Queens of the Road

Group picture in front of Runnings sign: (Left to right) Patricia Hartman, Shellie Kahler, Judy Schewe, Shirl Huiras, Doris Loverude, Paulette Rewitzer, Phillis Lepp Annie Albaugh, Rebecca DeMarais, Gail Holm and Mary Rewitzer all pose with their bikes before their weekly ride.

NEW ULM — There are few sensations as exhilarating as feeling the wind through your hair while taking to the open road on a motorcycle. Recently an all women group has started a club dedicated to capturing the experience.

The group consists of a dozen women ages in their 30s through 70s. The club has no formal membership requirements. Members come from all over Brown County, but also include members from Courtland and Butterfield. There is no restriction on the type of cycle the members ride; however Harley Davidson is the most popular model. There isn’t even a requirement members have a bike of their own. Several members are happy to ride as passengers.

Since May, the group has met every Wednesday for a motorcycle road trip to a fun location. The good news is the weather has been cooperative this season. In the spring, the weather was cool, but the gals were only rained out once. On that day they still went on the road trip, but they used their traditional four-wheeled vehicles.

Group organizer Pat Hartman said the idea for the all women motorcycle group came from meeting local women who loved riding bikes, but many groups were either made up of mostly men or exclusively men. The ladies in this organization did not want to ride only when their spouses were available.

Hartman said they started as a small group, but soon the news spread by word of mouth and now a typical weekly road trip can have as many as 12 riders.

Below members of the group cruise in New Ulm.

The weekly road trips are typically planned by Jean Sturm. Sturm has been riding motorcycles for 10 years and while working as an employee of 3M she would organize company motorcycle rides. She has since retired, but she has brought her organizational experience with her to the motorcycle club. The itinerary for each road trip is taped to the windscreen of Stur’s Harley Davidson Road King.

“I try to have a designation in mind,” Sturm said, “a place to eat or fun location.”

Each of the Wednesday bike rides takes the ladies on a 200 to 250 mile trip. In mid July they traveled to Faribault. The group planned to stop for lunch at a Bar and Grill near Le Center.

Sturm began riding motorcycles with her husband. At first she would ride behind him on his bike, but she soon got her own Harley to go her own way.

Her husband once told her ‘Independence is not a desirable trait in women’ but her response was he married the wrong woman.

For some of the gang the weekly motorcycle trips is a mini-family reunion. Mary Rewitzer, Shirl Huiras, Judy Schewe, Annie Albaugh and Doris Loverude are all sisters. The bike trips are great chance to spend time together.

Other women grew up riding motorcycles. Shellie Kahler started riding mini-bikes at the age of 10 with her brothers. Motorcycles were a major part of the family.

“Basically we would do everything on a bike,” she said. “It’s in our blood.”

Kahler views biking a meditative experience and the destination is not important.

“It is the best way to see the country,” Kahler said “It is such a different perspective. You get a lot of thinking done on two wheels.”

For these dedicated bikers any excuse to jump on the bike is a good excuse. Rebecca DeMarais said a simple trip to the store for milk might take two hours because she takes the most scenic and curvy route possible.

Below: Rebecca DeMarais stands among several of the group members motorcycles.

During the July 12 outing a total of 12 women on 10 bikes met in the Cash Wise parking lot before their two hour trip to Faribault. The group drove out of the Cash Wise parking lot around 10 a.m. on their latest adventure. It was quit the spectacle to see.

“We get a lot of looks as we pass by,” Hartman said. “On our trips we make more friends, many of them women.” In their experience people find the all woman’s group more approachable than the average biker gang.

The exciting part is the motorcycle season is only halfway over. Several of the ladies have already managed between 3,000 and 6,000 miles on their motorcycles, but they still have plenty of fun back roads to travel.