Harley rider was ‘way before her time’ in the ‘30s and ‘40s
When Monica “Bonnie” Geyer took her first driver’s test back in the 1930s, she didn’t get behind the wheel of a car. She jumped on a motorcycle. And aced the test.
So began Mrs. Geyer’s love affair with the motorcycle.
With fiery red hair and brilliant blue eyes, Mrs. Geyer was a pioneer of sorts, one of the first women to drive alone across the country, on her beloved Harley Davidson, the only motorcycle she would ride.
“She just had a love for it. She was one of the first,” said Robert Borner, her son. “She was an amazing woman, way before her time.”
Besides going coast to coast, Mrs. Geyer explored many other areas of the country on her Harley. She toured New York, New England, and parts of Canada. She counted among her favorite rides jaunts through the Allegheny Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Mrs. Geyer even did stunts — standing on the motorcycle’s seat with her arms raised, for example — as a member of the Original Flying Boot, a group that traveled the country on what wereknown as gypsy tours.
In a 2014 interview with Thunder Roads Magazine, Mrs. Geyer explained her love for the road.
“I always had a wildness in me. The motorcycle and I got along just fine. I was never happier than when I was out riding. I just loved getting out to see. See everything I could,” she said.
Mrs. Geyer died Nov. 9 in Las Vegas. She was 99.
Born May 20, 1918, in Aliquippa, Mrs. Geyer lived most of her life on Pittsburgh’s North Side. After marrying Robert W. Borner, the couple raised their family in the Manchester neighborhood.
Mrs. Geyer started riding motorcycles when she was 16. She had a fondness for Harleys, once turning down an offer of a free bike from a competitor.
She continued to ride after her two daughters were born but stopped after the birth of her son, Robert, her third child.
Soon after that, Mrs. Geyer went to work for the H.J. Heinz Co. in the advertising department, a job she held for some 30 years before retiring.
“She was a gracious lady. She was charming. She would get on the right side of you quick,” her son said.
Mrs. Geyer, who passed along her love of motorcycles to her children, once explained the secret of her longevity to her son.
“She said, ‘You know, Bobby, I never drank and I never smoked and I didn’t even swear until you were born,’” he related with a laugh.
Mrs. Geyer lost her husband, Robert, in 1970. She later married Benjamin Geyer, who also preceded her in death.
Although Mrs. Geyer moved to Las Vegas a couple of years ago to live with a daughter, she never strayed from her Pittsburgh roots, often asking about the North Side. She was a diehard Steelers fan.
While Mrs. Geyer gave up riding the motorcycle in the late 1940s, that didn’t stop her from getting around. She continued to drive a car until she was 94 years old.
At one point, in her later years, she was required to take the driver’s test again. This time, she drove a car, butthe results were the same.
“She passed with flying colors. The instructor said she was one of the best drivers coming in doing that test,” Robert said.
In addition to her son, who lives in Ross, Mrs. Geyer is survived by two daughters, Marg Biesiada and Monie Riggi, both of Las Vegas; a stepdaughter, Sharon Geyer, also of Las Vegas; and grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.
The funeral Mass is at 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. Bonaventure Catholic Church, 2001 Mt. Royal Blvd. inShaler.