From Fashionista to Iron Butt-ress

By Deb Gasque

From Fashionista to Iron Butt-ress

How ridiculous do the two words “fashionista” and “motorcycle” look in a sentence together? A decade ago, my answer would have been, “Extremely ridiculous.” But, today, they are words that fit into the sentence that describes my life: “Hi, my name is Debbie, a sassy 46-year old wife and mom, and I am a fashionista who loves to ride a motorcycle.” And, there you go.

If you would have told me 10 years ago, or anyone who knew me then, that I would be riding a motorcycle today, we all would have laughed. Hard. In your face. Back in those days, I was most interested in pairing the correct pocketbook with the fabulous pair of stilettos on my perfectly pedicured feet in combination with the jewelry and couture outfits that filled my two large closets. “Fashionista” was my label. And, although I have notably down-sized my “collection” of all things fashion, I still find great pleasure in selecting my work outfits each week with great prowess…including my beloved pairs of stilettos. Fashion is still my passion…and now, consequently, so is motorcycling.

So, how does a fashionista get caught up in a world of two wheels? It’s completely my husband’s fault. Not long after we started dating, he took me on my first long-distance ride on his motorcycle to the North Carolina mountains. Pure excitement! It was a whole new world for me overflowing with adventure. Following my maiden voyage, I rode passenger, or “pillion,” for many miles across many states, and even a few trips into Canada. I not only “got” the long-distance motorcycling world, but also embraced it with my whole being. At some point, I decided I wanted to pilot my own ride (also meaning more room to pack my girly stuff). So, after two years of my husband’s astute teaching methods and then a weekend at a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic Rider Course, I became a fully-licensed motorcyclist in 2009.

Five years later, after racking up several thousand miles and traveling through 14 states on my two BMW motorcycles (always packed with sassy clothes and shoes, makeup and a curling iron), I decided it was time to up-the-ante and face the biggest challenge of my life – I set my sights on a membership into the “Iron Butt Association.” Believe me, when I told my husband what I wanted to do, his eyes popped out of his head.

The Iron Butt Association, deemed “World’s Toughest Motorcycle Riders,” is an organization with 50,000+ members “dedicated to safe, long-distance motorcycle riding.” The only way to become a member of this group of “tough and seasoned riders” is to complete and fully document a sponsored Iron Butt Association ride. In my research of this organization, I found that male IBA members far outnumber female IBA members. That was all I needed to know…it was at that moment that I was overwhelmed with the passion to complete a “Saddle Sore 1000,” thus earning my membership into this organization of mostly men. The Iron Butt Association’s “Saddle Sore 1000” is a fully-documented ride of 1,000 miles in 24 hours. Yes, on a motorcycle.

On July 23, 2014, at approximately 10 am, I saddled up on my trusty two-wheeled steed (1994 BMW R1100 RS) and began the ride that I had prepared seven months for…a ride that would, in the end, change my life forever. That day, I, along with my husband (aka – support team, mechanic, photographer and best friend) started the “Saddle Sore 1000” in Asheville, North Carolina, and traveled through Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and into Madison, Wisconsin, where we took a 4-hour break in a hotel to sleep, shower and prepare for the last 260 miles to the finish line. At 4:15 am, on July 24, I was back in the saddle with a limitless amount of willpower and a belly full of Starbucks. I watched the sun rise that morning over the sleepy landscape of Wisconsin’s farmland, and at that moment, I realized that this journey was not just about earning my membership into the Iron Butt Association – this journey was about personal strength, courage, faith and shedding the skin of fear. I savored every remaining mile into St. Paul, Minnesota, that morning, knowing that each mile that ticked on my trip meter represented a stronger, more courageous, faith-filled, fearless me.

I, indeed, finished the ride, all 1,000 miles plus 60 more, and have received my big award and all the goodies that go along with it. This “Fashionista” is now an official “Iron Butt-ress!” After completing the Iron Butt ride and attending the annual BMW International Rally in St. Paul, Minnesota, we went on to explore South Dakota (including Deadwood, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument and Custer State Park), and then took the long way home, all on back roads. I can attest that it is off the beaten path, in the little towns forgotten by the creation of Interstates that the people are most friendly, the landscape is truly more beautiful, and peace of mind really does exist…especially when you are enjoying it on two wheels.

In the end, the tally for this epic adventure was: 2 wheels, 12 days, 13 states, 4,279 miles and a fearless 46-year old whose life has been forever changed. So, until the next 2-wheeled epic adventure is planned, it’s back to the office and back into the stilettos…holding up an Iron Butt, of course.

About this writer

  • Deb Gasque, Conway resident and proud mom of a recent USC graduate, works with her husband, Bill, in his business. She was born and raised in Utah, but has been a resident of the area since 1996. Deb, an avid motorcyclist, loves to travel and enjoys writing about her adventures, and in fact just started a blog to share her stories with the world.

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2 Responses to “From Fashionista to Iron Butt-ress”

  1. Jacqueline G says:

    I just read this amazing article about Deb, and found myself weeping with happiness and pride. This young lady is more amazing than can be imagined. As a small child of two years old she already owned 22 pair of shoes which matched many outfits, turned her darling nose up at getting her hands dirty, and couldn’t ride her bicycle while chewing gum at the same time.
    And wouldn’t you know it, didn’t want anything to do with motorcycles, look at her now. I’m so inspired by her I’ve been attempting a little ridding even at my age. I believe I understand her love for the open road, shoes and fashion.
    You go girl!!!!

  2. Deb, your story proves how far we’ve come. My friend had been childless and married for years. She told her husband she wanted to adopt a baby or buy a motorcycle. Ten years later, she takes a leisure ride on her bike to unwind when her kid drives her crazy :)

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