Spokane woman motorcycles to Natchez

Published 12:05 am Friday, May 27, 2011

NATCHEZ — On busy days when Texie Wallace is setting permanents and applying hair color, she daydreams about the open road.

The owner of Natchez Hair Care would jump at the chance to hop on a motorcycle, take to the road and feel the rush of adrenaline that comes with motor biking. But between the haircuts and the grandchildren, Wallace is content to just dream for now.

Wallace didn’t have to dream very far when Karen Boyd pulled into the hair salon parking lot two weeks ago. Boyd’s 2,500-mile solo motorcycle trip ended right at Wallace’s door step.

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She had been traveling for a week from her house in Spokane, Wash., to Natchez with a few stops on the way for fun.

“If I was riding hard, I could do it in three to three and a half days,” Boyd said.

A self professed motorcycle junkie, Boyd got her first bike when she was 12 years old. She rode continuously until she graduated high school.

Law school, work and family quickly got in the way. Practicing as a trial lawyer and rearing three daughters, cycling no longer was in the picture.

“I gave it up for 20 years,” Boyd said. “It was way too long, but life got in the way.”

After retiring from law and remarrying, Karen’s motorcycle interests returned.

“I like adrenaline,” Boyd said. “You get it from trials and you get it from motorcycling.”

And you get it from flying gliders over the mountain valleys in Albuquerque, N.M., which was one of the things Boyd did with friends on one of her stops on the way to Natchez this summer.

The trip through Salt Lake City and Moab, Utah, Albuquerque and Dallas, was not the first time Boyd has made the trip. She had made the trip once before on her bike with her husband Bobby, who grew up in Natchez and is Wallace’s son.

But when Bobby was too busy at work flying 747 cargo planes across the world, Karen took the opportunity to hit the pavement and make her way down to her Mississippi in-laws.

“My husband was gone so why stay home,” Karen said.

At 5-feet, 3-inches high, Karen may not look like the women cyclists often portrayed in the media. She doesn’t dress in a cute little leather jacket and doesn’t drive a Harley Davidson.

In fact, when Karen hops on her BMW bike that was custom built for her small frame, her fluorescent green jacket and solid black helmet demonstrate how seriously she takes motorcycle riding.

“I really believe in safe riding — all the gear all the time,” Karen said.

As a plus, her gear helps hide her identity on the road, offering her a level of safety.

“When I am on the road, people don’t know if I am a man or woman,” Karen said.

With a son who flies commercial planes around the world and who has ridden his bike into the Artic Circle, Texie Wallace says she doesn’t worry about her son or daughter in-law when they head to Natchez from Spokane.

And if given a chance she might just take to the road herself.

“I would do it in a heartbeat,” Wallace said. “I might need a three wheeler.”