Diane Kremlacek is used to proving she can do the same things a man can.
As the communication department manager—a historically male role—for 20 years at OPPD before retiring in 2015, she often had to go above and beyond to show she was qualified to do the job.
So, when it comes to hopping on her yellow and gold custom-made Big Dog Chopper and cruising down a country road or taking a longer ride to motorcycle mecca in Sturgis, South Dakota, Kremlacek says she is in control, feeling free, and doing her own thing with no expectations or limitations.
“I absolutely love it; there really is no freer feeling than the wind in your face, racing on a motorcycle,” she says. “It’s empowering for a woman because people see me on my bike and ask me, ‘how can you ride that?’ And all I tell them is ‘because I can.’”
“To a degree, bikes are still seen as being for men, but more and more women are proving they belong on a bike as well,” says Kremlacek, who also has a Wheaten terrier named Chopper.
She became interested in motorcycles after marrying her husband, Joe. A cycle enthusiast—he has a Big Dog Canine, which is larger than the Chopper—he bought Diane her first bike, and she’s been hooked ever since.
“He always talked about motorcycles and riding, even before we were married, and he actually got me my first motorcycle so we could ride together,” she says.
Kremlacek picked up her previously owned Big Dog Chopper in April, much-reduced from its brand-new sticker price of $35,000.
Each year, she and Joe begin riding in the spring and increase their bike time over the summer and fall months—going out a minimum of two to three times a week when the weather allows.
As they do every year, they rode to Sturgis for the 76th annual Sturgis Rally this past August, but her longest ride to date was to California and back more than a decade ago.
“I didn’t have any saddle bags on my bike, so I had to haul my luggage right behind me, which made for a somewhat uncomfortable ride,” says Kremlacek. “But riding a motorcycle is one of the few times in life when you’re in the moment and not always thinking about what to do next. It’s very relaxing. It’s an escape.”
Speaking of escape, during her 30-year career, 20 years of it leading operations at the OPPD Service Center, Kremlacek worked with highly technical telecommunications, microwave technology, and telephone systems—resulting in a fair amount of stress.
When she felt particularly bogged down by work and life, she says hitting the 100-mph mark on the open road proved to be a fantastic cure.
But has she ever been hit by flying debris or the wayward bird?
“I did have a rather large bug hit me in the forehead once, and at the rate of speed we were going, it felt like a bird,” she says with a laugh. “On the way to Sturgis one year, we had a deer run out in front of us, nearly causing an accident, and we encountered three bobcat cubs in Wyoming. But those will never stop us from enjoying the tremendous freedom we have on our motorcycles.”