Former Ride Captain

“Judy! Bikes!! Hundreds of ‘em!!!!!” my Dad exclaimed, as he walked into the house. Heart problems had caused the doctors to prescribe walking as exercise. Dad walked all over town. He had just returned from his “loop” down to the corner store. This took him past the Watchung Hills Elks club that was, as I later found out, frequently the end point for the Blue Star 100 Mile Run. The Elks is probably less than ½ mile from our home. The year was 1990, the month was August. I had an ’82 Yamaha XS650XJ Heritage Special that I had been riding around on, mostly alone, for four years.

“Let’s go check it out!” I replied. I had a second helmet and, for the first time, I took my Dad as a passenger to the Elks club. It was about 4 pm and things were winding down, but we paid the entrance fee and got a hamburger. We wandered around, admiring the bikes. My Dad had a ’37 Harley in a previous life and enjoyed gazing at all the bikes, mostly Harleys.

I think he was disappointed that I purchased a “Jap bike”, but he still allowed it in the garage! He sometimes rode it up and down our dead end street, helmetless, shirtless, in shorts and sneakers, sticking his tongue out at my Mom, who stood at the end of the driveway with her hands on her hips disapprovingly yelling “Bob!!! Baaaahhhhb!!”

Mom never cared for bikes, but respected my decision to ride them, enjoying the happiness they brought me. Dad was proud. When his friends were over they’d see the bikes in the garage and ask if they were his son’s. He’d proudly proclaim, “No, those are my DAUGHTER’S!”

It was at the Elks this August day that I spied a flyer for the NJ Chapter of the American Women’s Road Riding Alliance (AWRRA), which was the name of the club prior to it becoming Spokes-Women. I had apparently just missed Mary Ann, the member who was handing them out. When she departed, she left a stack of them behind, printed on hot pink paper. It took me until October of that year to finally attend a meeting. At the time, the club consisted of only 15 or so members, and we met at Mary Ann and Harry’s home in Franklin. It opened up a whole new riding world for me and rekindled my spark to ride. I had purchased my bike four years prior, but I was growing tired of riding alone. I was actually thinking of getting rid of the bike, a thought that would be totally foreign today. But I rapidly changed my mind since it now seemed that I’d found many new riding buddies.

I’ve always had a fondness for two wheeled motorized vehicles. I’m certain it started when I was around 10 years old and hopped on a neighbor’s home-made mini bike. When I was 14, I learned to ride on the backroads of Vermont on my friend’s “real motorcycle”, an AMF Harley-Davidson 175cc on/off road bike. I also bummed rides in the firehouse parking lot (Dad was a member), along with the boys, from the firemen who owned 250cc bikes, during the Memorial Day picnics.

I was riding one of Dad’s friend’s 250cc bikes made by Sears and overheard the guy telling my Dad that I handled it better than the boys. When we turned 18, the friend with the 175cc Harley decided to get her license and I decided to join her. I didn’t purchase my first bike till 1986, after I was out of college for several years. After that, there was no turning back!

Through AWRRA, which became the Spokes-Women, I met many wonderful folks and have shared countless miles of riding. I particularly enjoyed the spirited rides with two former members which took place after the scheduled club rides. It was their influence that made my next purchase a sportbike, a ’92 Yamaha FZR600RR. Just before that purchase, they quit the club and I lost touch with them, but, by chance, met up with one of them in 1995 at MAWMR.

She was riding with Reduc Sportbike Association and encouraged me to accompany her to the All-Women Reg Pridmore CLASS at New Hampshire International Raceway in Loudon that July. After getting a taste of track riding I was hooked and joined Reduc, and still ride with them today. My current bikes are a ’95 Ducati 900 SS SP and an ’01 Honda CBR 929 RR.

I continue to enjoy the friends I’ve made through being a member of Spokes-Women. I don’t know where the time has gone. My folks have been gone for about 7 years now, but I’ll always remember the support they gave me. I attempted to give Mom her first motorcycle ride on an old 125cc Honda in our backyard. I had to coerce her to put BOTH feet up on the passenger pegs. A small bike like that wasn’t going to go very fast with two adults on it. We creeped perhaps 20 feet when Mom yelled “Judy, stop, stop, STOP!” She was shaking so much I thought I’d drop the bike. That became one of my many favorite “Mom Stories”. But, I digress…

Motorcycling has brought me in touch with many fantastic people whom I wouldn’t have met if it wasn’t for our common love of motorcycles. I wouldn’t exchange all those memories for anything, and I hope to make many more memories and friends along the miles I travel on two wheels.

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