By LIZ HARRELSON
In a quest for thrills, 10 older women recently wrapped their arms around strangers, straddled motorcycles and rode around a long country block.
As their name might suggest, the Red Hat Mommas tend to shy away from age-appropriate activities. The group is a local chapter of the larger Red Hat Society, a group of older and often daring women identified by their crimson-and-purple regalia.
"We don't follow the path of grandmothers," said Mi-Wuk Village resident Barbara Smith, 75. "We want to do wild things."
This month, it was riding Harley-Davidsons.
Chauffeuring this bunch were volunteers from the local chapter of the Harley Owners Group (HOG), directed by Sonora resident Doug Clark.
"There's always guys who want to go for a ride," Clark said of the volunteers who showed up in Jamestown for the novel outing.
While excited about the ride, Red Hat Momma Dee Bettencourt, a Cedar Ridge resident, latched on to one motorcycle man for another, very visible reason.
"I picked him out because he was the cutest one," said Bettencourt, 63.
Starting from Jamestown, this colorful crew rode up Rawhide Road to Washington Street in Sonora, then looped back towards Jamestown on Highway 108.
Though their pulses soared in the 111-degree temperature Thursday, the Mommas remained cool. With motorcycle air conditioning, armrests and Frank Sinatra on the stereo, Charlotte Tucker, 60, felt pampered.
"It was like a recliner," this Sonora woman said of her seat.
While some relaxed on the ride, others enjoyed the scenery, which they were also part of.
"To see all these ladies in red and purple we stop traffic," said Barbara Smith, 75.
Over margaritas afterwards, all the Red Hat Mommas agreed it was a spectacular outing with great escorts.