A group of women in South Brunswick County are redefining the typical biker gang.
Cindy Lauper sings it loud: Oh, girls just wanna have fun!
But when the girls move here from faraway places during a worldwide pandemic and mandated social distancing — missing family and old friends and not being able to get out to make new ones — well, that ain’t fun.
Now that the Corona bug and variants seem to be subsiding, 19 Ocean Isle Beach women who used to be girls decided they’re over the cloistered life. They’ve banded together for “all they really want” — and that’s a whole lot of FUN together.
It begins in a typical subdivision behind Lowes supermarket, with a leader, a bicycle and a love for coffee, then takes to the roads from there. Jane Fallis and her hubby came to OIB from the Charlotte area during COVID.
“I was lonely and others were, too,” she confesses. “I am very social. I just wanted a group of women for fellowship and to be social.”
The obligatory Thirsty Thursday ritual in the community hadn’t started up yet, but neighbors were slowly starting to invite a few folks into their homes. Then some began short walks together, and Jane suggested a bike club, which got mixed reviews. But being the outgoing former teacher she is, she got all excited about the idea. She bought herself a fire engine red Trike and neighbor Pat Garnier got a new bike and asked her to organize a group.
Pat suggested naming it the Pedal Pushers.
Jane and Becky Simmons started out riding in the neighborhood in yellow T-shirts, like town criers, seeking recruits.
“We were begging women to join and asking everybody we saw,” Jane says. No woman was safe from their friendly invitation. If they were on their porches, grabbing groceries from their cars or pinching the heads off flowers in their gardens, they were fair game.
“All of a sudden, we were up to 19,” Jane says. “Once a week we meet at the community pool in our bright sunny yellow club shirts. We flow in and we flow out. Then we meet at Surf and Java for Board meetings as I call it, and they all laugh about that.”
Susan Payne could not escape their clutches.
“Jane would come by on her Trike and say hello, then the conversations would get a little longer. You should join our group. Of course, now I go as often as I can.”
Susan says the women range in age from the 50s to 70s. The bicycles range from Trikes to multi-speed hybrids, one-speed beach cruisers to mountain wheels.
“Collectively it’s the social aspect that brought us together,” she says.
An army brat who has moved all her life, Susan extols meeting new people and developing relationships as a must-do. And while the Pedal Pushers isn’t designed to be an exercise or weight-loss program, she declares her motto is “movement of any kind is good, as is being out in nature,” whether at a slow or quicker pace. The group rides 60 to 90 minutes in and around the neighborhood and around three to five miles. She recalls a fun morning ride.
“We got over to the Saltwater community, and a gentleman opens his garage door and sees a sea of yellow shirts. His eyes open wide, and he says, ‘I’ve just died and gone to heaven. If you ladies come around again, I will have cocktails for you.’”
Pedal-pushing Suzette Negaard moved to OIB last winter. Her husband was ill, and they were not getting out much. She wanted to answer the call, but a meniscus repair had to heal enough, first. She joined in the spring knowing it would be good rehab for her knee and a nice starting place to get back into exercising. But even more, she says she has made some “fantastic friendships.” Besides the weekly bike ride and coffee, “We now do birthday celebrations, holiday get-togethers, go to concerts and just call on each other to go do something else fun.”
She said she won’t ever forget one morning ride. “It was super-hot and humid, and this guy is out sprinkling his lawn, and he asks us, do you want some? So, he holds up the sprinkler and we all ride under it like kids. So cute.”
Paige Spurbeck, who moved here from Ohio, is one of the youngest riders. She recalls how she got involved. “Jane is one of the most energetic, outgoing and caring people I’ve ever met. She has a good heart and wants everybody to enjoy life as much as she does. She said to me, ‘Paige, you’ve got to get a bike.’ I rode as a kid, but this is my first bike in a long time. It’s a little pink Walmart special. Nothing fancy. A little basket up front.” That reminded her that the club’s mascot is the tiny Toto-like dog, Rita, who sits in Beverly Bagley’s handlebar basket, as the group rides safely and slowly here and there. “And then coffee. Always coffee.”
The club has accomplished Jane’s goal of bringing people together in many ways, and now they are planning on adopting a family in need for Christmas and giving more of themselves for the blessings they’ve reaped in this beautiful place and the lifetime friendships they’ve recently forged.
“I did it to save myself,” Jane discloses, but it has become so much more. “Bringing all these wonderful women together is one of the most enjoyable things I have done in life. I never dreamed it would start this way — with a bicycle.”
These girls just wanna have fun — and they are!
Photography by Laura Glantz
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