Call any one of the 15-plus members of Spokane, Washington's NBA (No Boys Allowed) all-girl motorcycle riding club a "born-again biker babe," and she just might hug you for it. "I'd be honored," 45-year-old Debbie Baker says with a smile that's got more shine to it than her Harley-Davidson's custom paint job.
That's because it's working, chime in the rest of the women with whom Debbie, a wife and self-employed mom of four, rides motorcycles. "It"—the opportunity for unique ministry—is one of the biggest reasons these leather-clad women ride the burly bikes with the rumbling exhaust pipes.
According to the California-based Motorcycle Industry Council, women bikers are one of the fastest growing motorcycle groups in America right now. The number of lady bikers in Janet's state of Washington alone has nearly tripled in the past six years. Yet since women motorcyclists are still a minority (1 in 12 of the nation's 19 million people who rode a motorcycle last year are female), they get lots of attention when they're out riding alone. And if they're in a ladies-only Christian group such as the NBA, the number of astounded looks they elicit rises even more. "People watch us to see what kind of a reflection of God we are," says 43-year-old deputy sheriff Susan Stefanini Day, another club member.
The group got its name when one of its members' sons jokingly referred to their rides as "meetings of the No-Boys-Allowed Club." The term stuck.
"Than means no boyfriends, no husbands," laughs Sharon McDeid. The 58-year-old Mary Kay consultant who rides a Kawasaki Vulcan says motorcycling with other Christian women takes on a whole new form of fun and fellowship, as opposed to traveling with guys. "We can pick restaurants by the desserts they offer. We make lots of bathroom stops. We don't have to get anywhere first. We've even jumped in a creek with all our clothes on … "
"My husband would have died if he'd seen us," Debbie Baker interrupts good-naturedly, then adds that while fun and fellowship abound in the group, the highlight of their road trips are the opportunities they have to share their faith with strangers they encounter along the way.
For example, Sharon remembers when as part of her motorcycle ministry, she served coffee and cookies to weary travelers at a rest stop. She was decked out in her black leather, which sparked lots of questions from curious travelers. One man in particular, a long-haul-trucker, seemed drawn to talk longer—especially since he had a forced eight-hour layover at the rest stop. He started by asking questions about motorcycling, then began sharing his deep loneliness from being on the road so much.