How does a professional model end up as a stunt rider? That’s a question only Karah Linn can answer.
“My mind instantly transferred to a new thing,” said Linn, a rider for the Midwestern motorcycle stunt team Deranged Freestyle. “I’m a goal oriented person. Once I have a goal, I have to do it and I have to succeed at it. So I pushed myself.”
She got one look at motorcycle stunt show and was hooked. Linn met her future fellow Deranged Freestyle rider and fiancé R.J. Shrimpton and practiced with him every day. They worked normal, 8-to-5 jobs and spent most of their evenings on motorcycles. On weekends, Linn said they would spend six to eight hours practicing the basics.
Linn, who grew up in Sioux City, started off on a 50 cc bike until she felt she had mastered it. Eventually, she would have to upgrade, pushing herself once again to reach her goals. This year, she will perform with Deranged Freestyle at Awesome Biker Nights on a new bike – a Honda Grom with a 125 cc engine.
The former model is now a fully fledged stunt rider and the only female member of the Omaha-based Deranged Freestyle, which was founded about six years. After honing their skills, Linn and Shrimpton have earned sponsors and have competed in various stunt tournaments.
The next goal for the duo? To one day get paid to perform stunts full-time.
“We’re really driven,” said Linn.
How did you start out?
When I first started out with R.J., I did tandem tricks with him, which you’ll see at our show as well. We do that just as a side thing because people love when I get his bike and we do tricks. But I started out doing that and kinda built that trust. Like, oh, OK. I got this. When I mastered it, I was actually one of the best 50 riders in the United States. I won a couple video contests.
How difficult is it to balance on those bikes and still do tricks?
It’s funny because I’m on a mini-bike and when you see me I’m like 6’2’’—I’m really tall. It’s super hard. People think that the mini-bikes are easy and they’re not. They’re actually harder than the big bikes. I think it took me about a year to get everything down.
Why are mini-bikes more difficult than normal bikes?
Balance. You’re balancing most of the time. With the big bikes, it’s doing all the work for you because it’s heavier than you. What R.J. rides and what [Derange Freestyle riders]Brett and Jim ride, they ride 600 cc bikes. And they weigh about 400 pounds. My 50 cc is like 90 or 100 pounds.
Have you gotten used to your new bike?
My Grom is actually 250 pounds, which is heavier than I am. So I had to get used to pushing it around. I was so used to balancing and really not having the bike push me. Now it’s pushing me and I have to counteract it. It’s a different kind of riding. But I’m definitely ready for the show.
Do you not see too many female stunt riders?
They’re growing. I would say I know, out of the U.S. combined with overseas, I know about… hmm… 15? Maybe? It’s very, very rare. Women think it’s scary or they don’t like motorcycles or fixing it. Like, I have to fix the bike when it breaks. I don’t expect R.J. to do that. I don’t see a lot. I see it more in California. They ride 600 cc bikes. So I give them all props. Hopefully one day I can try it out and see how it feels.
Being the only female rider in Deranged Freestyle, do audience members ask you about it?
Yeah! Especially with the little girls. They love that there’s a girl. They love seeing a female doing what the guys are doing. After the show we have it where people can come in and talk to us about our bikes and about how many years we’ve been riding. I got a lot of feedback last time. It’s funny getting Facebook messages from people that went to Awesome Biker Nights like, “Oh I can’t wait to see you this year on your new bike!” People actually remember! It’s really, really cool.
You’re from Sioux City, right?
I am originally from Sioux City. My family is from Sioux City, too. They still live there. So it’s kind of cool to represent Sioux City and tell people that they can push themselves and they can achieve their goals and that you can succeed at anything you put your mind to.