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Introducing Marilyn Stemp

It's Celebrate Women Time! Interview with Marilyn Stemp

by Mistress Chris

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Who is Marilyn Stemp?  Everyone knows she is the heart of Ironworks Magazine, the Editor of the magazine, which she started with her husband Dennis in 1989. With her journalism degree from Penn State University and passion for organization mixed together with her husband’s passion for motorcycles and his amazing creativity they made the perfect team. Unfortunately Dennis passed away in 2001, leaving Marilyn to raise two kids and run the magazine.  Recently her 24 year old son Vincent joined the magazine as Tech and Trends Editor, a proud moment for her.

You will see her byline and photographs throughout the magazine.  She is passionate about encouraging other people, women, men and especially the next generation to “Just ride, ride as much as you can!”  She encourages everyone to ride a motorcycle, whether you commute to work, squeeze some riding time into your weekend, or on long trips across this beautiful nation, it is all a good thing. 

Others will know her from the Biker Belles Ride, owner of Dennis Stemp Publishing, Inc., a freelance writer, photographer and is well known throughout the motorcycling industry and personally well known as a friend to many.  She is a member of AMAC, AMA and HOG. She is very hard working, and held the position of Managing Editor for 20 some years. She stepped into the Editor position in 2011.  

I have never met Marilyn, and was introduced by Bandit through email.  Since we live on different sides of the country it would be rather difficult, but not impossible to have met somewhere to talk.  However, in this modern day world of electronic communication, talking over the phone was the next best option.  For me, it was a little daunting the idea that I was going to be “interviewing” Marilyn over the phone! Men and women definitely speak different languages, and I was grateful to be talking to a fellow woman.  Her voice was soft and gentle and very friendly, which left me relaxed and at ease, making the conversation so much easier.

Marilyn has supported the Biker Belles Ride for 3 years and looks forward to participating in the special day for women, and ride through the sweeps and curves of the Black Hills.  She also helps Toni Woodruff (Sturgis Buffalo Chip) gather items for the auction and believes the Symposium is a great addition.  

This was the second year the Symposium has been held, and each time it is very successful.  The auction has also been very successful, as each year they increase dramatically the amount of money made.  100% of all money made from the auction and donations goes to the two charities the Biker Belles support, which are: Helping With Horsepower and The Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame.

Women have been riding motorcycles for a long time, and many ride their own bikes.  There are far more women who ride on the back, behind their husband, partner, or boyfriend.  They are often forgotten, but they too are riders.  They are just as vulnerable.  There are other women who long to ride, whether on their own motorcycle, or on the back, they dream of long winding roads, wind in their hair and the camaraderie fellow bikers bring.  But due to circumstances they are unable to move ahead to see their dream completed.  

Motorcycling has been historically a male dominated field, where women were not expected or allowed to ride a motorcycle.  We were not big enough, or strong enough, and prone to monthly vapors!  Slowly over time, women prevailed, and more and more women chose to ride their own bikes proving they were strong enough and could handle the bike as well as the men.  Many husbands and partners were proud to ride side by side with their girls.  

Over the last 10 years there has been a subtle, slow change winding its way through the motorcycle industry and biking community.  With the economy going downwards, and bike sales drooping, manufacturers, and businesses decided to target women as potential customers, and started designing women specific products.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to wear clothes with the curves in the right places?   Instead we tried to fit our boobs and curves into a large men’s size.  Or that dreaded one size fits all; did they forget men and women have different shaped bodies?  

Our center of gravity is lower than a man’s. Our arms and legs are usually shorter, and we don’t have the same upper body strength.  You don’t really want to be balanced only on your tiptoes at a red light, holding 900 pounds of motorcycle between your legs, ready to launch once there is a glimmer of green.  It can be a little uncomfortable if you have to reach a little further to grip the throttle.  Then to tug and adjust your jacket, shirt or chaps to get comfortable, sure can take away some of the pleasure of the ride!

Marilyn believes it is time to bring everyone in, to encourage women everywhere to join together to share and help each other, to ride and enjoy the sheer joy riding can bring.  Sharing stories brings everyone together; women tend to have empathy for others with similar tales. Women can help and support each other as they are learning to ride, or by giving encouragement to those who falter.  

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