Women Riders

Inspirational Women: Tru Beatty and the Caramel Curves MC

Written by  February 25, 2017

Sitting in a New Orleans garage, untouched for decades, is a 1970s Honda. It belongs to Shanika (aka Tru) Beatty’s father. Five years before Tru was born, her father stopped riding. He had lost too many friends, and although he didn’t ride any longer, he just couldn’t part with that Honda. Every day when the family pulled the car into the garage, Tru would see that bike, and it was that parked Honda that fed her desire to ride.

Tru’s father was not thrilled with her choice, but told her to at least get loud pipes, believing the old adage that “loud pipes saves lives.” She conceded, and in time, her father came around to supporting her decision, and even becoming “super excited” about her becoming a biker.

In 2003, Tru got her first bike, a Yamaha YZF-R6. Since there weren’t many women riding who she could follow, she depended on the guys to get her up to speed. She says her skill level came from the guys she rode with because they would leave her behind. “You had to keep up with them or fall back. I was tired of getting left behind.”

In 2005, Tru and five other women riders she had come to be friends with decided to start their own riding club, and brainstormed what they should call themselves. As Tru told reporter Laura Llovet, “We wanted a cute, sassy name that fit bike riding. So curves came about because we can take the curves better than the guys… so one of the members came up with the caramel part, and another girl came up with the curves part, and it just fit.”

But there was one girl who became a real bitch and almost ended the Caramel Curves. Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in August 2005. It would take another three years for Caramel Curves to become an official Motorcycle Club.

Eight years after Tru first hopped on a bike, she decided to try her luck with amateur racing but she crashed and didn’t go back. She’s had one other close call but unlike her father, she wouldn’t give up riding.

Photographer Akasha Rabut moved to New Orleans in 2010 and was enthralled with seeing these black women riders. Introducing herself, the women met with her at a Caramel Curves member’s nail salon. Akasha has been photographing them ever since. “These women are comfortable riding their bikes in heels and love to emphasize that they can do anything a man can do, only better, and in heels,” Rabut told Huffington Post. “I think they do a really good job at combating the stereotype that biking is a masculine hobby.”

When asked how she rides in heels, Tru replied, “It’s not difficult. You just rest the heel on the foot peg and shift with your toes” as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

The Caramel Curves have been getting a lot of attention lately. In addition to Rabut’s photographs and local press, they have been featured on “Ride With Norman Reedus.” They are involved with their community, feeding the homeless, paying visits to St. Margarette Nursing Home, and even donating a bicycle during the annual Blessing of the Bikes.

To read more about Caramel Curves, visit their Facebook page. You can also see more of Akasha Rabut’s great images of them at http://www.akasharabut.com/caramel-curves/

Photo by Akasha Rabut