Name: Sarah Van Tassel
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Where are you from originally?
A dairy farm in rural Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
Tell us about yourself:
I live a sweet and simple life just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in a little house with my husband, Jake, and our dog, Coal.
I originally went to school for photography, which I love, but got burnt out on doing it commercially. I still photograph often, but only personal work, which consists mostly of 35mm and instant film documentary work. I now manage, Lantern Rose, a tattoo shop owned by some of my best friends. It’s a pretty great job; I basically get paid to ride my motorcycle in and hangout with my friends all day. No complaints from me!
Western Pennsylvania has a rich heritage of blue collar living. We’re proud to work for what we have and celebrate life by spending time with our family and friends. I’ve got it pretty good here in Appalachia!
How did you get into riding motorcycles?
A friend of mine took me with him to Giddy Up Texas, a vintage chopper show in New Braunfels, a couple years ago and that was really my first introduction to motorcycles and that community. I got to meet some really talented builders, which was awesome. The most inspiring thing for me though was seeing the small handful of women riders roll in. The confidence that those ladies exhibited was very inspiring to me. I decided right then, I wanted to do that.
When did you start riding?
This is my second year riding. I definitely wish I would have discovered motorcycles earlier, but better late than never! Learning to ride a motorcycle has definitely helped me to be more assertive and aware. I learned pretty quickly how to make fast and confident decisions. The best advice I was given when I decided I wanted to ride was to take the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program class. Just a few weeks after I got my bike and started riding in traffic I had to make an emergency stop after a semi-truck ran a red light right in front of me and because of what I learned in that course I was able to stop safely. Most states have similar programs and I could not recommend a motorcycle safety class more.
Why do you ride?
Because I absolutely love it. I love that being on a bike forces me to be present with myself and the world around me. Last month riding through the Catskills up to BRO East Coast was incredible! Riding a motorcycle is the best way to experience any landscape.
Tell us about the motorcycle you ride?
1997 Sportster 883. I went with the Sportster because I wanted to get a bike that I could learn on but would not outgrow right away.
How often do you get to go for a ride?
I am on my bike pretty much every day. My Sportster is my only means of transportation, and I ride into the city most days for work. I love that commute. And, then of course any opportunity I get to go on longer rides with my friends is great.
Tell us about the group of people you normally ride with:
I’m pretty lucky to have the friends that I do. Super grateful to my friend, Marcus, who originally introduced me to motorcycles and pushes me to learn how my bike works. He’s also always there to answer any questions I have. He builds bikes and is very open to sharing that knowledge. And, of course my ladies, The Maulies, an all-female riding group a few of my friends and I formed after we met in the fall of 2015. Having those women around when I first started learning to ride was so helpful. They took me under their wings and have been nothing but encouraging and supportive. So, getting to ride with them this year to the BRO East Coast was a pretty big deal for me.