Bras, Tutus, and Harleys

Most of the motorcycle-riding contingent of the Route Safety Crew pose for a photograph at the Opening Ceremony on the Atlanta 3-Day (bicycle riders not shown)

No one will argue that Harley Davidson owners form some of the most closely-knit communities in America (and abroad!), but the Harley Davidson owners who decorate their prized motorcycles in pink bras form an even tighter and more colorful subset of the riders of the open road. And where exactly do you spot such an elusive group? It’s definitely not at Sturgis.

This weekend, it’s in Atlanta at the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®.

Robin awaits for the Komen 3-Day to get under way in Atlanta

Robin awaits for the Komen 3-Day to get under way in Atlanta

All over the country, however, riders like Robin Davis, a policeman from Virginia, suit up in the wildest of pink attire, pimp out their rides in bras, beads, and tutus, and take to the routes of the 3-Day walkers to provide road safety for the hundreds and hundreds who are walking to help end breast cancer. “Years ago, my friend asked me to do the walk. After seeing that I could volunteer on my bike, I was hooked,” said Robin, gearing up for this week’s Atlanta 3-Day, which started this morning. “I have two aunts who are breast cancer survivors, my wife walks the fundraiser, and my son is involved in Youth Corps [youth volunteer group].” And as every Harley is unique, Robin has the names of his friends, fallen law enforcement officers, detailed on his front panel. Around the sides and front are the corresponding views of the Police National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial.

Paula, a Harley-riding route safety crew member, preps her ride with its customary pink outfit for the Atlanta 3-Day

The full Route Safety Crew is also made up of dedicated cyclists who cover the entire course and especially areas on trails and backroads where motorcycles and cars cannot go. They deserve some special attention in their own article. The entire Route Safety Crew does a remarkable job on both motorcycle and bicycle in keeping 1,000 walkers safe over 60 miles. What a feat!

And while I used to think most of the breast cancer survivors were walkers, that is not the case. They make up a large contingent of the “crew,” the machinery of volunteers who make the event run. A pink SURVIVOR patch emblazoned on one Harley rider affirmed this. “I actually signed up to help with the 3-Day® before I got breast cancer,” said Paula from Atlanta. “I lost my mom to breast cancer, and I am a two-time survivor!” Paula and her husband Lyle have provided route safety for nine events, eight of which have been in Atlanta. Paula carefully decorates her Harley with pink tutus, explaining to a novice like me that her “Softtail” just refers to the soft leather saddle bags.  Lyle’s are hard saddlebags, perfect for writing “Chemo Sucks!” in pink tape and derogatory terms, appropriate for both a solid biker and for someone who hates breast cancer.

Susan G. Komen 3-Day walkers cross the street that is guarded by a bra-wrapped motorcycle

Sam, the crew captain of this helpful group of riders, has been protecting  3-Day walkers for some time. Sam’s mother is a 15-year breast cancer survivor, and she walked the 60 miles several years ago: “When I found out I could volunteer with my Harley, I couldn’t stop! This is my 17th event.” The walkers should feel safe this weekend with this motley group of professionals. Besides Robin, there are two Atlanta-area policemen on the crew, and not all with Harley’s. To be fair, they are very accepting of other bikes: BMWs, Triumphs, and Hondas all have a place in this lineup, “but we still give them a hard time” says one Harley owner.

Earl throws down his own style on his Honda, complete with fresh decals with pink running ribbon of the breast cancer fight

“It’s OK if you don’t have a Harley,” quips Danny. “They’re known for leaking some, but the ‘sport’ bikes have batteries that die.” The joking among the group is similar everywhere in the world among bikers, but it’s all in good fun. By the time they have enough bras on them, you can’t really tell anyway.

(Thanks to all of the Route Safety Crew on the Atlanta 3-Day: Christopher, Gene, Kerri, Michael B, Krystal, Jerry, Barbara, Grant, Theresa, Paula C, Gary C, Andy, Glenn, Richard, Danny, Earl, Albert, Michael K, Kirk, Laure, Sam, Lisa, Leslie, Charles, Lyle, Paula, Gary W, Pamela W)

ADDITIONAL PHOTOGRAPHS 

Atlanta 3-Day Day 1 Atlanta 3-Day Day 1 Atlanta 3-Day Day 1 Atlanta 3-Day Day 1 Atlanta 3-Day Day 1 Atlanta 3-Day Day 1 Atlanta 3-Day Day 1

Atlanta 3-Day Day 1 Atlanta 3-Day Day 1