It all started with the realization there were other women like myself that had a beginning. They rode harder and faster than my comfort zone and as a beginner I became intimidated with riding. With the combination of limited experience and owning a bike not suited for the type of riding I wanted to endure, I nearly threw in the towel and thought I would never be strong enough to ride. After two full riding seasons of owning my first bike and putting a mere 800 miles on, I sold my bike and decided to be a passenger. The next summer I decided riding two-up was no longer for me and I wanted to ride my own again. I order my second Harley, a 2012 Dyna Switchback and watched it come off the truck from the factory. I jumped on, took off, and instantly fell in LOVE with my new bike. Modifications were a must since the stock bike didn’t fit me to my liking. With considerable excitement, I put 1000 miles the first weekend, even before signing the actual papers. Coincidentally, it only took two days to match the miles I had in two seasons with my other bike.
Three things I learned immediately after I rode my new bike:
- Women ride very differently than men. Men have upper body strength and women it comes from our legs and butt. Ladies get your feet on the ground
- Your Bike needs to fit you and be the right bike for your type of riding
- I can out ride most men, and now I do it all the time…. So can you!!
I had worked at Harley Davidson for a couple years and had spent a lot of time visiting and focusing on lady riders. I continued to hear similar struggles from other women. I have no one to ride with; I always ride with my husband; I am not leaving my neighborhood etc… When I left Harley I approached my friend and Co- worker Colette Haun about the need for women to find each other and ride. There were so many out there. I had researched Women Only Clubs in Billings or Montana and did not find one with a real presence in Montana. You could join a couple National clubs but with no one here what was the point? I was still struggling to find women to ride with. I asked Colette if she would be interested in starting a club with me. She said I am just too busy right now, as “Riding Season“ was just getting under way and she was still working for Harley. (Busy time of year and no time for anything else). So I pondered for another 11 months until one day she said she was ready. That’s all I needed to hear. We sat down in April of 2013 and put our plan into action, finding a name that fit our personalities, which are very different. That night Tenacious Dames was born and we had no idea how big it would become or how far it would continue to go. Tenacious stands for stubborn, strong, persistent etc.. I challenge everyone to look up the definition. I believe most of us fall in this characterization. We hired a Graphic Designer and together our LOGO came to life.. It symbolizes all of us as riders and the Dame is the Strength as Women.
We held our first meeting and signed a hand-full of women. We have grown from the “first originals” in Billings, MT 2013 to Chapters in Billings, Great Falls, Miles City as well as members in Butte and Helena. We are over 50 members in 2015 and growing by leaps and bounds. We have had some changes in 2015 as Colette has decided to stay as one of Founders and joins when she can. I have stepped into the President Role for Montana and resumed all responsibility of the club. The end of 2015 we have reached 110 Members over 7 Cities in Montana.
My dream for the club was to be a way for women to meet and ride together. To find friendship as well as strength and empowerment with in the club. Ride their bikes and grow as riders with other Women riders. What happened, was and is, more than that, way more. I have found it is a place for WOMEN to heel old wounds, trust again, build friendships, believe in themselves again and become stronger. We are all here for our own reasons and the common interest that brings us together is the riding.
- Julie Schatz-Fink