Kelly Soprych, 44, likes riding her hog ... the Harley Davidson Softail Deluxe kind, that is.
For her, it's all about the freedom of the open road, the wind in her hair and the calmness that settles in when she's riding a motorcycle far away from the urban thrall.
"You can be alone with your thoughts, or not have a thought at all, because you are just focusing on the bike," Soprych says. "Me being a self-employed, working mother who travels, who goes 24/7, a couple of hours, maybe once a week, that I can get out there and just ride, well, it's like I just regenerate."
Actually owning her first motorcycle, though, came later in life.
Two years ago, when her next-door neighbor announced he was leaving to go into military service with the Marines, he asked her if she was interested in his Suzuki motorcycle.
"I bought it. Now I had a 240 CC motorcycle sitting in the garage, and I didn't have a license, so I got one," says the Oak Park mom whose twin sons are age 9.
A year later she purchased her Harley.
"On one of our daytrips, we ended up meeting a group of women riders at a biker stop out there in Savanna (a Mississippi river town), called Poopy's Pub, and the rest is pretty much history," Soprych, a clinical research associate in the pharmaceutical industry says.
Organizing Chaos ...
Last year, her "diverse group of strong women who like to ride motorcycles" road tripped to the 2012 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota. This spring, she says, they took on Louisville, Kentucky, which is about a four-and-one-half-hour ride, one-way, Google Maps says.
While there, Soprych, Tammy Sciortino (their designated founder) and a few other female bikers began fleshing out how they could form a sanctioned, recreational "motorcycle club."
"We realized how male dominated and militant motorcycle clubs are, and how challenging it is as women to actually survive out in that realm," says Soprych, the current treasurer of Organized Chaos Chicago, the group they formed. To have fun riding motorcycles, while simultaneously supporting philanthropic endeavors in all communities via group rides and participation in charity events, Pride events and motorcycle education activities.
To sidestep a few of the old traditions, the women decided to organize as an all-female riding group, to open up the opportunity for them to be officers of the club, and run it, Soprych says.
Recently, OCC filed papers to be a 501(c)3 nonprofit.
"A majority of us are lesbians, but we do have members who are straight, or bi-sexual," says Soprych. "Some of us have children and others don't, and we range in age from 25 to 58, or so. Again, we are a diverse group of strong women who like to ride motorcycles. We will grow, and we are a force to be reckoned with."
Free to be ...
On a personal note, Soprych, whose partner is a single mom with twins, says she has always had feelings for both males and females, but ended up getting married to "begin leading a 'normal' life."
After the divorce she "was able to explore other things and realize that part of my life," she says.
Also, early on in her life, her father came out as a gay man. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1995 from HIV/AIDS. It has been because of him, she says, that much of her life has been dedicated to giving back to groups who support LGBTQ causes, including HIV/AIDS.
"Then I got older, got busier in my life, and had kids," she says. "Organized Chaos has given me the opportunity to start giving back again."
Last year, for example, Soprych and her do-gooding "gang" volunteered to gather and distribute 250 toiletry care packages for Chicago's homeless, via the nonprofit, The Night Ministry.
Along the way, they have also participated in the Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade, and last month, helped out with the 26th Annual Little Angels Pledge Run in Woodstock, which benefits Little Angels, a nationally recognized residential facility in Elgin for children and young adults with severe disabilities and complex medical needs.
Next month, July 13-14, 2013, OCC members will be the "Moto Crew" at the two-day, 190 mile RFAC (Ride for AIDS Chicago), she says. Preceding that race, at the end of June they will conduct their first-ever fundraising event at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 27, at Spyners Pub, 4623 N. Western Ave. in Chicago. Suggested donation is $15, which includes food and one raffle ticket. For more details, visit to www.organizedchaoschicago.com.
"We are helping an associate member, Lauren Warnecke, reach her fundraising goal, while also helping a great cause and organization -- RFAC (Ride for Aids Chicago) and TPAN (Test Positive Awareness Network)," Soprych says. "We want to give back and do good things. So, doing something you love to do, and giving back to the community at the same time, what more could you want?"