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Nerissa Cerny - Women's Feature

When we think of bad ass women in the motorcycle industry there is one that comes up a lot here in Milwaukee and that is Nerissa Cerny. Nerissa is the epitome of what is means to be a Lady Cannon, she is incredibly kind, enthusiastic, supportive, and also a total bad ass.

"I like to say that I’m made from adventure, fine beer, brains, and no fear." And Nerissa we would like to wholeheartedly agree.

Nerissa is from Wisconsin, "born and raised! I love my Midwestern roots (the best Old Fashions are made with Brandy, and a proper Bloody Mary comes with a whole meal plus a chaser….if you know you know). However, just a few short months ago, I moved to Phoenix with my husband, cat, and 2 dogs. Milwaukee will always feel like home to me, but we were ready for a new adventure. I’ve grown to love the Southwest over the last few years, so when my job presented me with an opportunity to move, I jumped on it."

She located for her job. Are you sitting down? She's a f%cking engineer - for Harley Davidson - maybe you've heard of them? "I’ve worked here since 2015 in the powertrain development team. I was part of the design team that helped deliver the Milwaukee-8 powertrain. Now, I primarily oversee engine calibration and emissions development for our Softail platform. The company recently opened a small engineering office in Phoenix, so I transferred here to help lay the foundation of this new facility (and selfishly, so I could ride more months throughout the year!)."

When it comes to riding - Nerissa rides it all. "My daily is a 2020 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S. It’s the mechanical reincarnation of my soul, I love that bike so damn much. I’ve never felt a more natural extension of myself in something as much as I do with this bike. Over the years I’ve done a lot of cosmetic work to it; new seat, new saddlebags, powdercoated the tins, painted the fairing, changed the foot pegs and hand levers, swapped the grips, changed the exhaust and air cleaner, and a few other smaller odds-n-ends. I have a whole list of other things I want to change as well in the near future, I’m always tinkering! I’ve ridden that bike from Wisconsin to Tennessee to West Virginia, and last summer I rode it from Wisconsin to Arizona via Wyoming. It was the first of my possessions to make the move out West! I also own a little Honda CRF150F dirt bike that I used for everything from trail riding, harescrambling, flat tracking, to ice riding. I plan to get a 250 soon since AZ has endless off-road riding opportunities that I’m DYING to explore. I also have a 1973 Honda CL360 in my garage that’s been patiently waiting for a facelift."

She got started riding and loving motorcycles with her father. "My dad had a CB750 built up as a custom chopper. He used to plop me on the back with a sparkly (probably expired) helmet he purchased at a garage sale, and we’d cruise everywhere around town. Between the minimal suspension and narrow king/queen seat, it was never a comfortable bike to ride on. But, it really made me fall in love with the feeling of being on a motorcycle. When I was 10 years old, my parents split and I moved out with my mom. It wasn’t until I graduated from college many years later that motorcycles came back into my life. I had just landed my first job out of school, and I needed a new hobby. I didn’t have homework or lab reports to take up my evenings anymore. My (now) husband was offered the old Honda cruiser that was collecting dust in his mother’s garage on ONE condition: he had to get his motorcycle license. So, he and I decided to take an MSF class, and you guessed it..I found my new hobby!"

Not only does she have a killer job surrounded by motorcycles and ride, she also finds time and energy to compete. "I’ve raced in a few flat track events at Beaver Cycle Club in Wisconsin, my best finish was 3rd place in the Women’s Mini class. I’ve raced in the Mad Dog, Women’s Open, and Women’s Hooligan classes in various Flat Out Fridays. I’ve also raced in various ice racing oval events throughout the years, typically the High Voltage Races. I’ve also raced my Low Rider in a few of the High Voltage street drags taking home 1st place in the women’s class and 3rd place in the open/cruiser class. I’d love to get into Supermoto racing someday and check out the Flat Track scene around Phoenix."

Her favorite event? Admittedly she is a little biased but Milwaukee's Flat Out Friday and Mama Tried event have her heart. "I’m so impressed with the caliber of talent that these events bring to Milwaukee, but at the same time, the event stays true to its grassroots nature and really showcases the heart and soul of motorcycling and the people surrounding it. I absolutely loved being part of the Milwaukee community that welcomed visitors from far and wide. I’ve made lifelong memories and friendships though this event."

Nerissa talks the talks and walks the damn walk. When asked about her volunteerism she explains all the good she gives back to the community. "In 2018 I helped establish the first all-female Build Moto competition team in Milwaukee. I lead a team of adults to mentor high school girls in building motorcycles worthy for flat track competition as part of the Build Moto Competition. It’s one of my proudest achievements to-date, and I’ll be forever thankful to the adults and students who contributed along the way. Each year, we made a huge impact in the community and in young girls’ lives. I stepped away from the program when I moved to Phoenix, but I haven’t lost the drive to help others and teach others find their passions in mechanics or motorcycles. I have many ideas churning that I’m hoping to pursue in my free-time once I get settled a bit."

When asked about what it means to be a bad ass and a good human, Nerissa hits us with two incredible answers.

"To be completely honest, I think the word Badass gets thrown around a little too easily these days on social media. It’s sort of lost its allure. To be truly badass, I think one must be willing to face adversity head-on, they must be wiling to do the jobs no one else wants to do, and they must be willing to make mistakes. Its someone who recognizes their boundaries and then chooses to push past them. A badass is someone who has values such as responsibility, honor, compassion, integrity, and humility. A badass is a leader and a motivator."

"Being a good human to me means unequivocally following the Golden Rule: treat others as you would want to be treated. We all know there’s enough hatred and bullshit in this world to last an eternity. We don’t need more of it. Being a good human is choosing to embrace diversity, choosing to welcome others into your circle, and choosing to help someone when they’re in need. It’s about acting in a way that provides positive energy to the community around you."

Be sure to follow Nerissa on instagram @nerissa_nonstop as well as her work with the Iron Angels @theironangels. And lastly check out @SheKnowsMoto on Instagram and on Youtube where she hopes to educational motorcycle content and all of her ideas she has floating around!

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