1. Who are you? Where are you from?
My name is Ruth Belcher, (AKA The Mayor or Renegade Ruth) I currently live in Everett, Washington. I was born in Cincinnati Ohio, and I’ve been wandering ever since.
2. What was your childhood like?
My childhood was complicated. At times it was absolutely amazing and other times, it was traumatic. I am the oldest of three, all girls. My parents are deaf and as the oldest child, it came with a plethora of unwelcome responsibilities and duties. I was responsible for interpreting and communicating for my parents to the hearing world, in all matters and situations from the moment I could speak and sign fluently. I felt like my childhood was robbed of the natural innocence and freedom to be a child. I was bullied growing up, in all the different places I lived, for variety of reasons; my weight, having deaf parents, my long spoken-drawls and Kentucky accent, it didn't matter, one didn't need the internet to be bullied or experience cruelty.
Growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, I had a best friend named Rosemary Stacey (pic)— she was my hero and a tough little-badass. We met and played in a mud puddle at the age of 3 and the rest is history, she lived 4 houses away, on the same street. She was an only child and tough as nails. Every time she got word that someone had beat me up or bullied me in some way, she would personally hunt them down and whoop their ass, didn't matter, boy or girl. Over time, we parted ways after I moved the to the west coast. I am forever grateful to Rosemary, she exemplified true friendship and sisterhood when it was not popular and always easier to look the other way.
On the amazing and lighter side, I traveled all over the country with my grandparents in their Ford van, until they upgraded to an RV. We were flea-marketers. We spent time at flea-markets every weekend, all summer long and throughout the year. My grandparents were avid flea-marketers and garage-salers. They loved traveling all over the country, selling a variety of goods. That was so much fun for me. I met so many people. I experienced so many adventures and traveled to so many amazing places.
This is where I get my love for adventure, socializing and traveling from, I got it from my grandparents. We’d pile in the van or the RV with our loaded goods and hit the road, sometimes with my Moped strapped on the back. We traveled from Pensacola Florida to Mt. Vernon, Ohio, back and forth to/and from California. When we weren’t traveling, I was helping them tend to their 2 acre garden, riding my motorcycle and moped, driving the tractor, learning how to drive a big Ford truck and often helping my dad and grandpa, wrench on all our vehicles.
3. What is one of your favorite memories or stories as a kid?
Some of my fondest memories are on my grandparents 7 1/2 acre farm. One of the coolest things I could remember doing as a kid was driving down my grandparents gravel driveway. My grandma would come and pick me up for the weekend and they had a mile-long, rural, gravel driveway that lead to their house. When we got to the edge of the driveway, my grandma would put me in her lap (when I was a toddler) and let me drive all the way to the house. When I was tall enough to reach the pedals, she got out of the car and let me drive on my own, that was a BIG DEAL. The moment I could reach the accelerator and brake, Ilearned how to drive my grandpa's 1968 Ford pick-up truck on the farm, we would load it up with hay for the animals and I would drive out to the different pastures to feed the animals. I have many favorite memories but 2 stand out, riding my motorcycle on my grandparents farm in Fairfield, Ohio and spending Christmas and holidays there, it was always fun. My grandma was unconventional, she had a artificial Christmas tree that was made of aluminum tinsel and had these different color lights that would make the tree change into so many different colors, I LOVED IT.
4. What was the first thing that inspired you.
It’s not necessarily a thing but who, I have one answer for that… Steve McQueen. I looked up to him for variety of reasons, he road motorcycles, got all the girls and I wanted to be just like him. As a kid, going up in the Midwest, I could not reconcile my sexuality in my head, I had always known I was Gay from the moment I understood the difference but growing up in the bible-belt made it a very complicated and an absolutely unacceptable way of life or belief system. So, I decided I was going to be a boy, and I was going name myself Steve. When new people moved into our neighborhood, I would always introduce myself as Steve McQueen. Of course because of my long blonde hair and very girlish face, nobody believed me, except the new girl that moved in next door. Of course my cover did not last long but it left a lasting memory. Steve McQueen was my hero and Tiny Steve McQueen was born in honor of him and my alter-ego as a kid. (Pic of Tiny Steve and I)
5. Who do you look up to.
I look up to many people, I have many different heroines and heroes, all of whom were instrumental in my development, spiritually, emotionally and mentally. Maya Angelou is one of my biggest heroines. At a time in my life where I was searching for strength, hope and purpose, I read all of her books and one, in particular, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” gave me hope and strength during a time I was in a very dark place. My Grandma, Ruth, had the biggest influence on my life, she was an amazing woman who worked as the only female machinist in a male dominated industry. She was such a strong and independent woman. My grandma bought me my first motorcycle, 1978 Suzuki DS 80. When all the men folk in my family told her not to buy me a motorcycle, she told them all to go to hell— She said “If the girl wants a motorcycle, I'm going get her one, so, leave that child alone!” She was so empowering and supportive of what ever I wanted to do. I am forever grateful to her and her badassery. She worked full-time and was on her feet 10-12 hours a day, in addition, managed a 7 acre farm. Up at 3am everyday to feed the farm animals- 7 days a week, in addition to the full time job. She was an Amazing soul. I am proud to be her namesake.
6. What does independence mean to you.
Independence, means freedom to-be-me, freedom to exercise my beliefs, live an authentic life and standing in my truth with love and compassion, for myself and others. I have always been a renegade of sorts through-out my life— so, in many ways it’s about living as the renegade I’ve always been.
7. How do you remain authentic?
I think there are many factors that contribute to one's authenticity. I am a full believer in living my truth and being true to myself. As of March 31, 2017, I will be celebrate 27 years of sobriety and with that said, without gratitude, it would not be possible. I am grateful for so many blessings in my life. For me, sobriety has given me an opportunity to live the life I was meant to live. I struggled with depression, addiction, sexual abuse trauma, and I spent a lot of time trying to numb the pain and quite frankly, it only made my life worse. For me, sobriety and gratitude has been the cornerstone of my authenticity, these two things allowed me to do the work I needed to heal my childhood trauma and face my fears head-on.
8. When did you start riding and what was your first bike?
I started riding when I was about nine or 10 years old. I learned how to ride on my cousin’s Kawasaki KE 100. I mentioned earlier, my grandmother bought me my first motorcycle when I was about 12 years old. It was a 1978 Suzuki DS 80.
9. What do you feel when riding?
I feel many things when I ride, it’s a feeling that cannot be compared to anything else in my life. It’s so different when I’m on a motorcycle. The amazing smells in the air, that feeling of being completely immersed into my environment, being present in every moment, that constantly changes from one mile to another. On my motorcycle, I am one with the universe, moving in the wind, wearing the dirt, smelling the flowers and a plethora of scents, moving through the mist and fog, tasting the salt in the air during ocean ride, absorbing the sunshine, reflecting the rain, feeling the cold, feeling the heat, my body is exposed and vulnerable and my heart is filled with joy.
10. Are there any particular motorcycle adventures that stick out to you?
Yes, several. Just recently I rode 1,450 miles from Denver, Colorado to Seattle, WA in 38 hours. I was on my bike, 27 out of 38 hours. That's the most miles I've covered in such a short period of time. Exhilarating! 2 + years ago, I traveled to India for a motorcycle expedition that was led by the world's foremost solo female rider, Tiffany Coates. It was the most exhilarating and life-changing experiences I’ve ever had. We traveled over five major passes, 3 of them, are the tallest motor-able pass’s in the world, the highest, Khardung La, 18,380’. I fell in love with India, the people and the Himalayas. I fulfilled a lifelong dream to visit the Taj Mahal, I had always dreamed of seeing the Taj Mahal since I was in second grade. It was the most breathtaking experience, truly a moment I will never forget.
3+ years ago, I went on a 4,800 mile, 21 day, 10 state, solo ride. I had an extreme fear of riding my motorcycle on the freeway - crippling fear. The only way I knew how to overcome my fear, was to get on my motorcycle and ride, ride, ride. At the end of that trip, I was able to ride I 90 from Rathdrum, Idaho all the way into Seattle. It was some of the most empowering moments I experienced on my motorcycle, I finally leaned into my fear and faced it head-on, I totally overcame it.
11. For women who are on the edge and may be apprehensive to ride what would you tell them?
I would say that if you’re on the edge of deciding whether or not you want to ride, I invite you to ask yourself why, why haven't you stepped out and followed your heart's desire, what’s holding you back? Don't be afraid to step into the fear and live your dream, give yourself permission to experience freedom, independence, give yourself permission to be empowered and release these fears and the societal stigmas around motorcycling. Take the time to educate yourself, do your research, don't be afraid to ask questions, find other women and groups that you can communicate with and help you address you concerns. Find a sisterhood that will surround you in love and support you whole-heartedly, and then get out there and ride with them. :-)
12. What advice would you tell newer riders?
Be gentle and kind with yourself when learning to ride. I believe there’s a huge learning curve when you’re a new rider. It takes some time to develop the skills and confidence one needs to ride those long distances, group rides, solo, on the freeway, in city traffic, on the dirt, in mud, rain and on gravel, etc. The only way you build confidence and develop those skills is by practicing and putting in the seat-time. Invest in yourself, invest in moto-training. I think every single person should take an off-road course prior to getting their street endorsement. This type of training really helps you get perspective about body positions and build confidence navigating unforeseen off-road conditions which are all totally transferable skills to street riding. Find the right bike that fits you and your skill level. Don't let your spouse, partner or the sales guy talk you into a smaller or bigger bike, if you are not ready. You can always trade it in and go bigger, the point is, be comfortable and choose a bike that fits your riding style.
I started riding when I was young and fear was not in my line of sight or on my radar. I was bold, I was young and I loved riding dirt so I went with it full-throttle but it all wasn't always like that for me. When I got older, there was a time when I stopped riding for several years. I had children, I worked and I put my riding aside for variety of reasons, mostly for my kids. There was about a 10 year gap that I did not own my own bike. I did ride for short stents, going from here to there, but it was not the same as riding my own.
Four + years ago, I realized I was missing something, I decided to return to one of the greatest loves of my life, motorcycling. Follow your dreams, do what you love, and ride, ride, ride!
13. What organizations are you apart of?
I am the founder of the Facebook (FB) page called Global Motorcycle Adventures of Women Riders, I am involved in many different FB pages, organizations and ride with many different groups, women collectives, riding contingents, off-road and adventure (ADV) Bikes, cruisers, street and dirt bikes, etc.; GS Girls, Rainier Ravens, The Litas, Dykes on Bikes, The Headights, PNW GS Girls, Torque Wenches, Colorado & Arizona GS Girls, Western Washington Lady Riders, The Bikerni’s (All female riding club in India). I love to ride all bikes and with everyone - riding is riding— dirt is my first love.
14. What is your profession?
I've had several professions over the years, currently I work as Electro-Mechanical Drafter and Electronics Technician, worked in this field for about 22 years. As a mechanical drafter it encompasses my thirst for being creative and applying my technical skills and knowledge. In addition, I’m working on a variety of projects for my new company, Global Moto Adventures (ADV). I’m excited we’re having our first event on May 5-7 called Flock to the Rock in Cannon Beach, Or.
15. How have motorcycles changed you for the better?
I don't even know how I could begin to answer that question. Interesting, for me, motorcycles have been a huge part of my life for as far back as I can remember. If I could capture one thing that has made a huge difference in my life, it would be our community. I love our moto- community, the people are so amazing, especially the friendships and women I ride with.
16. What moral codes do you live by?
Loyalty. Integrity. Honesty. Total accountability for my actions, I do my best to treat everyone with dignity and respect everyone with different belief systems.
17. Do you have any favorite quotes?
I do, one of my all-time favorite women is Maya Angelou, and there've been many things that I've read and quoted of hers over the years, here are 2 of my favorites.
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
"Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
18. What was the toughest thing you've been through and how did you get out on the other side?
There have been many tough things I've had to overcome in my life, all the of which shaped me to be who I am today but if I had to identify one - the most difficult, it would be giving my daughter up for adoption at the age of 19. I became pregnant and her birth father left me in a position to deal with my pregnancy alone. After many months of heartache, I decided to give her up for adoption.
There's so much more to our story but it was truly the best thing for her. In the process, I sought out therapy and got the help I needed to stay centered and focused on what was best for her. No matter how difficult it got, the biggest thing that helped me, staying true to myself. I did not negotiate what I thought was best for her, even though my family was not supportive, her birth father was not supportive, I had no other support outside of my youngest sister and therapist.
I wanted an open adoption because, in my heart, I had to know that she was going to be okay. I wanted to know how she was doing in school, get updates from her adopted parents and stay in touch from year-to-year. Her adoptive parents honored their commitment to me and we all remained good friends over the years. Looking back, It was one of the biggest obstacles and challenges of my life. I wasn't just responsible for myself, I was responsible for her too. I stayed true to my heart, and remained vigilant in my search for inner- peace and comfort, knowing I made the right
When I was 35, I adopted two boys. I felt that I had reached the place that I was able to give in a way that I could not give earlier in my life. I decided that I would offer hope and love to these two beautiful boys. Do for someone else in a way that I could not do for my daughter, so I went through foster care system in Cook County, Illinois to become a foster parent and from the minute I met them, I knew it was meant to be. I adopted Theus and Allen and we became family. They have blessed me with two little grandsons that make my heart beat. I'm so grateful for their presence and love in my life. While the road has not been easy, Allen and Theus, my sons, have been two of the biggest blessings and greatest loves of my life. A decision for both of us. Today, Katie and I have an amazing relationship and I couldn't be more grateful. I believe that when we stand in our truth and honor ourselves, the rewards far outweigh the struggle.
19. Any final comments?
Don't let fear, worry or the unknown keep you from following your dreams. Don't live a life based on what other people expect, require, need, or judge you on. Live your life and do the best that you can do. Don't be afraid to ask questions, surround yourself with people who are going to support you in all the ways that will help you follow your dreams and be the best person that you can be. If I have any regrets in my life… it was allowing the fear of others not accepting me or being loved for all, of who I am. In many ways I was the Black sheep of my family, I am a Lesbian, I didn't follow the rules, I protested the injustices against women, children, apartheid. I didn't follow the norm when others were being cruel - I stepped up, I didn't jump in on that derogatory racist joke or think it was funny when somebody made fun of another's disability or weakness.
We all fall short of our own expectations and the expectations of others, we have to remember, what I always need to remember, be kind to ourselves, extend the same forgiveness to ourselves as we do others.
Do not allow yourself to be defined by your past hurts or traumas, let your life be defined by the courage, love and strength it took to overcome them. Make it EPIC!
Flock to the RockMay 5/6 2017