The Hail Marys

 In Coastal Life, OBX Community

Don’t let the lipstick fool you

There are certain sights and sounds one becomes accustomed to while living on our sprawling sandbar- the whipping of roaring sea foam into a fine meringue on a windy day. The graceful V of pelicans migrating back to the warmth of the Banks in spring. Now imagine instead of the sounds of the sea, there’s a spine-rattling, metallic rumble barreling from what must be the depths of Hell and the gentle swooping of those pelican wings are the precise and skilled cuts of souped-up American Sportsters skirting across the bypass. The women of the Hail Marys can outride any man on this beach —and likely have already— and as their unwritten motto goes, don’t let the lipstick fool you.

While there is little need to distinguish between these pavement powerhouses and their male counterparts, it would be simply unjust not to highlight their sophisticated ability to wordlessly communicate with one another using bike and body as one and fail to acknowledge the innate feminine advantage here. The Hail Marys seamlessly move in formation with the grace and ease of those birds, each knowing her place and rank in the flock and riding accordingly. There is structure and order stitched into the sowing of their wild oats.

Now these ladies are not the Hog Mamas and Buckle Bunnies you see clutching their husbands’ backs on someone else’s bike (think rhinestone denim and pink chaps). They are young and courageous, sinfully beautiful, and deeply committed to their craft, and both the ride and the maintenance of their steeds.

obx hail marys group

The shade of each rider’s lip is artfully complemented by smudges of grease and perhaps the occasional patch of road rash, but most of that camouflages well beneath a smattering of bold tattoos and fishnet lines.

When Tammie “Jett” Scarborough, Hail Marys President, founded the crew in 2015, it was out of simple necessity to create a space for women like her to ride. There were no young riders, women who hopped on their bikes and hauled, wide open, down the beach for the thrill of the run. Jett set out to empower not only herself but others like her – young, hungry, and talented.
Jett’s first recruit, Nicole “Nickel” Wiseman, worked alongside her in her hair salon and grew up rough and tumble on dirt bikes with an Uncle Porky who had a penchant for motorcycles.

Jett and Nickel, President and Vice President of the Hail Marys, respectively, have been sidekicks for years. Jett’s long black locks and reputation for speed liken her to Rock’s renegade. This perfectly harmonizes with Nickel’s sweet pixie face and blonde tresses. The pair head up the tight-knit five-member crew who say they’re not looking to recruit – women find them when they’re ready. That shortlist includes Stephanie “Switz” Quinn, the Road Captain who embodies Toy Story’s Jessie down to the fringe and fiery pigtails, Caroline “Hella Nerd” Horner, and newest prospect Jordan “Wizz” Barnes.

The stories of what brought the women to the band are as unique as the bikes they straddle, but a common thread pulls all together of empowerment and love for the road.
Don’t go calling the Hail Marys a gang, for the term, is completely at odds with what they stand for. Love of the ride aside, it is giving back to Dare County that fuels these women and drives so much of what they do. Their main philanthropic endeavor is the annual Toy Run, spearheaded by former KDH Commissioner and number one Hail Marys cheerleader Terry Gray.

outer banks hail mary

The Hail Marys are essentially the Toy Run’s mascot, laughs Nickel over her vodka soda. The Toy Run, she explains, is a huge gathering of bikers on the beach riding or “running” from Southern Shores to Mann’s Harbor, stopping along the way to pick up donations and, realistically, admirers. While their prowess on the road is truly something to be marveled at, it is their compassion that sets this small group of ladies apart from the rest. It’s all about the children, explains Jett while casually shooting Jameson and showing little girls that they can tear it up too is only a sidecar to the scholarships, funds, and goodies the women dole out by the armful. In addition to the Toy Run, a portion of all Hail Marys swag —beautifully designed stickers, shirts, hats, and a professionally shot calendar is donated to the community.

The women call it road therapy, the working out of life’s problems with the scorch of two tires on asphalt, but it is clear upon a few meetings with this staggering group of bikers that so much of what is worked out is done so via the bonds they have created amongst one another. This is evidenced not only in the elegance of their riding formation but in the simple joy that oozes out of them while in each other’s company.

To hang out with these women is to step into a leather-clad sorority, complete with rituals kept under lock and key. There is the air of friendly hazing laced with an edge of authority and hierarchy. As I spoke to the women, questions on the history and founding principles of the club were all to be answered by Wizz, the newcomer, and the expertly lashed eyes of each member rested heavily upon her as I inadvertently tested her on the spot. There is a camaraderie and a deeply feminine bond that is so pleasing to see in such a male-dominated arena and without all the bedazzled pageantry so tritely marketed to female riders.

A story shared by the group so perfectly encapsulates the raging spirit of the Hail Marys. While on a camping trip run frequently taken by the Marys, the women ran into a storm. Rain battered the women, the road illuminated only when lightning struck around them and all they had to go by was the taillights of the woman in front of her. As the wind whipped them and the denim quickly gave way to a run drenched to the bone, they depended on each other more than ever. Hella Nerd says that if Jett, leading the pack, would have gone into a ditch, she would have been right there behind her.

This small and scary statement speaks volumes. While they quite literally could have ended up piled off the side of the road in heaps of mangled steel and pantyhose that night, we all quietly acknowledged what she really meant. The Hail Marys are ride or die. When the pomp and circumstance is over, the tent poles are pitched, and the saddlebags unpacked, these women have each other’s backs through and through. “We didn’t talk about the storm at all for a week,” recalls Switz or “Compass Rose” when acting as Road Captain, shielding the sun from her eyes as we stand in the grass surrounded by the women and their bikes. Their commitment to one another is as thick in the air as the exhaust in their wake. And the name Hail Mary? An ironic play on the holy and the long shot, but I’ve got my money on this one.

obx hail mary group
Emily Moliken
Author: Emily Moliken

Comments
  • Spencer Pryor
    Reply

    Great article Emily, about some awesome women.

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