Women in the Wind kick into gear

dgraham@bradenton.comApril 30, 2013 

EAST MANATEE -- They're Women in the Wind and they're all about the ride. That's the sole purpose for the She Shore Riders Chapter of the all-female motorcycle club that will sponsor the area's International Women's Riding Day this Friday night.

The ride here starts at 6 p.m. Hap's Cycle Sales, 2530 17th St., Sarasota, and travels to Tarpon Point Grill and Tiki Bar, 801 Riverside Dr. E., Bradenton, where there will be special motorcycle parking and music. It is open to any woman motorcycle rider, but participants should arrive by 5 p.m. to register.

"The ride started in Canada. Everywhere in the world women ride on May 3," said She Shore Riders president Esther Halt. "We sponsor the local women's ride every year. Usually we get about 40 women."

The next day the group will leave for Daytona Beach for a "sisters weekend," where members from around the state will gather overnight. That event draws about 40 to 50 women, which, according to Halt, "is a lot of different kinds of women in

one place."

Riding with women offers a totally different experience than sharing the road with men, Halt said. "My bike is my baby. When I first got my endorsement, I went on one ride with my husband and his friends. We got about 5 or 6 miles up Fruitville Road and I pulled over and cried. I said I'd never ride again. They were way up ahead of me."

She did get back on her motorcycle again, however. "A few months later one of the girls up the road invited me to go with her and it was a totally different experience. They put me in the middle, That was totally different. and now my husband's got to keep up with me!" said Halt, a financial adviser with Raymond James.

"I ride to work sometimes. Sometimes I have to wear pretty clothes and I can't ride it in then. It just depends on if I can wear slacks rather than a dress, It just depends on my mood, rain or cold," Halt said. "I don't want to be on a bike in that. It hurts. It's miserable."

In June, she plans to ride her motorbike to the national Women in the Wind convention in Washington, D.C. "I've taken my bike to New York, to Tennessee, on the tail of the dragon in the beautiful Smokeys. I took my bike on a cruise, and rode around Saint Martin and Puerto Rico," Halt said.

For Aline Giroux, riding was something she did as a youngster, but the safety factors kept her away from owning a motorcycle. Now working for the Manatee Sheriff's Office, she said, "When I got pretty close to hitting 50, I said, 'You know what, it doesn't matter any more. I wear my seat belt. I wear my helmet.'"

Still, she said, "I didn't tell my family about it for about two and a half years."

In 2008, she got her motorcycle operator's license, "I was in training for my license on April Fool's day of '08, the same day I got my first puppy. I was 49. Turning 50 was a big thing."

When the club goes on rides, Giroux brings up the rear of the pack. "Now I drive a Spyder, also known as a backwards trike. It has two wheels in the front and one in the back. They're stable because you can't tip it over. A normal tryke you can't tip over. I call it my Florida ski-doo, It's made by the original Jet Ski company. It looks like a ski-doo on wheels. You can't tip it over, If you go too fast around the corner or hit a curb, it goes slows down."

The club calls Giroux the caboose based on her position and the red color of her Spyder.

"Riding is total freedom. Sometimes when I'm going over a bridge I'll raise both hands and say I'm flying. Its total freedom! It exhilarates me. It regenerates you," Giroux said. "One of the club members was in the emergency room on Friday, very sick. When I spoke to her husband on Friday, he said, 'Her fever's broke and we're making her get out and ride.' It always makes you feel better when you ride."

The club is open to all ages, but the youngest current member just turned 40. "The oldest in our club is in her late 70s. One was 70 when she started riding, bought a Harley Sportster and rode it down from Michigan. She keeps that one now in Michigan and got a bigger Harley to ride back and forth," Giroux said.

"Our point is to be a female and a rider. You have your endorsement and you have your bike and you're in. We're totally diversified. We've had some 20-year-olds and some almost pushing 80, so it's a wide range of every type of person. It's a riding club. An official motorcycle club is different," Giroux said.

Dee Graham, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7027, or tweet @DeeGrahamBH.

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