Gloria Tramontin, member of the Motor Maids for 54 years, has loved all her bikes, declaring that she was “blue every time she sold one”. Her first bike was an Indian Pony. Her second bike, bought used during the war years, was a 1941 Bonneville Scout. After the war, she bought a brand new 1946 Indian Chief. Then, in 1950 she “switched” to Harleys and has owned 7 more of them since. When asked if she bought her first Harley because she liked it or because her brother became a Harley Dealer in 1948, she declared with a laugh, “of course I liked Harleys – but maybe you shouldn’t put that in the article”. Her story follows:
Gloria was born in the backroom behind her family’s motorcycle shop in 1925. The shop, located in Clifton, New Jersey on Lexington Avenue, was started by her father and mother in 1915. When her father died in 1928, her mother continued to operate the shop. The Lexington Cycle Shop was not an Indian Dealership, Gloria says. She remembers that all kinds of bicycles and motorcycles were sold there -- Henderson, Super-X, Harley, Indian, Reading Standard and more.
At the age of 16, Gloria’s older brother, Arthur, “made me learn how to ride even though I didn’t want to”. She learned from one of the best, for “Bub” Tramontin, was a professional hillclimber until he was 78 years old! He also took over the Cycle Shop from his mother in 1948, and owns a Harley dealership to this day.
In 1946 Gloria joined the Motor Maids. The Motor Maids were a newly formed group of women riders (started in 1940). At the time Gloria joined, the New Jersey Chapter had only 3 members. A few years ago Gloria was presented with her 50 Year Motor Maid Membership Award. Her son, Glenn, and daughter, Lori, accompanied her to the awards ceremony. “It was one of the most memorable times I can recall. I wasn’t able to give a speech at the Convention during the award ceremony; having my son and daughter there witnessing my accepting this special award was a very emotional and moving event in my life. I couldn’t even start to say anything at that point in time.”
Presently there are about 500 Motor Maids across the country. Gloria has rode her bike to every Motor Maid convention she has attended. One year she was returning home from a convention through the Cumberland Gap. The temperature was hovering around 32 degrees and it was raining. She stopped to put on her rainsuit, and, without thinking, tucked her pants into her boots. A short time later her boots began to fill up with water. She pulled over to empty her boots, and met up with some members of the Hell’s Angels, who “stopped to see if I needed any help. When they saw I was a women, they said, ‘Wow, man, that’s your bike?’” Gloria was riding a Full Dresser Harley.
Gloria’s most recent trip was to Bike Week 2000 where she met Andy Anderson and attended the AAIMC’s Breakfast at Sinbads. She has never missed a single Bike Week in Daytona and has rode there every year. One year she left New Jersey for Florida wrapped in eight layers of clothing and wearing 2 inch thick gloves. The temperature was minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit!
A few months before this year’s Bike Week, Gloria and her son went on a tour of Europe. Gloria rode her Yamaha while Glenn rode his Mom’s 1992 Daytona Special HD. The high point of the trip was riding the 34-mile Passo della Stelvio through the Alps. Gloria admits to a tremendous fear of heights, and this pass goes through the 2nd highest mountain range in the Alpine region. She maneuvered her motorcycle through 80 hairpin turns without ever looking down! Altogether they rode over 2000 miles in Europe. Gloria’s next trip is to Hawaii. She will be going with 11 Motor Maids from Michigan. Bikes are already rented to tour the island of Maui! Gloria will be “test driving” the new HD Heritage.
Any women who rides a motorcycle and would like to join the Motor Maids, please contact Gloria at email@example.com
Click on pictures for full size
This article was originally
published in the All American Indian Motorcycle Club newsletter, and is
reprinted here by kind permission. Please check out the AAIMC website here!
The Motor Maids website, with information, history and contact details, is here.