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Ride of a Lifetime

Submitted by Bonnie Girton

Three friends don their leathers, rev up their motorcycles, and head out on the open road to parts West.

This has been a movie script from “Rebel Without a Cause” to the recent “Wild Hogs”. However, this story is different. It is about three women motorcycle riders, ranging in age from “60 something” to “rounding the corner” on 80 years old, from the Duneland area, who rode together to Utah and back.

Derlene Olson, of Chesterton, Gloria Harrigan and Sue Pierce, of Valparaiso, have ridden with various NW Indiana motorcycle groups for several years throughout the beautiful Duneland backroads, and also some long distance trips with their spouses in larger groups.

In May 2017, they wanted to go it alone. At first their families questioned their capabilities, but by the time it came to depart, all were on board and rooting for them. Sue says, “We were going to go no matter what, but it’s a bit easier being independent if you know you have back up”.

Their ultimate destination was Canyonlands NP and the other canyons of Utah. They rode through Illinois, Missouri, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and Kansas.  

They encountered challenges with weather, like heavy rain, high winds, and scorching heat. Also, mechanical malfunctions, such as a jammed wheel lock, and a horn that came loose, so was banging in the wind. Iconic lack of services in isolated areas sometimes added a layer to the problems. 

If anyone said, “You go ahead, I’ll turn back.”  The others said, “No way! One for all!”

They persevered through all and made it to Utah. Are they glad they did it? All three chime in “Yes! We met so many interesting people with so many stories! And we came home proud of our achievement!”

If learning to ride a motorcycle is on your bucket list, there is a Basic Rider Skills program in each state called ABATE. For Indiana or Michigan, use  or to learn more.

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