BROOKLYN — To the women of the New York City's motor circuit, you're either a sister or civilian.
"We’re a sisterhood," said Crown Heights mom Lyric, 38, of her all-female SUV club The Legendary Queenz, one of dozens of women-only New York City motor clubs that have flourished in what was once a strictly male scene. "This is my family here."
Ten years ago, there were just a handful of women riders in the city's macho motorcycle circuit, whose ranks roll like thunder through Upper Manhattan and the outer boroughs all summer long. Now, ladies' clubs are so common, even insiders have trouble keeping track of them all.
"There's a lot of women in the motorcycle game — every year I see more and more," said Short Dog, a spokesman for the prominent East New York motorcycle club 300 MCs. "There's a lot of female clubs now. It's a good look."
But the ladies bring more than just looks to the community — female clubs are also some of the most actively altruistic, devoting as much time to their charities as their cars.
"We do all the walks," Lyric said of her Queenz, who turn out in force for the March of Dimes, the AVON Walk for Breast Cancer, the AIDS Walk and marches for lupus and diabetes, among others. "We do a lot of stop-the-violence marches as well."
When they're not riding or marching, clubs like the Legendary Queenz, S.P.I.C.E., Royal Rebelz, Black Diamonds and Lady Ryderz team up to host neighborhood block parties and youth basketball tournaments, collect back-to-school clothes for homeless youth and make meals for women in domestic violence shelters.
"Last year before Thanksgiving we were stopping people in the street in Brownsville with turkeys," Lyric said. "Some of them, it’s the end of the month, they ran out of food stamps. We gave boxes to anyone who looked hungry, anyone with a stroller."
The Queenz estimate they do about three community events every month, fairly typical for women in the circuit.
"It surprised me — they looked so scary," said the Legendary Queenz's LaLa, a 40-year-old mother of four who lives with an adopted daughter and two grandchildren in St. Albans, Queens. "But when I saw what they stood for, it made me happy. I saw that they love the community. They’re here to help."
Help can be anything from cooking Christmas dinner at a men's shelter in Bed-Stuy to babysitting another member's children in an emergency. Most women on the circuit are mothers, and the Queenz can't walk through a Brooklyn block party without kids running up to kiss their "aunties" from the motor club.
"All that’s written into our bylaws," Lyric said. "We try to look out for each other."