Thunder Roads LA/MS July 2019 - Page 24

WOMEN’S FREEDOM RIDE 2019 By: Sandie Schlett, Assistant State Captain of Patriot Guard Riders Mississippi Gulf Coast The Women’s Freedom Ride is a group formed by Karen Collins (Mama Bear). The purpose of the group is to promote fellowship and show support of women riders while honoring & raising money for veterans. Myself, Sandie Schlett, riding in a record breaking ride. were booked, so we connected and shared a room. She was from Kansas and I met & sat with many Kansas women at the banquet that night. There was an auction for a piece of art that brought $650, and the half and half raised $1500. All proceeds, from this, and everything the whole weekend going to the Spartan Alliance. My favorite guest speaker was Gloria Struck! If you are familiar with women in motorcycle history, I’m sure you’ve heard of her. She is 93 years old and has been riding motorcycles for over 75 years and has ridden an estimated 750,000 miles! She has ridden all over the world and is such an icon. You would never know by seeing and talking to her that she was 93! She has recently written a book, which of course I purchased and she signed. I have a cherished photo I had taken with her. What an honor! Me & Ms. Gloria Struck! I was blessed to meet a group of these women riders in 2018 when they came thru Biloxi Mississippi. They were riding thru 23 states in 18 days raising money for veterans! They inspired me to join them as that is two of my favorite things, riding my motorcycle and honoring veterans! I started following their Facebook page and saw that they were preparing to have their first “rally” in June 2019. It was going to be centrally located in the US. They chose Topeka Kansas. There were organized rides to the rally from various points across the country. There was a small fee to join and ride with a group. The purpose of the ride and event was to raise money for a charity for veterans, came out on the highway in front of us that day, and the worst part of the entire trip was rush hour in St Louis in the pouring rain! We made it safely, but that was stressful! That night we went to St Charles Harley Davidson where they treated us along with many other riders (more than 50) with food provided by the ladies of Harley, the local HOG group and the dealership. They gave us goodies and fed us. What a warm welcome! T and secondary goal was to see if we could break the world record for the most women on a motorcycle ride! The chosen charity this year was the Spartan Alliance. I am very familiar with this charity, as I have attended their event in Biloxi for the last 3 years (with the Patriot Guard Riders) where they host 50 wounded veterans and their caregivers, and treat them to a special weekend where they can meet others and form bonds and support. The last night of this special weekend is a gala with a special speaker, dinner, music, and they give away mobility chairs to some very deserving veterans. It’s a very moving experience to be a part of. I made arrangements, booked hotels, and rode from the Mississippi Gulf Coast north and met up with the group from Hammond Louisiana. We stayed the first night south of Memphis. I didn’t know anyone, but the three women I met and rode with were awesome! One was from Mississippi, one from Florida, and one from Tennessee. Day 2 we rode from Memphis to St Charles Missouri. We had two deer that motorcycle ridden by Gloria Strucks daughter, and Gloria was in the sidecar! It took much longer than anticipated to get all the bikes on to the track. The truck kept having to move up to give bikes in back room to get on the track. Eventually the bikes covered the entire 2-1/2 mile track 2-3 rows wide! The official ride began and we did 2 laps. By that time it was really heating up and most riders went to the after party at the Historic Harley dealership. There was food, CMA blessing bikes, a live band playing. Gloria Struck arrived and was signing books. Everyone who registered got a ticket to the Evel Knievel Museum, which was attached to the Harley dealership. Both places were really awesome! What a weekend! It flew by so quickly! The southern riders were all going different directions on Sunday, so I did my own ride coming home. I stopped in Missouri and saw relatives and spent the night, then Monday rode thru Tennessee stopping at Dyersburg digging around for some family history. That was a really enjoyable little town with friendly people! I spent the night in Memphis with friends. Tuesday morning was 402 miles dodging rain to get back to the coast. This was quite an adventure that I’m so glad I was able to do, but 2,139 miles later, it was nice to get back home! Oh...we didn’t set the world record, but we DID break the US record for the most women on a motorcycle ride. 762 women riding bikes! It hasn’t been announced yet, but I have a sneaky feeling there will be another adventure in 2020! Stay tuned! Day 3 was beautiful weather for our ride from St Louis to Topeka. We gained more riders in St Louis, so we had 12 of us riding together that day. We arrived at the host hotel in Topeka where there was lots of activity. There were many vendors set up inside and outside and the bikes.. oh so many bikes... and women! I was in the minority as I was wearing a helmet. There are no helmets required in Kansas and most of the ladies just had a scarf or bandana. Not this girl. I value my brains! So I got my packet & bag of goodies and signed up for the record breaking ride for Saturday. Others signed up for group rides on Friday, but since I had been riding for 3 days, I opted to do my own thing Friday. I went back to my hotel which was a few miles away since the host hotel was booked up. Friday I rode around town and saw a few sights. Went thru the arts district and saw murals painted on buildings & the capital building. I went back to the host hotel and looked at vendors. I met up with my room mate, who I had met online. Rooms 22 Thunder Roads® Magazine LA/MS Gulf Coast | July 2019 | he banquet went on pretty late and we had a special ride the next morning. We were meeting back at the host hotel at 6am Saturday morning to ride to the track to attempt to break the world record. My roommate and I woke to thunder and rain about 4am! We were not expecting that! By the time we had to leave, the roads were wet, but the rain had passed thru. We rode with a large group from the host hotel at 6am to Heartland Motorsports track. We watched for hours as more and more bikes rolled in. By 9:30 am it was a sea of bikes! We had a briefing and then mounted our bikes. As we entered in to the track, each rider stopped and a number was placed on their left arm. It was recorded and videotaped for it to be official. Since I arrived early with the Kansas group, I was bike #42 that entered the track. There was a lead truck, followed by two Topeka motorcycle cops, then a Rina, my roommate and who I rode side by side on this record Freedom Ride! | July 2019 | Thunder Roads® Magazine LA/MS Gulf Coast 23