Her Story. A series of blog posts telling the stories of 'women who ride' from all corners of the globe. We hope that by sharing these stories we can help encourage other women to build their confidence, learn from others and inspire others.
This month we have a story by Nadine, 31, from Portland, Oregon. Nadine was inspired and encouraged by her father to start riding and tinkering on motorcycles. Her journey then evolved after being introduced to the women's moto community in Portland.
We hope you enjoy her story.
Hi my name is Nadine Purificato. I am 31 years old, born in Connecticut, grew up in Florida, went to college in San Francisco, CA, worked in Los Angeles, CA and am currently living in Portland, Oregon.
My father was the one who got me started with my love of motorcycles. He rode motorcycles growing up but sold them once my older siblings were born.
It wasn't until I was a freshman in high school that he finally got back into riding and bought himself a Harley Road King, that's when I instantly became hooked.
I would ride on the back of my fathers bike to moto and car shows and any modifications he did to his bike I was right there helping him. I remember us taking apart the engine and placing every piece in a specific spot on a towel so we could easily remember how to put it back together. I knew I was going to own a motorcycle, it was just a matter of time.
As a birthday gift, when I was home during winter break in college, my father signed me up for a motorcycle endorsement class at Harley Davidson. It was scary! I had ridden on the back of a bike, sure, but I had no idea what I was doing. I remember them asking “Who has never ridden a bike or quad before?” and me being the only one with their hand up.
Our very first task was to give the bike a little bit of gas, slowly let the clutch out and walk the bike in a straight line. I started rolling and got so nervous that I pulled the front brake instead of the clutch. The next thing I knew the bike was going down.
The embarrassment was palpable but the determination was stronger than ever. That was the first and last time I fell in that class and came out of it with my endorsement.
Fast forward to the middle of 2013, I was living in Los Angeles and looking on Craigslist for my first motorcycle. There it was, a 1992 Honda Rebel 250 that had been pretty well taken care of.
Having only been in LA for five months I took a Taxicab to a place in downtown LA and bought the bike! Now the challenge of getting it home. Having never fully ridden outside of my endorsement class, I realized the only way home was on a freeway.
My first ride ever on my own bike was a classic 40 minute “10, to the 110, to the 5 to the 2” as the Californians would say. Nothing makes you feel more like a badass than holding your own on the freeways in LA. This bike became my only mode of transportation and I rode every single day for the next two years.
As far as modifications on that bike I didn’t do too many things. I changed the gas tank to a bigger 4.3L tank instead of the 2.5L it came with and eventually decided to paint the bike myself. I taped off the parts of the bike I didn’t want paint on and the rest were turned matte black. For the tank I created a fade effect with matte gold into matte black and I was so proud to have even done just a little bit to personalize my bike.
After two years of riding the Honda and saving up money I was ready for something bigger. Topping out at 60 mph (that’s all it could do) on a highway, in my mind, just wasn’t safe. I sold my Rebel to another new rider, hoping she would enjoy learning on it as much as I did. I was then ready to buy my dream bike.
Growing up in a Harley household I knew immediately I wanted a Harley Sportster Iron 883, so that’s what I got and what I still ride today.
Everything that isn’t stock on the bike I’ve put on myself. I updated the pipes twice, the grips twice, the handlebars three times, the last time including changing/upgrading my clutch and brake cables. Changed the seat, upgraded the air filter, added a tuner, always do my own oil changes and have changed the battery twice. I’m about to upgrade the shocks and front suspension to give me a little more height out of the bike.
When living in Los Angeles I was a solo rider and didn’t really know how to connect with anyone. In 2016, I moved to Portland, OR for work. A week after getting there I brought my bike to get serviced at the local Harley Davidson shop. Waiting for the service to be finished I was approached by a woman who worked there and we got to talking. After about ten minutes she stops and goes “you know what, there is someone here you should meet, I’ll be right back”. Next thing I knew I was being introduced to the founder of the Torque Wenches women’s motorcycle group and subsequently was invited to their next meet and greet.
A solid group of women showed up to this meet and greet and I realized this is what had been missing in my life. There is nothing greater or more empowering than being around likeminded women. From there I went on group rides, more hangouts, all women motorcycle camp outs, joined social media, and just kept connecting with more and more people in the moto community. Some of my closest friends have come from these connections and one of those friends is now my partner.
I would say another impact the community has had on me is the life I now get to live with my partner, Jordyn. We met through the community here in Portland, connected on our love of motorcycles but also on a deeper level with openness, honesty, trust, and patience. We are inseparable; she is my true ride or die.
With matching wolf head back patches she rides her XSR700 while I’m on my Sporty and we rip all over town, to camp-outs, you name it, we’re there.
I remember at the first and second all women’s camp outs we went to there were “biker games”. They had things like “roll a keg with your front wheel”, “hold an egg on a spoon in your mouth and ride against someone”, etc.
My partner and I entered the two person contest each year of riding as slow as you can while the passenger placed apples on cones. With her on the back of my sporty (having only a solo seat with no passenger foot pegs for her) she held those apples like a boss as we tried our best each year to win. It’s a lot harder than it seems and the second year we even went down on a turn around a cone (no one was hurt!). I’ll tell ya, there was never a frown on my face when being at those events and participating in those games with her.
During my eight years of riding I’ve definitely had my fair share of accidents and close calls. Some had even made me rethink riding at those times. The very first accident I got into was a solo one with no one around; no ones fault but my own. I questioned if I was ready for the responsibility that come with riding a bike. I’ve had accidents after that have made it hard for me to trust the bike turning or leaning to the left.
When changing the battery on my bike once the tool slipped, touched the metal of the bike and completed the circuit through a ring on my hand. Thankfully I came out with just a finger burn where the ring was and was able to complete the battery change, but there is always a slight hesitation now around the battery.
These mishaps will always be with me but I work through them and I know they help me grow. There is the tendency to feel judgement when these things happen, that you aren’t a good enough rider or feel like a poser. This isn’t the case. Ride for you, trust yourself and know that you are not alone.
One thing that is super important to me is motorcycle safety. When I was in LA, I rode every single day, I didn’t own a car. When I moved to Oregon things were different. 4-5 months out of the year there is sun. The rest of the time is either cold or rainy. Becoming a seasonal rider was not just a culture shock to me but also drastically reduced my seat time causing my skills to suffer slightly. When the weather was finally good enough to ride I noticed so many articles on motorcycle accidents, most with the tag line “I didn’t even see them”. I thought of those people riding and how scary it is for the family and friends when a buddy or loved one doesn’t show up somewhere. While I don’t know how to stop the accidents I thought maybe I could at least get the word out in the community. I decided to create “Oregon Motorcyclist Down”. Maybe someone drives by a motorcycle on the side of the road, snaps a quick photo, sends it to the page and boom, I’m on it. I’ll repost and get the word out. If an unfortunate death occurs I’ll try my best to let people know, respectfully. This also sheds light on just how many accidents there are in our state alone and hopefully can start the conversations of what everyone can do better. I’m a big advocate for lane splitting as I believe it is safer for the community during traffic hours, which are high accident hours. Our state has finally pushed it through the senate with only the Governor’s signature left. Improvements are coming and I hope to help make the roads safer in any way I can.
Find a community that supports you, find your ride or die or ride solo into the sunset. It’s your life, your journey; enjoy every moment you have and leave the haters in your dust.
Would you like to share your story?
Find out how.