• 57°

Women: Love of motorcycles is a way to relax on weekends

Five days a week, Renee Hodges of Elkview, W.Va., is an administrative assistant for the state of West Virginia. She wears a suit and works at a computer.

"People I work with would probably never believe I would even get on a bike," she said with a smile. But she does, happily, every chance she gets.

Hodges is one of many women whose love affair with the open rode is conducted on the back of a motorcycle.

"I started riding with my husband 10 years ago," she said. "There's a sense of freedom. It's nice. You feel the road and you go with it."

The mother of three children, Hodges said getting on a motorcycle is her treat to herself. Saturday's treat was to ride with husband Gary to Ironton's Rally on the River.

"Grandma's got the kids today and every now and then we try to just get away," she said. "It's very relaxing, just to get out and get away from everyday life."

Jennifer Markel of Ironton knows just how Hodges feels. Markel, 39, has been riding "all my life." She rode along South Third Street Saturday on a plum-colored Harley with her friend, David Ferris of Greasy Ridge.

"There's no feeling like it," she said. "You know, it helps with stress levels. And you get with other bikers. There's no fighting."

Ellie Gusman of Dayton has been riding with husband Nick for 22 years.

"I love it," she said. "I love the freedom of the road and the sun in my face."

The couple goes to biker rallies "every chance we get" to meet with others who feel the same way.

What is it that attracts women to motorcycles? Markel said it is the same thing that attracts men to motorcycles.

"The feeling of the wind in your hair and just to forget your problems for a few minutes."