Portland’s Dykes on Bikes Ride into San Francisco

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By Gabriela Kandziora, DOB President

For Dykes On Bikes® Portland Chapter, June was amazing. June, the global Pride Month, is always awesome but this year, for the Dykes On Bikes® Portland Chapter, Pride Month was epic. Your DOB PDX Chapter represented Portland and all of Oregon at not only Portland and Central Oregon Prides, but also for the first time at San Francisco Pride. DOB PDX just returned from this “Herstory-making trip” down to San Francisco. Our adventure started on Thursday, June 25 with the DOB PDX convening at 7 a.m., loading up our S.A.G. (Supply and Gear) Vehicles with our flags, backpacks, coolers filled with sandwiches, waters, Monster Energy drinks, Pabst Beer, and Three Olives Vodka—the water and Monster to get us there, the alcohol to chill us when we are settled in San Francisco and ready to start the party. (DOB PDX never drinks and rides.)

Our chosen route was down I-5. The motorcycles were cushioned between a lead and sweep S.A.G. (Supply and Gear) Vehicles. We moved as fast as possible down Interstate 5. It was grueling. The traffic and heat were super intense. Our MC arrived in San Francisco, unloaded, parked, unpacked, changed clothes, got settled at Hotel Diva and then got right into the thick of the parties: the Dyke March, the Pink Party, The Dykes On Bikes® Party—so many parties. Later that night we were treated to a VIP lounge at the Eden Signature Party, thanks to our media sponsor PQ Bay Area. Miz Chris, producer of all the amazing Eden parties (including EdenPNW.com, October 2015 in Seaside, Oregon) treated the DOB PDX to a delicious bottle service along with a few gorgeous women to mix and pour for us. Dancing, drinking, laughing, being together enjoying not only making “Herstory” by riding down to San Francisco to ride with the Mother Chapter: San Francisco Dykes On Bikes® but also being in the city just days after the Supreme Court ruled for marriage equality nationwide. The entire Bay Area was ecstatic about this ruling. Everyone was so happy to finally be validated with equality nationwide.

I was proud of our DOB PDX Sunday morning. Even after having a fantastic time and staying out late, the entire MC was ready at 8 a.m. to roll out of the parking garage to line up for the San Francisco Pride Parade. The motorcycles looked fantastic decked out with the global DOB flag, our Portland MC flag, our Pride flag, and of course, our American flag. Our MC looked sharp in our black cuts with our patches proudly displaying our authenticity as an official Dykes On Bikes® chapter. The streets were empty so early in the morning but as we got closer to Market and Beale streets—the head of the parade lineup—things got real, thousands of people all preparing for the parade. With hearts pounding and smiles on our faces, we were directed by the San Francisco DOB to line up behind them.

Our bikes roared as we rolled forward, ahead of all the other bikes, to park two-by-two behind the bikes of the Patches of the Mother Chapter MC. San Francisco DOB MC has chapters all over the world. The original founders fought for five years to finally be granted the trademarked Dykes On Bikes® and San Francisco DOB continuously strives to uphold their mission of spreading queer visibility globally. It is the dream of every patch in any DOB chapter to ride with the Mother Chapter of Dykes On Bikes®. And here we were, Portland’s DOB Chapter, excited and happy to be lining up behind some amazing patches of San Francisco DOB. We met Soni Wolf—Secretary, a Patch since 1978; Jen F.—Vice President; Mindie Dodson—President; and the other Patches of San Francisco DOB MC. It was a truly thrilling moment.

The singular reason we rode down to San Francisco and went through hell on I-5 was upon us. A woman at the head of the parade was signaling us five minutes to takeoff… then finally two minutes to takeoff… the DOB started their engines… then 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and GO! The crowd roared and snapped photos as the DOB began to roll, leading off the 2015 San Francisco Pride Parade. It was simply overwhelming to hear all the love and support from the crowd. All the way down Market Street hundreds of thousands of people were lined along the parade route cheering us on. Over 400 motorcycles and scooters were part of this ride. The intense sound of the crowd and the bikes was simply amazing. The bikes continued to honk and rev their motors all the way down Market Street. It was one of the most empowering moments of our lives.

As the police escorted us to our parking, the DOB PDX had the biggest smiles on our faces; the crowd was still cheering us on and snapping photos. One by one, our MC parked and dismounted their bikes jumping up and down, hugging each other, cheering each other on. We had done it. We had planned, raised money, traveled, navigated our way to San Francisco—all to achieve one of our biggest goals: to ride with the DOB SF MC in the San Francisco Pride Parade. All the sweat, heat, sore muscles, effort, sacrifice, lack of sleep had been worth this exhilarating moment in our Herstory.

Every Patch of DOB PDX is in gratitude to our Sisters of the San Francisco Dykes On Bikes® Women’s Motorcycle Contingent in upholding the mission of queer visibility globally and in continuing the DOB WMC since 1976. After many hugs and smiles, we all went to a restaurant and lunched, celebrating a victorious Pride Ride together in this most historic San Francisco Pride. All the Patches were chumming it up and laughing, bonding with SF DOB Patches.

Come Monday morning we met Miz Chris for breakfast in Oakland and she guided us out to the road that would take us to Highway 101. This was a gorgeous ride back to Oregon—and much cooler. Our MC rode through the magnificent redwoods, we saw elk, and the views were spectacular. Needing to spend one more night before we would make it home to Portland, we opted for the very pretty Blue Lake Casino along the Pacific Ocean. Our MC continued to bond and enjoy one another’s company over dinner and gambling.

There is a pretty tight bond that happens when you ride together, sweat together, look out for each other on the road, and go through emergencies together. DOB PDX stayed together and had each other’s backs during this ride—that is what riding as an MC is all about. Yes, we had some challenges—heatstroke, a downed bike, a broken wrist, but we overcame them together—as a team, a “chosen family,” and we did everything with love and kindness toward each other. As President of Dykes On Bikes® Portland Chapter, I have never been more proud of our MC.

Our beloved supporters: Pride Foundation, Pabst Beer, Monster Energy Drinks, Three Olives Vodka, Bridge City Medical, Eden Pride Parties, PQ Monthly and PQ Bay Area supported us throughout this entire adventure. There were several people who were paramount to DOB PDX achieving this goal: Miz Chris from Eden Parties, treating us VIP all the way and helping us navigate on our way out of San Francisco/Oakland; Paulie Morgan—BamBam’s partner, Sweep S.A.G. Vehicle with bike trailer and coolers; and Angela, newly named “Brooklyn Queens” by the DOB PDX, driver of Lead S.A.G. Vehicle. Dykes On Bikes® Portland extends a deeply heartfelt “Thank you!” to everyone and our supporters involved in this epic adventure in achieving our first major goal.

When you have a chance, congratulate your local Dykes On Bikes® Portland Patches, “spreading queer visibility one motorcycle ride at a time”: Melanie Davis aka “Chica V”—Webmaster; Gus Wolter—Treasurer; Cassie Moore aka “First Patch”—Secretary; Scotty Scott aka “Sarge”—Sergeant-at-Arms; our Patches: Teri Bunker aka “Doc NP,” Candy Miller, Jill King, Pam Golden aka “BamBam,” Laura Mangano aka “LKat,” and me, Gabriela Kandziora—President. Each Patch works hard to be a positive representation to the world as a Dykes On Bikes® Patch. When we wear our cuts, we tell the world, “We are queer and we are here riding out, loud, and proud!” Along the route to San Francisco and back, we had dozens of people honking for us, giving us the thumbs-up, and asking for photos. The DOB PDX MC is designed to be blatantly queer… attracting people our way. Make no mistake that we spread queer visibility with each motorcycle ride. Our MC has gotten hugs from Christian motorcycle groups as well as Brother Speed and Shadows MCs. The thing about riding a motorcycle is that you belong to a family who accepts you, no matter what. And, as ambassadors for our queer community, the DOB PDX MC takes advantage of this opportunity to spread queer love every single chance we get.

It was an amazing time riding with the Mother Chapter. Dykes On Bikes® Portland plans on doing it again in 2017 or 2018. Anyone is welcome to ride/drive with us on any of our adventures. Next on the itinerary is a trip to the Dunes in Florence, leading off the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and then Eden PNW. Our 2016 adventure will be either Sturgis or New Mexico—you are welcome to join us on these great memory-making, queer visibility-spreading adventures. You will have the time of your life with Dykes On Bikes® Portland Chapter.

To donate to our 501(c)3 to help support our mission of “queer visibility one motorcycle ride at a time,” please visit our website: DykesOnBikesPortland.com. Every donation is greatly appreciated. You can find Dykes On Bikes® Portland Chapter and San Francisco Dykes On Bikes® Chapter on Facebook.