All-women motorcycle club cruises Arizona highways

Kat Grover rides her motorcycle to Steel Horse Saloon on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. Steel Horse Saloon is a biker bar that Grover and other Medeival Maidens like to meet up after a long day at work or after a ride on their bikes. Photographed by Noelle Haro-Gomez
Kat Grover rides her motorcycle to Steel Horse Saloon on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. Steel Horse Saloon is a biker bar that Grover and other Medeival Maidens like to meet up after a long day at work or after a ride on their bikes. Photo by Noelle Haro-Gomez

The 100 cubic-inch engine nestled in the black and white 2008 Victory Kingpin painted with ghost flames revs outside of Steel Horse Saloon in Phoenix.

Atop sits Kathleen “Kat” Thomsen-Grover, president of the Medieval Maidens MC, the only all-women’s motorcycle club to be recognized by the Arizona Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs.

“This is like nothing compared to Hollywood except the leather jackets and bikes,” Grover said. Now, more and more women are donning the jackets.

Nationally, the number of female motorcycle owners in the country has nearly doubled, from 635,328 riders in 2003 to 1,006,000 riders in 2012, according to Brian Hardyman, spokesman for the Motorcycle Industry Council.

“I learned quickly that the only difference between us and regular drivers is two wheels,” Grover said.

Medieval Maidens jacket that club members wear.  Photographed by Noelle Haro-Gomez
Medieval Maidens jacket that club members wear. Photo by Noelle Haro-Gomez

Making of the Maidens

Grover rode in the back for two years, until one night in Oakland back in 2002.

She sat behind Paul as they were leaving a St. Patrick’s Day bash. As they started to merge onto Interstate 580, another motorcyclist rode toward them headed in the wrong direction on a one-way street. Paul leaned his bike down, pushing Kat aside to keep her from getting crushed by the bike. Kat landed on the side of the road, but Paul went down with the bike gliding across the street.

“All I remember is the screeching, the rolling, and then the woman’s headlight before thinking, ‘Oh my god, am I dead?’” Grover said. “After that, I decided I wanted to be in control. I got my bike and just had this empowering feeling from then on.”

For the next three months, Grover took motorcycle lessons and learned a few tips from her husband before taking off on her own.

Along the way, Grover ran into the Devil Dolls motorcycle club, the top women’s club in the Bay area whom she’d met several times while riding with Paul. She clicked with the women and learned the ins and outs of sisterhood.

When the Devil Dolls MC broke apart in 2003, one member established the Medieval Maidens MC and other members started transitioning over. Grover eventually came on board.

The club became a lifestyle for Grover, and when she moved to Maricopa County in 2005, she asked to bring the club with her.

Later that year, Grover and Paulr Hinkley co-founded the Medieval Maiden’s Arizona MC charter, which has more than six, but less than 500 members (motorcycle protocol states no motorcycle club may discuss numbers).

“This isn’t a woman’s world,” she said. “I had to work 10 times harder.” 

The Medieval Maidens made a trip down to Tucson, Arizona on Saturday, March 7, 2015 for a funeral of a friend in the biker community. Bikers came from all across the country to attend the funeral. Standing left is Cilla Lyon, Kat grover, center and Queenie Reynolds sits on her bike, left. Photographed by Noelle Haro-Gomez
The Medieval Maidens made a trip down to Tucson, Arizona on Saturday, March 7, 2015 for a funeral of a friend in the biker community. Bikers came from all across the country to attend the funeral. Cilla Lyon, left, stands looking off to the side, Kat grover, center, sits on her bike  and Queenie Reynolds, right,  sits on her bike.
Photographed by Noelle Haro-Gomez

Daughters of Not-So-Anarchy

The women come and go, and for some, the club is not a life commitment. “Women are the keepers of our home, so it’s a lot easier for women to let go of the club than it is for men,” Grover said. Although Grover entirely understands, she sees this as a downside of women in motorcycle clubs.

“Men tend to be in it till death do us part. Women are in unless and until they have conflict in home, at work or in life,” Grover said. “They can leave and it’s not that they don’t look back, but it’s a lot easier because their focus is family.”

Most Maidens have jobs in real estate, massage therapy, financial banking and management positions for Gatorade, to name a few. The women convene after work, usually at the Steel Horse Saloon, before taking off for a ride. Longer trips up the California coast, and even one to Sturgis, are all rides the Maidens look forward to.

Grover said it’s not easy for anyone, man or woman, dressed in black leather.

“There is a feeling from society where they can’t delineate getting to know a motorcycle community, and that’s what we are: a community. Instead, they look at us as thugs and monsters,” she said. Grover calls this the “Sons of Anarchy persona.”

Grover believes the behavior in the popular FX show “Sons of Anarchy” portrays riders as they were in the 1950s and 1960s, rather than what they have evolved into today. However, she agrees that there is still a small fraction of riders who may be up to no good, just like any other profession. Law enforcers refer this fraction of people as the ‘one-percenters,’ according to Grover.

“Our club is a non-profit corporation. It’s a business, but society doesn’t see that part,” Grover said. “We’re in it as professionals, doing all the right stuff, but it’s overlooked.”

Police often pull the members over for handlebar height restrictions and motorcycle checkpoints along the way, according to Grover.

The Maidens lobby for “freedom of the road” in order to travel throughout the country without restriction. One goal is to collaborate a “Ladies Ride” with other women riders across the country as a way to expand the female rider community while promoting biker rights.

And while pushing for biker rights, the Maidens also advocate for charity in the fight against domestic violence. The club works closely with programs like A New Leaf, Arizona Children’s Association and any other children’s or domestic violence organization that reaches out to them. Any funds the club raises go directly toward stopping the violence: something the women are very much against.

In Arizona, Grover is considered to be a gang member as the president of an outlaw motorcycle club. “(Police officials) are compromising my license by putting me on a list that represents me as a gang member without any justification,” Grover said. “I’ve not done anything illegally, I have never been charged, but I am classified as a gang member.”

As a lobbyist for the motorcycle community, her most recent mission was to remove the handlebar height limit and requirement for passenger grab bars—a citation used to pull riders over regularly, according to Grover. Mission accomplished. Governor Doug Ducey signed the handlebar bill, Arizona HB2345, on March 30 to be effective as of July 3.

“These are hard things to change because Sons of Anarchy has really rekindled that whole persona about motorcycle clubs,” Grover said. “Going into a restaurant, they seat you in the back. I walk down a grocery store aisle and mothers guide their kids to the next one over. Some of my own family sees me as trash. It hurts because we’re good people, but I won’t give up quite yet.”

Kat Grover sit on her bike. Grover is the president and founder of Medieval Maiden’s Arizona charter. Photographed by Noelle Haro-Gomez
Kat Grover sit on her bike. Grover is the president and founder of Medieval Maiden’s Arizona charter. Photo by Noelle Haro-Gomez

Spencer Higgins is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact her at spencerhiggins@email.arizona.edu.

Click here for high-resolution photos.

 

4 comments Add yours
  1. Spencer and Noelle you did a very good job writing and taking pictures of MMMC. Your professionalism, sensitivity and openmindedness to our Community and its struggles is commendable. You both showed enthusiasm and asked lots of questions. You both have the respect of The Medieval Maidens MC ARIZONA. Thank you for the article.

  2. Good article and good exposure. Nice bike, Kat. How does someone become a member of Medieval Maidens? I’m in the far East Valley.

  3. This was one of the best articles I have ever seen put together here in Arizona about the MC community. This was a very well written article and extremely informative. I love how you highlight the “Son’s of Anarchy Persona” Bikers do more charity event’s and rides then ANY group here in Arizona. Hell in most cases they do more then the Chive groups and other charitable organizations.

    The biggest respect of this whole article is one thing. Everything is spelled out as Club not Gang’s We all go out and ride and we all meet and celebrate, We band together in times of loss and sorrow, We support anyone that’s had a rough walk in life. This is the joy of being a Biker this is the World of the MC community here in Arizona.

    Thank you Maiden’s for having a wonderful article put up for the public to see. Also many thanks to Spencer for being a positive light and supportive author.

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