Original Motor Maid Gloria Struck Still Going
LAKELAND — Gloria Tramontin Struck has been riding motorcycles for more than half a century.
The 91-year-old, who still rides, hopped on her first Harley Davidson in 1941 and, after some convincing from her brother, hasn’t looked back since.
“I thank him for talking me into it,” she said, with a laugh. She’s a member of the Sturgis Hall of Fame and one of the first in 1946 to have joined “Motor Maids“, the first and oldest continuously operated women’s motorcycling organization.
While relaxing at the Harley Owners Group Rally at Sun ‘n Fun in Lakeland Friday afternoon, Struck revealed her plans for the future.
“My next goal is to ride across country on two wheels when I’m 100,” she said.
And although that’s nine years away, Struck knows she will have no trouble getting there.
The New Jersey native says she doesn’t feel 91 at all. She still shovels snow in front of her house and doesn’t know the word “trailer”.
But why should she? Struck’s as sharp as a whip and can vividly remember rides from more than 60 years ago.
“I don’t have any vices,” she shared. “Just motorcycles.” And when she goes to an event she averages 600 miles a day on her 2004 Heritage Softail Classic.
Riding is a part of who she is.
Struck’s father opened up a motorcycle shop in 1915, and she was was taught to ride at the age of 16.
“I grew up with motorcycles every day,” she said.
And because Struck was riding motorcycles during a time when women riders were scarce, she is looked at as a pioneer.
That’s why Lakeland Harley Davidson invited her to speak at the four-day rally meant to bring motorcyclists together.
“It wasn’t proper for women to ride,” Struck said about the first couple decades she rode. “I was called names, not nice names. I was refused gas. I was refused a place to stay.”
Struck jokes that she still doesn’t know if it was because she was a Yankee or a woman rider, but she figures it was the latter.
“It just wasn’t a time for women to become independent and I think riding shows a lot of independence.”
Now, women riders are everywhere and dominating the roads together.
Artist David Uhl considers Gloria a national treasure and made her the subject of one of his Women Of Harley paintings. He was extremely humbled to have met and spent time with her. Uhl a fan of history was elated to spend time talking to Gloria about the time and people that have been the subject of a lot of his paintings.
She is such classy lady, and hope everyone in the industry gets the opportunity to meet her” said David.
Struck is a Motor Maid, part of the organization Motor Maids Inc.
The organization was established in 1940 by Linda Dugeau and Dot Robinson. It was motorcycling’s first women’s riding group.
There were 51 members at its inception, now there are more than 1,300, Struck said.
“A lot of women ride today and their boyfriends and husbands are eager to see them ride,” she said.
Even Struck’s daughter and granddaughter ride.
But John Harabalya, Struck’s cousin, said Struck rides stronger than her daughter.
“Her daughter will be in front going 75 and she will be following close behind,” he said.
That tenacity and fierceness on the road motivates others to follow her lead.
“A 75-year-old woman yesterday told me she was thinking of giving up riding but after hearing me talk she said she is going to keep riding,” Struck said. “People tell me I inspire them.”
Although Struck shared some of her story with fellow riders at the H.O.G rally, she plans to share all of it with thousands when she releases her book.
When asked for details, Struck smiled slyly and refused to give away any secrets. But if you watch the video, she does attest to clean living, and more importantly LIVING rather than existing. So come this March, she’ll get a checkup from her doctor….shovel the snow in front of her house…and once again make the ride to Daytona…laughing at all the wimps and their trailers along the way.