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The Black Hills are full of bikers but not full of ones with world records under their belts


By Miranda O’Bryan

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) – The Black Hills are full of bikers, but not full of ones with world records under their belts.

Shantell Williams began her biker journey less than ten years ago and after only riding for eight months, she used her newfound passion to make a big difference.

Why would a 40-year-old motorcycle novice ride across the United States, 48 states to be exact?

“Bessie inspired me and the only way they knew about Bessie is through me…” said Williams.

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And just who was Bessie? She was the first woman to ever ride solo across the U.S. on a motorcycle. Eight times she did it.

“She didn’t have cruise control, navigation, voice recognition,” said Williams. “She didn’t have a cellphone, she didn’t even have interstates.”

But rode she did, crisscrossing the country as a motorcycle dispatch for the U.S. Army during World War II.

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Shantell climbed aboard her Harley to honor Bessie — and to get her into the Harley Davidson Hall of Fame.

“After I finished 48 states, a month later, they inducted Bessie Stringfield, a month after that, I found out I set a world record. I was the only female to do it solo in 27 days. A month after that, Harley Davidson named an award after me,” said Williams.

And now, here she is in South Dakota. Ready to do it all over again.

“I didn’t have plans really to make the second trip, but if duty calls,” said Williams. “Producers from Netflix and HBO contacted me and said would you be interested in breaking your record and I was like, no. I remember how hard it was and they said, well we’re interested in doing a documentary.”

It’s day four of the 80th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and bikes are still rolling in. From Friday to Sunday about 160,000 motorcycles

Tomorrow, Shantell sets off from Sturgis with Bessie, and a new world record on her mind and miles of highway to conquer.

“So here I am complaining about my little bit of uncomfortableness but yet when I got on that road when I just shut up and rode so that’s what got me through it. I would say, Shantell, just shut up and ride. Shut up and ride,” said Williams.

Williams’ ride across the United States will take her on a unique path, crisscrossing the country like Bessie once did. You can follow her journey here,

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