Dedicated to the women who RIDE THEIR OWN motorcycles  

How I Came to Ride My Own

by Holly

Thanks to my husband, I have some of the best memories ever and wanted to share how my best memories of riding came to be and why I am creating new ones. Many people have their reasons why women shouldn’t be riding motorcycles, but do they truly understand why women want to ride? I, like many women, ride for a sense of freedom which is generally the same reason men ride. For me, riding has a special meaning and without riding I likely would not be able to endure many of the harsh realities life has and does deal me. A thought came to mind one day as I avoided a cager who just cut me off that sums up how I feel about riding. “Riding a motorcycle is like living life. Every time you experience it, It is a breathtaking yet treacherous journey.”

My husband Kevin died in November of 2000, at the age of 40, on his ’98 Harley Davidson Dyna Super Glide after a vehicle stopped short in front of him and sent him into a ravine. Although his death has been hard on me and my children, along with his riding family, our memories of riding with him keep us going and are some of the best memories we have. We have learned from him how great riding is for the soul, but we also learned that being your best and helping others when you can makes you an honorable person and a good friend.

Many people rode that cold November day of his funeral; myself included. As we rode down to our favorite hangout, past the spot where his road came to an end, shaking from the cold, we pondered what those last few moments were like and knew that he tried his best to get out of a bad situation. Solace soon came to our hearts as we knew he left the way he always wanted to leave this world…on his Harley on a beautiful day; although we sure wished he would have been able to do so later in his life.

Kevin and I were married two weeks shy of 17 years. Being the responsible guy that he was, he worked hard and dreamed of the day he could buy the one thing he wanted to own again; a Harley. He had ridden some type of motorcycle all his life and knew their potential to satisfy the need for real freedom. Finally, in the fall of ’98 and after 14 years of marriage, 3 wonderful children, a house and years of hard work his dreams came true. Never in my life have I ever seen a man so content with his life and one with his motorcycle.

Knowing how important this thundering hunk of metal meant to him, I had no problem with it living in my living room (we didn’t have a basement or garage). It became like a member of our family and got preferential treatment; nothing but the best. It never slept dirty, nor did its chrome ever lack a shine. Soon, the living room was decorated with a toolbox, complete with every tool imaginable to clean the tiniest of crevices. Stress became a thing of the past, and when he rode we were all psyched, especially me. We heard great stories (if you know what I mean) about his rides and always enjoyed going with him on a ride. Our littlest loved to brag how his Daddy gave him rides to school. Kevin started showing me how to ride again on his Dyna. We visited the local school and I rode the quiet country roads surrounding our home. I was truly enjoying it and we began talking about the possibility of getting me a bike.

In February of 2000, Kevin made my dreams come true by buying me a 2000 Sportster. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed riding with Kevin on his Dyna, but those Badlander seats leave your behinds a bit numb. So thanks to Kevin and Woodstock Harley Davidson, I had my ticket to freedom. My children thought I was crazy, yet cool, and a few of my friends did, too. The memories started growing with the Sportster, but we decided that it was just a stepping stone to getting my license and a bike better suited for me. During the NY State HOG Rally in July, Kevin and Woodstock HD surprised me again by handing me the keys to a concord purple 2000 FLHRI. A Road King was not my dream bike, but it sure was comfortable and I loved it.

Now, atop a more comfortable ride, our family could head out for more summer fun; Kevin with our youngest son, me with my daughter and a friend with our oldest son (sometimes our children just took turns or we went out on our own). Some of our best memories come from that summer. Trips to Connecticut, New Jersey and local charitable rides were weekly rituals. We rode with a handful of honorable riders and met many great people on our rides. We were able to make several rides that summer and how lucky we are that we did. Little did we know it would be the last summer we would have with Kevin.

During our rides Kevin always kept us on our toes; safety was important to him. He usually lead or stayed near the lead, pointing out gravel or other potential road hazards and made it clear to other vehicles at intersections that bikes were coming through. He had his fun though; when the coast was clear. Familiar stretches of road, where safety permitted, Kevin would let loose a little and his well tuned supped up EVO helped him feel young again. We always looked out for overpasses, too. He had this habit of waking us up as we went under with a blast from his baffle-less Screamin’ Eagle pipes. Earplugs Please!

Probably the ultimate riding memory, the one that really makes me smile when I am riding, when times are the toughest and when I miss him the most is the one of him riding up along side of me; proud and right. His legs stretched out, feet way up front, drag bars in his hands and the wind blowing his long black and silver ponytail out from his leather. His red helmet and his sleek goggles sharing his face with his mustache and beard. Then, I see him turn his head, smile and send a kiss just for me. Some people have asked me why I still ride. “Kevin’s bike killed him and you could be next.” they say. I simply reply that his bike didn’t kill him, it completed him.

The memories of our rides together, my purple Road King, Kevin’s Dyna (which has been rebuilt and is what I now ride), and every ride to come will help me and my children get through our tough times without Kevin. Our two oldest, (16 and 15) can’t wait to get their Buells in just a couple years and to begin making their own memories of their own and our youngest (8) has drawn many Harleys for when he grows up. I can’t imagine creating new memories any other way. As for those who don’t know why we can and want to continue riding, I will say to you (as Kevin would always say) “If I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand”.

Ride safe and for the right reasons,
Holly G.
New York

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From Holly:
"I am a widow, mother of 3 and a teacher. I ride a 1998 Dyna Super Glide and have been riding for almost 5 years. I am a National member of Ladies of Harley, HOG and AMA and a member of the Rumble Sisters Biker Sisterhood. I ride with a small group of friends and love to explore the beautiful mountains and valleys of Southern NY." You can find Holly visiting the
Harley Women Riders and the Women Who Ride (WWR) forum.

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