Women’s World Riding Soul-O By Myra McElhaney
“There was always a need for speed around our house.” Debi Tolbert Duggar says. She grew up around classic cars and was on the back of a boy’s motorcycle since she was 15 years old. Through some ‘bad’ relationships she ended up loving the bike more than the boy. She loved the long rides like Route 66 and riding to Daytona. Guys seem to like seeing how many miles they can get under the tires and she wanted to savor the moments and enjoy seeing the country. At one point she got off a soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend’s bike and said she’d never ride on the back again!
Her love for riding took a back seat after having two daughters. Soon she also gave up working in finishing services and postproduction in the film/TV business and started a new career that would offer a better schedule with two young daughters. Teaching language arts for sixth grade isn’t a passion, but she was good at it. The schedule and stability were a good fit for a mom.
After almost 20 years of teaching and with her getting daughters older and not needing her as much. Debi felt her life-changing. She bought a Harley-Davidson Softail Slim and started riding her own.
Her daughters had mixed reactions. One loved it and would ride on back with her. The other wanted nothing to do with it. Her dad enjoys hearing the stories of her rides.
Unfortunately, she totaled the bike in 2012 and was airlifted to the hospital with severe head trauma. It took eleven months to learn to walk again. During that time, she lost her best friend. Her social life which revolved around riding diminished and depression started setting in. The one thing that kept her going was focusing on the new bike she was going to get. After such a tragic accident she was cautious but not afraid to ride again.
“Bessie,” named after a kindred spirit, Bessie Springfield (the first African American woman to ride across the country solo) is a 2009 Harley-Davidson Road King. Debi found that riding solo on Bessie became a vehicle to move from adversity into better days. Her life began to take off in many ways.
With time off from teaching Debi gets in a lot of long-distance road time during the summer months. She loves (as Bessie Springfield did) to throw a penny at a map and ride to where the penny lands. Riding became a spiritual journey. A way for her to “do that which feeds my soul.” She began writing a journal of her travels through 48 states and 6 Canadian Provinces.
Debi runs a ‘tight ship’ in the classroom and keeps her biker life separate or tries to. Once in Daytona, while riding down the street wearing a red corset, she hears a voice call out, “Hey Miss Duggar!” She turned to see a student who was there with his Dad.
A motorcycle rider, educator and photographer, Debi is now adding “Author” to that list! Her upcoming book, Riding Soul-O is “part memoir, part travelogue, part spiritual salvation.” It’s a tale of a woman, her motorcycle and a life’s journey from adversity to adventure.
Riding Soul-O is available on October 1, 2019. You can get it at BessieAndMe.com or on Amazon. Check out the submissions tab for information about her next book, “It’s Not Grey, It’s Chrome!” If you bought your first bike after age 50, she wants to hear your story!
Want to see your story here? Send 2-3 high-resolution photos and a line or two about why readers would be interested in your story to Myra@MyraMcElhaney.com. Myra McElhaney is a writer, speaker, and motorcycle enthusiast. You can find her book, “Building A Life You Love After Losing the Love of Your Life” on Amazon or through her website www.MyraMcElhaney.com
By Myra McElhaney