Pride, Organized Chaos, and a Crafty Lady

At times the chaos was only somewhat organized, but when a group of strong, resilient motorcycle chicks work together to get a non-profit organization up and running in six months, put on a major fundraising event and secure participation in the Chicago Pride Parade, there are bound to be a few moments of contention.

But in the end, everything got done, the fundraiser was successful, and nearly 50 bikes lined up two by two to take Pride by storm.

What do I have to do with motorcycles?  Not much, but over the past year I’ve come to really appreciate the culture and solidarity these women give so much of their time and money to.  There really isn’t a valid comparison to being out on the open road with the wind in your face, and the loyalty that comes from being a part of a community of riders.

Plus, it goes really well with the vintage image…

The view in the rear view mirror at Chicago Pride 2013
The view in the rear view mirror at Chicago Pride 2013

I kid…

…not really.

But seriously, I’ve had the pleasure of working on media relations and social media for these women for the past 3 months and it’s been such a joy to become involved with the newly born, philanthropic 501(c)3 Organized Chaos – Chicago.  As an Associate Member of the club (which basically means I get to hang out with them and ride on the back of my gf’s motorcycle…) OC took me under their wing and helped me to meet my fundraising goal for the Ride for AIDS Chicago with a smashing event at Spyner’s.  I thought about their generosity a lot this past Saturday while I was peddling 80 miles in my last big training ride before riding 200 miles in 2 days, and I thought about it again yesterday as we proudly rocked the crowds on Halsted Street.

Here are a few pictures from Pride, and be sure to check out Organized Chaos if you ride, want to ride, or just want to be a part of an incredible group of women (like me). Photos (except for my mugshot) courtesy of

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Sturgis or Bust!

photo by Kelly Soprych

There’s something about road trips that makes me more more patriotic.  Especially if I don’t have to go through Indiana or Nebraska (no offense, but your states are pretty boring to drive through).  Taking a road trip on a motorcycle, however, has been downright religious.

I have the luxury of riding as a passenger, so I get all of the rewards of traveling by motorcycle with none of the responsibility, and fewer bugs in my teeth.  When asked what I was going to do for 2 days sitting on a bike, I jokingly said I’d find the meaning of life, but when we hit a thunderstorm and continued to ride through it, I got into this weird meditative place that was a combination of “don’t fall off the bike Lauren” and pure contentment.  Don’t get me wrong… raindrops going 65mph feel like little shards of glass hitting your face that is anything but pleasant. But my face, hands, wet feet and sore butt eventually settled into the rain and embraced it as part of the journey.

I wondered if the Buddha would have come up with something different had he been riding on a motorcycle through the rain instead of sitting under a tree.  Either way, the message is pretty much the same: Sit still, follow the path and eventually you’ll reach clearer skies.

I knew that riding motorcycles was cool, but getting a taste of the culture surrounding it is downright awesome – and not unlike the kinship I experience as a bike rider.  But to return to my point above there’s something distinctly American (in a good way) about traveling in a pack of strong, independent women across beautiful landscapes with the wind in our faces and the clouds so close you could reach out and grab ’em.

And don’t worry, mom, I’ve been wearing my helmet.

Preparing for Sturgis, and other great reasons to buy chaps

I’m about to embark on a trip I NEVER imagined I’d take.

That’s right.  I’m headed to Sturgis next Saturday!  Because, you know, I totally embody biker chick.

I’m so excited to visit a part of the country I’ve never seen, and on a method of travel I’ve never done.  I’ll be hitching a ride on the back of a Harley to journey the 1,000 miles from Chicago over two days.  I’m pretty sure my adductors will be ripped by the time I get back, and I’ve got my vintage helmet and goggles on the way from Amazon.

To chap, or not to chap? Lubbock, TX, 1940–photo by Hansel Mieth

What exactly does one wear in Sturgis?  I’ve been using Pinterest to gather ideas and inspiration for all things South Dakota, but perhaps what I’m most torn on is chaps.

  • Do I buy them?
  • Can I pull them off?
  • Would I regret not having them?

I can think of a lot of reasons to have chaps in my life.  Like Halloween and leather parties*.  With their anti-chafing capacity I may just start working out in them.

But seriously, what do you think?  Do I make a lukewarm attempt to fit in by buying something I’ll likely never wear again?  Sometimes when I try to fit in I actually fit in less than I would by otherwise just being myself.

The question that I’m posing to the universe is: Are chaps one of those things like fringe that simply fulfills some sort of style code or do they actually serve a purpose that I’ll find useful on this adventure?

So far my plan is to try and make it out there in jeans, and if my pants (and inner thighs, for that matter) suffer to the point that chaps make sense, I’m sure that the variety increases the further West I get.  But I could certainly be persuaded to buy them now if someone with experience said I should have them to save me 1,000 miles of discomfort.


*Disclaimer: I have not been, nor do I intend to go to a leather party.  But then, I never thought I’d be going to Sturgis either.

There’s more than corn in Elkhart, IN

Having previously stopped in Elkhart, IN on the way to Cleveland, I wasn’t exactly needing a reason to go there again.  But with excitement rising for my pending trip to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally this August, and the promise of lower sales tax in the great state of Indiana, it was only natural to make a stop-off at the Hoosier Harley store.

Elkhart, my friends, does not disappoint (insert rolled eyes here).  Aside from being ignored entirely by every employee in the Harley shop, the marquee sign includes a lovely Bible quote along with the store hours.  Next to the shop is Lucky’s donuts.  that also serves Thai food.  The biker dudes, bible verses, coconut curry / donut smell wafting from Lucky’s, all combined with a full half mile of fast food restaurants and a Wal-Mart made for what I consider to be the ultimate Midwestern small town experience.  And now that I’ve described it for you, you don’t need to go there.