Dirt bike school for women fills a niche
Donni Reddington has been drawn to motorcycles since she was a little girl.
Her uncles built a dirt bike track at her grandfather’s place near Tacoma and would ride 1970s Hondas and Yamahas over homemade jumps. Little Donni was too short to ride the bikes so her grandfather bought an old lawnmower from a neighbor and together they converted it into a go kart. Reddington says she got “totally into the engine thing.”
When her legs were long enough, Reddington was finally able to ride her uncles’ dirt bikes.
“My sisters and I would go rip around on their track. We’d get 6 inches of air and think we were so rad,” she said.
Now, Reddington is helping other women get that same feeling. Last year she launched Skool of Moto, a dirt bike school for women in Mazama, and has been teaching group riding clinics and giving private lessons all summer.
“I knew there was a niche and a need,” Reddington said. “There’s a lot of hesitancy. Women have fear. I want to give them the opportunity to overcome that fear.”
Reddington keeps the size of her clinics small — no more than five participants per clinic — and spends time going over the mechanics of the bike, trail safety and etiquette as well as foundational dirt biking techniques before taking participants out on the trails.
Skool of Moto provides dirt bikes — Beta 125RRS four-stroke carbureted bikes — some of which have been lowered to fit shorter riders. Participants are also welcome to bring their own. The weekend clinics are based out of the Mazama Ranch House and include lodging, yoga, wine and most meals.
On a recent misty Sunday morning, Reddington lined up the dirt bikes and checked them over before clinic participants arrived for a day of riding. The group planned to ride from the Mazama Ranch out for a tour of Goat Peak on a mix of dirt roads and single track trails.
Jenn Chesney came from Bend, Oregon, for the clinic. Chesney has been motorcycling for 15 years but wanted to sharpen her off-road skills and support a women-run business.
“This is a really unique concept in a sport that doesn’t have a lot of women in it. It’s a great entry into that world,” she said, as she wheeled her Yamaha XT 250 out of the barn. “Working in an all-women environment comes with different dynamics. Everyone is supportive of one another, even if we have different skill levels.”
Rachel Spence came from Seattle to participate in the workshop. She said she was nervous and intimidated at the idea, but her friend talked her into it.
“Having a solid teacher and a group of cool women seemed like a great environment to try something scary,” she said. And, Spence added, she hasn’t been disappointed.
“It’s been good. I was definitely shaking a bit but we did all the drills before we went out on the trails and to see it all come together — and to survive — was really cool,” Spence said.
Reddington plans to offer more clinics next year, as well as private lessons. Her dream is to find a property in the Methow Valley where she could build a track, like her uncles once did, surrounded by yurts and a bathhouse for her guests.
Reddington has worked as a nurse for the past 18 years and acknowledges that motorcycling and dirt biking are dangerous sports, but she said many accidents can be prevented with the right riding techniques and safety precautions.
Reddington’s goal with Skool of Moto is to empower, teach and inspire women to be safer and better riders. “I’m not gonna push them to do something they’re not comfortable doing,” she said. “We’re about boosting women’s confidence.”