Dirt bike Makers

Several schools across the

The 85-cc engine of the Honda dirt bike belches as the bareheaded rider accelerates down Fayette Street through West Baltimore.

With a bicep tattoo of a 12 O'Clock Boy — a rider holding a wheelie, straight up — the biker leans forward, pulls on the handlebars, lifts the front tire high in the air, and keeps the pose steady as the bike glides out of view.

The rider's name is Keyria Doughty. Around here, she's known as the "Wheelie Queen."

This 12 O'Clock Boy is a girl.

Doughty, 20, is one of only a few females to break into dirt bike riding on the streets of Baltimore, the homegrown, male-dominated subculture that's gaining in popularity — despite the efforts of police and lawmakers.

Bikers have been cruising — some say terrorizing — the city for at least a generation. They are a chief complaint at community meetings, where residents complain of packs roaring in and out of traffic, through red lights and across medians.

The activity has been illegal in Baltimore since 2000, when two riders were killed in a crash and fed-up city leaders took action.

"There's nothing positive that can be said about that, " said state Sen. Catherine Pugh, who pushed for the ban as a member of the City Council. "There's places where you can ride dirt bikes; the streets of Baltimore aren't it. You can't scare people in the street."

But neither the prohibition on street riding nor related measures — a ban on filling the bikes at gas stations, a law that allows police to seize unlocked bikes, a tip line residents can call to turn in riders — have dimmed enthusiasm for the pastime.

A documentary on the 12 O'Clock Boys last year won acclaim on the festival circuit and airs on Showtime. Videos on YouTube and Instagram are carrying the riders' exploits to an international audience. A recent Sunday ride through the city drew participants from five states.

Bikers say riding is a constructive activity that keeps young people out of trouble. One of their slogans: "Put down a gun, pick up a bike."

Into this subculture comes Doughty, a Baltimore native who got her first bike at 11. She's one of a few women to try to ride with the Boys.

She posts videos online of herself riding — the number of likes and followers on her Instagram account spiked when she started to emphasize her gender, she said — and has begun to sell her own printed Wheelie Queen T-shirts on her Instagram page, @doughty_18.

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