Lady Lovin’ Her Life: Women’s Freedom Rally – an Awesome Experience
By Paula O’Kray
In mid-June, I set off on a new adventure. I headed to Topeka, KS, for the Women’s Freedom Rally, a three-day event culminating with breaking the world’s record for the most female motorcyclists on one ride.
Only a few things went wrong.
I mailed two boxes of my books to sell at the event, but somehow they were lost, and still are. Extremely upset about that, but determined to get my books to the rally, a friend and I spent an afternoon figuring out how to mount the remaining books I had on my bike, without being ruined by the approaching rainstorm that there was no way around.
The answer was 39-gallon trash bags, wrapped twice around the 22-poud boxes that were filled to the brim with every last book. On top of that, I had to load my clothing and personal items needed for the trip. So much fun! When we were done, the stack on the bike was higher than my head.
I set out Wednesday morning, set to meet three other riders from Minnesota in Albert Lea. It rained hard the first three hours of the trip, and when it stopped, the wind started in.
While stopped just outside of La Crosse for gas, a group of around eight men rode in and stopped at the pumps. Although rain tends to bond motorcyclists, I seemed invisible to them. One finally approached and complimented me on my bike, and asked where I was headed. After a brief chat, I headed back out.
In Albert Lea the sun was shining, so I pulled off all my rain gear at a Wendy’s and before long my buddies pulled in to the parking lot. A gentleman in a beat-up truck smiled and asked, “Wanna trade?” and I laughed and said, “Not today!”
After a brief comfort stop with quick introductions, we were on our way. We stopped in Des Moines, IA, for the night, and I pulled everything off the bike, since I was concerned about losing my books again.
In the morning, I hauled it all back out and carefully reloaded my bike. The girls were in awe of the load, and how I was riding with all that on the bike. It was a skill, since I had practiced riding with weight, but not with 50 pounds of books on the back. It was a bit unstable at stoplights and slow speeds, but otherwise the wind didn’t give me a lot of trouble.
But there was wind! The gusts started in Iowa, but I’m absolutely sure they keep all the wind in Kansas. Sometimes it was like being punched in the face, and I learned quickly that irregularly shaped trucks packed the biggest wallop.
Pulling into the hotel in Topeka was an interesting sight; hundreds of bikes of all shapes, models and sizes, with women to match. We were in town to promote raising money for disabled veterans, to promote women riders, and to break the world’s record for the most women on one ride. It was going to be a very exciting three days.
Next week: Part Two – Many Women, Many Stories