Leaving hormone-replacement therapy, soap operas and rocking chairs in the dust, 100 members of the Motor Maids, an exclusively female motorcycle club, traveled from all over the United States and Canada to Chico for their 63rd annual convention.
The club, which boasts more than 685 members whose average age is 50, roared into town July 7 for the three-day gathering at the Holiday Inn. Their agenda included meetings, socials, skilled-riding activities, raffles, banquets, a parade and catching up with “the girls.”
Lacking the tattoos, foul-mouths and handlebar mustaches typical of the biker image, these women consider themselves “ladies” and take pride in promoting a positive image of female cyclists and safe-riding skills.
Motorists “are not aware of motorcycles enough,” said Judy Caldwell, 61, who rode from Kendallville, Ind. “I only saw two signs for ‘Beware of motorcycles’ in the whole 2,400 miles here.”
A rule for members of the Motor Maids is that they must own a motorcycle and ride it to the convention.
Teresa Stinner, 44, logged 1,474 miles on her 95th Anniversary Harley-Davidson, traveling from Cheyenne, Wyo., with two other Motor Maids. Leaving three days before the convention, “the trip was wonderful,” Stinner said. “We went through every national forest between Wyoming and California.”
Motor Maids, Inc., was founded in 1940 with 51 members by two Harley-riding mamas, Linda Dugeau and Dot Robinson. Both have since passed away, but Robinson’s daughter and granddaughter are both members and were present at this year’s convention.
The organization, furtively described by one member as comprised of “kick-ass women,” does not discriminate in member selection or variety of motorcycle, though nearly half the women drive Harleys. The only requirements are that a member be a female who owns and rides her own motorcycle.
There is, however, a short application and interview process before initiation to the club, as “we would not want to bring down the organization with any undesirable people,” Caldwell said. But, she added, “there is room for everybody.”
The convention brings together women with a shared passion for riding. Stinner described riding her motorcycle as a "stress reliever." She said, "[Since I left] I haven’t thought about anything—work, family, anything. I’ve only called my husband once to let him know I’m alive."