By SHIRLEY REHBERG
Neighbor Staff Writer
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Placing 16th in a national competition may not sound like much of an achievement, but in Dawn Crable's case, it was noteworthy.
The petite 40-year-old part-time housewife, entered the contest, which begins in April and ends in October, for several years and then dropped out for one reason or another. But last April when she filled out the entry form and had her odometer reading verified, Mrs. Crable was determined to finish.
When she had her odometer reading verified in October, she had driven 7,158 miles on her motorcycle.
“I went to two rallies, one in Tennessee at the Loretta Lynn Dude Ranch, and the other at the Hillsborough State Park,” she said. “All the rest was local driving and club rides.”
For three of the six months of the contest, Mrs. Crable, was unable to participate in club rides, because of a family illness, and she says she really participated for only three months.
"This time I had a new bike and decided to enter anyway,“ she said.
In 1975, Mrs. Crable's husband bought a motorcycle and a couple joined the BMW motorcycle owners of America club.
"Every time Bob mentioned motorcycles to me, I thought he was crazy," she said. "I've never been around them, but once he got me on one, he couldn't get me off”
In 1976, Mrs. Crable purchased her own motorcycle.
"I don't know how to explain the feeling I get when I ride my own motorcycle," she said. "It's exhilarating. I do love to ride," she added with a smile.
Today Mrs. screwball drives a car only when it's absolutely necessary and even ride your bike to the grocery store to shop. Her daughter is embarrassed to be seen riding behind her mother on the motorcycle, but Mrs. Crable doesn't let that bother her.
Mrs. Crable’s mother didn't approve at first, either. Today she thinks nothing of getting on the bike with her daughter when in Jacksonville for a visit.
Several years ago two of Mrs. Crable's aunts came to visit from England.
"We took them on a club ride to Saint Augustine," she said, smiling. "One was 79 at a time and it was her first time on a motorcycle. She thought it was great.”
Although all four of the Crable children have been exposed to motorcycles, with all of them riding on the back of the bike at one time or another, only one rides a bike. Mrs. Crable constantly warns her son who rides: "it's not how you drive as much as how someone else drives. You have to be defensive.”
Despite several accidents – most of them just minor fender benders – Mrs. Crable follows the advice she gives to her son and keeps on riding. She has had people trying to run her off the road and even had one man turn his vehicle around to come after her.
One of the most frightening experiences occurred in the mountains with her son riding on the back.
“We were overloaded and I went into a curve and thought I had it made but was going too fast and the muffler hit the ground and my son was hollering ‘Mama’ and there was a cliff in front of us," she said, adding, "but I got right back on the bike.”
The Crables lived in Florida eight years before they got the motorcycle bug and became active in the BMW club. During those eight years, Mrs. Crable said her family hadn't seen anything of Florida. "When we got the motorcycles and started riding with the club, they got to see the state they’re living in," she said.
Because her husband's travels as part of his job, Mrs. Crable often has the choice of missing a club rally or going without him and she admits to feeling guilty sometimes when she does go alone.
"I want to go to Knoxville this June with the club but I don't know if Bob will be able to go," she said.
Being alone is a rally doesn't bother her any. At a recent national rally, Mrs. Crable was one of 6,000 motorcycle enthusiast in attendance. "I talked to over 3,000 of them," she said.
Another reason Mrs. Crable isn't worried about traveling distances alone is that she has a lot of faith in the machine she rides, but if it should fail her, "I can call a BMW member anywhere I am and have somebody come help me."
"I am not a women's libber in any sense of the word," she added. "I just enjoy life. I do my thing and you do yours.”
Although she has a degree in accounting, Mrs. credible doesn't think much of returning to work. "I miss too many rallies, and I don't wanna be tied down. The club keeps me busy."
It's easy to understand why. Mrs. Crable has served the BMW club in every official capacity but one. She was president of the club for two years and this year is serving as secretary. "It's the only social activity I really have," she said.
After riding her motorcycle in three states that have no helmet laws, Mrs. Crable says she's wishy-washy about being required to wear one. "I wouldn't want my son to ride without one, though," she said.
Nor does she agree with the Florida law allowing anyone with a regular drivers license to operate a motorcycle.
"Just because you know how to drive a car doesn't mean you know how to ride a motorcycle. I think they ought to have a motorcycle licenses," she said.
One of Mrs. Crable’s pet project every year is the BMW club-sponsored coffee stop held during speed week at Daytona. Members of the local club set up a table at an I-95 rest stop and serve coffee and doughnuts to passing motorists, both automobiles and motorcycles, although she said that of the 1,500 motorists served this year, 90% were bikers.
"Some car drivers just can't believe that a bunch of motorcyclists are out there serving coffee, but the coffee stops promote awareness and good will," she said. "Last year we had a bus load of senior citizens pull in, and they were shocked."
Some people are shocked when they discover that the petite, Mrs. Crable rides a bike.
"Women always ask how I can ride such a big motorcycle, but among the people I ride with, they think it's great." she said."Some of the chopper type riders don't think I belong."
“My mother says I'm a tomboy and I say there's no such thing as a 40-year-old tomboy,” she quipped.
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