Estrogen Ride 2007 – Day One Ride Report

group 2 bikes staged and readyWhat do women bikers want?

Scenic roads, camaraderie, shopping, and plenty of potty stops. The “Dangerous Curves” Estrogen Ride didn’t disappoint.

Perhaps I should start by explaining that the “Estrogen Ride” was a group of women bikers – some of whom already knew each other, some of whom had never met before – who had gathered to go for a three-day scenic tour of northeastern Iowa and Galena, Illinois. (As a follow-up to a 2006 birthday ride, Holly N. and some friends decided to hold another ride in 2007 and invite a few more women.) The group included one rider from Waterloo, a small group from Carroll, Iowa, and the rest from Des Moines and central Iowa.

In all, more than 30 women Harley riders (and a few who joined us in cars) gathered at Big Barn Harley Davidson in Des Moines on Saturday morning, July 28. After donuts and juice courtesy of Big Barn, and brief pre-ride instructions from Holly, we staged in our smaller groups and the first of us pulled out right at 8:30 a.m.

The weather was perfect: destined to be a pleasantly warm day, but a little cool when riding because of the mild humidity. (Unbelievable, quite frankly, for July – it COULD HAVE been a hundred degrees!) I was riding in Group 1, which was lead by Holly and swept by Carole B. 

We rode through Bondurant to Highway 330, then northeast on 330 to Highway 14 north of Marshalltown, then north silver eagle harley davidsonand east to Grundy Center where we had our first gas/potty stop. We eyed the western sky a little nervously at first – it looked like it might rain on us – but eventually the clouds went away and we never saw a drop.

Back on the bikes and on to Waterloo, where we stopped at Silver Eagle Harley Davidson and met  up with the other two groups. Silver Eagle had a great selection of apparel and gifts… a little skimpy on bikes, but the ’08’s are just coming in around the country so everyone’s in between model years at the moment. They did have a copper-and-black Low Rider… a bike I really like in a color scheme that looks really cool and retro. 

With all three smaller groups gathered at the dealership, we proceeded as a large group to a truck stop in Waterloo called Junie’s – where they had a banquet room all ready and waiting for us!  Lunch was the first opportunity to get to know a few of the gals a little better. It was at this gathering that we learned that the range of riding experience in our group was pretty incredible: Carole B. had been riding about 36 years, and Jules from Carroll, Iowa had only been riding for a month! We also presented Sue S. with a card and a small donation to help pay for her weekend expenses as a thank-you for the embroidery on our shirts.

After lunch we took off in our smaller groups again, heading west on Highway 20 and then north on 187, through the VERY scenic Backbone State Park, and into Strawberry Point. Turns out the little town of Strawberry Point provided the first challenge to our collective riding skills: we had to take a brief detour off the main highway that took us through a neighborhood… the loose-gravel portion of this detour was pretty short, but the fine-gravel and POT-HOLED portion was a little more interesting. (These were holes big enough to get lost in! You not only had to try to navigate the pot-hole gauntlet, you had to keep track of the bike/s in front of you to make sure you weren’t going to run into anyone as we slowly moved through the obstacle course.) We all made it through without incident and stopped for gas a block away from the giant fiberglass strawberry

pikes peak state parkBy this time the Iowa landscape had certainly changed: in central Iowa, there are some gentle hills and lots of lush green cornfields, but in the northeastern part of the state you start to see some significant bluffs and hills as the land climbs up from the Mississippi River.

There was no shortage of scenic views on Day One – as beautiful as Backbone had been, the best for this day were yet to come. We traveled from Strawberry Point to Pikes Peak State Park, where there is an overlook with a sweeping view of the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers and the town of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. It was here that explorer Louis Joliet and Father James Marquette first crossed the then-unknown (and un-named) Mississippi River in the late 1600’s. All three of our groups met up here as well, after a stunning ride through the park itself to the overlook, and we attempted to get some full-group pictures. This proved difficult – we were a noisy, excited group (and some of us were still in the loaded down with camerasbathroom) and getting everyone to stand still at the same time proved nearly impossible. (I’m pretty sure Marquette and Joliet didn’t have this problem.)

After admiring the overlook, we took off as a full group and descended (literally) upon the town of McGregor, Iowa – our first overnight location. McGregor is a lovely little town right on the Mississippi, home to the Isle of Capri Casino but also to a quaint Main street business district and a touristy motel called The Holiday Shores.  The Holiday Shores is actually the kind of locally-owned place I love to discover… showing its age a little, but run by a very friendly and knowledgeable family… large rooms – some with great views overlooking the river – and right across the parking lot from a great restaurant with a scenic view from the patio.

One of the neatest things about being on this ride was simply being part of the “spectacle” of a group of more than 30 women on motorcycles. I’m confident the town of McGregor is still recovering!

Next up: Our quiet evening in a sleepy little river town.

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    Comments

    3 Responses to “Estrogen Ride 2007 – Day One Ride Report”
    1. Ragamuffin says:

      Enjoyed your article re the Estrogen Ride – what a great idea! So how many miles was the trip? (Maybe I read the article too fast and missed it) How many hours in the saddle each day? Were there like ten riders per group? Were riders grouped according to skill level or anything?
      Ragamuffin

    2. Holly says:

      Ragamuffin – We had three groups that ranged from 7-10 bikes. Skill levels were mixed within the groups but we encouraged the newer riders to stay near the front of the pack. I set my trip counter before I left home (Urbandale) and when I checked in after I got home, I’d gone 698.9 miles (that includes the mileage from Galena to Savanna & back for our trip to Poopy’s…not everyone went on that side trip). Sorry, don’t know how many miles we rode each day…the first day we left at 8:30 am and got to McGregor at 5pm but also took about a 2hr lunch break and a cpl of gas stops. Sunday was about a 4-5 hr day between McGregor & Galena and that included a stop at a cheese store & another relaxing gas stop. Sunday we left Galena at 8:30 and made it back to DM at 6pm but that included stops at the Dubuque dlrship and J&P Cycles in Anamosa, plus lunch.

    3. BikerChick says:

      I had 686 miles on my bike as I pulled into the garage – I, too took the ride to Poopy’s… (that story’s coming up in the Day Two ride report). I also live a little closer to our starting point than Holly so that’s probably the difference in our mileage. I thought the days were really well balanced between time on the bike, activities, and potty/gas stops.

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