On June 18, Tamela Rich will launch a cross-country motorcycle ride as part of a larger ride taking place this summer called “Women Who Ride Conga.” Organizers of the ride are encouraging women riders across the United States to join in by starting their own mini-rides. Tamela will be gathering riders along the way as she passes through towns—forming a “conga line”—and will ride with them to the final meeting destination of Shell, Wyo., for the Women Who Ride Conga Rally on July 14. The ride and rally will raise money for breast cancer research.
Tamela riding her BMW with a pink bra strapped across it during her 2010 ride.
Tamela’s kick-off is taking place at Motorcycles of Charlotte in North Carolina. The dealership is throwing her a send-off party called “Kickstands Up.” Riders who join her are asked to decorate their motorcycles in something festive and pink.
This is Tamela’s second year doing a cross-country ride. Last year, she strapped a pink bra across her motorcycle’s windshield with the goal of raising money for breast cancer research. Here, she’s posing with David, a supporter she met along the way.
“People instantly know you’re doing something for breast cancer when they see your decorated bike,” Tamela said of last year’s ride. “People from all over the country asked to get their pictures with me and my bike, and this gave me an opportunity to ask for donations to the cause and to hear how breast cancer had touched their lives. Everyone has a story about a friend, a family member or a co-worker, because breast cancer touches one of every eight women.”
The pink bra Tamela will strap across her bike this year was selected from the entries in a bra-decorating contest at a fundraising event. Motorcycles of Charlotte Owner Mark Engel says that for each decorated bike that shows up for Tamela’s send-off party on June 18, he will donate $25 to DRUMSTRONG, a Charlotte-based cancer fundraising organization. At the end of Tamela’s trip in July, DRUMSTRONG will divide the monies raised between Carolina Breast Friends and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
The winning bra that will adorn Tamela's bike during this year's ride. All the embellishments were sewn on by hand to withstand the many miles this bra will endure.
“We’re delighted to support the first day of Tamela’s ride, which we call ‘Kickstands Up,’” said Mark. “Anyone who wants to come down to our clubhouse at 9 a.m. is welcome to join us for a Continental breakfast and to wish the riders well in their journey through the mountains to Robbinsville, N.C. The bikes pull out at 10 a.m.”
Some of the pink-decorated bikes from last year’s ride.
Tamela’s route has her traveling west to California and then north to Canada before heading south to Shell, Wyo., for the Women Who Ride Conga Rally. In addition to raising money for breast cancer causes, she will be interviewing cancer survivors for a book called “Full Throttle: What You Can Learn About Life from Women Who’ve Faced Cancer.”
Christina Shook, photographer and author of the book “Chicks on Bikes,” will be along for part of the ride to photograph Tamela’s interview subjects.
Last year, at 48 years old, Tamela decided to learn to ride a motorcycle. Shortly after, she traveled 7,500 miles across the country as part of the 2010 Women Who Ride Conga Rally. Tamela will be keeping people updated on her progress via her blog (listed below) as well as her Facebook page.
Tannis "Flo" Fuhr, the woman who started the Conga Ride.
The Conga Ride started in 2008 when Tannis "Flo" Fuhr, a rider from Canada, bought a motorcycle from Donna and Jerry Palladino, owners of Ride Like a Pro in Hudson, Fla. She decided to invite her Internet friends to ride along with her as she rode the motorcycle home to British Columbia from Florida. Many riders joined her along the way, escorting her some 6,000 miles across the continent, hence the name “Conga Ride.”
To learn more about the Women Who Ride Conga Rally, visit these links:
Women Who Ride Conga Web site
Women Riders Now story on the history of the Women Who Ride Conga Ride
Info on Tamela’s ride and where to join up with her