For years motorcycle culture has been a male-dominated arena; the roads have long been ruled by men on their "hogs." But Shelby Rossi was getting sick and tired of riding on the back of her boyfriend's bike -- so she decided to form the Scarlet Headers, a women's motorcycle group based in Denver.
"We all have boyfriends and husbands who ride all of the time, but it's just so different riding with men versus riding with women," says Rossi, a digital marketing specialist for Native Link. "I just decided to put a name on it, the Scarlet Headers, and invited women who rode."
The Scarlet Headers is a parodic reference to The Scarlet Letter. Rossi and her boyfriend were having brunch one morning, talking about possible names for the group, and the Scarlet Headers stuck. "The term 'headers' refers to header pipes on a motorcycle," Rossi explains.
Rossi's passion for motorcycles started at an early age. She grew up watching her parents ride bikes and spent every weekend at the track. "I grew up in a gearhead family," Rossi says. "Riding bikes was just something I did with my dad all the time together. For me, it was a hobby that turned into a passion, and I want other women to experience that."
So this summer Rossi founded the Scarlet Headers to encourage women to join the motorcycle scene, assuring them that a welcoming community of other female riders does, in fact, exist. "This group is mainly about promoting women being comfortable and getting out of their comfort zone," Rossi says. "We have women who have never ridden a bike before but might decide to take their motorcycle-endorsement class next season. Knowing that there is a group of female riders that they can immediately approach and ride with makes them feel even more confident."
When Rossi says the Scarlet Headers is not a typical motorcycle gang, she means it: The open group has no initiation, and all skill levels are welcome.
"On our first ride we invited a few girls from MOTO OCHO, which is an incredible moped shop in Denver," she says. "We're unique because we're open to scooters, mopeds and motorcycles. Sometimes our rides are better for bigger bikes, like going up a mountain, but we always make sure to have some sort of ride or activity that all women and all levels can participate in."
Since the Scarlet Headers' inaugural gathering last month, Rossi has organized happy hours, rides and other group events. The club emphasizes not just socializing, but the importance of learning and understanding the functions and maintenance of motorcycles. "Sometimes my boyfriend still works on my bike, but I'm realizing that it's important to be aware of what your bike does, and what to do in an emergency in case something happens," Rossi notes. "So I figured, let's all learn together. We're putting together a few maintenance nights for the winter, too."
Currently the Scarlet Headers has about a dozen members, but Rossi hopes that by partnering with local businesses, the group will attract more women who want to join. So far, the club has partnered with Ronin Motorworks, the Yacht Club at the Source and Erico Motorsports, among others.
"We just really want to promote Denver as a whole and show how thriving the city has become," Rossi says. "All of us women are involved in so many different things, like the music scene and the motorcycle scene, and we want to use our relationships and connections to promote not only the riding scene, but just to make sure that we're promoting locally, as well.
"Our next step is deciding what our image is and where we want to go," Rossi concludes. "There's lots of opportunity in this group, and we invite all women to be a part of it."
The Scarlet Headers will host a happy hour from 6 to 10 p.m. tomorrow, October 22, at RiNo Yacht Club in The Source, 3350 Brighton Boulevard. For other upcoming events, visit the Scarlet Headers website or follow the group on Instagram at @thescarletheaders.
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Follow Lauren Archuletta at @laureneverytime.