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Motor Maids ride on the genteel side

July 06, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN

karenh@herald-mail.com

Heat radiated from the blacktop, a low rumble fired from the engines of more than 150 Harley-Davidson and Honda motorcycle Gold Wings and choppers.

For women bound by a love of monster machines, gray hair and wrinkles belie a passion that knows no age.

"The freedom, you forget everything on the road, except the pleasure of riding. It's the best, simply the best," Heidi Roy, of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, said as she and other women fired up their motorcycles before a parade of Motor Maids Inc. members Tuesday evening.

Motor Maids Inc., which bills itself as the oldest women's motorcycle club in North America, thundered into town Monday. According to president Brenda Thatcher, of Toledo, Ohio, about 225 members registered for the annual convention.

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About 89 guests - mostly men who are not allowed to participate in the group's official business - also attended, Glennadine Gouldman said. Gouldman, of Gum Spring, Va., who helped organize this year's convention, is the district director for Virginia, Delaware, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

Women of all ages balanced atop motorcycles sporting leather tassels, teddy bears, flags and Betty Boop portraits. One 87-year-old rode in a sidecar.

Since resuming motorcycling about six years ago, Roy, who rode years ago, might still be considered a novice in the group.

"Two years ago, I rode this all the way to California and back, and I'm 61 years old," said Roy, who sat atop a red-and-cream-colored Yamaha.

Other members are older than the club, which will celebrate its 65th anniversary during this year's convention.

Margaret Wilson has been riding 59 years, and only an injury over the winter slowed her motorcycling.

The 85-year-old had to ride in a sidecar partway from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to protect her hip, which she broke in a fall in January.

"I did it on the stairs. I didn't do it on the motorcycle," Wilson said.

Wilson said she never wants to quit.

"Nope, not too old to ride, as long as I can ride one of those big Harleys," said Wilson, who owns two Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Dressed in their distinctive blue blouses, gray slacks and white gloves, the Motor Maids' genteel celebration of power was a decidedly no-male affair.

Husbands and lovers stood by with cameras as their motorcycle-loving women paraded up and down U.S. 40.

Men are not allowed to take part in the parade or group business meetings.

"And very few of the women do bring their husbands," Donna Keefer, of Iverness, Fla., said above the rumble of engines. "It's the Motor Maids. It's not the Motor Men."

Bill Carter, 78, said he does not mind tagging along with his wife of 37 years.

"We make sure the girls have a good time. This is their big thing all year long," Carter said.

Jacqueline Muoio, of Richmond, Va., acknowledged there is one bad thing about being a motorcycling-loving mama - PMS.

It stands for Park the Motorcycle Syndrome - an annual malady her district marks with an all-girls' weekend.

"You know, you can't stereotype people," said Muoio, who is almost 55. "We're not all going to have tattoos and wear chaps."

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