by James Pratt
Holy cow. Are you OK?” I ask Connie Hamilton as she climbs out of a huge mud puddle.
Connie had just performed a spectacular “endo” on a rock-strewn trail in the Kiamichi Mountains, her Kawasaki 250 Sherpa bucking her off in a particularly choice spot. I had seen Connie tumble head over teakettle, landing face first in a nasty quagmire of southeastern Oklahoma mud, churned to the consistency of five day old pig slop by a herd of dirt bikes that had just wheelied through.
With her usual enthusiasm, Connie pops up out of the mud hole, looking all the world like she just got slimed in a Ghostbusters movie, and laughs “I’m fine! Just a flesh wound. How is my bike?”
Unfortunately for Connie, she had a huge audience that saw her spectacular get-off. We were on the third annual Ride Oklahoma Dual Sport Adventure in Clayton, and rain the week before had made the trails perfect for riding, but with plenty of huge mud holes to swallow the unsuspecting or inexperienced rider. About 15 grizzled off-road enthusiasts had been following Connie, a relative novice at motorcycling, so they had a front-row seat to the excitement. Phil Templeton, aka “Mr. KTM,” immediately gave Connie her nickname – forever to be known as “Endo Connie”. “At least I know how I got my nickname. I guess I will have that forever” says Connie.
Connie’s enthusiasm for motorcycling is contagious. She had never been around motorcycles until 2002, when her good friend (and my wife) Kay Pratt introduced her to the sport. She immediately took to riding like the proverbial duck to water, immersing herself first in off-road riding on her Sherpa, then later graduating to street bikes and long distance touring. Her internal engine runs at redline, always hard at work scheduling women’s rides, visiting bike shops, and encouraging other women to pick up her adopted and beloved sport.
In 2006, Connie took her first long motorcycle tour on her Honda Shadow 750 to Colorado and New Mexico, traveling 2,200 miles in 10 days and visiting such iconic locations as Ouray, Telluride and Red River. “Riding a motorcycle is the best way to see Colorado” she says. “The trip was absolutely fabulous. I did not want to come back.”
In addition to rides out west, she travels south to the Texas hill country each Memorial Day to ride with her brother. “He just loves Ride Oklahoma Magazine and really enjoys when I bring him a copy” admits Connie. “While the hill country is not Colorado, it is still great riding for just a few hours drive.” Though she mostly rides her Shadow during the summer, “I am also looking forward to the next dual sport ride James Pratt is going to put on this fall” she suggests. “I really enjoy the fall Clayton ride put on by Ride Oklahoma, as well as the Eureka Springs Hillbilly dual sport ride put on by the guys from Kansas.” Connie is busy planning even more adventurous trips, including all women rides to Tennessee and Missouri.
Whether its splashing through the mud on a dirt bike in eastern Oklahoma or cruising along the byways on her Shadow, Connie is always ready to ride, and always ready to encourage others to pick up the sport she loves. And when people gather around the campfire each October in Clayton, someone is always sure to ask “So Connie, tell us again how you got your nickname.”