Betsy Huelskamp is a multidimensional free spirit. Her life revolves around fitness, photography, and journalism. Her Harley chopper can attest to her inexhaustible pursuit of independence and freedom. From mountain climbing to scuba diving, Betsy is the definition of an adventurer. She began her career assisting a National Geographic photographer and most recently was part of a Mount Everest expedition climbing to 25,000 feet in Everest: Beyond the Limit, a Discovery Channel reality series. She has been featured in motorcycle documentaries and writes for multiple magazines. In her larger-than-life yet down-to-earth way, Betsy has captured the hearts of riders who dream of living life on their own terms.
Betsy rose to national recognition in 2003 when she appeared in Motorcycle Women, a Discovery Channel documentary. She has also appeared in National Geographic’s Hell on Wheels and TLC’s Faking It. To keep her life fresh and exciting, Betsy logs over 5000 miles a year on her bike, snapping photos and making memories along the way. She writes a popular column, Backroads with Betsy, for Women Riders Now, documenting her free-spirited adventures on and off the road. Betsy currently resides in Southern California.
A letter from Betsy…
Harry Chapin sang these words back in the 70’s, “It’s got to be the going, not the getting there that’s good.” Those are words I have lived by, and it is pretty much the best advice I could give to anyone heading out on a motorcycle adventure. It’s the advice I take with me on all of my world travels, but I think it also applies to simple daily living.
Over the years, I have been featured in several motorcycle documentaries. I seem to represent the “old school” biker chick that has been down all of life’s back roads. From the 1980’s on my little white Honda, to my present day rusted out old chopper, I have seen most every road between the west coast and the Mississippi. I’ve ridden the highest motorable passes in the world. Often alone on my travels, my motorcycle has been a great source of solitude for me. I have ridden cross country countless times to visit family, friends, and rallies. Sturgis is as much a way of life as watering the garden – it’s just something I do.
The overwhelming response I’ve received from people who have seen the documentaries or read my magazine articles never ceases to amaze me. I have spent the vast majority of my years running, biking, climbing, diving, skating and flying away from commitments, restrictions, rules, regulations, and authority. I dodge anything that confines me, like seat-belts, bras, helmets. . . and I’m even sad to say, relationships. Consequently, I am a woman with no husband, no children, no savings, and no retirement plan – still running wildly in search of answers to questions I don’t fully understand. My inexhaustible pursuit of freedom, strength, and independence has taken me climbing in the Himalayas, diving in all of the oceans, skiing in the Alps, trekking in the Andes, on Safari all over Africa, riding a motorcycle over the world’s highest passes in India and seeking nirvana in Tibet, India, China, Mongolia, and Vietnam.
Nirvana is an elusive little state of being, always a step ahead of me. And so it is that I am amazed when anyone is inspired by my lifestyle. I have always lived a little out of control, which is strange, because I don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs, and I like to sleep nine hours every night. I live at 6,300 ft. in a mountaintop cabin with my big husky mix “Yukon” where there is no cell service, and my only heat is a wood burning stove. I spend my spare time gardening, playing piano, and making Native American crafts. The elements that seem to throw my normalcy out of control are my curious mind and nomadic spirit. It keeps me forever in search of knowledge, reason, and answers. Any type of travel is of interest to me. Any place I’ve never been is a mystery. Every person I’ve yet to meet has a story, and every journey a lesson. Each day I learn more and more about how little I really know.
Riding is one of the things I do that clears my mind and keeps me sane. I go on a long, lonely road and it is my time to talk to God. Regardless of what your beliefs are, it is impossible to ride across America and not connect with God, Great Spirit, Mother Nature, or Buddha. Whatever you want to call it, him, or her, something or someone created our land, the land of the free, and the home of the brave. And bikers, more than any other group of people I know, stand for and exemplify that freedom. Riding cross-country with a friend is one of the greatest bonds you will ever forge. You share nature, wildlife and our nation’s beauty . . . not to mention all of the mishaps that go along with road trips. The stories will take your friendship through the years and make you laugh every time you tell them, even if you weren’t laughing when they happened!
I try to make ends meet between my travels by writing, photography, and personal training. In the past, I have enjoyed working as ski patrol and at Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach. Helping people achieve their goals through fitness and nutrition is also something that gives me a lot of satisfaction. Basically you are helping that person get back to taking charge of their every action, and the result those actions have. Having control of your actions leads to taking control of your dreams and aspirations. I never get tired of hearing that I have inspired someone to ride, or travel, or get in shape, and ultimately follow what is in their heart. The question I am asked most often is how I am not afraid – not afraid to ride that big bike across the country alone, or even set out to climb Mt. Everest, or any of the countless crazy things I do. I am a woman who has made a LOT of bad choices and mistakes, and I’m not done yet! You don’t become strong, independent, or fearless any other way. I am strong, because I am not afraid to fail. I am not afraid to fail, because I have faith. I have faith that God takes me where he wants me, even when I don’t understand it, or like it. Anyone who has ever seen me ride knows that I like to live life on the edge – because if you are not you are missing the view!!!!
I live every day like it could be my last day on earth – because it could be! When I ride the canyons, I like to lean so far that I can smell the pavement. And perhaps my last day on earth shall be doing one of my crazy activities. But I don’t fear living or loving. What I do fear is unrealized dreams. No one ever promised that we could be or have anything we desired. But you get to TRY! And sometimes the trying IS the journey, the lesson, and the experience. So enjoy the journey!