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Arianne Mihalka: Like Father, Like Daughter

Monday, October 14, 2019   (5 Comments)
Posted by: Ron Davis #111820

People develop a passion for motorcycles for many reasons—the freedom, the exhilaration of speed, the focus demanded of mind and body to pilot a bike safely—but for a rider like Arianne Mihalka, riding her RT keeps her in touch with her father’s spirit.

"Being my father’s daughter, I grew up around motorcycles all my life. My dad always had a motorcycle, and I loved riding with him since I was very young. Back in Venezuela and after he moved to Miami and then to Sykesville in Maryland, I always rode with him when I had a chance, but I was always on the back of his bike. Then in 2013 I had some big changes in my life. First, I was going through a divorce, and I decided it was time to get my own bike and do something fun for myself. My dad came to Florida and we went to BMW Motorcycles of Fort Lauderdale, where my dad had worked for many years, and he helped me chose my first bike. My dad was very supportive and excited about me getting a bike, and then the worst happened, a few weeks later my dad passed away; it was very unexpected. Since then, besides loving to ride, being on a bike is the best way to be close to him." Arianne added, "It’s in my DNA."

It was no wonder Arianne’s attraction to motorcycling had begun with her father. Paul Mihalka was a two-time Venezuelan and one-time All-South-American motorcycle racing champion in what was the largest engine class of the time. Additionally, Paul was an inspiration and mentor to Jim Ford, author of The Art of Riding Smooth.

"I always admired my dad for his passion for motorcycles, and I loved riding with him, but I only understood why he liked it so much this last year when I finally made it out of Florida and did a nine day trip with my boyfriend, Brian Gillespie, who also rides a BMW." Arianne and Brian rode the Blue Ridge Parkway and through the Shenandoah National Park, and she said she "loved every minute of it."

Arianne’s connection with her father’s history also extends to the brand of bikes she’s had. "I grew up around BMWs all my life. My dad did 1.2 million miles on BMWs, and being an engineer myself, I really appreciate their design and performance. Only a rider since 2013, Arianne’s first BMW was a 2012 F 800 R. "It was a great starting bike, but three years later it was time to upgrade. My next bike was a 2009 R 1200 R, I ride a lot with the Gold Coast Beemers, our local BMW club, and finally it was easy to keep up with the group. I really enjoyed that bike, but last year we were doing longer rides, and I started thinking about how nice it would be to have some wind protection and more storage, so I got a 2011 R 1200 RT. I just LOVE this bike. This one is a keeper for a long time."

One of Arianne’s earliest memorable rides was as a passenger on her dad’s bike when they ran the Skyline Drive in West Virginia. Another highpoint was riding with Jim Ford on his "invisible roads" the day of a memorial ride that Jim organized in the Appalachian Mountains for her father.

"Since I started riding, most of my rides have been local in Florida. We have our annual club ride to Mount Dora…some beautiful roads and a great group of people. Arianne also mentioned the BMW winter rally in Starke, Florida, and going through the Ocala National Forest. "On my last trip to the BMW MOA National Rally in Lebanon, Tennessee, we took the Auto Train from Stanford, Florida, loaded the bikes and got off the next day in Virginia. The train was a wonderful experience, and we then headed to the rally, going through Skyline Drive, the Blue Ridge, little Switzerland, and the Tail of the Dragon."

Following her father’s advice, Arianne says she is a firm believer in ATGATT. She said she’s only had one close call so far, a run-off caused by some loose gravel on a curve. "Luckily, the side of the road was sand and grass, and besides a good scare, I didn’t go down." Arianne says there are many things she loves about riding, including what she called "the best therapy," the feeling of freedom, the adventure, and sharing those adventures with her boyfriend Brian and a great group of friends. She added that she dislikes traffic, distracted drivers and the heat and humidity of Florida in the summer.

Ariane has been a member of the MOA since she started riding. "I really enjoy reading the magazine, and I think the Anonymous Book is an amazing idea. I never had to use it yet, but I know my dad found a lot of help there when he needed it on his long trips. It’s fun to read all the comments on the MOA Facebook page—sometimes it gets very interesting!"

As for the future, Arianne says she has a full bucket list. "I love riding and going on trips. We organize a one day ride a month with the club; those are a fun way to catch up with friends, and we try to go to different destinations every time, but I definitely hope to be able to do longer trips in the U.S .—so many beautiful places, national parks to see. I also would love to ride overseas in Europe, visiting places where my family is from, Hungary, Poland, Austria and Switzerland." Truly Paul Mihalka’s daughter, she would also like to try racing someday. As her father always told her, "You don’t stop riding because you get old —you get old because you stop riding."


Marty Hill says...
Posted Friday, November 1, 2019
Arianne, I met Paul before getting my first BMW. We became friends and often saw each other as we rode all over the US and Canada. At his last BMW weekend we sat together and enjoyed a glass of wine. A pic is on the BMWST site. Someday I'd like to stop by and say hello. I am from Miami and go down to the keys every winter for a week or so. Marty Hill
Thomas Z. Cooper says...
Posted Tuesday, October 15, 2019
Arianne, I purchased (new) two motorcycles from your father when he worked for BMW dealers in suburban Maryland. First was a 1990 K75S, the other a 2004 R1150RT. I remember well him saying the need to ride smoothly and keep the revs up. He could answer any technical question I had about the BMWs and seemed to know from our conversations that he was selling me the right bike for me. He was right, I logged well over 100,000 miles on each bike. He was an exceptional man. I enjoyed your post.
Philip Ager says...
Posted Tuesday, October 15, 2019
Knew Paul & Jim from our time with BMWBMW. Jim spoke affectionately about trying to keep up with Pops on weekend rides. Enjoy your new RT; get out and explore the country as your father often did. He/they still speak to me & the Mrs after riding with them both. Jim's Invisible Roads training was a hoot. They both 'preached' that if you're not constantly shifting gears, then you're not riding your steed the way it was meant to be ridden! We're happy to have left MD & DC in the rearview mirror in '18! Now enjoying the rolling hills and the local Beemer buddies we've met in Rocket City, USA. Just toured FL by vacationing in the Keys -- too hot & too crowded in the furthest reaches of Fla! But we greatly enjoyed the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola on our return trip... CIAO! HSV-Phil + HSV-Karen ;-))
Jorge Amely says...
Posted Tuesday, October 15, 2019
I met your dad once when he traveled to California. Very charming fellow and an inspiration. Loved his license plate as well.
Larry Meeker says...
Posted Tuesday, October 15, 2019
Nice article. I need to meet her since I too am in FLA.

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