Motorcycletalks.com was created with the hope of breaking stereotypes about motorcyclists by showcasing the diversity and generosity of the motorcycle community through inspirational stories. No one personifies that spirit better than Dee Jones, affectionately named “Momma D” by the world-class Mixed Martial Artists and boxers she has trained over the years.
Momma D has lived many lives. She’s toured in show bands and rock and roll bands across the US. She’s been a choreographer, competitive bodybuilder, professional trainer, and entrepreneur. Now she can add history-making motorcyclist, author, and motivational speaker to that list. But most of all, this buff, six-foot-tall, postmenopausal, black woman is a survivor. And she believes that you can be, too.
Born in Texas in 1958 and raised in Oklahoma, Momma D beat the odds growing up poor, facing rampant racism, and escaping an abusive home, to make it on her own at the age of eighteen. A successful personal trainer since 1986, she has always been a trailblazer and a strong, independent woman.
“I pay for my own shit,” she said.
While on the road as a young entertainer, she found herself on the backs of many motorcycles. However, it wasn’t until she was 41, married, and running her personal training business, Ultimate Fitness by DJ, that she decided that it was time for her to start riding. Tired of being the passenger of her husband’s short rides and being dismissed by other motorcycle riders they encountered, she hated how it made her feel. This ignited her to venture out on her own and to start riding solo.
But, it wasn’t easy. She failed the test the first time, but spurred on by the laughter of “the little black girls at the DMV”, she studied harder and passed it with 100%. After that, she recalls practicing in the parking lot with her learners permit alongside a little boy who just learned how to ride his bicycle without training wheels.
“Just stay on your own side of the parking lot and I’ll stay on mine … let’s try not to kill each other,” she joked with the little one.
Then she jumped in head first to gain skills and confidence on her bike.
“You have to overcome those little things,” she said. “The first time you ride by yourself, at night, in the rain … I didn’t become like this overnight… it all just kind of adds up. I’ve ridden in quarter-sized hail, snow, and ice. I tell people these are all the things you have to put in your toolbox to get better, to do things when you’re forced to face obstacles that seem insurmountable. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and deal with it.”
Building her confidence from her road knowledge of touring all over the country, Dee later added Canada, Brazil, Morocco, and Spain to her list of accomplishments.
Still, riding solo was not without adversity.
“When people would see this black woman on a motorcycle, they looked at me like I had three heads,” she said. “Folks thought I was panhandling for money when I was on my fundraising 50 State Ride. I got treated so badly. It was horrible.”
She still faces discrimination today, yet Momma D never sees herself as a victim.
“It is what it is. You can’t change people. But no matter how ignorant people of all colors can be, no one’s going to stop my roll,” she said with a smile and a wink.
Instead, she lets the naysayers become her motivation and she lets nothing stand in her way.
In 2006, inspired by a goal to raise money and awareness for heart disease and pediatric cancer, she made history as the first person to ride the same bike consecutive days through all 50 U.S. states. On her 169-day journey across the country, which she routed with a map and a string and no GPS, she encountered treacherous, ice-covered roads in Colorado, crossed paths with bears throughout Canada and Alaska, and survived a tornado in her tent in southern Wisconsin. Needless to say, she had to replace her battered tent when she arrived the next day in Montana.
“Hollywood wouldn’t have to embellish this story,” she said candidly, of her more than 25,000-mile adventure.
At the beginning of the journey, her bike, Big Bertha, already had 175,000 miles that she’d put on her in 6 ½ years and a bent frame from an incident at 100,000 miles.
“OK, girl, we can do this, we will just work as a team,” she would whisper to her trusty steed when they were pushed to their limit.
In 2014, Momma D rode her fourth bike, Black IEC, to Fairbanks, Alaska. Then ten years after her 50 State Ride, she rode her through 48 states in 48 days. Despite going down 3000 miles into her journey when she abruptly came into contact with diagonal-oil-covered railroad tracks in the intersection, breaking her collarbone, dislocating her shoulder, and fracturing ribs, she completed the remaining 10,000 miles of her road trip and finished on time.
To complete all 50 states for the second time, Momma D had Black IEC shipped to Hawaii on the Pasha Group’s grand ship ‘The Jean Anne’, the same vessel that transported Big Bertha in 2006. Today, her two bikes, Big Bertha and Black IEC, as well as over 150 pictures, videos, gear, broken motorcycle pieces, and x-rays of her broken bones are proudly on display in the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa, with a manikin that looks conspicuously like her with the same height and size, dressed in her iconic outfit.
In total, she’s covered more than a half-million miles over 20 years and isn’t showing any signs of stopping.
“My goal before I die is to have ride through all 50 states on five bikes and have them in the National Motorcycle Museum lined up side-by-side,” she said.
Not an easy feat, but if anyone can do it, she can.
In fact, she already has a deal in the works with Sandia BMW in Albuquerque, NM to tour the country, inspiring people and giving talks at BMW motorcycle dealerships. According to Momma D, the general manager of BMW is hoping to expand beyond the stereotypical BMW motorcyclists and “Momma D is the REAL deal rider”- someone whom other riders can respect.
She also plans to start her Youtube channel, Adventures with Momma D. It will be educational, motivational and funny. Most of all, she wants to empower girls and women.
“I want future generations of little girls to know that their role doesn’t have to be just having babies,” Momma D said. “They can do anything they want. There’s no limit on what you want to do other than the limits you put on yourself.”
This year she was on tour on her motorcycle, FREEDOM, from February through October, giving speeches and signing copies of her newly published memoir, 50 States of Consciousness, which tells the story of her amazing motorcycle journey as well as her journey to overcome a lifetime of abuse. She said that everywhere she goes, she meets people and shares her experiences. Even men come up to her and thank her for baring her soul, giving them the courage to tell their own stories of abuse. Momma D is dedicated to making a difference through her experiences and, starting in January 2020, a portion of the proceeds from each copy of 50 States of Consciousness sold will go toward ending domestic violence.
This past February, she was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Beautiful Bikers Conference and Awards in Las Vegas.
The key to success for Momma D is resilience.
“I truly believe I was born with something special to endure the challenges in my life to emerge better on the other side,” she said. “My motto is: Just keep shinin’, baby. No matter what you do in your life, no matter how bad it gets, you have enough to survive on the other side.”