Becky Brown kick-started her Harley-Davidson, revved the engine, and hauled off Sunday morning with a horde of bikers from downtown Rossford bound for Grand Rapids — just as she did 35 years ago.
In the mid-1970s, Ms. Brown said she didn’t know any other women motorcyclists and envied male riders’ brotherhood. She placed an ad in The Blade, and the response was overwhelming.
PHOTO GALLERY: Women in the Wind
“It was just to get local girls together,” said Ms. Brown, a Northwood native who now lives in Oregon.
Ten women responded to that first newspaper ad, and that was the start of Women in the Wind, the world’s largest organization of women riders, Ms. Brown said.
It now has more than 90 chapters and 1,300 members across the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Australia. In 1983, the group’s second chapter organized in Chicago. More chapters started across Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin during the 1980s.
Ms. Brown never imagined that Blade ad looking for companions would spawn a local club, much less an international organization.
“Our chapter gets together in the summer four or five times a month for rides or meetings,” she said. “[Saturday] we had our annual Mayfly ride to Port Clinton.”
The group’s route Sunday went along the Maumee River on River Road and State Rt. 65, which included a stretch of roadway adopted by the group’s Toledo chapter.
“Our chapter goes out there four times a summer and cleans it to make sure all the garbage is picked up,” said Ms. Brown, who was inducted into the American Motorcyclist Association Hall of Fame in 2002.
Sunday’s anniversary ride attracted 83 women, many of whom arrived clad in leather vests decorated with Women in the Wind emblems.
Among them was Linda Trowbridge, 72, of Riverside, Calif., who had traveled 4,000 miles with her friend Becky Torres since taking off from the West Coast on May 15.
The two ladies pulled into Rossford for the ride, each on a Spyder 3-wheel motorcycle.
Ms. Trowbridge, who started riding when she was 17, clenched her fist to show where the sun had tanned just her fingers during the cross-country trip.
The motorcycles left Rossford with a police escort, and were met later during the 30-minute trip by a Wood County sheriff’s deputy, who stopped traffic briefly for the long parade of bikes. They pulled into Providence Metropark and settled in for a rest and lunch.
Lisa Taylor of Martin, Ohio, said there is less stress when riding with only other women.
“No one feels pressure to go faster, and you really find out that you have so many things in common,” said Ms. Taylor, who has been president of the group’s Toledo chapter for three years.
Dianna Canupp, a retired welder from Monroe County’s LaSalle Township, put more than 20,000 miles last year on her Harley-Davidson Super Glide Custom.
“This year, I want to do 25,000,” she said after Sunday’s ride.
“It’s just the freedom — you have the wind in your face and it’s liberating,” Ms. Canupp said. “You also meet so many different people of all ages and professions.”
After the ride, she and the others “ate, talked, and parted ways,” Ms. Canupp said. “Some of us will head home and others will keep going.”
Contact Ignazio Messina at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6171.