Love Of Motorcycles A Lifetime Affair


In many respects, Ruth Sorrell is your typical biker chick.

She loves climbing onto Harley Davidson motorcycles because, she’ll tell you, “It’s just a thrill! I especially like to go around curves, because you have to bend your body into the machine, just as you bend the machine into the curve and then you curve back. It’s so neat.”


Ruth Sorrell, 85, had a dream come true Nov. 29 when Tony Quill gave her a ride on his Suzuki. Sorrell fell in love with motorcycles when she was only 15.

The only unusual thing about this particular biker chick is that Sorrel is, as she likes to say, “85-and-a-half years old.” And her most recent ride took place the day after Thanksgiving, when her dream of taking one more spin aboard one more motorcycle came true.

“When I was 15 years old, which was 70 years ago, my older brother Elmer had a Harley,” Sorrell recalled. “He used to take me for rides all over our hometown of Great Falls, Montana, to weenie roasts, to motorcycle parties. With that, I just really grew to love motorcycles. ”

Back then, she was quick to point out, motorcycle riders belonged to “clubs,” not gangs.

Almost always, Sorrell has ridden in the passenger’s seat behind the driver. But once, just once, around 1934, she drove a hawg all by herself.

“Elmer had at one time a ‘45,’ which was a small Harley,” Sorrell said. “I snuck it out of our back yard, into an alley and down the street. I started it and away I went ... and I got about two blocks before it stopped and wouldn’t start again. So I had to push it home and when I got there, my brother laughed and laughed, because he had turned the gasoline off. He knew I’d be trying something like that.”

Sorrell hadn’t been on a motorcycle for about 20 years when a new opportunity to ride arose last week.

“I am now with RTA Hospice because I have been diagnosed with lung cancer,” Sorrell said. “One day, my RN, Trudy Quill, mentioned that her husband Tony’s hobby was motorcycles and I said, ‘Oh, Trudy, I would love to go for a ride on a motorcycle again. Would he come by my house and take me for a ride?’”

After Trudy received clearance for Sorrel’s ride from RTA management, the adventure was set for last Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

“Before we left, Trudy whispered to Tony, ‘Go slow!’ And I said, ‘No, go fast! Go fast!’” Sorrell said, laughing at the memory. “Unfortunately, he kept obeying the speed limit. But we went down McLane, turned over to the Beeline, and then to the hospice offices.

“It was wonderful,” Sorrell said. “It’s just like I had remembered it. At 85-and-a-half years old, I’m really just that same 15-year-old girl who loved riding on motorcycles back in Great Falls, Montana.”

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