Gritty In Pink
Lia Grimanis’ pink BMW is a monument to spirit, not ostentation.
When Lia Grimanis rides the streets of Toronto on her pink BMW 650, she appears to be riding in the face of the current, androgynous trend towards gender equality; some ideal that man and woman will have equal footing when they look and act the same.
Grimanis’ motorcycle is a testament to female empowerment and proof that woman can motor from the depths of despair and crash through the proverbial glass ceilings imposed on them.
Within a period of less than 15 years, she has risen from a homeless girl finding sanctuary in a woman’s shelter, to a high-powered corporate executive whose adventure credits include – among other things – biking through the Himalayas, the Norwegian fjords in winter, as well as driving a military tank and riding on the wings of an aircraft while it’s in flight.
“Fearlessness is a myth,” says Grimanis. “The key to success is getting through it. We all have to overcome something to achieve harmony in our lives.
“That’s why I approach adventure the way I do.”
She has also noticed that women of all ages and stations in life have appreciated the colour of her BMW.
“When I first got the bike, I wanted people to know, unequivocally, that this was a women’s motorcycle. Besides, what self respecting guy would ride a pink bike?”
Grimanis says she gets a thumbs-up from women in the Toronto business district and adds that young females are particularly attracted to it. “It gives them the impression they can do anything.”
For Grimanis, a summer ride on the Indian roads she traversed was more harrowing than riding in Norway in the dead of winter.
Piloting a Royal Enfield 350, she contended with narrow roads winding around mountains and trucks and buses that would appear out of nowhere and bear down on her.
“There was no barrier to stop you from hurling off the road,” Grimanis recalls, and plummeting up to 17,000 feet.
“In Norway,” she says, “at least I had spikes on my tires.”
One disappointing factor about the Norwegian ride, Grimanis recalls, was the lack of female participants.
“It was very disappointing not to see more women riding. Almost all of the women there were on the back of their boyfriends’ bike.”
In India, on the other hand, she said she would see families of five traversing the countryside on a motorcycle.
As for Grimanis herself, wheels have played a major role in her wherewithal to rise to her current position as head of financial services for a major corporation and a place among the top one-percent wage earners.
At one time, to make ends meet, Grimanis was a rickshaw driver in Toronto. With little formal training, she resolved to design her own rickshaw and that led to an enterprise that turned a handsome profit.
The rest might be construed “as history,” but Grimanis has refused to dispense with her roots and has formed an organization called Up With Women.
It’s aim is to raise awareness about homelessness, particularly in as it impacts women and children.
Grimanis, herself, still visits shelters to present herself as proof that there is hope. “I wish I could have been that woman who came into my shelter as said: ‘I was once where you were, and look where I am, now.’”
It’s small wonder that she loves motorcycling and its ability to provide that open freedom to travel an open road.
“Motorcycling brings us back to that childlike state that wants us to explore.
“It releases the neuro charge that prompts neuro plasticity, which is the ability for the brain to change its own behaviour.”
Written by Dan Pelton