I’m imagining the conversation began with Trudy pacing near her bright yellow Magna, puffing on a cigarette. It probably went like this: “I want to get out and ride!”
Then, agreement and head nodding from her friend.
“There must be some other women who want to ride, too. l’m gonna check out Women on Wheels®. Get some names of other women riders.”
More head nodding from her friend. It was hard to get a word in when Trudy was hot on a topic.
* * * *
In early 1996, a letter arrived in the U.S. mail. It was from a woman named Trudy Albrecht. Little did I know that she and I would become great friends as a result of this letter and her desire to bring women riders together and form a Central Valley chapter of Women on Wheels®.
After the required number of meetings and memberships, and the necessary paperwork was filled out and filed, we were ready to ride as a formal group. So, on a Saturday in March of 1996, from all over the valley -- Fresno, Visalia, Corcoran, Clovis, Gustine Hanford, Coalinga, Bakersfield -- we met up at a gas station/convenience store on Highway 65 near Ducor, California. From there, we took off on our first excursion, to California Hot Springs Resort. Mountain Road 56 climbed and wound into the central-southern Sierra Nevadas, and 25 miles later, we were at our destination.
Many of us were new to each other, so we spent time becoming acquainted over lunch in the resort dining area. Then someone went outside and came back yelling, “Snow!” We cleared the restaurant in no time, jumped on our bikes and carefully headed back down the mountain. This was the first of many memorable adventures with the group that became known as the California Sunblazers Chapter of Women on Wheels® -- Sunblazers, for short.
|Laurie shows off our Logo|
The highways and byways of California and across the nation became ours. Excursions to the coast, the desert, and the mountains were all within reach -- sometimes on a day trip, other times, over night. There were great weekends when we camped or rented a house at the coast. Once we were lucky enough to have a member with connections and stayed at a home overlooking the ocean at Cayucos.
|Sunblazers in Redding 2001|
We conducted meetings in which we learned about safe riding habits through reading, watching videos, and members’ experiences. Then, we put those behaviors into practice on the road, assuring safe journeys and fun experiences together. Basic maintenance seminars, given by our chapter director, Sylvia Thornton, enabled us to become more knowledgeable and feel more confident when out on the road.
One of the things I’ve been most proud of with the Sunblazers is our willingness and dedication in mentoring new riders. Often women have a desire to begin riding their own motorcycles but have few options for practice with seasoned, safety-conscious bikers. We have a history of helping those women gain experience and self-assurance.
The greatest gift for me is the personal connection between members, the friendships and loyalties that have developed over the years. We know we can count on each other on and off the bikes and enjoy time together over meals, in our book group, and in other travel adventures.
|Trudy, Earlene, Judy, Gil, me, & Sylvia |
Kern County backroads ride
For nearly twenty years, a number of us have traveled the continent together -- to all points between both coasts, to Alaska, and even across Canada. We can count on each other, knowing that our bikes will be road worthy, clutches will be out at the agreed-upon time, and will be considerate, law-abiding, safe riders.
|3-Dam Ride - Redding 2001|
From a group of strangers to a band of buddies, we are all the richer for knowing each other and bonding as Sunblazers.