If you were in Rugby last weekend (July 17-18), you might have noticed some very special motorcycle riders. If you looked closely you would have seen they were moms, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, girlfriends, wives and best friends forever riding some amazing bikes around town. Not only did they make the weekend much more enjoyable with their presence, they brought a large economic impact with them. It was nice to hear the ringing of cash registers at Rugby’s motels, eating establishments, shops and gas stations during their stay. The riders were part of the North Dakota Ladies Motorcycle Run (NDLR), where the only patch that you have to wear is your gender.
The NDLR is a gathering of strong, capable women, bonding with other strong capable women, who enjoy riding their motorcycles from here to there just because they can. This special motorcycle event chose the city of Rugby for this year’s gathering stop for its run. The NDLR has been an annual event for 28 years and counting, making it the oldest and longest running women-only motorcycle gathering in North America. It was founded by Kathy Enders.
In 1973, Kathy Enders was just learning how to ride. Her husband, Roger, would push her around the back yard on his bike. That eventually led to Kathy graduating to being pushed on the bike in the street, and finally after that, she got to start the engine! When it came time for her to get her license, she went into the test prepared. She practiced daily by setting up cones and doing the types of things the driving instructor would test her on. In those days, there wasn’t a standardized testing method; it was purely up to the discretion of the driving instructor. As such, it took her three times before she was able to pass, even though she tested better than most men who were taking the test at the same time.
Through her training and testing, Kathy realized there were not a lot of female riders, so in 1988 she started the North Dakota Ladies Run. She wanted to create a fun, safe environment for women to feel free and enjoy the sport of riding. In the beginning, there were nine women who rode from Minot to Bismarck. The Ramblers and Norseman motorcycle clubs showed their support for women riders on that first run by paying for their hotel rooms at the Holiday Inn, and ever since then the Ramblers MC has supported the yearly NDLR event. With support and encouragement from fellow riders, family and friends, that first ride developed into an annual event that happens the third full weekend in July to various cities in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Canada.
While the NDLR started out with only nine women riding, it has blossomed into something much larger. This year, 132 women joined the NDLR in Rugby for their “Roaring Twenties” – themed ride. The highest number of women who have participated in the NDLR was back in 2013, when 179 riders met in Detroit Lakes, Minn.
While Kathy founded the NDLR, she wasn’t alone in planning the various events for the run. Helping her out with the planning for this year’s run was Sherri Nelson, Chris Braun and Kristie Stredwick. When speaking to these strong capable women it is apparent that this event has had a butterfly effect in their lives that reaches far beyond riding motorcycles. They have learned to rely on themselves more, rather than on a mate or a father. Participating in this event has given them not only a sense of adventure but also the pride of accomplishment. What these women had to learn- some later in life – to make this motorcycle run has empowered them to know that anything is possible, if you want it bad enough.
Kristie shared what a wonderful experience she and the other 131 women riders had in Rugby this year. She said she was overjoyed at the positive experience the group shared on this year’s run. She said the group appreciated all the generous hospitality the residents and business owners of Rugby showed them. They wanted to especially recognize Crook’s Lounge, which served as their main gathering spot while they were in Rugby.
Kathy encourages women of all ages to come out and be part of next year’s NDLR run. The event is for every lady rider out there, from novice to expert. If you would like to sign up for next year’s ride, or if you would simply like more information about the North Dakota Ladies Run, you can go to the NDLR website at NDLadiesrun.org
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