“A person susceptible to “wanderlust” is not so much addicted to movement as committed to transformation.” – Pico Iyer
A self-described wanderer, this is the motto Ronda lives by– which is no surprise, since she’s always had a thing for anything with wheels. She still remembers her first Sting-Ray bicycle with a banana seat. But it was when her dad’s friend started giving her rides on his Harley when she was seven years old that she became hooked on motorcycles. After that, she began riding dirt bikes and got her first motorcycle at the age of 18. However, once she began teaching and got married, family and career became her priorities and her passion for bikes fell by the wayside. Still, it was something that she always wanted to do.
It wasn’t until after she retired, lost her husband, and had overcome some health issues that she felt a calling to get back behind the handlebars. So after finishing her last year of teaching, she won a sponsorship to become a female motorcycle ambassador and decided to hit the road for a while, leaving her home state of New York to travel to 40 states in 8.5 months and then just kept on going.
Well, that is, until she was involved in a major motorcycle accident when a woman ran a stop sign and hit her, totaling her bike and breaking her pelvis in five places. Still, it didn’t keep her down for long.
“I’m kinda stubborn like that,” she said.
After two months, she was riding again as a passenger. A little more than three months later, she was back in the saddle, except this time, she got herself a truck with a lift, an RV, and a bigger bike, which she affectionately named “Popi” after her favorite red flower. She is forever grateful for the motorcycle community of Tucson, which was so supportive of her during her recovery.
Today, Ronda can say that she’s ridden in 45 of the 48 mainland states, excluding Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Utah, although she hopes to visit them all someday. A self-described mountain girl, she can be spotted winding along a twisting mining road in Jerome, Arizona, or rolling through backcountry roads from Kentucky to the Carolinas. She is currently spending a couple of months in Tucson, AZ as a home base where she had once lived for six years.
Still recovering from her accident, she is able to average 300 miles per day on her bike, sometimes solo, sometimes meeting up with friends, joining a local charity ride or participating in a rally. In addition to riding, she indulges her artistic side by painting bikes and selling them in the hopes of making some income; however, her ultimate goal is to raffle off the originals in order to donate the proceeds to charities that are focused on helping children, veterans, and people who suffer from Alzheimer’s, which is a cause that is especially important to her since several of her family members have suffered from the disease.
For Ronda, riding has been invigorating, therapeutic, and a big self-esteem builder.
For this reason, she hopes to inspire, encourage and mentor other women to educate themselves on motorcycle safety and then take up the hobby of motorcycle riding themselves, especially those who may be reluctant to travel alone. She points out that if she can do it, they can do it, and she has met many other women at women’s bike events who do even more traveling on their own than she does.
In fact, according to the latest national survey conducted by the Motorcycle Industry Council, nearly 1 in 5 motorcyclists today are women. That’s up from less than ten percent a decade ago, and that increase is mainly due to younger generations such as Gen Xers and Millenials. At this rate, women are predicted to soon make up a solid 25% of all motorcycle riders in the United States. As a result, the fastest-growing sector in the industry is gear and accessories for women and motorcycle manufacturers are taking notice.
“They’re finally starting to design bikes to fit us,” Ronda said. “And I’m pretty petite, so it’s important to find a bike that fits me.”
When asked how long she plans to wander like this, Ronda says, “It’s hard to say. Will I tire of it? Well, probably not. As we all reach this point in our life, we wonder how long we have to enjoy life. So, my plan is to do that as much as possible until maybe one day I can’t. None of us ever really know, do we?”
In the meantime, she plans to continue meeting new people, rendezvousing with old friends, and documenting her experiences on her Facebook page, which she uses as a travel journal. Where to next, you ask? After the holidays, she plans to load up her camper and wander east, spending a lot of time in Texas, stopping in Daytona for bike week in March, making her way through NC, KY, TN, making an appearance at the Women Riders USA event for International Female Rider Day on May 1st and then finally making her way westward again.
If you’d like to support Ronda or join her on her travels, you can follow her on her Facebook page, Rolling with Ronda.