My grandmother has always been supportive of me and my passion for motorcycles, but a couple of weeks ago she took her support to a whole new level.
After attending a presentation that I gave at my local BMW motorcycle club, she decided to write a letter…to the Vice President of Honda Powersports USA, Chuck Boderman. 😲 In it she shared details of my journey as a motorcyclist, from river crossings in Peru to my summer selling Honda motorcycles and how proud she is of me and my accomplishments. Long story short, my grandmother has now had quite a few exchanges with Mr. Boderman and people who work directly for him. We received a package of awesome Honda swag and a handwritten letter from Mr. Boderman. I am still getting over the shock that A. My grandmother would do something as nice as to write a letter about me and to send it to Honda corporate and B. That her letter actually got to Mr. Boderman and that it was so well received. What an amazing life I have! 😲
Here is the full letter that my grandmother wrote:
Dear Mr. Borderman,
I thought you would like to know about my granddaughter, Helen Tornquist. Helen, at 27, is a motorcycle enthusiast who owns a Honda Rally. She has been selling Honda motor bikes since June, 2019 at Des Plaines Honda Motorcycles in Des Plaines, Illinois.
At the Honda agency, they call her Helen the Sellin’ Machine. She helped Des Plaines Honda meet their June quota by selling 5 bikes on the last day of the month. Helen did not rest on her June laurels. Her sales record skyrocketed to 34 bikes during the 2 months she worked at Des Plaines Honda. Biking her way to her family’s cabin in Ely, Minnesota, Helen is taking a much needed vacation before returning to the Chicago area, where she is a teacher at Tallgrass Sudbury School, a private K through 12 school in Riverside, IL. The General Sales Manager at Des Plaines Honda has offered her an as needed Saturday sales position during the school year.
Helen recently invited me to a meeting of the Chicago Region BMW Owners Association, where she was the featured speaker. Before she was Helen the Sellin’ Machine, she took a year off from teaching and embarked on a 10 month trip to South America. Solo. (You can’t appreciate Solo until I tell you that Helen is a soft spoken, self effacing young lady. She labels her persona “Introvert”) After traveling by air to Lima, Peru, she bought a used Honda 2009 Tornado XR250. This motor horse was her mode of transportation as she toured 7 countries on her 30,000 mile trip in South America. Solo. During her presentation, she related her adventures as a low budget tourist, finding free shelter in homes of natives willing to house an American girl on a motorcycle, staying in low cost
lodging or resorting to the tent she carried on her Honda. You would be impressed at her ingenuity in successfully navigating a road that resembled a river. The region had gotten the most rain in 20 years and a nearby river had flooded, leaving the bordering dirt road a trail of mud. If life has taken you on a trail like this, you willl remember your tires sputtering as mud splashed in your face and you struggled to remain upright on your bike. An obstacle like this would deter more formidable riders than Helen.
The Tornado held up beautifully until the last day of her ride, 10 months after her start. No flat tires, bike working like a plow horse. All was well until she steered the Tornado toward her final destination, Cusco, Peru. In the middle of nowhere, the chain on the Honda broke. Not knowing how to fix it, she did what any lovely lady would do. Helen sat down on the road and cried. After copious tears, she calmly planned her escape. Her ingenuity kicked in and inspired her decision: Hurry up and Wait! (An ingenious decision or her only alternative?) After some time, a local ambulance driver appeared. He picked her up and they motored in the ambulance to a small town about 10 miles away. The driver dropped Helen at the town’s motorcycle shop. The shop mechanic drove her back to where she had left her Honda on the road, put it in his truck and brought it to the shop to be repaired. Helen then rode her good-as-new Tornado into Cusco, sold it and flew home to Chicago. There she bought a new 2018 Honda Rally CRF250L. In Chicago there are no rivers with muddy banks to cross, but knowing how to navigate through rush hour traffic is a must.
I am attaching a photo of Helen and her grandmother, a loyal owner and driver of my fifth Honda, a 2017 Accord. No need to change brands when you are a satisfied user.