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By Shelby Clark Petkus
With the sun finally making a regular appearance, it’s time to get out into the good weather. What’s a better way than to hop on a Harley and cruise to Michigan’s Pride fests with Dykes on Bikes?
The LGBTQ women’s motorcycle club, Dykes on Bikes Detroit, began in 2008 with Heather O’Brian as president, Marianne Waugh as vice president, Tracy Brown as treasurer and Ronda Wright as secretary.
The women worked for a number of years to get the Detroit chapter approved from the “mother club” in San Francisco. As a whole, Dykes on Bikes has a large Facebook following, 17 patch holding members and is steadily rising as a prominent lesbian group both locally, nationally and even internationally with chapters in Australia.
Since then, Wright has become president, with Duffy Williams coming on as secretary and Wendy Berry serving as the group’s Sargent of Arms. Former president, O’Brian, was granted lifetime membership after her retirement in 2013. It’s considered the highest honor and recognition given to any active member. According to Wright, to even be considered for the achievement, one must be a senior member, having served five or more consecutive years of membership. In addition, Wright says said member must “have provided an influence on the club that may not have been otherwise achieved and be approved unanimously by the standing board.”
The group’s official mission is “to support philanthropic endeavors in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and women’s communities and beyond, and reach out to empower a community of diverse women through rides, charity events, Pride events and education.”
Dykes on Bikes is open to all age groups, and all are open to ride motorcycles with them provided one is endorsed and insured. Though the law in Michigan has changed to allow bikers to ride without helmets, Dykes on Bikes considers it a must when riding with them. An emphasis on no drinking, drugs or “horsing around” is also critical to riding with the women.
Membership requirements include voting for the board and riding in at least one Pride festival with the Dykes on Bikes patch displayed on a black vest.
Over the last six years, the group has grown to help the community, including the Ferndale area, through volunteer work, donations to local charities and other forms of support for charitable organizations.
Much of the group’s support is seen with the women’s presence at Pride festivals. Dykes on Bikes will be riding in the Motor City Pride parade on Sunday, June 8. The group will have a booth at Ferndale Pride on Saturday, May 31 as well as a stall at Motor City Pride on Saturday, June 7.
All rides begin at Affirmations in Ferndale, including an upcoming ride to World Pride in Toronto from June 27-30. Other upcoming rides include a Windover ride from July 18-20 and their most popular ride to Cement City at 10:45 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 17. Fall rides include one in September that will be determined by July and one on Oct. 5 including a chili cook off in Plymouth.
Wright lets prospective members know that the group isn’t limited to Michigan’s relatively short period of good weather. “We don’t let the fun stop when the weather gets cold. We plan various social events for the group, and we have a yearly holiday party. Our vision is that this organization grow long into the future and continue to be a supporting faction for the LGBT community.”
Dykes on Bikes meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month in Room 201 at Affirmations, 290 W. Nine Mile Road, Ferndale. Follow Dykes on Bikes’ rides by visiting http://www.dykesonbikesdetroit.com or e-mail heather@Dykesonbikesdetroit.com for more information.