Kerry just got back from touring the Himalayas, has ridden parts of the Baja 1000, used to work at NASCAR and has just opened up a motorcycle shop
1. What it your full name, age and date of birth
Kerry Yoshiko Sano. October 4 1979
2. What was your upbringing like?
I grew up moving a lot. Not because of the military but the all too common divorce. We started in the country in Eastern Pennsylvania. Then to California - north of San Francisco. When my parents divorces I went to Arizona with my father. I grew up mostly with my father which I think was pivotal in my independent streak. I didn't ride though. I didn't cycle. I walked everywhere as a kid. And when I moved in with my mother as a teenager I still walked everywhere.
3. What is a memory from your childhood that you remember good or bad
For some reason I actually remember very little from my childhood. However, I have memories of living with my uncle in Northern California. He lived on top of this long windy hill. I used to sit on a skateboard and ride down, then hitchhike back up. Actually I used to hitchhike a lot.
4. Who was the first person you looked up to?
Diane S. (I've since forgotten her last name) I rode horses English style from 6-16. The women who taught me were strong and independent. I had two trainers and they both were single hard working women. One was a single mother as well as a stable owner.
5. What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I'm pretty sure I wanted to be an astronaut. Or a vet.
6. When was the first time you felt adrenaline?
I think felt adrenaline when I was a very young child riding an elephant at the zoo. I promptly soiled myself. It's been a battle ever since. To get that exhilaration and not embarrass myself.
7. What is one of the hardest things you've ever been through?
Moving from my father’s home in Arizona to my mother’s home in Northern California as a teenager. All I ever knew from childhood until I was a teenager was living with my father. I decided I didn't want to anymore and moved in with my mother. Sophomore year in high school. From Glendale, Az to hippy town Fairfax, Ca.
8. How did you start riding motorcycles and why did you decide to do it?
I went to school to work on race cars. After spending 6 months trying to get into the “good ole boys” field I decided to move back to SF where I was happier. I was informed of a job at a motorcycle shop when I came back and got the job. Before this I was interested in but had never ridden my own bike. I soon learned you need to ride in order to do your job properly. So I learned and it helped me work more safely.
9. What was your first bike?
1989 Honda CB1 it is a naked sportbike type with a 400cc engine. One of my customers had a pinched nerve she wasn't aware of and passed out while riding. The riding position pinched it in her neck. She sold the bike immediately after. It was a perfect bike and I put thousands of miles on it. I still look for them online.
10. What is it like being a female motorcyclist?
I feel like as a female motorcyclist I don't usually notice a difference from being a woman. As a woman sometimes you get cat-called and sometimes you don't. Along the same lines some people are highly impressed that as a woman you are doing it and some people don't care at all. I have worked in the motorcycle industry for 15 years so perhaps I have become numb to it. When I first started working on bikes I definitely noticed it more, but the blatant sexism was more prominent when I worked in NASCAR.
I started riding and wrenching in San Francisco. It is definitely a much more moto friendly place. I felt like no one even blinked when I was on a bike.
11. What is the motorcycling community like where you are from
This is a perfect question to continue on with that. San Francisco is great for riding. The city expects it. People pull over for you on back roads so you can have all the fun you want. Lane splitting is legal. They are very woman positive.
12. Do you prefer vintage or new motorcycles
I prefer new bikes. I work on modern bikes and old ones always seem like they are falling apart or lack the power I want. Haha. I can appreciate vintage ones but they are not for me. Having said that my favorite bike is a 1974 Laverda SFC. I actually love old Italian bikes.
13. How do you feel connected to your motorcycle?
I f'ing LOVE my bike. I have 4 but I love the one I ride most. I have a 2015 KTM Duke 690. I've put close to 10k miles on a single cylinder sort of supermoto. I know it's crazy. I ride predominantly in the city. I'm in Brooklyn and used to commute to Manhattan. It is the perfect city bike. I also ride it on long rides in the country. I love this bike for twisty back roads because it eats them for breakfast. As long as it's warm out. There is no windshield so...cold is COLD.
14. What are some things motorcycling has taught you.
Do what you want. I started racing immediately after learning to ride. It was amazing. I've also met some of the best and nicest people who ride. I think that is actually what I've learned the most. Bikers are an amazing group people.
15. Were you scared when you first decided that you were going to learn to ride
Of course! Terrified. A funny story that helped break that fear is when I threw my leg over my first bike for the first time I fell over the other side immediately. Bike fell as well. I was so nervous I overshot my leg and power. It was so funny that I was still nervous but much more at ease. After we picked the bike up I fell on the ground laughing.
I started riding with my colleagues. They rode with me home, they rode with me on the weekends, they took me to get gear, the right gear. San Francisco is, in addition to being woman positive and biker positive, a gear positive place. I learned with my customers as well. We rode the track together. It was so positive and everyone was so helpful. I'm feel so lucky to have grown up in that.
16. What other passions do you have?
I enjoy the outdoors. I like to go hiking and traveling. Anything outside. I go on as many trips as I can to experience as many things as possible. I also really like classical music. So I try to see music at Carnegie Hall as often as I can.
17. What is one of the scariest experiences you've had while riding?
I have done too many things that are scary I have to name a few.
I feel like every time I go really dirt biking I'm scared. I have done a lot of it but still seem to never lose the fear. I have ridden in Baja on part of the 1000 course. I remember thinking I couldn't go on. But I went on. Going balls out as fast as the bike could go and feeling like I'm so good. At that moment the bike always bites you. We were doing two track and I somehow jumped out of the tracks and into cactus. Or got cross rutted and crashed so hard I broke my helmet. I couldn't get back on for 30 minutes. My friends said "if you don't ride back we are putting you on the back and two of us will come get your bike" I knew I had to do it. It was so hard.
18. Are there any women in the motorcycle world that inspire you
I love seeing all the racers coming up. I'm inspired always at the loads of women coming into the industry now. It's great.
19. What is a memorable motorcycle trip that you took
I just rode through the Himalayas in August. It was one of the most terrifying rides I've done and also one of the most rewarding. The roads were poorly maintained, drove on the wrong side of the street, switchbacks up and down with mostly blind turns. It was thrilling.
I also rode across the country many years ago. It was so peaceful and special to do that alone. You really learn about yourself in a way that is hard to explain. I put so many miles down that year.
20. Do you prefer riding solo or with friends?
I prefer riding solo. I'm an independent person. I like stopping and exploring what I want to do.
21. What motorcycles do you ride now?
I have a 2015 KTM 690 Duke. 2007 Triumph Bonneville custom I built. 1975 Honda CB 200 cafe racer. 2009 Honda Crf150. TTR125 pit bike. KX250 and KX125 (these last three are friends bikes that I borrow and keep at my house 🏼)
22. Do you have any tips for new riders?
Do it. Put as many hours into as you can. Learn to ride dirt bikes. They are unruly and teach you so much. Look where you want to go and don't ride the clutch. I take my friends out to a secluded spot and teach them to turn. I think that is the most important and least practiced aspect.
23. How do you feel when riding?
I feel perfect when I ride. I feel like I can do whatever I want. It's dangerous to feel that way. But I wouldn't trade it.
24. Do you have any dream motorcycle adventures?
I am possibly going to Tierra del Fuego this xmas. There are so many things I'd love to do on a bike. This is one and it may come true soon.
25. If you could have any motorcycle what would it be?
I want one of everything. If I had a reason to ride each kind I would. I love sport bikes. I had an R6. I miss it terribly. But it's not practical for the city. I’d even get a cruiser. I swore I never would but now that I ride all these country back roads. I think it would be perfect. I fly around on my KTM and hit a deer this year. I think I was so lucky to have minimal damage. If I were on a cruiser perhaps I’d slow down and be safer.
26. What are some moral codes that you live by?
I believe in being a good person. I believe in doing the right thing. A lot of people think I'm square. But I just want to be good. Sometimes I step into situations I shouldn't because I feel strongly about it. I have told someone being abusive on the street to stop. Or called the police. I hope it doesn't backfire and get me in trouble. I just started a motorcycle shop. My goal is to be seen as the honest mechanic shop. I want people to know they can trust me.
27. Any final words or comments?
I really appreciate you reaching out to me. I'm all for more women getting into the world of bikes. If you want it just do it and don't listen to anyone being surprised by your moxie. Moxie is my middle name