Hundreds of motorcyclist roll into town ahead of the Sturgis Rally

Returning to the Black Hills for a women’s biking convention
Hundreds of women pose for a photo at the annual Motor Maids convention in Rapid City, SD.
Hundreds of women pose for a photo at the annual Motor Maids convention in Rapid City, SD.(Aleah Burggraff)
Published: Jul. 5, 2022 at 6:30 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Hundreds of motorcyclists are rolling into the Black Hills and it’s not for the Sturgis Rally.

Decades ago 2 women had the idea to start an organization to empower females entering an industry traditionally associated with men.

“Well, the Motor Maids were founded back in 1940 on the premise of showing women in a positive light in motorcycling. It’s a male-dominated sport even today, but in 1940 it was very rare to find a woman riding her own motorcycle,” explained Ann Hovdenes, hostess of the 82nd National Motor Maids Convention.

82 years later, Motor Maids remains one of the oldest continuously operated women riding organizations in North America with more than 1,300 members.

Once a year bikers from across the US and Canada come together to meet and hang out with the women in the Motor Maids community.

“In 1966, in 1989, the Motor Maids came to the Black Hills. So, after a long span, it was time for them to come back and enjoy, you know, the Black Hills are a biking Mecca. All riders like to come here and visit,” said Hovdenes.

“Love the Black Hills. Just love it,” said Dorthy Wilwert, a member of the organization since 1964.

Wilwert visited the Black Hills for the first time during the Motor Maids convention in the 1960s.

Although a long-time member of a female motorcycle organization, Wilwert was first introduced to her love of bike riding by a man; her husband.

“A boyfriend at that time. He had a motorcycle and taught me how to drive a motorcycle. Didn’t know nothing about them until I met him,” explained Wilwert.

Ultimately, it was a friend who convinced her to join the Motor Maids.

“Oh, once you get into it it’s just fabulous. Meeting the people, going to the different states, going all over,” said Wilwert.

It’s that shared interest in adventure that continues to bring women together every year.

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