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Lace, Grace and Gears, a passion for riding

By Bev Barr BCC Editor

Hundreds of women, from all over the country and from as far away as Austria, rendezvoused at the Twin Elm Guest Ranch in Bandera County for the second annual Lace, Grace and Gears Motorcycle rally — in spite of several days of heavy rain. One of the numerous highlights of the 4-day rally was a “Parade of Sisters” Saturday morning. Organizers hoped to break the world record for the number of women in a motorcycle parade — an honor that is hotly contested among Australian, British and American women riders. The final count of women riders in Bandera was a somewhat disappointing 732 —not including the couple of dozen men on bikes who trailed the parade. (Earlier this year, in July, the Brits set a new world record with 1132 riders in Shropshire.) Although Lace, Grace and Gears didn’t break the record this year, officials describe it as a remarkable turnout, considering the heavy rain during the first days of the event.
“I want to thank all of the people of Bandera — the entire community —for welcoming us so warmly,” said Layne Neuenfeldt, founder of Lace, Grace and Gears. Mayor Suzanne Schaumann was busy cooking 12-hour days at the Chicken Coop, but took time out to speak to the visitors formally – in a Bandera casual way – telling the crowd to “never underestimate the courage and determination of women. … I mean it!” The mayor’s welcoming words were brief, but definitely reflected the zeitgeist of the crowd. And, the mayor clearly demonstrated a shared passion riding, accompanying about 50 women on a ride through the hills Friday morning, and catching a ride on the bike of a beautiful black Can-Am Spyder RT during the parade.
Suzie Guerrero, another LGG organizer, described several incidents of unexpected outreach by people from within the Bandera community. On Friday late in the afternoon or early evening, a young woman from New York had a clutch failure on her Harley. Kathlyn Cunningham, the manager at Twin Elms Guest Ranch, called up C&D Power Sports of Bandera, who went out to see if they could fix the bike. They brought the bike back to their shop and contacted Javelina Harley-Davidson in Boerne, one of the main sponsors of the rally, who delivered the necessary parts to C&D Power Sports. Chris Delanghe worked into the night so that the visitor would be able to ride in the parade the next morning. Which she did.
“Kathlyn — wow. That lady has a beautiful spirit,” Guerrero said. “She was so helpful. She would say, ‘How can I help you? Whatever you need, I would love to help.’ She was so kind, so helpful.”
When asked about hosting more than 700 people, Kathlyn Cunningham replied, “Well, we made it! … But because of the rain, we did have to resort to ‘Plan B.’”
Plan A including camping on spacious pastures “down in the bottom,” Cunningham said. “But the weather changed everything. But we managed.”
“The food vendors — every one of them — were out of this world,” Cunningham said. “And the entertainers were great. Mustang Sally performed Saturday night, and they shot off fireworks.”
In the afternoons, several ‘Sheroes’ —exceptionally inspiring riders— spoke to the crowd. Gloria Struck, 91 years old, is nicknamed the ‘matriarch of women riders.’ She has clocked close to 700,000 miles on her motorcycles. She plans to continue riding on two wheels until she turns 100.
Lupita Velasquez, founder of the Latino Ladies Motorcycle Club, spoke about motorcycle safety, something she is passionate about improving ever since her 41-year-old son was killed in an accident a couple of years ago. “A slap on the hand for vehicular manslaughter isn’t gonna work,” Velasquez said. “If it wasn’t for Lace, Grace and Gears, I would still be in a dark place.”
Junie Rose, another speaker, shared her story about making a decision to embark on a 7,000-mile motorcycle ride from Key West, Florida, to Homer, Alaska, while receiving chemotherapy. Her doctor encouraged her to “Go! Live your life.”
Other speakers were Porsche Taylor, of ‘Black Girls Ride’ magazine, who made the trip from Los Angeles, and 17-year-old Delshataki Izquierdo, who started riding a little more than a year ago and has already travelled through 48 states. Motocross Racer, Jennifer Rios, demonstrated and provided racing and riding tips for motorcyclists, too.
Guerrero described other acts of friendliness during the event. One gentleman walked up to her at the OST, shook her hand and said, “Young lady, I want you to know I appreciate everything y’all’ve done. I thank you so much for bringing your bikers into town.”
And into town they came. The organizers came to Bandera months before and planned a scavenger hunt that brought hundreds of women directly into shops in downtown Bandera.
“The scavenger hunt was brilliant,” said Patricia Moore, executive director for Bandera County Visitors and Convention Bureau. “From all reports, the riders ‘weathered the weather’ and had a great time. The community was excited to have them here, and we hope they come back to Bandera next year.”