By 1991, the Women’s Motorcyclist Foundation recognized that female-focused national and international motorcycle clubs were gaining traction and providing many of the same types of mentoring that WMF, Inc. was offering at its festival venues. While still committed to holding two more Women’s Motorcycle Festivals in 1992 and 1994, WMF, Inc. began to make plans for a new way to inspire women to join the ranks of motorcycling.
Ironically, it began with the two founders of WMF, Inc. making a trip to the Viet Nam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., The Wall. And the same time they were making plans for a motorcycle trip to Canada’s Yukon and Northwest Territories and Alaska.
Emotionally drained from this visit, Gin Shear and Sue Slate, rode home to learn from their local newspaper that during the ten-year official period when the United States lost 58,000+ Americans to the Vietnam Conflict, we also lost 330,000 Americans to breast cancer.
Gin and Sue found the ripple effect of the loss of each life represented on The Wall, plus the magnitude the consequences of losing 330,000 Americans alone to breast cancer overwhelming.
Knowing there are no coincidences, they shared their visit to The Wall and the daunting statistic they had learned about breast cancer with Bookie Buksa of Prince George, British Columbian, and Leenie Bachman, then of Boston, Massachusetts. Thus, the journey to Inuvik, NWT and Arctic waters transformed from a vacation into Women’s Arctic Tour ’93 – Ride for Research.
WMF set a goal of raising $10,000 for the then Susan G. Komen Foundation (now Komen for the Cure). Sans internet, the four WMF, Inc. riders wrote letters to every motorcycle club they could find through the American Motorcyclist Association’s club directory along with other motorcycle directories. Each of the four asked to be adopted by clubs and individual riders for a suggested donation of between $5.00 and $20.00.
Starting in Boston, their mission began by dipping their toes in the Atlantic Ocean, followed by toe-dipping in the Arctic waters of the Beaufort Sea, North of Inuvik, NWT and a final dip in the Pacific waters off Alaska. The trek covered 13,339-mile including 1500 miles of dirt roads across the Northern United States, up through Alberta and British Columbia to Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Alaska. By tour’s end, the intrepid riders had more than doubled their goal by raising $25,000 for the Komen Foundation, every penny of which went to research as each rider paid all her own bills.