It’s hard to keep your picker planted on long drives, but for Winnipeg-based Tiffaney Taverner, it’s been worth it.
Taverner, who barely covered 20,000 miles from April to October as part of the Antique Motorcycle Club of Manitoba’s riding season, received the organization’s highest mileage award at the end of November.
She is the first woman to accomplish this feat.
“It was definitely an honor to be the first woman to do this,” Taverner said.
The Miles Award is given to the person who accumulates the most Miles during the motorcycle club’s seven-month riding season.
Taverner said she was humbled to receive the award and gave credit to her closest competitor, while also noting that Manitoba was difficult to ride.
“[He] he also did a great job because he had an antique motorcycle, a Harley Davidson, an ex-police bike, that has a very different handling than my Honda,” said Taverner, who rides a 1990 Honda Gold Wing Aspencade.
“We both rode antique motorcycles and then the roads in Manitoba, which can be a little challenging at times, as we all know.”
Taverner also earned honors in 2020 and 2021 as a member of the Iron Butt Association, with certifications for running distances of 1,600 and 2,000 miles in a 24-hour period.
“It’s very intense,” she said.
Although Taverner came into contact with motorcycles in his early twenties, the love of riding the long winding roads did not enter Taverner’s life until later. In 2019 she did her first Cannonball Rides, a collection of routes that drivers or riders can follow for fun or to earn ballots for a big prize draw.
“It wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I decided I really, really liked it [motorcycles]’, she said. “I started with a cruiser-type motorcycle, and another very small motorcycle.”
Taverner was introduced to long distance riding by Paul Bezilla, who has been an Iron Butt rider for over 20 years.
Bezilla wasn’t shocked by Taverner’s mileage — he always knew she had the ability to do it.
“If she puts her mind to something, she can achieve great things,” he said.
Bezilla and Taverner have known each other since 2019 and become friends during their time taking on the 1,000-mile, 24-hour Iron Butt Challenge in 2020.
Bezilla says Taverner will likely shoot for the 1,500-mile, 24-hour Iron Butt challenge this year, which he’s confident she’ll pass.
“It’s really about keeping the wheels rolling and fine-tuning what makes that easier all the time,” he said. “We are learning all the time about better equipment and better food… and the discipline that goes into doing that.
“That’s the real challenge in this, keeping the wheels rolling and keeping yourself in good shape to finish it safely.”
As a female cyclist, Taverner noticed the gap between male and female riders, which she says is quite large in the county.
“There aren’t many female riders in Manitoba,” she said.
Belliza said he would like to see more long-term bikers in general.
“People who drive a lot are actually even rarer,” he said. “I mean, most people go after an Iron Butt certificate as something they’d check off their bucket list. They do one ride and that’s as many as they ever try again.”
Enjoy the open road
Taverner prefers antique motorcycles to modern bikes for long distance rides.
“Antique motorcycles, I think, are probably more reliable because their parts are very rudimentary and simple, so that if you had to fix something on the spot, especially in the rural communities… a large portion of the rural communities would have the basics on hand that you could almost like MacGyver or something if you really had to,” she said.
Taverner’s favorite thing about long drives? The freedom.
“I just feel so free that, you know, your phone isn’t on,” she said.
“Just see more of Canada and see the beautiful scenery, and all that the open road has to offer.”