Bucket List Ride that Gave Back

From the National Motorycle Museum Newsletter Thursday, Aug 25, 2016

Sisters Centennial Ride
Do you remember the person most responsible for getting you interested in motorcycling, and how your first ride “happened?” And maybe later in your riding experiences there have been others who exposed you to racing or the wonder of antique motorcycles? Or riding has taken you to a career, or places you’d never otherwise traveled to, people you’d otherwise never have met? Alisa Clickenger has been riding a couple of decades, recalls she’s been inspired by others and was looking for a way to give back; to inspire other riders as she was inspired. “I began thinking about the different challenges of being a woman rider, and at some point I added to my bucket list working to create an extraordinary event that would give personal empowerment, and maybe bring self discovery to the women involved. I wanted to bring a group of women together, help make this happen for all of them,” said Clickenger.
What we know now is that Alisa’s idea for an event grew to become the July 2016 Sisters’ Centennial Motorcycle Ride. “I found precedent for my idea in motorcycling history. The Van Buren sisters rode coast to coast in 1916, about 3,000 miles, and their intent was to bring attention to the fact that women had the ability to play a role as military couriers in World War I. Women my age (Clickenger just turned 50) grew up with our mother’s values–be involved in home and hearth, serve their man–yet live in the “modern” world. “I have seen that motorcycling brings confidence and a unique sense of empowerment to female riders” said Clickenger. “Motorcycling has been a symbol of freedom, and riders know it helps find other parts of life, but like the Van Buren sisters, you may be breaking social norms along the way.”
Sisters Centennial Ride visits the National Motorcycle Museum
   Clickenger, though an experienced tour leader, had no large event experience and        started from scratch to develop the Sisters’ Centennial Motorcycle Ride. “I did not      anticipate all the details,” she said. But as she began to reach out for sponsorship,        talked with industry leaders at trade shows, and generally spread the word to                women who might make the trip, the framework began to take shape. She wisely          consulted with old hands Gin Shear and Sue Slate well known for their Women’s          Motorcyclist Foundation and Pony Express tours to support breast cancer research. Sarah Schilke, National Marketing Manager for BMW Motorrad, learned of the event early on in the planning stages and later signed on BMW as presenting sponsor of the event.
Sisters Centennial Ride visits the National Motorcycle Museum
Robert Pandya of Indian Motorcycle also liked the idea, and figured Indian could play a supporting role as well. Magazine editors agreed to meet the group at planned overnights. The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame was producing Vintage Motorcycle Days in Ohio at the same time, and that became a stop. Farther west, the National Motorcycle Museum became excited about the event and invited the riders to stop by. “The Museum was my greatest joy, learning motorcycle history is terribly exciting and confirming,” said Clickenger in an interview after the ride. “The Museum links you back to our roots as motorcyclists through machines, old helmets, leathers, photos and illustrates how far we have come. Now is the best time ever to be a motorcyclist because of all the technological advancements, yet riders need to know that it wasn’t always like it is today. We need to show the supreme challenges of hand shifters, bad brakes, stiff suspensions, weak lighting. The Museum’s displays provide examples to illustrate just how heroic our ancestors were, showing us what we can do ourselves.”
Sisters Centennial Ride visits the National Motorcycle Museum
When asked about some of the takeaways from the coast to coast ride, Clickenger offered, “The people along the route, at our overnight stops, I think we influenced them a great deal. The viewers with open eyes and hearts, wanting to share their stories with our riders.” One woman wrote Clickenger and said that after meeting so many cool women her daughter now wants to get her motorcycle license. “I think we inspired, enchanted, maybe helped them commemorate their stories, too,” said Clickenger.
Sisters Centennial Ride
   In all, the Sisters’ Ride had 68 coast to coast riders, all with varying levels of skills.      Sarah Van Buren , the great-grand-niece of Augusta and Adeline Van Buren, was an    early sign on for the event though when the group left Brooklyn, New York she had    ridden a total of only 500 miles…in her life! At the other end of the spectrum was        Erin Sills, a highly accomplished land speed record rider, in the 200mph Club, the      fastest person ever on a production motorcycle. Holly Ralph was another                      extraordinary participant. Holly, a former racer, now suffers from bone density            problems and wears a leg brace in order to ride. Holly was inspired by Clickenger’s event, and signed on early. “Holly was a fine example of ‘Woman Can if She Will’, as she was among seven riders who rode to the start in New York, rode the 3000 mile event, then rode home! Another inspiration was Monique Filips…she rode cross-country amongst our group with her son and daughter, ages eight and twelve, in a sidecar rig pulling a trailer,” said Clickenger. We asked Monique about her ride and she offered, “It was great to share this experience with my kids.  I am glad that they both were able to learn about the Van Buren sisters, how they made history, and how we were making history on the trip as well. It was really a trip of a lifetime. We got to see so many things. Meet so many amazing people.  Then again, I was really exhausted both mentally and physically, every night.  It is much more physically demanding to pilot a sidecar, so I was spent at the end of each day.  I am really proud of myself for driving that thing across the country. Driving a sidecar is not for the faint of heart.”
Sisters Centennial Ride

  In conclusion Alisa offers, “I had no idea what I was getting into. I did not anticipate   all the minute details that were necessary to manage once we were on the road. I         thought if I hyper-organized everything before the ride started that I could just have   fun with the other women. That wasn’t the case, but it all turned out so great. I             thank all of our volunteers who did so much to make the ride a huge success. I think   together we helped each other, shared so much on the road, and gave each other         confidence in tough moments. Plus I think we gave some of the people we met along   the route more confidence that they could do things they never quite expected they     could do.”

Originally intended as a one-off bucket list item for Clickenger to accomplish in her   50th year, as she looks at the photos, thinks about the ride completedJuly 23, and       reminisces with other Sisters’ Riders, she wonders what her next motorcycling             related project might be that would serve a similar purpose. “I just love motorcycling, the people who ride and the potential it offers for self-discovery, empowerment and making new friends. That’s why I want to do more of this. I want to bring more women together for a different experience.”

You can read more about the Sisters’ Centennial Motorcycle Ride, see photos of the riders at  http://sistersmotorcycleride.com/

Sisters Centennial Ride

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