by Lauranne “Biker Betty” Bailey
Have a GREAT trip! Hope you go, as you never know when your life on earth will change!” Those are words that Theresa, known as Indy to her motorcycling sisters, wrote to one of our riders before embarking on a cross-country road trip. “You gals, you Iron Butts, you go riding your 800-mile days across this country. Not me,” she said, “I’m content taking my time, riding 200 miles a day. It’s what my body can do. I just have to keep moving forward, one mile at a time.”
That’s what she said before she, herself, rode solo to Texas to visit her younger brother. This, after her breast cancer surgery with weakened ligaments in her arm. We were in awe. And she always kept going. She was a member of Women in the Wind and Women on Wheels. She said she loved being in both groups and appreciated that most of our Women in the Wind outings were women-only. We had our differences and agreements about many topics, and it was our deep respect for one another’s diversity that we all so loved and cherished.
We knew of the loving mother side of Indy. She talked about how much she loved her son, Mud, and how hard it was to sit back and watch him make mistakes and learn, but she had to let him do it. We all learned from ours. Like a good momma bear, she let go of her fierce protectiveness to let her cub find his way.
We knew the compassionate side of Indy. She showed up at my doorstep after I was hit by an 18-wheeler on my motorcycle. It was the first year we met, and she was over every night after work, doing what she could to make me comfortable and give my husband a caretaking break. I remembering thinking to myself, “My God, where does such compassion come from? How was I so blessed to have a woman I had just met be more caring for me, than my own siblings?” She taught me so much about giving of oneself selflessly.
We knew the wild side of Indy. Indy loved that we had an annual ride to Prairie du Chien for the Buck- skinners Rendezvous. It gave her a chance to introduce us to her former “neck of the woods” and to several folks she knew there. She took us on some of the most beautiful back roads this state has to offer for motorcycling. And she packed heat when she rode. “I’m not afraid to use it if I have to,” she said, matter-of-factly.
We knew the strength inside Indy. Even when she hit stage four cancer, in 2005, she rode her motorcycle, Wings, to Prairie du Chien and camped with us. “Don’t let me slow you down. I don’t want to hold you back,” she’d say. And I’d say to her, “What? Do you think we’re still spring chickens? We need a break, too!” “Mud told me I shouldn’t go, I shouldn’t be riding right now because of my health, but I feel this is something I have to do,” she added.
We knew an amazing woman—always moving forward. In closing, I return Indy’s line back to her with a few changes. “Have a GREAT trip, Indy, and be sure to tell Jesus ‘Thanks’ for the precious years He let us share with you!!”
An excerpt from my book.