Shelby Jewel Brazes is an 8-year-old girl from Walnutport who took her first ride on the back of a Harley Davidson when she was 5. The minute she got off she told her father, "I want a motorcycle one day. I want a fast bike, maybe faster than yours."
Her proclamation came as no surprise to her father, Brad Reiss Jr. because his family has a long history of riders, beginning with his great grandfather, Harry Keck, who was the first motorcycle police officer in Allentown. Riding is in their genes.
When her dad heads toward his bike, Shelby takes every opportunity to jump aboard. It's not unusual for Shelby's classmates to see her arrive at Northern Lehigh Middle School on her Dad's FLHTCSE2 Screamin Eagle.
Shelby has already ridden more than 7,000 miles this year and almost 5,000 of those miles include two round trips to Florida. Her first trip to Florida was on the back of Brad Reiss Sr.'s FLHTCU Ultra, when along with Mom and Dad, Brad Reiss, Jr. and Tracey Brazes, they took a family trip to see the space shuttle Discovery launch.
After traveling 1,200 miles to Cape Canaveral they found the shuttle was delayed not once, but four times. So what did Shelby and her family do, they got in some rides, "and not at Disney," Reiss Sr., Shelby's grandfather, said. Although, the launch was finally 'scrubbed,' the Reiss' and Brazes' were not too disappointed because they accumulated 3,202 riding miles, all total, and saw a lot of Florida.
Shelby's second opportunity to ride to Florida came when the family was invited to a wedding in Fort Lauderdale. Mom, Tracey Brazes, had to fly because she was responsible for the wedding attire. When Shelby heard about the trip she quickly told her mother, "Save the plane trip money for me" because, Shelby said, she was going to ride down with her Dad.
Tracey Brazes admits to being a lot uncomfortable during the first Florida trip, especially since Shelby is so relaxed on a bike she tends to sleep most of the way. The second time, Brazes was confident that Shelby and Reiss Jr., would be fine.
For one thing, Tracey knew that both Reiss' had made adjustments to their bikes to ensure Shelby was secure. "You would have to pull the bike down before Shelby could fall out," Reiss Sr. said. "It was so tight, Shelby said, "I couldn't get to my snacks," which was the only time she used the code Reiss Sr. taught her when she needed an unplanned stop.
Shelby will be adding more miles to her tally before the year is done. The family has two more trips planned, one is a "saddle sore trip" that will total 1,000 miles in 24 hours and the other is a "bun burner," that requires a rider to do 1,500 miles in 36 hours. Both these trips are events of the Iron Butt Association, which is a group of 50,000 (plus) members who dedicate themselves to safe, long-distance motorcycle riding.
Shelby is neither daunted by the miles or the time. When she and her Dad rode to Florida (Shelby's second trip), they did 1,204 miles in 20 hours. Dad was chiding Shelby that she slept through most of it, to which Shelby responded with gusto, "I was at my personal best when we rode from Virginia to Walnutport. I stayed awake for a full three hours!"
The trip was not without peril, however. In Cocoa Beach they broke down. As they were trudging up a hill Brad Jr. told Shelby they would need to call a mechanic. "What?" Shelby asked, "You are a mechanic!"
Shelby also wants to also learn how to fix bikes, it's a longtime goal. Another family tradition in the works, since both Reiss Sr. and Jr. are employed in the service department at Keystone Harley Davidson in Lehighton.