Port St Lucie, Fla., May 10 — It has been 15 years since I first organized the local Southern girls to take a ride and support the area economy. And it started simply enough by trying to convince my boss to go riding with me. After beginning a career in Harley parts in 1985 up north, I moved south in 1988 and began working for Harley-Davidson of Stuart, Florida. Karin Serekas and her husband Ken had owned the dealership for years and were on the cusp of superstore icon status as I had tried in vain to get Karin to take a day and go riding with me. I was thinking it would be a good way to support local business owners, since the economy was very much in the dumper back then. What began like a dealership’s garage party for the gals quickly turned into a genuine women’s ride where we rode, stopping, shopping and supporting along the way. Later we would meet up at a local restaurant or bar with our men folk. That first year, there were 10 of us. We left from the south Stuart shop and went to a boot store in Fort Pierce about 25 miles north. We ended up at a restaurant/bar called Rooster’s. Rooster’s has since gone through a couple of reincarnations of nightclub entertainment changes and has recently become Johnny Zee’s, a biker’s superstar bar.
We never had any intentions of benefiting an individual or any particular cause. There were already burgeoning bunches of biker folks who were doing that for others and I just wanted a fun day for the girls as we celebrated our sisterhood in the wind. Along with the assistance of a few girlfriends, we would ride out to the businesses we had selected to give them a heads up and let them know we were coming. Our point of departure has changed from the dealership to the local botanical gardens and other locations over the years. So when I began to volunteer at our no-kill shelter, it only made sense to benefit them with any monies we might raise along the way. One thing that has remained constant with this ride is that the local Harley-Davidson dealership has provided “goodie bags” for the first ladies in attendance. Trophies are also awarded after being inspired by an area church’s support. The “Best Dressed” is the grand award for any gal who can attend, ride and last the entire day while still looking good—with or without helmet hair.
This year we arrived at the Dogs & Cats Forever Thrift Store where volunteers Jackie and Norma had a light bagel breakfast available to us. We insist that riders sign a waiver so no one gets sued over a roadside screwup or cages getting between us in the pack. Fortunately, we have never had a rider down or mishap of any kind. We conference before we ride, getting to know everyone’s level of comfort, years of riding experience and wealth of knowledge concerning the hazards of the road, of which we have experienced them all; wind, rain, sand, stupid drivers and, of course, construction zones. This year we were honored to have 30 women who have been riding five or more years each, and since we were taking the Interstate, the leader of the pack breathed a bit easier. The Chrome Angels MC sent up three riders from Fort Lauderdale and a group of Women in Wind showed up sporting those fancy orange and black colors.
We rolled out about 11:30 a.m. and headed north, pretty much owning whatever part of the highway we were on. Like I always say, who would want to mess with that group of girls? The drivers just smile and wave as we ride up the 25 miles to the Vero Beach Outlet Mall to spread some economic wealth for about an hour or so. It was a gloriously rain-free day with plenty of blue skies. After our shopping spree we regrouped and headed south towards Johnny Zee’s, only about a mile away from the thrift store where we left. As we rolled into the parking lot, we were greeted by the Leathernecks MC in full swing holding their annual event.
Johnny Zee’s offers a tiki-bar flavor with outside seating and plenty of bike parking. Johnny Zee, the owner, generously sponsored our trophies this year, and since the only food at the mall was a Subway, the girls ordered big burgers and fries and sumptuous cocktails. Vendors like Donna Notofranco and her “Classier than Normal” booth as well as skin care consultant Marlene Hernandez were on hand offering some comfort to the most sunburnt of the group. Sadly, the city said no dogs allowed inside so the shelter dogs’ booth had to find a spot in the parking lot. And although there was no band this day, we were treated to a spectacular display of agility and grace by the students and owner of Sinsational Pole Dance Studio out of Jensen Beach. Even in its brevity, most of us could only shake our heads and imagine what it’s like to bend like that. The Leathernecks were appreciative too since they had no clue the show was included in their annual event. We only raised a couple hundred bucks, but that’s a nice amount of dog and cat food when you think about it. Every dollar helped.
Trophies went out fast after that with Oldest Rider being an independent, Jody Marshall Swett, who rode up from Pompano Beach the day before. Jody also won Best Biker Chick Motorcycle for her “Peace Out” Harley Softail. Best Friends were given to those women who had actually ridden and participated throughout the day. Longest Distance rider went to a lady named Dutch who rode up from Miami on her BMW. The coveted Best Dress went to Jennifer Miller-Carper who found a red tulle tutu at the thrift store and continued to crack us up with antics of ballet and headdress throughout the day.
I personally want to thank Ruby Toryak and Paul Nolan at Treasure Coast Harley-Davidson for this year’s great goodie bags (www.treasure-harley.com). And I wish to also thank the women who served as road captains and helped 30 of us get there and back without incident. A big “thank you” also goes to Johnny for sponsoring our trophies and giving us space in the bar, in the midst of all those marines. I especially want to say thank you to the Chrome Angels MC members who made it north in less than an hour and gave me a new phrase. They ride “nuts to butts” and that’s my brand of biker chicks. I want to say thank you to all the people who helped me set this up: Jer’lyn and her studio, Bunny at the bar, Donna in the parking lot, and Jenny on the block at all times. These are my friends and sisters in the wind.
The ironic part about this year’s ride is that, 15 years ago, we first rendezvoused at Rooster’s. Rooster’s is now Johnny Zee’s, proving that history indeed does repeat. Will there be another Ladies Day Out? At this time, I think it’s about run its course, but then I say that every year. Let someone else do it. Let a year go by and we’ll see who’s still around to possibly carry on this Treasure Coast Women in Motorcycling event. That’s what keeps it interesting.
(This article Ride to Shop was published in the July 2014 issue of Thunder Press, South edition.)