Hundreds of women bikers rumble into Calgary

About 200 women bikers have descended on Calgary for an annual gathering of Women in the Wind — which started in the U.S. in the 1970s and has since expanded internationally.

It's the first time the Women in the Wind annual gathering is in the city

Lee Hoecherl is the president of the Chinook Outriders, a local chapter of Women in the Wind. (Dave Will/CBC)

About 200 women bikers have descended on Calgary for an annual gathering of Women in the Wind.

The group started in the United States in the 1970s and has since branched out internationally, with chapters in Canada, the U.K., Portugal, New Zealand and Nepal. 

"It's lady riders, it's the sisterhood. It's promoting motorcycle safety and awareness and just encouraging each other just to get out and ride," said Tina Buckthorp, who helped organize the Calgary gathering. "And these ladies ride."

The Calgary chapter has been around since 2006. It has 47 members, ranging from women in their 20s to one woman in her 80s. 

First time in Calgary

It's the first time the annual summer gathering has been held in Calgary, The event includes group rides like the one out to Elbow Falls on Thursday.

"So far they're loving it," said Buckthorp. "It's a little smoky so they're not getting as quite as crystal clear views of places like Lake Louise, but we've got good temperatures for them."

Joyce Troyer drove her three wheeler all the way from North Carolina. 

"I liked it. It gave me time for me," she said.

"It gave me a new life when I started. I started riding when I was 57, almost 10 years ago."

The Sisterhood

She says Women in the Wind is like a big family. 

"I've had a lot of losses in my life, and when I joined them it was like, they were uplifting," Troyer said. "If you screw up, they're there for you. If you do good, they're there for you."

Lee Hoerchel is the president of the local chapter, Chinook Outriders. She said the group meets once a month to discuss things like motorcycle safety. 

She said it was a no-brainer to join a women's biker group. 

"It doesn't matter how far away they've come from, you meet so many ladies that you've never seen before, but you just have that connection with them, right?" she said. 

Next weekend many from her the Chinook Outriders will be heading north for the Canadian gathering of Women in the Wind and to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Edmonton chapter, the oldest in Canada.