you ride?

Each ride I try to tackle one win. One thing to develop and get better at or overcome. Dirt biking has been non-stop learning, each hill, ditch, rock pile or bog brings its own challenges. It is also super sobering at times, and I do have a lot of internal dialogue about my limiting beliefs as I wrestle with the terrain. I often ask my husband about some challenging obstacle, do you think I’ll ever be able to tackle this? He says: you will, and then you will just want to tackle more. Riding leaves me on the edge of challenging and pushing yourself with lessons at every turn, it’s pretty damn rewarding, and humbling, and rewarding, regardless of the ride.

What is your dream bike?

Steve McQueen is my spirit animal, so I would love a Metisse Desert Racer.

But if you’re giving away bikes, sign me up for a Triumph Bonneville and a BMW R60. I’m excited to see where the next level of dirt biking takes me and I might need a dual sport to get me to Babes Ride Out East Coast and other exciting adventures. Looking for great suggestions.

What is your dream moto trip?

Jack Kerouac wrote: “The road must eventually lead to the whole world.” I feel it. It feels like the world opened up just a bit deeper since I started to ride. But I’m insatiable and I can’t wait to go on new adventures. Have heartbeat – will travel.

I fell in love with the desert last year. No one had told me how great the desert was, and then I was transported to another world somewhere between Utah and Nevada. It’s in the cards to be riding in the desert sooner than later with my husband Stephen.

Also, my friend Ray is also riding across Europe on a BMW Mottrad adventure. I plan to join her on the next one.

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

I didn’t have a group of riders I really hung out with before I started to ride. And i’ve never been great at leaning-in and asking for help with personal things, but I really wanted to ride. So when I reached out to local biker Chrissy Myers and asked her if she would be able to help me out, I lucked out.

Chrissy leant me my first helmet and let me practice on “Betty“ that back fired every time you stopped! She offered a zero-pressure-learn-at-your-own-pace introduction and her quiet confident demeanour was a great intro into the moto world.

The biggest difference I have found is that women seem to let me overthink things and ask a million questions, the guys kind of just go for it, and in turn pull me along. I really love both for different reasons and lucky to learn from them both. 

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

Not by the men – the bikes and trails were intimidating enough. I might be more intimidated by the women I think. In general, I’ve had closer guy friends than girls and this is new territory for me. I’ve been fortunate to have been surrounded by great men in my life that are super supportive. I ride with great male riders that I really value learning from. My husband bought me motocross lessons for mother’s day, so I’m looking forward to that. He’s getting his liscence this year so that we can get out exploring together.

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

Anya Violet, co-founder of Babes Ride Out, who seems to be fearless with the throttle on any terrain has certainly had a pull on me. I’m inspired by the way Megan Griffiths tackles rocks powerfully and effortlessly and the raw riding courage of the Ashley Fioleks of the world. These women are just a few of the people who fill my media feed and appetite to live large.

I’m am also aware that too much consuming drop dead cool Instagram feeds can hinder as much as it can inspire. Finding time to ride for myself and not psyching myself out with comparisons is a personal life lesson that I have to put on repeat. I appreciate the real connections and the adventures that give me seat time and bring me to life’s big challenges that exist in the margins.

I’m inspired by those who have ridden far and wide and to those who have made a life with kids and busy lives to make the moto adventure part of their life. 

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

All women events were never on my list in the past. Like most groundless beliefs I needed to tackle, spending more time with like minded women has uncovered a desire to meet even more women who ride and be part of a whole new community.

The Back Road Ball in Pennobsquis, New Brunswick was my first moto meet-up. I was the only one who brought a dirt bike out with almost 200 women, and that was an interesting experience to be on the fringe of the fringe. I did meet a dual sport rider and we’re making plans for Babes Ride Out in California for Babes in the Dirt next year. Want to come?

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

People more often than none are surprised when they find out I ride, so I don’t think I fit their idea of what a dirt biker is.

I suppose having picked up motorcycles at a time when many people are putting it aside, might also be breaking the idea of what you think of as your typical dirt biker, or a new mom for that matter. I started riding when my second baby was only one. Like all great things worth doing there is great conflict. Riding has been a big conflict internally for me to wrestle with. Taking on risks that potentially affects others, and risking too little and not being the adventurous person I feel I am.

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

They have unleashed a great space for the playful. I think these groups and organizations command great loyalty and influence because there is a clear understanding of what drives us at the heart to ride.

It seems the women’s events harness a place to balance vulnerability with pushing yourself to new places. You get to meet riding mentors who have ridden forever to people who share your challenges of being on the starting end of their riding lives. These are communities that help build confidence and support where you certainly don’t always have it on a motorcycle.

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

Hmm, great question. I am obsessed with riding, and its been a while since I’ve been obsessed with something that isn’t work. Nietzsche said: “Every talent is a vampire which sucks blood and strength from other powers.” Riding is consuming, let alone getting stuck in social media and motorcycle journals following the dreamscape world of motorcycle travels that cut into the last few precious sleeping hours I have in a day.

What it has helped with, is that by nature I’m not a great relaxer, and having never really found a consistent way to find focus, I was really surprised to discover that head space I was searching for in dirt biking off-road. Having to be entirely present and focused on riding – I get to be fully and completely in the moment.

Riding is a great process of creating evidence that the impossible can become possible. It is super humbling and I see the parallel journeys of everyday life of doubting and overcoming magnified. A small victory inside my own helmet comes with tackling each new ride that helps build evidence and my own resilience supporting what I am able to do.

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

To be honest I haven’t ridden enough with women, but I can’t say that I have.

I am kind of competitive by nature, primarily with myself, but the funny thing with riding, is I’m way more at ease knowing my place. I’m trying not to race to some invisible end, but to enjoy the process of learning the fundamentals. I’m in a place of learning that each ride I come out better, sometimes more sore, but better. 

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

I’m still looking for dirt bike ladies to ride with, but I have some great guys that have been super supportive. A friend of mine, Peter Gallant has been really encouraging from the beginning and was actually the first person to turn me toward the women in moto culture. He sends me women in moto articles and he’s been a great coach. He never over, or underestimates my ability, so he’s a great riding partner to let me find my own groove, while never turning me away from challenges.

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

As an architect, designer and all-round explorer, I am excited about all the design possibilities. The culture of dirt biking seems to have lot of space to evolve for women, especially here in Atlantic Canada. I grew up here and the culture of dirt biking never appealed to me, but now that I have ridden I love it, so there is room to find new ways to appeal to a greater audience.

How I can get more connected with great people, brands and events to create and push the boundaries of the culture excites me. I love even just being a small part of your project and how you are showcasing a wide range of women that bring unique perspectives on two wheels. Your project help inspire my desire to keep meeting new riders and putting myself out there as a rider. 

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Do you think current motorcycle trends cater to you?

Some. I am cautious of trends. Finding your own way and honing what you love about anything is hard to navigate when you get caught up in the alluring instagram lives of others. I don’t want to be left wanting from the trends out there, I want to find a way to create the life I want to live– beyond the trend if that makes sense?

I am a believer if it doesn’t exist, we can create it. I try not falling into tropes and traps of any culture that isn’t pushing to find its own story. So motorcycles trends are no exception, it is really easy to fall in love with images and find myself desiring things for the wrong reasons, or least reasons that aren’t mine.

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

I couldn’t believe how hard it was to find dirt bike gear that wasn’t pink. If it was black it still had to have the coded pink logo. I’d love to design that pushes the boundaries for women dirt bike riders. I see a lot of design opportunities to contribute to the culture in different ways.

But damn, there is some good stuff out there I do love – and trend or not, I want a pair of ATWYLD Shred Moto Pants. I love what brands like ATWYLD are doing in terms of creating a space for safety and great design.