Story and photos submitted
Local Stillwater lady motorcyclist, Terri Collier, also known as “T” Your Riding Writer, recently led a ride group of thirty-two women motorcyclists across five states, in five days, traveling over 2,900 miles to the Women’s Freedom Ride Rally in Topeka, KS. Neither riding motorcycles nor traveling thousands of miles leading motorcyclists is new to “T”. Her passion for riding was set 50 years ago when her parents gave her a mini-bike. “I love riding for many reasons. My parents instilled a passion for adventure, speed, and travel in me at a young age as we traveled across the Midwest racing cars,” said Collier. She continued, “it wasn’t until eleven years ago, that I found out how many women were looking to break away from riding with the male groups they’d ridden with for years and begin discovering new friends in women who rode motorcycles as well.” At that time, she connected with a woman who owned a motorcycle dealership in Oklahoma and together they created a women’s ride that grew so large in five years that they had to discontinue it due to the potential danger of 187 motorcycles riding together in one group for 100 miles. From that ride, she began successfully putting together annual multi-state rides for groups of lady riders.
“The number of great things that happened when I put together women riders for meet and greets and rides were more than I’d expected. Not only were these ladies looking for travel and adventures, but their common motorcycle bond helped many of them grow and break through the barriers that we women have naturally built up between us,” she explained. Her discovery led her to help women mentor and learn from one another about how to be more confident and to be the best riders that they can be over the long rides. She observed how her “group ride rules” forced the ladies, oftentimes strangers to one another, to work respectfully together under pressure and stressful situations for several days in a row. It caused them to open-up quickly with one another and gain respect in a way that can only be found on a group ride.
Because “T” had many years of experience leading riders, North Carolinian Karen Collins, Founder of Women’s Freedom Ride, asked her to lead a group out of Scottsdale, AZ. It was one of eight guided rides coming from the far reaches of the United States to gather in Topeka, KS with hundreds of other women riders. They had several missions to accomplish on their journey including raising funds for wounded veterans, attempting to break a world record, and enjoying the ride while celebrating like-minded lady riders. While the Women’s Freedom Ride has been doing annual cross country rides raising funds for wounded veterans since 2010, this was the first year they did multiple rides and the first time they converged in one location for a three-day rally to gather nearly 800 women riders together.
Once in Topeka, the rally-goers enjoyed vendors, meet and greets, a sold-out crowd of 680 who enjoyed a dinner banquet where “T” was a speaker along with other famed women motorcyclists Jen Brew, Gloria Struck, and Jessi Combs. On the second day of the event, the ladies gathered, with great anticipation, at Heartland Motorsports Park to ride in one group for 7.5 miles in an attempt to break the world record for the most women to ride together in one group. The previous record was set in the UK by 1,184 female riders. They missed the world record by a few hundred riders but were able to set a new United States record at 762 riders. With great support from the attendees, they’re already planning for next year’s rally and another attempt to take the world record away from the UK. In addition to the banquet and record-breaking ride, the ladies were treated to camaraderie and final celebrations on Saturday afternoon and night with bands and a party. The highlight of the weekend was the announcement that they had reached their fundraising goal and were able to donate enough money to Spartan Alliance to purchase a trac wheelchair for a female wounded veteran.
Our local rider, “T”, wrapped up the interview with a tease as to the location of next year’s rally. “Although I’m unable to announce the location of the 2020 Women’s Freedom Ride Rally at this time, I’ll tell you that I’ve been asked to be the coordinator for next year. I can also say that the rally must be kept in a central United States location and Stillwater is under consideration as next year’s location. I hope by the time this publication is in readers’ hands, we have been able to announce that our hometown won the vote!” To find the answer to the 2020 rally location and how to get involved, donate funds, or learn more, interested persons may do so at www.womensfreedomride.org or at Women’s Freedom Ride on Facebook.