Profile of a Female Motorcyclist: Meet Michelle a.k.a. @SturgisChick


I have a new friend on Twitter! Her name is Michelle, her family calls her Shelly, and goes by @SturgisChick on Twitter. She was born, raised, and lives in Sturgis, South Dakota. How cool is that?! Well, it gets even cooler … Michelle has a blog too, StrugisChick where she tells stories of her travels, adventures, and experiences. Another must follow.

Michelle near Sturgis, South Dakota on her Harley Fat Boy

Michelle near Sturgis, South Dakota on her Harley Fat Boy

How long have you been riding a motorcycle? Since I was 15 technically but I didn’t get my license until I was 30 and didn’t ride for about 10 years during that gap.

How did you learn to ride? My boyfriend had a Honda XR500 dirt bike that he used on his family’s ranch. He taught me to ride but had to ride on the back with me because I couldn’t touch the ground when we stopped. After about 10 years without riding, I decided to sign up for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course and start from scratch.

What was your first motorcycle?  The first one I rode regularly was a Kawasaki Sherpa 125,  which I borrowed from a friend. I later borrowed a Sportster from the same friend for a couple of years (I know! How generous is that!). The first bike I owned was a Harley-Davdison Fat Boy with a 1550 which I bought for my 40th birthday.

How many have you owned?  2 – the Fat Boy and my Kawasaki KLR650 which is a dual sport bike.

Bike trip, July 2013

Bike trip, July 2013

Why did you want to ride a motorcycle? I was born and raised in Sturgis, South Dakota, home of the world-famous motorcycle rally.  How I could I not get bit by the bug? Although I was a ranch kid I always loved riding 4-wheelers and snowmobiles and eventually learned to ride a motorcycle.

Tell us about your riding. Having the Black Hills to ride just outside your door provides the best curvy roads and beautiful scenery. I love to ride for pleasure after work or on weekends and took my first motorcycle vacation in 2011.

On her way up Independence Pass near Aspen, Colorado last summer

On her way up Independence Pass near Aspen, Colorado last summer

What advice do you have for women who ride or want to ride a motorcycle? ATGATT – All The Gear All The Time.  No exceptions. South Dakota doesn’t have a helmet law which means many of my friends ride with t-shirts and no helmet.  But I’m willing to be a little warm on hot days to be safe and NEVER ride without my gear. [Amen, sister!]

What is the longest trip that you’ve taken on your cycle?  I’m on it now. 8000 miles and counting so far. Left South Dakota to go up through Canada and do the Trans Labrador Highway and then down the east coast of the US.  Planning to head to Mexico and Central America and on to South America.

Do you belong to any motorcycle groups? Several online – ADVRider.comHorizons Unlimited and Two Wheel Females and I’m a member of H.O.G. I plan to be active with local clubs (a dual sport riding club and my local H.O.G. chapter) and national groups when I get back home.

Do you have a favorite riding story? Strange as it may sound, it was when I had a wreck on my bike this summer. While riding the Trans Labrador Highway in early July in a remote part of eastern Canada, I came off my bike. It was an awkward fall and I broke my leg and had to be flown several hundred miles from there to have surgery. My boyfriend posted a message on a local forum and received several offers for help including places to stay.  People helped with all sorts of things – storing my bike, hauling my bike, taking me sightseeing while I was on crutches, and providing us with incredible support.  I met some of the most generous people who will be lifelong friends because of that event.  It forced me to let go of my schedule and be open to the entire experience (good and bad), which was one of my goals for this extended trip.  My accident was a life changing experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Taken in New Mexico, 2012

Taken in New Mexico, 2012

What do you do when you’re not riding? I was a hotel manager for 21 years and it was a full-time-and-then-some job.  In my spare time I went riding, hiking, gardening, camping and have always loved to travel.

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3 responses to “Profile of a Female Motorcyclist: Meet Michelle a.k.a. @SturgisChick

  1. Nice story and photos Michelle. Thanks for sharing. Having the opportunity to live life to the fullest and doing some of that on a motorcycle is the best!

  2. Awesome. Hello Michelle.

    So good that you are open to different types of bikes and have one on each end of the spectrum. So cool that you are an ATGATT girl too.

    Happy riding.

  3. Hi Michelle – I am glad you are on the road to recovery. Love that you believe in ATGATT. Your pics that you posted her are lovely. I glad us Canucks stepped up to the plate and helped you out! Ride safe!

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