Woman among Harley-Davidson’s 10 most freedom-loving women
BY PAT KROCHMAL firstname.lastname@example.org | @PatKrochmal October 29, 2013 12:30PM
Michelle Miller of Lincolnshire, who has been named one of America's 10 most independent, freedom-loving women by Harley Davidson, takes a break from riding her '79 Low Rider Shovelhead. | Courtesy Harley Davidson
Updated: December 1, 2013 8:08AM
Take away her motorcycle and leathers, and Michelle Miller could be the girl next door.
However, the Lincolnshire resident has just been chosen by Harley-Davidson as one of America’s 10 most independent, freedom-loving women.
The motorcycle company ran a contest asking its fans in May to help it identify free-spirited women riders and learn what drew them to the open road.
Countless riders from coast to coast, as well as their friends and families, shared their stories with Harley, and the company chose Miller’s entry as one of the best.
“Growing up I had dreams of someday riding next to my dad instead of on the back of his ‘79 Low Rider shovelhead Harley,” Miller wrote to Harley. “At age 18 I made that happen. My dad upgraded to a bigger bike, but kept the Low Rider for me. I learned to ride on the bike that he and my mom used to cruise on when they were just teenagers.
“I spend a lot of time on the back roads, cruising around town, or running errands on the bike.”
Miller also has completed long rides on her four-speed, carbureted, kick-start shovelhead, including a ride to the motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D., at 21 years old.
“That week the Low Rider and I had 3,200 miles of pure bliss. Riding is my escape. The feeling that I get when I kick start the bike, release the clutch as I slowly roll on the throttle, just letting the wind take me wherever I am destined to be is my definition of freedom,” Miller wrote in her contest entry. “It is a distinct type of energy that runs through me that I wish everyone could experience.”
Miller was studying for an exam at the University of Illinois at Chicago when she saw a Facebook notice advertising the contestshe decided to take a Facebook break, she.
“I didn’t even think it was possible for me to be one of the winners, but I decided to give it a shot,” Miller said. “The next thing I knew I was being told I won. And people close to me are still in so much shock that I won this, especially my family and friends. My parents still haven’t gotten over the surprise of how much I ride and how much I love it.”
Growing up in Lincolnshire, Miller attended Pritchett Elementary School, Meridian Middle School, Aptakisic Junior High School and Stevenson High School. She is now in a graduate nursing program at Rush Medical Center University in Chicago, scheduled to graduate in August of 2015. She is considering going into emergency care or orthopedics.
The trip she took to Sturgis with her father, Paul Miller, a mechanic for the city of Prospect Heights, was 980 miles one way. She has done the ride four times now.
“The first time, my dad and I went on one bike; the second time we trailered it; and the third time, I road my own bike,” she said. “The last time in August, we trailered it and brought my bike along.
“When we ride, there is less we can bring, because we are traveling only with what we can take on the bike. And it’s two full days of riding, which is really a lot. When we trailer it, we can bring more stuff with us.”
Miller plans to use the $200 gift certificate she won to buy parts for her motorcycle, which her father plans to update this winter.
But Miller and her father are not the only bikers in the family, she said. Everyone in the family rides. That includes her mother Sally, who works in the Stevenson High School bookstore; her older brother Paul Jr., a Prospect Heights Fire Protection District lieutenant; and her young brother Donny, who just started volunteering there.
“I’ve been riding my whole life and I hope I can do it forever,” Miller said. “It’s something really cool that I hope to continue sharing with family. I really love it.”
Claudia Garber, director of women’s outreach marketing for Harley-Davidson, said Miller and the other winners are great examples of what Harley-Davidson’s passion for independent spirits, freedom and adventure.
“Learning about personal riding stories like theirs inspires women to embrace their freedom and start their own motorcycle journeys, and by sharing these women’s stories we’re able to help them continue to empower others,” Garber said.
The winners will receive a $200 Harley-Davidson gift card, as well as Harley-Davidson merchandise.