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    Dykes on Bikes: Barb

    I can’t remember a time when motorcycles weren’t a part of my life. Since I was 5 years old, I’ve been on a mini-bike, go-kart, or on the back of a bike with one of my parents. We spent summers going to weekend motorcycle rallies around the Midwest. 

    The summer before 4th grade, I had my most incredible adventure going 2500 miles from Painesville, Ohio, to Prineville, Oregon, on the back of my mom’s BMW R100RT for the BMWMOA (Motorcycle Owners of America) National rally. It was my first time seeing the Pacific Ocean. As a 10 year old, I found many ways to entertain myself … getting truckers to blow their horns (which scared my mom—oops), playing airplane (another one that annoyed my mom), reading books, and even sleeping (there were some bungee cords involved with that and my legs wrapped around my mom with my feet on the tank). This was back before kids wore seatbelts in the back seat.

    But what wasn’t so obvious to me growing up in Ohio was the fact that I was not living as my true self; I was what they call a late bloomer. I moved out to the San Francisco in 1998, in part, following my sister out here and also to work in advertising for high tech. The Bay Area is a special place in many ways, and I was able to embrace who I really was through the people I met in the community. In my early 30s, I had my first girlfriend, but it took me some time to accept I was a lesbian. Chalk that up to years growing up in a Republican family, I guess.

    My first LGBTQ+ Pride Parade was in 2008. My girlfriend at the time, Angie, convinced me we should ride with the San Francisco Dykes on Bikes® in the parade. I was skeptical as I was not “out.” I did not want to be on TV or the internet, but the Pride Parade is such a special event that when you are there, those thoughts just melt away and you get caught up in the diversity, acceptance, love, and fun.

    We both rode motorcycles so we each wanted to ride our own bikes and took a couple friends with us as passengers. It was an experience unlike any other. I felt like a true celebrity with a million people lining Market Street to cheer on the gay community. And I even ended up on the front page of the SF Gate website during my first year riding. 

    In 2011, after a few years of riding in the parade as a participant, I decided I wanted to get more involved in the community and volunteered with the Dykes on Bikes to line up bikes for the parade. Ranell, the chair for the Road Captains, was the first Dykes on Bikes member I got to know. She made volunteering such a positive experience that I haven’t missed being a road captain for Dykes on Bikes since 2020, when the parade was suspended for COVID. 

    During the COVID years, I went on a few rides with Dykes on Bikes and it was a great way to get know some of the members better. In 2021, Dykes on Bikes kicked off San Francisco Pride’s “Pride Movie Night at Oracle Park” (the alternative to another suspended Pride Parade) with a once-in-a-lifetime ride around the San Francisco Giants ballpark outfield track. Even though I wasn’t an official patch-holding member at the time, Dykes on Bikes President Kate Brown included me in this small group of riders. This is when I knew I really wanted to make it official.

    Many of the new members thought I was already a patch-holder since I had been around for so many years. I made it official this past spring by prospecting and was so excited to be presented with my official patch this summer at “Diabla Casita,” the unofficial Dykes on Bikes East Bay hangout of fellow patch-holder, and my mentor, Melissa. I’m excited to have been elected as a member of the Board of Directors and to see what the club takes on in 2023. Our membership has grown during COVID with amazing women who are combining their talent and passions with the women who have built Dykes on Bikes from the early years, and every one of us has a strong commitment to serving our community.

    Dykes on Bikes: Tales from Two Wheels
    Published on December 15, 2022