Thursday, April 5

Role models all!

I am ecstatic to report (rather belatedly, I know) that one of my heroines, Ardys Kellerman, a woman I’ve written about before and the person I nominated for the Motorcycle Bloggers International Hall of Fame, won in two categories: for “best contribution to motorcycling” and for “women’s riders booster of the year.” She earned those honors and deserves so much more. She’s a 74 year young, adventurous, and intrepid motorcycle “superhero.” What I admire most about her is an unwavering tenacity that puts most of our efforts to shame.

Then there’s Linda Bootherstone-Bick, WIMA (Women’s International Motorcycle Association) introduced me to this amazing woman, artist, songwriter and free-spirit. I had not heard of Linda before this but I’ve now followed her magnificent travelogue. In 2005, Linda, a seasoned motorcyclist, turned her long-held dream into reality when she embarked on a solo trip from Gibraltar to Australia. While on her challenging trek, Linda celebrated her 61st birthday. Her trip, which took 21 months to complete, is an inspiring narrative about old and new friends, personal fortitude, and survival. View Linda's warm and inviting pictures; follow her trials and tribulations atop a Suzuki DR650. Fall in love with Linda's spirit.

And then there’s my all-time heroine, Bessie Stringfield, a black woman who served as a military dispatch motorcycle rider during WWII, motoring around the USA eight consecutive times, outperforming other dispatch riders with her successful completions. Bessie rode at a time when race relations made it difficult at best for a black person to travel freely through the South. Fearless Bessie rode with abandon. Imagine the tales of Bessie Stringfield, a lone black woman on a motorcycle, often forced to sleep on her bike because she was refused hotel accommodations—I’m talking about a time long before Civil Rights was on anyone’s radar. There are moments when I believe she summons me from her grave, whispering, “Tell my story,” which I am planing to do.

These are not just role models for woman; they are role models for anyone breathing. These courageous individuals rode day after day—solo—expecting the best from life but forever prepared to deal with the worst. This summer, when I’m out there alone, navigating around Lake Superior, enjoying the scenic, often desolate roads that proudly profess nature’s miracles, these are the brave, strong, independent souls I shall dwell on and feel a connection. Collectively, they goad and motivate me to persevere, to get out there and live my dreams, and to ignore naysayers and one’s own internal critics. I’ve always marched to a different drummer. Now I ride to one too.