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Tlaquepaque Village

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When she was 2, she almost crashed her uncle’s motorcycle.

By Nate Hansen
Larson Newspapers
________________

When she was 2, she almost crashed her uncle’s motorcycle.

She straddled one legally at age 18.

Decades later, Andrea Bordelon dons the leathers before leading tours around red rock country.

It is her profession.

Relaxing with a glass of red wine, Bordelon sits outside the Martini Bar in West Sedona keeping an eye on her 2007 FLSTN Harley-Davidson Softtail Deluxe.

It’s not theft or vandalism she’s worried about, it’s the affinity she has for American craftsmanship — and, of course, the 1,584 cubic centimeters and twin cam six-speed transmission.

“It all started on a bar napkin,” she says.

Bordelon turns her wine glass on the table as she would throttle her Harley into acceleration.

She describes how she and a friend met last year at Oak Creek Brewery and Restaurant in Tlaquepaque arts and crafts village where a friendly banter over beers turned to a talk about business possibilities.

He found success in a horse touring company, so maybe she should run a motorcycle touring company, he thought.

Little did she know the light-hearted discussion and mottled napkin of illegible writing would eventually become a legitimate business plan.

Friday, Oct. 13, 2006, out of urging by friends, Bordelon decided to dress as a Hell’s Angel biker for Casa Rincon’s costume party.

She moved on to Olde Sedona Bar and Grille later in the evening, where her costume caught the attention of a group of tourists — bikers.

According to Bordelon, the tourists asked her if she knew of any nearby motorcycle tour companies.

She bluffed but didn’t show her hand. She didn’t own a company, but she owned a Harley-Davidson Sportster XL1200 Custom and knew the area well.

She became an instant motorcycle guide.

The next day, Bordelon led fellow bikers to Strawberry and around Lake Mary.

The bikers wanted more.

The following day she led them into Jerome and Prescott, then Flagstaff and Snowbowl the next.

Each day, people kept joining the tour, she says.

Bordelon started riding motorcycles seriously years ago. Though she began as a teenager, she quickly mastered cornering notoriously tight switchbacks in Switzerland.

She insists when riding in the Alps, a person needs to know proper “curving technique.”

After gaining confidence and proving herself as a proficient rider, Bordelon led tours in Europe. The diversity of people helped her gain fluency in multiple languages, to include Swiss German, German, Italian and French.

Bordelon glances at her motorcycle. There’s an obvious bond that can’t be broken — a sensual sameness.

The Harley’s dual shorty exhaust pipes and laced wheels are embossed in chrome. Bordelon’s glittered butterfly bandanna and pixie earrings shine in the moonlight.

The Harley’s white gold pearl and deep cobalt pearl paint job glistens over a near-1,500-cubic-centimeter twin-cam engine. Bordelon wears a subtle flower-print blouse under a rugged Harley-Davidson leather vest.

The Harley’s built for cruising. Bordelon smiles.

Today, Bordelon is vice president of tour operations for Wild Wind MC Tours.

Joshua Placa, her “partner in crime,” runs everything from tour planning to copy editing advertisements, writing feature stories to web design.

“I’m the brains and he’s the looks of the operation,” jokes Bordelon, a singer Sheryl Crow look-alike.

Before Bordelon insisted Placa partner-up for the two-wheeled extravaganza, he wrote extensively on his motorcycle travels through each of the 50 states in addition to various countries.

He also served as the editor for Cruising Rider magazine for 11 years.

“Contrary to the stereotype, Andrea [Bordelon] and I met at an art show,” Placa says. “It was a natural pairing. We have a passion for motorcycles. We have a

passion for the beauty of this area.”

Placa nearly started a motorcycle tour business himself some years ago, he says. Instead of being bitter, he embraces the fact he has a co-owner with personality and a natural knack for the motorcycle life.

“You have to live the life. You can’t look at it as a job,” he adds.

Although Bordelon and Placa are just getting their operation off the ground, they are already looking forward to fall.

Tours are filling up and more routes are being discovered, they say.

In the meantime, the Cornville-based business is stacked with day trips, overnight trips and, if given enough time, custom trips through New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and Colorado.

Locals are invited to give them a call during off days if there’s interest in friendly rides and a barbecue.

“When it comes to this lifestyle, this business, it’s so much more about

the enthusiasm and the fun,” Placa says.

 


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