Last week, as the conversation on Facebook page turned to waterproof gloves, we were excited to see a familiar name -- accomplished long distance rider Voni Glaves.
Voni is one of a handful of motorcyclists who has ridden a documented million miles without an accident, and is working on her second million. A million miles is like circling the circumference of the earth 40 times.
Voni agreed to chat with us and share some of her experiences in the saddle. We were really curious about her experiences both as a long distance motorcycle rider, and a something of a trailblazer for women in the sport.
And since there's always a history behind a person's pair of motorcycle gloves, we got to hear some pretty cool stories ... and learn a thing or two.
Voni, thanks for sharing your stories, and continue to ride safe!
It Started As "A Family Adventure ..."
Voni's motivation to ride motorcycles began in the 70s when her kids were 8 and 10 years old. She was looking for a fun way the family could share a two week trip during the summer.
She decided a trip via motorcycle would be a special experience, so the foursome embarked on their first motorcycle adventure, from Iowa to Texas. With one child securely fastened onto each adult's bike, the nearly 700-mile journey brought them to Texarkana.
What started as a family trip, began a passion for riding that hasn't dimmed..
"I put red reflective tape on the gloves," said Glaves.
The color red is her signature color -- "I love the color red" ... and she explained that if she was wearing something that was not RED, it was because it was good.
To our surprise, Voni still wears the Olympia Windtex gloves she bought in the early 90s from Engle Motors in Kansas City. We were glad tp hear that those gloves have been very, very good.
(See photo above of her 20+ year-old gloves. Since our gear has gotten better over the years, we will be excited to see her put a more current pair of Oly's to the test, and see what she thinks of a newer model).
"Gear is a large factor in staying safe "
Voni explains that the choices of gear we have today is a far cry form the gear she wore on her first major ride in the 70s.
For a ride to Big Bend National Park in Southwest Texas, "We bought average rain suits. We used gloves, which were meant for work in the kitchen and garden and which prevented sunburn while riding. I owned a women's cut MA Brown cotton jumpsuit with Teflon knees and elbows. It was breathable and safe, we thought ... though we never had to test its crashworthiness" explained Glaves.
In Voni's experience, gear must fit properly. She appreciates manufacturers who specifically design for women's shapes. She has some practical advice for other women riders in regards to buying a jacket: make sure the arms cover your wrists and the back is long enough to protect your backside from wind and sunburn.
Teaching & Travels: MOA Camp Gears, Women Who Ride, and more
A retired teacher, Voni combines her passion for riding with teaching others, on a wide variety of diverse motorcycle-related topics.
This summer, she and husband Paul are headed to the BMW MOA International Rally in St. Paul, Minnesota from July 24-27 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, and teaching is definitely on the agenda.
They have been appointed ambassadors at MOA's Camp GEARS (Gaining Early Advanced Riding Skills) teaching young riders between the ages 16-26 the ins and outs of motorcycle riding. Camp is held two days before the Internatioal MOA rally.
In addition to working as a volunteer for the MOA, Voni will also be leading a panel made up of outstanding women riders during the three-day rally as well.
After the MOA meeting, the couple is heading to; South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington State. Then, onto a BMW meeting in Nakusp Hot Springs in British Columbia, where she is lecturing on the mental part of motorcycle riding at Nakusp.
Motorcycle Rider Advice: "Fewer distractions lead to safer riding"
A good piece of advice to riders is to recognize what you are doing while on the road. Full focus and concentration are crucially important, and Voni shares a simple tip that helps to keep her focused.
Some riders believe it is unsafe to take their hands off of the throttle. But in Voni's experience it is helpful. "I try to wave at every motorcycle rider. This helps me focus on the now. I practice this on back roads, but not in city traffic".
The Best Part of 1,000,000+ Miles: "A Cathedral of Trees"
For Voni, "the best part of every motorcycle trip is setting up camp and cooking amongst the cathedral of pine trees."
Past years' trips have included visiting Alaska and Newfoundland, Hawaii (and all 50 states in the US) and every Canadian providence. When she retired from teaching in 2004, over the course of two months, she toured 5 South African countries. And Glaves could talk for hours about riding in New Zealand.
For this summer's annual 4-month trek from May to September, Voni and her husband will start out in the mountains of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona.
Their last stop-off this summer is The Land of Enchantment BMW Riders Club's 30th Annual Bavarian Mountain Weekend Rally meeting. The LOEBWM meeting is held in Taos, New Mexico from September 5th-7th in the beauitful Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the Carson National Forest.
Iron Butt Association: 11,000 miles in 11 Days
One of Voni's many riding accomplishments was finishing the 11 Day Iron Butt Rally (11,000 miles in 11 days) in 2003 on a BMW bike with over 300,000 miles on the odometer. "On the way home, we left before daylight and rode into a sunrise complete with a rainbow," remembered Voni.
We admire Voni's riding accomplishments, her adventurous spirit, and her knowledge that she so generously shares with others.
If you happen to be traveling some of the same roads this summer, and see "the lady in red" riding her BMW ... be sure to wave. And to follow Voni on 2-wheels, check out her blog.
Long Distance Motorcycle Riding Tips
Conversations with accomplished motorcycle riders like Voni Glaves, Jeff E. Kohn, and Marilyn Elmore Bragg are intended to inspire and inform.
For more long distance riding tips please check out these articles:
P.S. We make over 70 styles of gloves and some with free shipping. To learn more about our motorcycle glove styles, visit a local dealer or our online store: