The woman next door or down the block may appear the stereotypical businesswoman who inwardly yearns for diamonds and crystal, but maybe she prefers chrome and headlights.

Della Heideman, marketing manager for Professional Environmental Group based in Arlington, which specializes in environmental compliance and program management, said she and her son skipped the official functions on Mom's Weekend his senior year at Oregon State University and instead found a display of motorcycles - Hondas of all colors and sizes.

"We spent about three hours looking them over, and that was all it took," she said. "I was in love."

She went home and told her husband, Loren, a wheat rancher near Cecil, she wanted a Honda Goldwing.

His initial perplexed expression quickly turned to a grin.

"'I guess that's do-able,'" she recalled him saying, which meant he realized he would have a bike.

Loren had ridden before, but they both took a basic riding class that automatically qualified them for motorcycle endorsements on their Oregon drivers' licenses.

"I passed by the skin of my teeth," Della said.

They shopped and debated and finally purchased a new motorcycle.

"When we came home I rode up and down the county road for two weeks and then got brave enough to venture into Ione," she said. "I drove up and down all of the streets, practicing stopping and starting and turning. I wanted to learn to handle the bike on my own, not just be a rider."

That was in 1998.

On the way to their son's graduation at OSU, they stopped and bought their first bike, a candy apple red Gold Wing. When they showed up at graduation, their son asked if it was his graduation present.

"He could only hope," Della said. "We told him it was our graduation present."

Both Della and Loren have since completed the MSFs Experienced Rider Course, and Loren bought her a used, smaller Gold Wing for Mother's Day two years later.

They travel thousands of miles each year on their bikes and thoroughly enjoy both the long rides on vacations to Canada, California, Wyoming, Montana, Washington and Idaho, and the shorter, one-day trips, such as the 520-mile ride to Leavenworth, Wash., for ice cream and a visit to the hat shop, or riding to Timberline for brunch and on into Portland to see their daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren.

They also come to Pendleton to see their son, daughter-in-law and grandson, Jake.

"All of the grandkids think it's cool grandpa and grandma ride motorcycles," Della said.

Her magenta metallic Gold Wing was new in November. It has 1,832 ccs with anti-lock braking, a CB radio, intercom to talk with her passsenger, AM/FM stereo with full surround sound, wiring to plug into electric clothing for winter riding comfort and a vanity mirror in the trunk along with other custom features.

She has met people chatting on the Internet and a friend, Ellana Clarke of Montgomery, Texas. With instant messaging, the two organized an 11-day cross-country ride from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco, designed a patch for the ride and organized a group for women that is planning a cross-country ride, possibly from Disneyland to Disney World or from Portland, Ore., to Portland, Maine.

Della created a Web site,, that has been online less than a month.

The Web site lists the club's motto as "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming, 'Hot Damn! What a ride!'"

"We've had several e-mails and women who have said they want to make the trip, but it's difficult to take that much time away from home," Della said.

She's planned for 21 days on the road, 11 for the official ride and the balance to get her from home to Washington, D.C., where the ride starts July 12, and from San Francisco, where the ride ends, back home.

"If nobody else signs up, Ellana and I will meet in Topeka, Kan., and make the trip by ourselves," she said.


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