Today I lost one of my great friends and inspirations in motorcycle riding and someone I was honoured to have as a friend for over 10 years. Ardy's Kellerman was killed today while riding her motorcycle in Alabama. Ardy's was 81.
She also had a 100,000 mile year a few years ago on her way to a million miles.
Ardys along with Voni Glaves one of the first two women to ride a documented 1,000,000 miles on BMW Motorcycles. She and Voni both symbolically crossed that milestone a few years ago on the Million Dollar Highway.
Susan and I passed Ardys going south later that day, as we headed north. She said to me later. "We both should have stopped and talked, but the road was just so beautiful, and there was no traffic."
She was going to come us to visit this summer, on her motorcycle. I will miss her.
This story gives you another insight into Ardys.
Jan 1, 2007
Queenie of Our Hearts
Ardys Kellerman - a rider to be celebrated
By Voni Glaves #13337
“Queenie” as she is known to the Gutter Gang at Lone Star BMW could easily be overlooked by someone who doesn't recognize an unpolished legend. A quick look in her eyes leaves you wondering what this great-grandmother's secret is. She is something.
Ardys Kellerman didn't start out to be a superhero. She was Mom to four kids. She had to work hard to support them on her own. Thirty-five years ago, she started off with a little Yamaha that came with a camper she purchased. That got her going and so she got a motorcycle license and learned on her own. When her van blew up she picked up a CB360 Honda to get to work and back. When she decided she could use a larger bike, her search took her to a Honda dealer. An 18-year-old customer was more interesting to the salesman than this young Mom, so Ardys decided to go elsewhere. After listening to another salesman tell a young couple about the Shadow she'd researched, he turned to her, assuming she was with them. He listened to her and then suggested she might actually like a BMW R80RT better. She admitted to him that it looked too big and she was afraid she might drop it. He dismissed her concerns with ease and suggested she come back with her riding gear when it wasn't raining. BMW's are all she's had ever since. Her last few bikes have all been Oilhead RT’s.
Is she really a superhero, you might wonder. Here are a few facts that Ardys is too modest to bring up. She was a licensed airplane pilot. She bred and showed dogs and horses before motorcycling became so important to her. She retired as an electronics technician at age 70. This great-grandmother of seven has completed four Iron Butt Rallies – the stamina trials billed as 11 thousand miles in 11 days. She started but didn’t finish one more. She has done innumerable Saddlesores (1,000 miles in 24 hours), and once, four in a row. That's a thousand miles a day for four days – in a row! This year she's done three more - in three different states. When she wasn't selected for the 2003 Iron Butt Rally, she did a little 49 state ride - in eight days - and was named an honorary citizen of the tiny town of Hyder, Alaska by the locals when they learned of her feat. She's ridden Coast to Coast in less than 50 hours. This year, at age 74, she is well on her way to setting a new record for women riders in the BMW MOA Mileage Contest of 75,000 miles. She is close to 700,000 lifetime BMW miles.
Her first long distance ride was to the Four Corners of the US. She had ridden from Maine to Key West, where it was unbearably hot, so she rode to Blaine, Washington to cool off before continuing on to San Ysidro, California. That was the year she rode 50,000 miles in six months for the BMW MOA Women's Mileage Contest, a mark which stood unchallenged for ten years.
Lone Star BMW in Austin, Texas has a dedicated corner of the dealership where Queenie and her minions gather. They display one of her Iron Butt flags and a newspaper article and other of her memorabilia there. Since they are open till 7 p.m. on Thursdays, that's the day they gather to go out to dinner somewhere. One of the Gutter Gang decided he'd ride a thousand miles and asked Ardys to sign his paperwork. To tease him, she said she'd have to ride along to really document the ride. As it turned out, seven more guys earned their Saddlesores under her watchful eye. With some of the bikes having a range of 125 miles that made it tough in west Texas but they managed to do it in just 22 hours. It was her most time-consuming ride ever.
Two of her equipment secrets are her sheepskin and her Motolights. When asked what it is that makes her ride like she does, she acknowledges that she just doesn't know. Competition is part of it. Before motorcycles, she had a bicycle. She had a pilots' license and always has been adventurous. She had done a lot of driving in the Northeast and she really likes to travel around. Even before she got her driver's license, she could tell others how to get places. She really didn't need written directions. The price of gas has something to do with it as well.
Her grandson, Scott, now has a Harley made the year he was born. When he was in elementary school, he was talking about his grandmother's motorcycle. He just didn't realize everyone's grandmother didn't ride. Of course the kids didn't believe him so he brought an MOA magazine with his grandmother winning the mileage contest for Show and Tell. It’s hard to dispute evidence like that.
Last summer she took her 15-year-old grandson, Jared, on a zoo tour driving by truck to San Diego from Massachusetts visiting zoos along the way including an animal safari Texas style. They missed Atlanta because Jared had to be back for school. She gave her youngest granddaughter, Tara, an all the gear all the time believer, a ride to her favorite Chuck E. Cheese. She's ridden up Mt. Washington with her son. Several of her family members ride, but not one as much as she does.
This year's highlights are many. She's met so many nice people and has gone to more rallies this year than she has in recent years. Riding with Heidi still doing 1,000 miles in one day in the constantly changing topography of Colorado is another highlight. She's been camping more this year as well. Meeting interesting people and seeing more of our beautiful country are important to her.
This year she's been to the North Florida Winter Rally, Bike Week in Daytona, the Women and Motorcycling Conference in Atlanta, the RA Rally in Boise, the Top O’Rockies Rally and she completed the Peaks of America tour by attending the MOA International rally in Vermont. She has spoken on two panels about long-distance riding. She brought down the house when asked when she knows she’s too tired to ride more, by confessing it’s when she ducks for overpasses. After the end of the mileage contest she'll return to Rhode Island to pick up a new bike she bought recently. This remarkable lady continues to shatter stereotypes, rack up miles and make friends along the way.
Source: BMW Motorcycle Owners of America