Shifting Gears

“We’re going to party like a rock star!” – Joe Wofford

As the calendar changes to 2022, we reflect on 2021 and begin to imagine what kind of party might be sufficient to celebrate our 25th anniversary as a Chapter of Women On Wheels®.

We have six months to prepare to host the 22nd Missouri Women On Wheels® (MO WOW) State Rally, seven months to make plans to attend the 36th Women On Wheels® International Ride-In™ and celebrate the 40th anniversary of Women On Wheels®, and twelve months to participate in weeknight/weekend rides, state lunches/events, monthly meetings, and other spontaneous gatherings.

Below are a few more highlights from 2021. We’ve already written about the annual MO WOW Touring/Photo Contest and International Female Ride Day.

In early May, we had the great privilege to host WOW president, Carol, and enjoyed a day of riding, eating, sightseeing, and laughter.
Later in May, Carol joined the members of MO WOW at the State Ride to Lunch in Warsaw, MO.
In June, we attended the 21st Annual MO WOW State Rally held in Monett. Hosted by Missouri’s Lady Cruisers of the Ozarks Chapter, we enjoyed the scenic roads in southwest Missouri.
Several members attended the 35th WOW International Ride-In in Lake George, NY. After several days of riding in the rain, these four opted to walk to dinner one evening. Cris suggested going down to the hotel’s front desk to inquire about trash bags that could be turned into makeshift ponchos. Hearing this, Jackie proudly pulled three ponchos out of her bag. Perhaps Jackie was a Girl Scout and trained to always “be prepared”?
In October, we took a fall foliage ride through Calhoun County via the Illinois River Road and Kampsville River Ferry. Although the fall foliage was sparse, there was still plenty of beautiful nature to enjoy.

Later in October, we participated in a “Trunk or Treat” event hosted by Jenean’s church. The treats, motorcycles, and Mr. Bones were spook-tacular. The chicken brought out her inner comedi-hen. Her taste in humor is im-peckable; pure poultry in motion.
We are grateful for the leadership of our Chapter Director, Alice, and are especially proud of our “Cover Girl,” as she appears on the January/February/March 2022 “Women On Wheels®” magazine.
Our Chapter lost an “honorary member” in December. Many of us first met Joe at the Lake George Ride-In, his most recent motorcycle trip. At his service, it was said that Joe loved to party. (Photo courtesy Jenean.)

Per Wikipedia, “A party is a gathering of people who have been invited by a host for the purposes of socializing, conversation, recreation, or as part of a festival or other commemoration or celebration of a special occasion.”

We invite interested riders in the St. Louis metro area and beyond to join us in our 25th year. We have 12 months to party! Let’s get started.

By Cris

It’s a Wonderful, WOWderful Life

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the debut of “It’s a Wonderful Life”. For those who haven’t seen it at least once during its annual rebroadcast around Christmas, the movie tells the tale of George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart.

George had aspirations to change the world in big ways, but his father’s death and a growing family kept him in Bedford Falls. George gave up his dreams to travel the world to run his father’s loan business. When thousands of dollars accidentally disappear, a suicidal George plans to jump from a bridge until an angel named Clarence shows George what life for those living in Bedford Falls would have been like had George never been born.

When Alice, Jackie, Marie, and I stopped in Seneca Falls, New York, on our way home from the 35th Women On Wheels® International Ride-In™ in July, Alice and I visited the Seneca Falls It’s a Wonderful Life Museum at 32 Fall Street.

The opening scene of “It’s a Wonderful Life” welcomes viewers to Bedford Falls. The film’s director, Frank Capra, visited Seneca Falls in 1945 looking for inspiration. The fictional town of Bedford Falls is said to closely resemble Seneca Falls.
Luckily there was no snow in Bedford Falls when we visited in July, but Christmas decor can be found inside the museum all year round.

At the end of the movie, George looks inside a book given to him by Clarence. The book is only one of dozens of movie props in the Museum.

Yes, Clarence, no man [or woman] is a failure who has friends.

Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if Women On Wheels® had never been born.

I cannot imagine as it’s truly been a WOWderful life.


The 75th Anniversary Celebration of “It’s a Wonderful Life”
Seneca Falls, NY
December 8-12, 2021

By Cris

Paving the Way

“Perhaps we women should remember the suffragists whenever we wear trousers, ride a bicycle, sign a petition, or participate in a demonstration because these and many other things are now ours to choose as a result of their journey.” – Stephanie Hall1

This sign at the corner of Mynderse and Fall Streets in Seneca Falls, New York, marks the spot of the first woman’s rights convention held in the United States organized by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton on July 19-20, 1848.

Alice, Jackie, Marie, and I stopped here on our way home from the 35th International Women On Wheels® Ride-In™ held in Lake George, New York, July 13-15, 2021.

The Seneca Falls Convention laid the groundwork for changing the future for women, including a woman’s right to vote, but it also had an impact on female fashion.

“Fashions of the time were restrictive and contributed to women being seen as incapable. Voluminous skirts were both pointed to as evidence that women were incompetent and in fact limited what they were able to do.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was interested in dress reform and learned of a new fashion worn by activist Elizabeth Smith Miller: a skirt or dress over loose trousers. She tried the outfit and introduced it to another activist and editor of the progressive magazine, The Lily, Amelia Bloomer in 1851. Bloomer promoted this new form of dress, particularly a version with very full trousers drawn in at the ankle. What was then called the “Bloomer outfit” was extremely controversial and was ridiculed by those who opposed social change.”2

Period illustration of a Bloomer Outfit, with a (relatively) short skirt over pantaloons. The engraving may depict Elizabeth Smith Miller.

“Stanton, Bloomer, and [Susan B.] Anthony all agreed that they should disassociate the suffrage movement from the Bloomer Outfit controversy so Amelia Bloomer’s bloomers did not catch on in the 1850’s, either as a suffrage garment or as fashion. But the problem of garments that got in the way of working, sports, and even ordinary activities of life continued to be a problem.

This changed with the introduction of the safety bicycle, a bicycle with two wheels of the same size that was easy for women to ride. Women could ride it with skirts, though its introduction did help raise hemlines. But garments for riding the bicycle: split skirts and full trousers gathered in below the knee started appearing in the 1880s and became the rage by the 1890s. The trousers were often called bloomers, although they had little resemblance to Amelia Bloomer’s costume of the 1850s.

There were, of course, grave concerns about women mounting bicycles and freely going off on their own, showing the shape of their legs as they did so. Women cycled on undaunted. When it came to greater freedom of dress and movement, the coming of the safety bicycle helped to bring an era of change that was unstoppable.”3

Or did it?

Bessie Stringfield was the first African-American woman to ride solo across the United States, making eight long-distance rides covering the lower 48 states at a time when women were not supposed to wear pants or ride a motorcycle. During World War II, Bessie worked as a civilian motorcycle dispatch rider. Despite completing intensive training and being the only female in her army unit, Bessie encountered prejudice on the road.

Dot Robinson also set an example in a time when motorcycling wasn’t considered proper for a woman. Dot worked as a motorcycle courier during WWII and assisted in the creation of the Motor Maids. Dot earned many motorcycle endurance race trophies, but she had to fight to compete. Attempts were made to prevent her from participating in the sport she loved, but she persevered and was allowed to compete, making it possible for other women to race.

In 1916, sisters Augusta and Adeline Van Buren rode coast to coast and were the first women to ride motorized vehicles to the summit of Pikes Peak. They wanted to convince the military that women were able to serve as dispatch riders. Although they did not achieve that goal, they proved that women were capable of far more than society was willing to accept.

“At the time, in many towns, especially in rural America, women wearing pants was a serious violation of the social order. Gussie and Addie were just out of Chicago, barreling west through the ring of small townships that radiated from the city through central Illinois, when they were pulled over by police for their scandalous dress and cited for wearing men’s clothing. This pattern was repeated several times as the sisters roared into towns unaccustomed to women on motorcycles, especially women unaccompanied by men, and definitely not accustomed to women on motorcycles, without men, wearing pants. Still, they persisted.”4

We, that ride, should always remember to honor those that paved the way for us to wear whatever we desire no matter where our journeys take us.

1, 2,3Hall, Stephanie. “Symbolism in the Women’s Suffrage Movement”. August 24, 2020.


By Cris

Alice Looking Through the Glass

On a recent weeknight ride (24 May 2021), I was not able to join this ride on two wheels. Since I was still “on the clock” at my Daycare by Grandma job, my grandson Paul and I met at the designated meetup place in my car. Paul was excited to see the motorcycles and to be a part of the ride.

We had seven people on this ride—five bikes and one car. We followed the group and things were fine until the group came to a 4-way stop. As expected the bikes were able to continue as a group, but we had to wait our turn. At this point when we got separated from the bikes by a car and a truck, Paul, in his three year old voice said, “gran-ma, catch up to the mo-cycles.” Unfortunately we were on a road with no passing and Paul was not happy. I eventually was able to catch up and slip in behind the last bike. In the meantime, as many parents know what often happens to their little ones during a car ride, Paul did just that—he fell asleep. And he didn’t wake until we stopped at a gas station in Fenton to refuel before riding/driving our separate ways home.

The roads traveled were fantastic. A route summary: Long Road to Missouri State Hwy CC/Wild Horse Creek Road to Hwy 109 to MO State Hwy W to Twin River Road to MO State PP to Rock Creek Road to East Romaine Creek Road ending at gas station on Old Hwy 141 in Fenton. See map of this weeknight ride’s route.

In fact a google search of “good motorcycle routes in Jefferson County MO” gave me several routes. One, in particular listed our route in reverse (Hwy PP/Rock Creek Road to Twin River Road to W to 109 and on). Under Driver[Rider] Enjoyment for this route it says, “the road … is almost devoid of straight sections, with lots of elevation changes. There are some tight, technical corners that might catch out an inexperienced rider, but the ride is more fun than scary.”

Many of this weeknight’s ride was on roads I have ridden before and I remembered Rock Creek Road, in particular. Rock Creek Road has twisties and hairpin curves (think Missouri’s version of the Tail of the Dragon). Here is a pictorial of this windy road.

For a person who loves those types of roads, it was fun in a car but is even better on two wheels. Here are some photos taken from the car on those less-than-twisty roads.

What’s in a Name?

“It’s really useful to travel, if you want to see new things.”

― Jules Verne, Around the World in Eighty Days

The theme of the 2021 MO WOW Touring Contest is “Missouri places named after other places”.

Believe it or not, there are a lot of them!

The rules also state that we can include Missouri towns that are spelled exactly like the same town in another state. For example: Fulton MO/KS, Pittsburgh MO/KS/PA, or Alma MO/KS/AR (and my favorite, WI!).

As persons in our group research similarly named places and our ride schedule grows, this is just a sampling. On this route, the Auburn (MO/AL/IL/IN/WA) destination was unsuccessful (and deserves a revisit) and we skipped Davis (MO/CA/OK) due to time.

“Old School” navigation system used in conjunction with my phone’s GPS. I prefer to use both when riding on scenic “Alphabet Soup” roads.
Winfield (MO/IL/KS)
Foley (MO/AL)
New Hope (MO/MN/PA). Post offices, police stations, schools, and other standard city buildings/markers/signs can be hard to find or dangerous to stop and photograph on many roads. One can usually find a church to document travels to smaller towns/remote locations.
Troy (MO/AL/MI). You can take the Alma WI farm girl off the farm, but the connection to rural America remains after 35 years in the suburbs of St. Louis. I hope to visit Alma and Winona MO soon in recognition of my alma maters–Alma (WI) High School and Winona (MN) State University.

By Enforcer

Little Mary’s River Covered Bridge

Glow recently rode to one of Illinois’ six remaining covered bridges.

Located 4.3 miles northeast of the junction of Illinois Routes 3 and 150 between Chester and Bremen, the Little Mary’s River Covered Bridge is the oldest bridge in Illinois and the only covered bridge in the southern part of the state.

Per, “The Little Mary’s bridge near Chester, Illinois, was reportedly the scene of two spectacular stagecoach holdups shortly after the Civil War. Now, the center of attraction in a state-maintained picnic grounds, it is viewed by thousands annually.

In the early days the Little Mary’s bridge was opened as a toll span like many such structures in the southern half of the state. It was operated by the Randolph County Plank Road Co., chartered by the state assembly in 1853, and A. E. Hortmon of near Chester was the designer and builder. The turnpike was a single-lane road with frequent turnouts provided to enable traffic to pass and the river bridge was one of the stopping places to pay fares.

Plank roads never became a vital cog in the state transportation system as the coming of the railroad sounded on early death knell for them. For a time the plank road carried a heavy volume of horse and ox-drawn traffic between Chester and Bremen. Plank roads were made by cross-laying eight-foot planks, three inches thick and 12 inches wide, over stringers flush with the ground level.”

Can you imagine riding a motorcycle on this “road”?

Little Mary’s River flows underneath the bridge.
Some history about the bridge can be found in the U. S. Department of the Interior National Park Services’ National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form as received on September 20, 1974

Bridge and sign photographs by Glow

What do you get if you combine nice weather, a planned journey of twisty roads, three bikes with full gas tanks, and three women (Cris, Sandy, and I) who are eager to go riding? You get the ride we experienced on Monday, the first of June 2020.

Cris planned and led this ride. Our ride consisted of state roads of letters and numbers such as, A, C, D N, T, Z, KK, YY, 47, 94, 100, and 185 (these are listed alphabetically and numerically, not listed in order traveled). As you can see from the map below, there were many twisties, sweeping curves, and a few straight-aways. I love twisties and I practice outside-inside-outside riding through them. (I was taught this by a motorcop. A link and photo of this technique follows this article.)

Anyway, I rode sweeper this time. As I love twisties I had to remind myself to allow the rider in front of me enough room to “ride her own ride” and navigate the twisties as she saw fit. I think I did well, but there were a few times I got closer than I meant to and one of Meghan Trainor’s songs “All About That Bass” came to mind. With a nod and apologies to Meghan Trainor, I was singing “it’s all about that brake, ‘bout that brake, no throttle” as I tried to keep my distance from the second rider.

It was a good day and we all had a good ride. We even found a barn quilt for photo entry in our Missouri WOW Touring Contest.

After riding about 70+ miles on serene country roads, we stopped at a Dairy Queen parking lot just to talk (social distancing was observed) before heading home.

Good day, good friends, good roads!

By Alice

Carbohydrates + Carburetors

Dinner + friends/family + motorcycles = perfect evening!

The generous meal provided by the Donelson’s for our meeting. (Carbs among carbs.)

Our February meeting found us back at Donelson Cycles, Inc., a Women On Wheels® Participating Dealership since 2012.

Mr. and Mrs. Donelson (Carl and Kathy) opened Donelson Cycles in 1962 and have offered a growing list of makes and models since:*

  • 1962 BSA
  • 1963 Yamaha (second oldest Yamaha dealer in the country)
  • 1971 Triumph and Rickman
  • 1973 Norton
  • 1975 Moto Guzzi
  • 1978 Ducati
  • 1985 Can Am
  • 1987 Husqvarna
  • 1988 ATK
  • 1995 Triumph returns! (one of first 50 dealers in the country)
  • 1997 Honda

Carl and Kathy are life-long motorcyclists. They rode “two-up” on a 1948 Harley-Davidson “K” model in high school. Carl started riding at 14 and competed in Enduro and Hare Scramble events and gave flat track racing a try.

Kathy is the 1966 24-hour Motorcycle Marathon lady operator class national champion.

Kathy was featured on the cover of the September/October 2013 issue of Women On Wheels® magazine sitting on a BSA Thuderbolt 650cc similar to the one on which she won the 1966 24-hour national championship event.

Daughter Kim Keen also has a love for motorcycling and has inherited her parents’ gift for kindness.

The shop is a historical timeline of makes, models, and motorcycling mementos and is a “must see” stop at 9851 St. Charles Rock Rd in Saint Ann, Missouri. The Carl Donelson Motorycle Museum features an amazing collection of racing bikes and gear, vintage posters, photographs, and rare documents.

Thank you, Carl, Kathy and Kim, for your hospitality (once again)!

*List condensed from

By Cris

Looking Back

“Looking back” during the group ride at the 20th Annual Missouri Women On Wheels® State Rally in June (photo by Marie)

As the snow falls today, December 16, it’s starting to seem like the diagnosis of PMS (Parked Motorcycle Syndrome) may find its way into our garages soon, just as our Chapter Director warned us it would.

Looking back, though, we are grateful that 2019 was another busy year for us. For the most part, our schedule of rides/events went as planned, although three Missouri Women On Wheels® (MO WOW) Ride to Lunch events were canceled and a handful of other calendar items had to be rescheduled due to weather, work, or other commitments.

We hosted one of our two designated MO WOW Ride to Lunch events. Most of us attended the 20th Annual MO WOW State Rally in Bolivar, Missouri, in June and several attended the 33rd Women On Wheels® International Ride-In™ in Casper, Wyoming, in July. Together we accumulated almost 70 points from visits to military memorials across the state for the MO WOW Touring/Photo Contest.

In keeping with the military theme, our charity for 2019 is Little Patriots Embraced, a “non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening the lives of military children and families”.

We observed International Female Ride Day by joining the Metro East Illinois Spyder Ryders on their visit to Casey, Illinois, and enjoyed “eight objects certified by the Guinness World Records as the largest in the world.”

On December 7, we celebrated our annual Chapter Holiday Gathering with food, laughs, stories, and the gift of each other’s presence.

Looking ahead to 2020, we’ll pull out a paper atlas or log into Google Maps and look for roads to explore, places to eat, and activities to enjoy to help us recuperate from PMS. The view outside the window today makes it likely to be a very severe case this year.

Happy Holidays to all!

Fall “Fowliage” Ride

The eagle that soars in the upper air does not worry itself how it is to cross rivers.” – Gladys Aylward

Google Images

Timing, they say, is everything.

This year’s annual fall foliage ride was planned for the predicted “peak” weekend–November 9. Our timing was off, or perhaps the trees are just tired this year.

We headed north on Missouri Highways 94 and H. Due to this summer’s slow-to-recede flooding, we passed new pockets of water. As our three motorcycles roared by, cranes, pelicans, and other assorted water fowl took flight.

In a field to our left, the brilliant white head of a bald eagle caught my attention. As I approached, he took off and flew beside me for a few seconds. He was beautiful . . . and big. What a moment!

We continued to West Alton, Missouri. The city has a number of condemned homes because of flooding. It has been a long, wet summer for those living near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.

Pere Marquette State Park (Illinois) did not disappoint us. As we wound our way along Scenic Drive we were finally gifted with a tunnel of gold-colored leaves.

After Glow left for home, Thomas and I decided to catch the Grafton/Brussels and Golden Eagle Ferries back to St. Charles County. It has been a long time since we visited Calhoun County and we enjoyed every minute of it.

The view from the Brussels Ferry
The view from the Golden Eagle Ferry

As we crossed the rivers still high with spring melt and summer rains, the eagles and hawks soared overhead–crossing the mildly turbulent river without worry.

By Cris