Riding a 2012 Harley-Davidson Softtail Deluxe from Trail to Kelowna, I stopped on the side of the highway just outside Grand Forks to rehydrate after hours of riding in the afternoon sun. As I lingered, two motorcycles came my way. One, a decked out pink Road Queen (a Harley-Davidson Road King with replaced logos), blazed a trail past me. The woman riding the bike definitely made a statement. Not only was she riding a custom cruiser painted with pink flames, but she also had a pink pony-tail out the top of her helmet, pink boots, jacket, gloves, stickers on her bike – If you Don’t Ride You Don’t Know – and she rode with a confident attitude. First impressions – that woman has a story.
Riding into Greenwood, four Honda Goldwings, four gentlemen sitting road side with ice cream and a friendly rider wave. Near the end of town, Deadwood Junction coffee house and parked outside. . .one pink Road Queen.
“You think this is a lot of pink,” laughs Flo Fuhr of Grand Forks. “This is nothing.”
Originally from Vancouver Island, Flo, is an avid rider albeit she admits that she wasn’t always the strongest on two wheels. She even states that she failed the road test first time around and “was probably the worst in the class.”
However, in 2008, it all changed when, after talking her brother into getting his motorcycle licence, and he offered to buy her Honda VTX1300.
“I loved my bike but I hated going into Harley dealerships with my husband, spending three hours wandering around, because I couldn’t buy any of the cool stuff that they had because I didn’t’ want to be a Harley wannabe on a Honda,” states Fuhr.
The solution to her lack of Harley problem came from an online women’s riding forum – Women Who Ride.
“Donna Palladino from Ride Like a Pro (www.ridelikeapro.com) in Hudson, Florida became one of my best friends online,” says Fuhr. “She put her bike up for sale – an 05 Harley-Davidson Road King. She is a 5’4” woman who has had two hip replacements and can throw a bike around like a child’s toy. She and her husband make training dvds on how to ride like a cop – a pro.”
Fuhr admired the skills of the Palladino’s, watched the dvds and seeing the bike, decided that was her next bike and bought it. Fuhr traveled to Florida and then rode back to BC.
An all around great story but it got even better. Her online ladies riding forum, filled with women who ride from all over the country, came out from various cities, at various stages of Flo’s journey to accompany her so she wouldn’t be riding alone.
“I rode 6,000 miles across the continent with people I had only met online,” said Fuhr. “It was the biggest, most exciting adventure of my life. If you knew me, you would know I get lost in Grand Forks, a parking lot even with a GPS.”
Then Gerry Palladino’s bike went up for sale and Flo was back on her way to Florida to get her husband’s new Harley, but this time for an extended stay. She spent five weeks training and improving her skills and even earned her instructor’s certificate.
“I ride better than boys,” laughs Fuhr. “Maybe not all of them, but if you ever want to play in the parking lot, come see me.”
What seemed like a one time remarkable return journey to BC by motorcycle got even better the second time around with her online riding community becoming a massive extended family putting her up in their homes, joining her for portions of the ride and feeding her along the way.
“That’s how the Conga was born,” states Fuhr.
The conga is the Women Who Ride Conga for the Cause. Fuhr recognized the potential for such a group to make a difference in this world. Having lost a sister to cancer, and meeting so many women riders that were dealing with the disease in one form or another, Fuhr decided this was her opportunity to make a difference.
“We are just a bunch of women who ride,” narrates Fuhr, “online friends who get together, meet somewhere at some point, have a fundraising event, ride some roads and feel good about making a difference.”
This year Fuhr spent 37 days straight on the road wrapping up the fourth annual event and the bragging rights to raising over $100,000 towards breast cancer research.
The group, including some men, deck their bikes out in pink, wear pink wigs and make a statement wherever they go.
“We charge (request donation) for people to take our photos because it doesn’t matter where we go, people embrace us,” says Fuhr. “Shell, Wyoming is where we get all the attention and fundraising. Each year gets bigger and better. The first stop 400 dollars. The second year – one night – $4,000 and this last year $14,000 in three days and Shell, WY, population 50 (www.wyomingtourism.org) will always be our meeting place.”
Women Who Ride Conga for the Cause is currently planning its fifth year and Flo has big hopes for this year’s campaign.
“My dream would be for Harley-Davidson to support us,” states Fuhr. “Conga clothing or financial support or even a Conga bike! Why, because I ride a Harley, most of our girls ride Harleys, they are a great company and we get noticed wherever we go. I would love to be a part of their pink campaign. I feel, that we, the Conga, could be a very effective addition to their campaign.”
If a cross continental ride interests you, keep your eyes on www.gowitheflo.org [spelled exactly like this go with e flo) for further details on the fifth annual Conga ride. Registration is only $20 and is open to any and all types of bikes as well as men and women of all ages.