Lots of female motorcyclists rode in from around the country to attend this year’s Vintage Rally, and at one point I discovered more than a dozen Motor Maids club members gathered around the Women in Motorcycling display. The Motor Maids club was established in 1940. Its membership includes Gloria Struck, whom I consider their “first lady.” We first met years ago on a cold and blustery day in Daytona. Her Harley Heritage with New Jersey plates caught my eye because of the milk jugs strapped to the handlebars covering her hands. We’ve been good friends ever since.
The daughter of a motorcycle dealership owner in Clifton, New Jersey, Struck reluctantly rode a motorcycle for the first time in 1941, at the age of 16. She followed in the footsteps of her role model Dot Robinson, Motor Maids co-founder and first president, by joining the club in 1946. Gloria’s been riding ever since. She started out on Indians, then switched to Harleys in 1950, taking mostly long-distance rides every year to places like Daytona, Sturgis, and women’s conferences and Motor Maids gatherings all over the United States. It’s common for her to put 600-plus miles per day in the saddle of her full dresser. No heated grips, electric gear or trailers for this rider, and I am writing these words on her 87th birthday!
Gloria Struck has to be one of the most inspirational motorcyclists I know of. Always a polite and encouraging rider, she becomes an instant hero to anyone with whom she comes into contact, motorcyclist or not. That’s the case with me, and I aspire to be like her in many ways when I’m 87 years young!
(This article was published as a sidebar to the story The Vintage Rally in the March 2013 issue of Rider magazine.)