The Oldest Miss Fire

Andrea Young was just one of hundreds of biker fans Sunday at the annual Progressive International Motorcycle Show at the Jacob Javits Convention Center.

But the 61-year-old stood out among the motorcycle veterans and enthusiasts from all over the country who had come to check out the newest and most unique finds from the world’s leading bike providers, including Harley-Davidson, BMW, Suzuki, and many more.

She is the rare older female biker but she had no problem talking engines and oil changes in a room full of bikers decades younger.

Their common bond transcended age. “Riding is a bit like a dance,” said the 61-year-old internet security consultant. “It’s a moving art. It exists only in the moment.”

Young, who lives in Brooklyn, started riding at the age of 10 in her native England. Her father, a printer, taught her how to ride and repair motorcycles. Although he wasn’t a huge biker, he was the first biker she knew.

“It’s all about the love of the ride,” Young said. (Photo: Miss Fires)

“I grew up in a generation where motos were all one could afford,” she said. “It wasn’t a toy. It was the only way to get around.”

At the show, she hosted one of the leading attractions, the New York Vintage Motorcycle exhibit, where one of her three bikes, a BSA, was propped up alongside 10 other antique bikes.

The 45-year-old bike has all of its original parts, complemented by a shiny refurbished modern finish.

She said vintage bikes are beautiful but difficult to maintain. “They require oil changes, brake and tire inspections, and other adjustments,” she said.

Young arranged for her bike to be towed here specifically for this event. Her bike joins several others whose owners belong to the New York Vintage Motorcycle Club, known colloquially as NYVinMoto.

The online-based group meets in chat forums to discuss their vintage bike finds and upcoming trade shows. Young sat beside two other members of the group, encouraging passersby to purchase t-shirts and sign up for their email list.

Biker culture loomed the air as moto men and women weaved their way through over 100 tents in search of new bikes, gear and camaraderie. The outfits of choice among the riders were black leather vests accompanied by club patches representing their motorcycle club affiliation, boots, knuckle-exposing gloves, chains, and bandanas.

It was “Sons of Anarchy” on steroids.

But Young was comfortable in that sea of leather with her plain white top and casual blue jeans.

To her riding is more than bike culture. Her eyes were filled with joy as she described the feeling she gets riding her bike down rural back roads. “I love the sway of my bike on the winding roads as I turn corners,” she said.

She also said she’s a bit of a daredevil. “I like to ride alone because I have a unique riding style,” she said. “I push myself a little more each time, riding lower to the ground with each turn.”

While riding solo is her preferred style, Young also belongs to a riding club based in Brooklyn.

The Miss Fires line up before a ride. (Credit: Miss Fires)

The Brooklyn Miss Fires are an all female riding club with over 70 members coming from states all over the country. Young is the oldest “Miss Fire.” She first joined the group back in 2013, approximately four months after the group first formed.

To her, it’s less about the social events and more about the bikes themselves.

“Clubs come and go,” she said. “It’s all about the love of the ride.”