By Nancy Huth
On a beautiful summer Saturday morning in July, 60 sleek shiny motorcycles were spotted in the parking lot at Mary Yoder’s. Inside enjoying breakfast were 60 women, members of Ohio Valley Lady Riders. Dressed in typical motorcycle regalia, the women, between the ages of 20 to 70 plus were fortifying themselves for a ride to Pymatuning State Park.
Six years ago, Alicia Merrow, known as “Spazz,” founded the group that meets every year at a different Ohio state park. The organization now has 1,200 members. This year they stayed at Punderson for their yearly three-day retreat, where they shared interests, socialized, formed new friendships and escaped the daily routines at home to appreciate nature’s peace
Most of the motorcycles were Harleys, with some Suzuki and some Indian. The women represent a wide range of professions, including bus and truck drivers, teachers, nurses, store managers, policewomen, waitresses, equipment operators. During the year they keep up with each other through Facebook and “meet and greets” where riders in particular areas gather for a meal. At a recent one in Columbus 80 women riders showed up.
Merrow herself started to ride at age 16 and is now 29. She said, “What I love about riding is the freedom, the scenery, the thrill and independence. Riding a motorcycle doesn’t always mean you have a destination. Sometimes you go to get away from life itself, you’re never lost on the road, roads never end. When people see groups of women riding, it’s head-turning, shocking to see, but also a motivation for other women to ride”
Ohio Valley Lady Riders (OVLR) was created by Merrow for women in Ohio, and some in West Virginia on Facebook back in 2014. Women riders are hard to find in some areas, so creating the Facebook page and getting the word out helped women locate others to ride with. Alicia believes the group has created many friendships. She says, “Don’t get me wrong, riding with our spouses is a special bond, but sometimes you have to have that girl time. In 2014 we had our first retreat at Alum Creek State Park in Columbus where we had 40 women within 2 months of creating the group. I’ve always told the ladies you may come as a stranger but you will leave as family. We have been to Lake Hope State Park, Deer Creek State Park, Burr Oak State Park, Hueston Woods State Park, and Punderson State Park. We also visited Geneva on the Lake and Squire’s Castle this year. Since 2014 we have never had less than 40 women at a retreat, and every year we always have someone new come! I’m blessed to watch so many friendships develop from what I’ve created – that’s what it’s all about. We all enjoy one mutual thing and that’s our love for riding!”
Nancy Huth grew up in Cleveland and graduated from Notre Dame College and Cleveland State University. After teaching English for a few years, she married and moved to Germany where she taught English as a second language for 30 years. In 2005 she and her German husband Dieter moved to Middlefield. Nancy has written for the Post since 2007.