Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

What's that roar? A flock of biker chicks


Four motorcycles roar into a parking lot with a flash of chrome and pink decorative LED lights. Long black pigtails streaked with pink and gray fly past. A biker wearing a helmet with skull insignias and ponytails breezes by. • As the posse dismounts, one of the riders swings down the kickstand with her black stiletto boot. Helmets come off, and long hair tumbles out. The sleek cyclists straighten themselves and address each other by their riding names: Dukkes, Bebe, Rock Steady and Boo-Boo.

A group of men standing outside a local coffeehouse stare. The cyclists know this reaction well. The women also catch the attention of children, who often wave and smile as they pass.

In the bay area, watching women motorcyclists ride solo is like seeing a snowstorm in South Florida.

Heidi Laracuente and her friends Gail Guthrie, Sarah Murray and Ini Soto are part of a growing sisterhood in the motorcycle culture. The Motorcycle Industry Council reported a 28 percent rise in female motorcycle operators in 2008, the last year the council surveyed riders.

At Barney's of Brandon, sales manager Thomas Griner said sales to women cyclists have increased over the past 10 years.

Still, female motorcyclists are an unusual breed.

"We know we're far and few between," said Murray, 30, a federal Department of Defense contractor and former Marine.

Long hair and tight jeans aside, these ladies can handle their bikes. Guthrie, for example, said she knows how to change her R1 Yamaha's oil and battery and oil its chain. Before being certified to ride, each had to complete a safety course required by the state. Each rider says she has a healthy respect for the bike and the highway.

The women share a love of the open road that began with their husbands and fathers, who had motorcycles. Laracuente, 29, a mother of two and an insurance adjuster, remembers how she once feared motorcycles. But they kept calling her.

"I sat on it in the garage one day and said, 'One day I'm going to ride this thing,' " said Laracuente, who lives in Valrico. Eventually she got her own bike and now rides a black and gray 1300 Suzuki Hayabusa with pink LED accent lights.

In this group, there are novices and old hands. Soto, a 30-year-old who lives in Tampa, has been riding solo for nearly a year. Laracuente has ridden solo for two years. Guthrie and Murray are the veterans, with four years of experience apiece.

They remember the harrowing experience that was their first solo ride. And some of them have injuries to prove that they've been battle tested. Guthrie, who lives in Brandon, has bruised her knee and her chest.

Laracuente racked up a hipbone injury and "road rash," or lacerations. She gave herself the riding name Boo-Boo, which is what she told her family she had gotten when she arrived home from the accident.

Neither woman lets accidents deter her desire to ride.

"You trust yourself and you trust the bike," said Guthrie, 30, a purchasing assistant. "If you don't get back on, you'll never get back on."

• • •

The women, who have now gathered inside the coffee shop, talk about their fears, in particular, careless motorists. Sometimes drivers don't see the bikes. And the women said they can't stop as quickly as cars.

"You've got to keep going," said Murray, recalling a near-accident she had earlier in the day when a white Cadillac quickly merged in front of her on the road. "I paid too much money to stop."

Murray, who lives in Tampa, prefers to ride in open spaces, away from traffic. Sitting atop her Yamaha V-Star 650 Classic and cruising over local bridges is among her more peaceful riding experiences, she said.

"On the bike you can think," Murray said.

Guthrie agrees.

"This bike has helped me find myself," she said.

For Laracuente, riding is her sanity and therapy. Her motorcycle passion inspired her to lead the Click Chics, a branch of the co-ed motorcycle club known as the Click.

The group unites women who enjoy riding together for fun and to support fundraising efforts for causes like breast cancer research.

Laracuente said riding with women is different from riding with a mixed group. Women cater to one another in a way that men don't, she said. Men go for several miles until they get hungry. Women stop for more bathroom breaks. They ride slower, and they don't mind stopping to freshen up their lipstick.

Belinda Kramer can be reached at

What's that roar? A flock of biker chicks 04/01/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 2:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Behind the Lens: To capture an exhilarating moment, it's better to be lucky AND good


    Editor's note: Boyzell Hosey, our Assistant Managing Editor - Photography/Multimedia, shot this image while on a family vacation in Alaska. Below is his description of the shot.

  2. Council candidate James Scott sees a green future for St. Petersburg

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG — James Scott's central tenet is sustainability.

    St. Petersburg City Council District 6 candidate James Scott. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |   TIMES]
  3. O.J. Simpson drawing world attention during plea for freedom


    LOVELOCK, Nev. — Former football star and convicted felon O.J. Simpson will command the world's attention once again Thursday when he pleads for his freedom on live TV.

    In this June 21, 1995 file photo, O.J. Simpson holds up his hands before the jury after putting on a new pair of gloves similar to the infamous bloody gloves during his double-murder trial in Los Angeles. During Simpson's trial, a prosecutor famously asks him to put on a pair of gloves allegedly worn by the killer. The gloves appeared to be too tight, reinforcing the immortal words of defense attorney Johnnie Cochran: "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit." [AP Photo/Vince Bucci, Pool]
  4. Florida education news: lawsuits, trans rights, recess and more


    ANOTHER ONE: Palm Beach County may be the next School Board to pick a legal fight with the state over the controversial HB 7069, but they may do it alone. Board members Wednesday seemed conflicted about whether to participate with other school boards, like Broward and St. Lucie counties, in a joint lawsuit or sue on …

    Ya'riah Ellison, 6, of Tampa, works on a pop art self portrait at the Glazer Children's Museum in Tampa on Friday, July 14, 2017. On Thursday, July 20th, a new pop art exhibition will open in which children will be able to create self portraits in a variety of ways including screen printing, pointillism and pop art methods
  5. Looking Back: The Ybor City Streetcar gets a new life (December 27, 1991)


    Before World War II Tampa's public transportation needs were covered by a network of Birney streetcars, with a peak of 24 million passengers in 1926. When a local streetcar enthusiast came across a 1920's model, she contacted the Tampa Trolley Society with an eye towards restoration. That streetcar would become the part …