Women speed through stereotypical boundaries

By Tara Karr
Argonaut Staff   3/30/04

The rolling fields and open roads of the Palouse inspire some local women to hop on their motorcycles and cruise the hills.

SARAH QUINT / ARGONAUT / Pokedea poses after speaking about women and motorcycles Thursday at the Women’s Center.

Rose Graham, Jenny Rod, the Siren and Pokedea Burns spoke March 25 at the Women’s Center about their experiences as motorcyclists and how to get involved with biking.

“We’d like to try to break the image of ‘bimbos on bikes,’ because that’s not what we’re about at all,” Graham said.

Graham and Rod are members of the Satin Wheels club, a motorcycle club for women in the Northwest. The Siren and Pokey ride informally with Graham and Rod.

Each woman shared how she first started riding motorcycles.

Graham rode side with her husband until she met a woman who rode solo. The woman told her she rode alone so she could still ride if something happened to her husband. Graham learned how to ride and is now known as “Road Mama Rose.”

“When you’re the rider, you’re much more in tune with what’s going on everywhere around you,” Graham said.

Graham said she feels more focused and stops thinking about stress in her life when riding solo.

“I can leave all the crap behind me,” Graham said.

Now that she is a member of Satin Wheels and spends time riding with other women, Graham said she notices a difference from her days riding with men. Men tend to be more aggressive and independent when riding, she said.

“When women ride together, it’s much more intuitive,” Graham said. “There’s little bit more of a camaraderie. If you stop to go pee, that’s OK.”

Jenny Rod started riding because she got tired of asking everyone for a ride. Her brothers owned Harleys in the 1960s, and Rod bought a Kawasaki 400 from one of her brothers in 1976.

While living in Illinois, Rod took a Skills Training Advantage for Riders course, which teaches motorcycle skills and is required for a permit in some states.

  Rod later moved to Idaho and put her bike in storage because she did not intend to stay in the area. After 15 years without riding she said she looked at the Palouse hills and thought, “Oh, what a wonderful place to have a motorcycle!”

Rod retook the STAR course, got out her old bike and rode it a few times before it died. She now rides an old BMW nicknamed “Helga” that she borrows from a friend.

Siren’s motorcycle career began when she was 9 years old and her father put her on a dirt bike. She hit the throttle, hit a barbed wire fence and terrified her mother.

Siren was not around motorcycles again until she came to Moscow. A friend had a broken Honda 500, and Siren wanted to learn to ride it. She eventually fixed it, but it still had a sticky throttle.

“A sticky throttle is kind of exciting,” Siren said.

It was not long before that bike was also parked. Siren did not ride again until 10 years later, when she was “double-dog dared” to ride her boyfriend’s Harley. Soon she was riding the bike more often than he rode it. He later gave her the bike, a 1993 Harley 883, the smallest Harley made which she calls “Piglet.”

Pokedea has been riding since she was 12 years old. Her whole family rides, and she suspects she was given her own bike to keep her and her brother apart so they would not fight.

Pokey continued to ride with her family and bought a Yamaha 650 in high school. Since her dad is nicknamed “Papa Bear,” Pokey goes by the name “Little Bear.”

“[Riding] just seems really natural to me,” Pokey said. “I can’t imagine not owning a motorcycle.”

After the women told their stories, Graham explained how to get involved with riding motorcycles. She recommended the STAR course held in Lewiston, which provides riders with bikes and helmets while they learn.

“If you’re going to learn to ride, do it right the first time,” Graham said.

Graham also described proper riding gear.

“Your first line of defense is what you wear,” Graham said. “There’s a reason why we wear what we wear, besides looking absolutely cool.”

Although Kevlar is the toughest material, Graham said leather is more comfortable. She displayed her leather pants, vest and coat, as well as her heavy boots.

“You can ride with style,” Graham said, also holding up her rhinestone neck scarf.

Graham said the Satin Wheels club is open to anyone who has learned to ride. There are even a few men in the group.

“[The men] just have to do the dishes and ride in back,” Graham said, laughing.

Members of Satin Wheels meet in the Northwest and go for long rides together, Graham said.

“It’s kind of good to encourage lots of women to ride,” Graham said. “It’s not just for guys anymore.”


Pokey, Rose, Jen, & the Siren.

Last modified: October 13, 2005

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