On July 4th, Madeleine Velazquez aka “Miss Rider” started a coast to coast motorcycle trip on her Triumph Bonneville from Los Angeles California back home to Worcester Massachusetts, USA, alone. Madeleine is a woman who loves to ride her motorcycle extreme distances. And like those women before her, such as Theresa Wallach and Florence “Blenk” Blenkiron where in 1934 travelled from England to South Africa, Madeleine pressed on to prove to herself she could ride her motorcycle from West to East coast USA and relying on her own abilities and resource to do so!
Madeleine was 54 at the time of this trip. She has raised two children alone, a single parent, while doing what all working class Americans do, “work to survive”. Last winter she arrived at a cross roads in her life while trying to decide if she should pursue another life long dream of acquiring a doctorate of education Ed.D or something else. Due to lack of budget she decided the Ed.D had to wait. So in its place grew the idea of taking her motorcycle across the United States alone. A new challenge was born!
She shipped her motorcycle to California and teamed up with Arlene Batishill CEO and founder of GOGO Gear to share a ride through some of California’s spectacular places. After completing a 1000 mile loop around the state, Madeleine set off East riding a major truck route Interstate 15 / I15 since it is a heavily travelled road and has resources for all travellers. She rode along very difficult long stretches of road. At times feeling truly like quitting due to the isolation. The weather conditions, her fear and physical stress initially created much doubt if she made the right decision to venture on such a journey, solo. But after gathering her wits about her, she pressed on and continued to ride and meet the most amazing people!
When I am with groups of motorcycle enthusiasts, I always feel the camaraderie that exists within the motorcycle community. I was never alone as other riders embraced me and I was able to ride parts of the way with them. And one special experience was meeting Anna from (Winding Road Riders, Bucks County, PA) who at the time of meeting had already logged in over eleven thousand miles; using two sets of tires and two oil changes. My ride seemed minute in comparison. She too was riding alone. During our ride together we enjoyed spectacular views in parts of Utah and great adventures until we parted ways. She was off to the Grand Canyon and I headed northeast to meet more wonderful people!
I continued riding East on Interstate 70 and rested a few days in Silverthorne Colorado at my friends mountain condo. She had arranged for her motorcycle friends who also have a condo in the complex and were riding their motorcycles from Minnesota to Silverthorne. Four ladies arrived in their large motorcycles and 1 was a newbie, they were training her. It was wonderful meeting other women enjoying long distance motorcycle riding. We strapped chairs on the bikes and headed down the hill to enjoy a concert. I only wish I was able to stay longer.
After resting in Colorado, I continued east on Interstate 70 alone and very, very tired. My throttle hand was so sore, my soul was beaten and my body was giving up from dehydration as the heat soared up to 108 degrees Fahrenheit/42 degrees Celsius. The sun and wind were horrible as I pushed against the elements. After 110 miles on that stretch of road, my body demanded that I stop. I could not find a safe spot so I pulled over on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere with massive corn fields on both sides of the road. Along comes a couple from the Iron Order Motorcycle Club. They pulled in front of me and ran towards me exclaiming “What are you doing in the middle of nowhere, it’s so dangerous here!” Yes, it was indeed dangerous, but my body and mind demanded I stop. It was safer for me to stop than to continue riding my motorcycle. We shared Intestate 70 into Kansas City where at one point the girl almost fainted due to the heat and the sun beaming on us. We parted ways in Topeka Kansas because I needed to rest, they continued into Kansas City to meet friends who were expecting them. My journey pushed on as I headed east towards St. Louis Missouri to meet up with my friends in the Latin American Motorcycle Association. Crossing into St. Louis and over the mighty Mississippi River gave me a sense of almost being home!
The air changed with higher humidity, still very hot, but not as dry as earlier – I could feel I was moving along! The heat in the western part of the country was brutal. Once on the eastern part of the country, I visited my Uncle. I also participated in the National Latin American Motorcycle Association rally where I was their honorary member for representing the association as a woman accomplishing a difficult ride alone. I then spent a few days riding with LAMA friends in the Smoky Mountains before heading north to ride through Skyline Drive. But then, the rain came!
As much as I enjoy riding that stretch of road, the rain put a huge strain on the enjoyment of the ride home as you might imagine. I’ve ridden in rain before, but this rain was heavy and too much to deal. On top of which I was traveling in dense mountain fog on roads with sharp turns. I continued riding in the rain for hundreds of miles then decided to opt for the highway and hopped on Interstate 81 north where again… I met more wonderful people!
This time I met a woman who was traveling to Pennsylvania with her husband from the same rally I had just participated in; she had recognized me from the rally. We rode together until we departed in the connector of I-64 while I continued north-east on I-81.
I continued my travel up north in I-81 to I-84 and after hundreds of miles it became dark and the rains come along. More rain, torrential rain, at night but I kept riding on! By now I could truly taste the feeling of being home, home with my family. I was only a few hundred miles away. But this rain, this darkness was too much for me to ride in; I didn’t feel safe in these conditions any longer. I decided to stop for the night, but I couldn’t find a hotel. So I started posting my status on Facebook that I was looking for a place to stay. Glory the advantages of Facebook networking as I got a phone call from Arlene in California regarding a friend who could put me up for the night! Truly, as tired and actually frightened as I was, that was the best phone call I had ever received! The next day I was home in no time!
Madeleine’s ride introduced her to the most amazing people and it was those wonderful fellow Americans who helped her get home safely and made her feel she was not alone. Throughout her journey, Madeleine was reminded that America is a beautiful country full of amazing people. After 5,944 miles / 9,567 kilometers she shares her story and encourages other women to ride a motorcycle, scooter, dirt bike or ATV.
Madeleine is an educator of high school students and often uses her motorcycle experiences to inspire her students to meet their goals.
If you’d like more details about her rides, visit Madeleine’s website
*Text provided by Madeleine for MOTORESS