Professionals by day … motorcycle riders on the weekend


Clarence and Lu Anne

One of the things Clarence Woodley likes about being a motorcycle rider is that you can meet people from all walks of life.

The latter would be Woodley, 58, who teaches at Melbourne Ballroom and is retired from the Air Force and worked previously as a construction manager. His wife,
Lu Anne, is president of Speegle Construction II, Inc. She first started riding in 1998, and when she tells people she has a Harley Davidson Fat Boy … they’re a little bit surprised.

“In my work life, I tend to be a bit more conservative, so people don’t think I would ride a motorcycle,” Lu Anne Woodley said. “People that don’t attend bike events, they’ve got this different vision of what it’s like. It’s like they think of Woodstock or something like that.”

As the Woodleys noted, just because someone may look professional from 9-5 every Monday through Friday does not mean they don’t have a different side to them once they leave the office.

Those who ride motorcycles can be found doing charity rides, in large groups like the Space Coast Riders, or taking off by themselves and going for a nice ride on a sunny day.

They may not look like the cookie cutter image people may have of motorcycle riders; the story of how they came to ride bikes may be different, too.

Tina Lange, who owns TNT Creative Group, decided to take lessons at her then-husband’s request because he owned a bike and thought it would be a good idea for her to learn how to ride it. After taking those lessons, she came home and told him she wouldn’t be riding on the back of his bike … she was getting her own.

Jay Rudy

Then there is Jay Rudy, an analyst for the Brevard County Health Department. The 57-year-old decided to take up motorcycle riding for a very specific reason.

While taking his wife, Linda Sue, to Orlando for cancer treatment the couple happened upon a group of motorcycle riders. Linda Sue told her husband that one day, when she beat her cancer and they were both retired, she would love to take up motorcycle riding and tour the world at their own leisurely pace.

Linda Sue died less than a year later, on December 18, 2009. A year later, Jay decided to act on his
wife’s words.

“I thought back and I wanted to do something on her anniversary, instead of staying home and moping and being inside,” he said. “I wanted to do something she would want me to do.”

He checked with the Florida Safety Council and found out they were giving lessons at Patrick Air Force Base. And on the first anniversary of his wife’s death, he took motorcycle riding lessons despite the fact that weather conditions were less than ideal.

“It’s pouring down rain,” he said. “I’m layered up as much as I can. Since there was no lightning, they’re still doing lessons.

“I was wet down to my britches. I looked up and I said, ‘She must be laughing her butt off.’”

On Sundays Jay usually goes to church, then takes an 8-mile ride to visit Linda Sue’s grave. He also rides for a number of local charities, including Breast Friends, which will be putting on its 4th annual “Bikers for Breasts: Ride for the Girls!” event on October 7.

Jay will hop on his Yamaha 1500 Road Star and join five or six other male friends, all wearing their “Fight Like a Girl” T-shirts. They may get a few strange looks, but they also get a lot of thumbs up signals from the people they encounter.

Tina Lange, 39, is on her third bike, a 2012 Honda Fury. She sold the other two after taking time off from riding to have children.

“I ride on the weekends that I have free, and basically, any chance I can get. If I can take a break from work and it’s a nice day, I’ll take a ride … as long as it’s not love bug season,” she laughed.

Tina Lange

She’s often told she doesn’t look like somebody who would ride a motorcycle, though she’s not really sure what that kind of person is supposed to look like. All she knows is that she loves the tremendous sense of freedom she gets from being on the road.

“There’s something really empowering about it, I think, as a woman to ride a motorcycle,” she said. “Also, most importantly, it’s therapy. It’s very therapeutic to be out on the road, with the wind in your hair, and you just have time to think about things in your life. For me, it’s quiet time away from all the stress. I really enjoy it.”

One of Tina’s favorite rides is to go down A1A past Melbourne Beach to Orchid Island and then cut across onto U.S.

While her kids are much too young to ride now, she can see a day when at least one of them decides to take it up. After all, they’ve been around motorcycles their whole lives.

It was motorcycle riding that helped bring the Woodleys together. She was taking dance lessons from him in preparation for the annual “Dancing With Brevard” charity event when she noticed his screen saver was a picture of a motorcycle.

Ironically, she didn’t think her dance instructor was the type to ride a motorcycle.

“I had a motorcycle, but since I was single at the time, I wasn’t riding it that much because I wasn’t confident to go out and ride by myself,” Lu Anne said. “I said to him, ‘Is that the motorcycle you want?’ He goes ‘No, that’s the motorcycle that’s parked in my garage.’

“All of a sudden, I was like, ‘We should probably ride together sometime.’ That’s kind of how it got started.”

The Cocoa couple just recently celebrated their first year of marriage.

Like Tina, the 53-year-old Lu Anne said riding a bike can be a great way to take your mind off things. It can also help you make use of other senses you wouldn’t normally experience in a car ride.

“We did a trip not long ago to Daytona and we rode the loop,” she said. “It’s about a 45-mile loop that goes through the forest. The entire way through this loop, there were all these tiny white butterflies, and it was absolutely gorgeous. In a car, you wouldn’t see it, you wouldn’t appreciate it the way you do on a bike.”

For professionals like Jay, Tina and the Woodleys, getting the chance to get out and ride their bikes has opened up a new world that they are certainly enjoying … even if they don’t look like the kind of people you could imagine riding.

“I think people are really missing out who have never tried it,” Lange said. “It’s great fun.”

If you love to ride motorcycles, there’s nothing like Biketoberfest in Daytona Beach. The 21st annual event, which runs from October 17-20 draws bikers from all over the world and features shows, rallies, live music, racing at Daytona International Speedway, scenic rides and top manufacturers showing off their new models.

“It’s one big party,” said Tina Lange of Melbourne, owner of TNT Creative Group. “What I like about it is you can get gear very inexpensively there. And it’s a good people watching experience. You get to see all of these really cool, custom made bikes. If you’re into motorcycles, it’s just a whole lot of fun.”

With the summer ending, Biketoberfest is seen as a chance to have one last big outing on your motorcycle before winter hits and some people have to put their bike in the garage. The event has been estimated to draw more than 100,000 people.

It’s also the second big event for motorcycle enthusiasts in Central Florida. Bike Week, which is traditionally held in March, draws crowds of roughly 500,000.

Cocoa’s Clarence and Lu Anne Woodley have attended the Biketoberfest and like Tina, they enjoy getting to see the parade of bikes and meeting new people.

“For the most part, biker people are nice people,” Clarence says. “Everybody’s more respectful than most other groups, believe it or not. Yeah, they like to party. But if you respect them, they respect you.”