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Ladies’ motorcycle run comes to DL

The 2012 North Dakota Ladies’ Run in Wahpeton, N.D., drew 150-200 female motorcycle riders. This year, the ride will be held in Detroit Lakes. SUBMITTED PHOTO

It’s common in many circles of female friends to celebrate each other’s company with a girl’s night out.

However, a group of local women will be taking it a step further as they hop on their motorcycles to join with over 170 other women from across the country to celebrate a shared love of the open road.

The 2013 North Dakota Ladies’ Run is cruising through the area from Friday-Sunday, July 19-21.

The North Dakota Ladies Run began in 1988, when founder Kathy Enders from Tioga, N.D., gathered a group of nine friends for a weekend of riding.

“She’s still riding,” Linda Isaak, a member of this year’s committee, added about the group’s founder.

Numbers have increased each year, and the event now attracts over 150 riders.

“It’s fun — every year there’s more and more that come,” said Patti Carr, another key committee member.

According to Carr and Isaak, residents of the area, 170 riders will participate this summer.

“The ride is usually held in the smaller towns of North Dakota, but over the last few years, we have been having issues with all the heavy traffic and trouble finding lodging due to the oil fields, so they are coming to Detroit Lakes,” Carr said.

“Since the very first couple (rides) I’ve ever been to, I wanted to bring it to Detroit Lakes. The riding is so beautiful, and this area offers so much,” she said.

Eight to 10 local riders from the local area usually take part. They have dubbed their group “Jugz,” short for “Just Us Girlz.”

Carr had her start with the event in 2004 when she embraced the activity after finding inspiration in the rides she’d receive from her brother on his motorcycle.

Isaak’s history with riding stretches back to her childhood.

“I started out on a mini bike when I was 10 years old, and then went onto my first bike in 1984.”

She said her inspiration was “my Uncle Bob. He’s now 73 years old and has gone to Sturgis for the last 40 years, and when I was a little girl I would watch him. I just wanted to be like him.”

Isaak joined the North Dakota Ladies’ Run in 2003.

When they’re not riding their motorcycles, Carr is a legal secretary with Stowman Law Firm, and Isaak is a CNA.

In response to the stereotype that most bikers are male, both women laughed, and said, “not anymore.”

“You know, Harley Davidson talks about how women are starting to ride for the independence and things like that, but the number of women riding motorcycles had increased 36 percent in the last decade,” Isaak said.

Carr added, “I believe a lot of that has to do with the industry making more women-friendly bikes. They’re easier to ride, they’re lower.”

“You know, if you like to ride, there’s nothing worse than waiting until your partner is ready for a ride,” Isaak said.

“Some people are perfectly happy to be a passenger — they can look around, they can enjoy the afternoon, they can have a cocktail. I like to be able to go when I want to and do what I want,” Carr added.

While the women noted that men have played very helpful roles in assisting with planning out routes and organizing the event, only women are permitted to participate in the ride.

The riders generally span an age range from 21 to 70, and new participants are eagerly welcomed into the group. This year, women are traveling from North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Canada.

According to Carr and Isaak, news of the ride spreads by word of mouth throughout the biking community, and members of the event stay connected through a website and Facebook page.

Last year, the ride took the ladies to Wahpeton, N.D. Some living in the area might recall when the group rode into Detroit Lakes in 1991, the last time the event was held locally, though numbers were significantly smaller at 19 participants.

Women riding into the area this year can look forward to a weekend packed with activity.

“We’ve got a lot planned on Friday afternoon for the girls when they come to town. A lot of them have traveled a long, long way and need to relax,” Carr said.

Registration begins at 3 pm at the Holiday Inn. Among Friday’s events will be a pontoon party for the riders, which will provide an opportunity to enjoy the lake. Everyone in the community is welcome to a vendor show from 3-6 p.m. at the Holiday Inn, with eight bikes on display which will showcase the talents of local bike builders, as well as a variety of additional goods.

The ladies will embrace this year’s theme: “Tacky Tourist,” with a beach picnic at the Holiday Inn and evening festivities.

“Friday’s entertainment is something we haven’t done before- it’s going to be a hoot,” Carr said.

The riders will each be provided information about nightlife and activities in the area, and Carr said, “we have lined up and rented a van from Nereson’s, sponsored by Kujawa Fiberglass Repair, which will take the girls back and forth to the hotels, to eliminate drinking and driving.”

On Saturday morning a “bike blessing” and group photo by Northwoods Photography will take place on the beach, followed by a parade down Washington Avenue at 10:30 a.m. as part of the Northwest Water Carnival.

After a lunch at Zorbaz, they’ll embark on an 80-mile cruise through the lakes country. The group will ride to Frazee before turning back and going through Vergas, a stop at the Pelican Lake Zorbaz, and going through the Cormorant area before heading back to Detroit Lakes. Saturday evening will conclude with a banquet, program, and more enjoyment of the Detroit Lakes community in the company of some old and newly made friends.

The ride will continue into the rest of the weekend, with further exploration of the area.

“Usually it’s just two days — that was a change we made this year because there’s just so much to offer in the area that we couldn’t cover it all in one day of riding, so we added the Itasca tour on Sunday,” Carr said. “We have over half the people staying for it.”

Carr is excited to provide the opportunity for visiting riders to enjoy the lakes country, and she said of the experience of riding through rural North Dakota, that it “is a beautiful state, and if it weren’t for this ride, I wouldn’t know that.”

A committee comprised of Carr, Isaak, Sarah Kujawa, Mary Seaberg, Paula Jones, Ginny Swanson, Tammy Koenig, Shanda Smith, has put in time and effort to ensure that this year’s ride is a success.

“Patti has done an amazing job,” Isaak said.

“I keep thinking to myself how each individual person on this committee has given their individual talents – it wouldn’t be what it’s going to be without them,” Carr said.

Carr said that the ride has a number of local sponsors, including, Zorbaz, Seaberg Power Sports, Shooting Star Casino, Kujawa Fiberglass Repair, Ray and Patti Carr, Jammin with Jinny and the Holiday Inn.

“We wanted to say how wonderful the community and the surrounding communities have been donating door prizes,” Isaak added. “We’re thankful for the support.”

Over the course of the weekend, Carr said that the riders will “be roaming around. You’ll see them at the gas station filling up, and at the grocery store.”

“A lot of the girls like to shop, so they’re going to be downtown,” Isaak added.

“Wave and say hi and welcome them to the community, but also be very mindful that there will be bikers around, because it is a busy weekend,” Carr said.

Isaak asks that members of the community “please watch out for us,” and promises that the riders will be cautious on the roads as well. 

Both women request that drivers be patient with slight traffic hold ups as a result of the sheer number of bikes.

“We are very adamant about safety,” Carr said of one of the main priorities of the event. “We do everything we can for a safe ride.”

While philanthropy hasn’t been a primary focus of the event in the past years, Carr said, “I wanted to bring that aspect back to the ride.” This year, a voluntary donation will be made by the participants to contribute to the Lakes Crisis Center’s Wish List of items. Carr said the committee and riders are “really excited about it.”

At its heart, the North Dakota Ladies’ Run continues to focus on a shared love of riding in a community of women as it enters its 26th year. Carr voiced the camaraderie as being her favorite part of the ride, and Isaak cherishes the annual opportunity, blocking off this weekend as she looks forward to it each summer.

Be sure to take advantage of the opportunities to meet these women as they enjoy the area this weekend, cheer them on during their parade on Saturday or if you encounter the group on the road.

For more history on the North Dakota Ladies’ Run and information on how to get involved, visit their website at

Libby Larson | DL-Online