Leather & Lace: The Florida motorcycle club empowering women to ride bikes
EDGEWATER, Fla. - This engine has been roaring for more than 40 years.
"My bike is as old as I am," Linda Chaffin said. She’s the spark behind the engine that has empowered other female riders to take to the road. "Back in the early 80s, I guess there were women riding, but there weren’t very many of us," she said.
Chaffin said at the time men only thought women should be riding on the back and would try to put her in her place on the road to teach her a lesson. "How to ride a ditch when they run you into the ditch," she said. "How to split lanes when they run you into trucks and oncoming cars. I got to be a really good rider. I think it was a lesson by them that I didn’t belong on a bike."
But she didn’t back down. "No one should control your happiness," Chaffin said.
So she founded the Leather and Lace Women’s Motorcycle Club in 1983, which has grown to have hundreds of members all over the world. "Lace sisterhood has gotten me through every dark moment, and has empowered me and I know we’ve empowered other women," she said. "I’ve seen it. I’ve watched them grow. I’ve watched little ones in our club grow to be amazing women, and it’s from the support."
Chaffin said all sisters come home to the 10-acre Edgewater property known as Angel’s Landing. Inside the clubhouse, there’s a full bar, dining room, lounge, and a boutique. A rescued playful pony named Polaris likes to poke his head in for treats and there are several more rescued horses on the property. In the back, there’s a serenity pond with a waterfall that the women built themselves with 18 tons of stones from all 50 states and Canada.
Women from all kinds of backgrounds and professions come together for common passions, while also focusing on many charitable projects helping women and children."It’s a wonderful sport and the club is a wonderful place," she said.
Looking back on 40 years of Leather and Lace, Chaffin said she feels good about the future. "To just keep growing stronger and empowering more women."