Year 1: It was 2013 when we ran into each other at Born Free. The year prior I had sold Anya the bike I learned to ride on which was a Yamaha XS350 and I knew she had recently upgraded to a new H-D. I was in the same boat, proud owner of a purple Sportster with a flame seat and chrome junk all over it. I didn’t care what it looked like, it was mine and I was going to ride it. Anya is a force of energy, kind, humble, and has been riding dirt bikes since the day she could walk. I was gaining my confidence and maxing out at turtle speeds around steep curves but becoming a better rider every day. We were both fairly new to street riding. Casual conversation turned into a “Girls Weekend” of motorcycle camping in the desert of Borrego Springs. I had been practicing and getting to know my capabilities on the grade that drops into Borrego when I notice all the BLM land in the area. We planned a weekend in Oct and set the location to a dry lake bed towards the Salton Sea just past Borrego. Unaware that it might have been illegal, but hey, it’s a town that doesn’t have a stop light so what harm could they see with two ladies on motos? Excited about the weekend at hand we thought it would be a good idea to do an all call to the lady riders we were starting to connect with on social media. We’ve seen them but never actually had the opportunity to get to know them in real life and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. 1 shitty flyer, 1 WordPress site, and 1 route map designed by Bill Bryant as a favor, we thought we were ready! We started reaching out to the ladies and asking them about who they were and created Roll Call. We’d tell their stories, how they got into riding, and post a picture of them with their moto. To our surprise, the responses were incredibly relatable. My most embarrassing moments on a bike seemed to be theirs, the reasons they got into riding were incredibly similar to mine, and after reading their stories it felt like I knew them in real life. If these stories were getting us excited, who else would it reach? How awesome would it be if 10 ladies showed up? That would be 9 girls I’ve never met who liked to ride motorcycles and camp. It was mind blowing to even think about. I hadn’t been this excited about something in years and the night before the meet up for our first moto camp out dubbed Babes in Borrego, I double dosed myself with Nyquil just to get an hour of sleep.
Morning of, I packed up the bike, checked the oil and tire pressure, and hit the road to the meet up spot with 3 friends who had come down from Portland. As we pulled into the Starbucks off the 79 I was amazed, there were 6 bikes already lined up. 10 minutes later Anya rolled up with a crew of 15 and within 20 minutes, that number shifted to 50 motorcycles. Women had come as far as New York, Arizona, Northern California, and Oregon. This was nuts. We did a quick rundown on group riding etiquette and hit the road. I won’t go into details on the entire weekend but I will tell you why this particular weekend sparked a movement. To create a space where everyone is equal and eliminates all egos is impossible but somehow it happened at Babes in Borrego. We were all there because of one reason, we loved to ride motorcycles, and that was enough. Our biggest challenge was figuring out how to keep this going down the right path but we didn’t have to do much, the 50 ladies who came were the biggest catalyst of setting the stage for next year’s event.
Year 2: Babes Ride Out, yep we are official at this point, had realized it was time to actual provide toilets and a real camping space. If we build it, will they actually come? Nothing to lose, so why the hell not, right? I had stumbled upon a campsite in Joshua Tree, CA that was privately owned so Anya and I packed up and headed out to take a look. Real showers, real toilets, and actual property we could legally camp on was all we needed to sign the papers and book it. The site was in the perfect location and offered incredible rides that looped 200 miles through some of most beautiful roads we’ve seen. Anya and I established early on that Babes Ride Out would always be a riding focused event so every aspect of the location had to be riding centric. If you flew in to San Diego or LA you could easily rent a bike from EagleRider and hit the Sunrise HWY from the south and Angeles Crest coming from LA. You could change the scenery from desert to mountains with routes through Idyllwild and Big Bear in less than 2 hours. We had found our home and when the site owner asked us how many ladies we thought were coming for our 2nd ever event, we said “Oh no more than 150 max”. A few months later we were looking at a registration list of 500 ladies. This is the year we brought in bands, food, raffle, and more. I can remember thinking “Holy crap…a REAL band, that’s just insane! How could we ever make it better than this!?”.
Year 3: We weren’t going anywhere; Joshua Tree, CA was now the home of Babes Ride Out. We loved the site, we loved the routes, we loved the vastness of the desert but how to we make the event better? How could we make this the best experience these ladies have ever had? Now enters Barnett English, owner of the Joshua Tree Music Festival, whom has spent 25 years creating an artistic festival space on the campground we were already on. The space sits on 10 of the 40 acres of the property and is not visible unless you make a real effort to go off past the privacy gates. We had no idea it was there. Anya and I went out to meet him and learn about the space, his festival, and his crew that has spent years making the site what it is today. When he opened up the doors for us to see it, we were in shock. It was perfect in every way imaginable and we were speechless. By the time we opened gates for Babes Ride Out 2015, there were 1,500 registered attendees. Women came from the UK, Japan, South Africa, South America, Canada, and all over the United States. It became, what we jokingly called, the United Nation of Babes. It truly is awe-inspiring to see that many ladies excited to be there riding so many different kinds of bikes.
Year 4 and Beyond: We felt confident taking the Babes Ride Out experience to the east coast and the U.K. The year prior we had hosted our first free off-roading event (Babes in the Dirt) so we decided to make that event annual as well. At this time, we’ve met so many incredible ladies who we knew we could partner with to make Babes Ride Out exist past California. With the Gypsy Run event planning to conclude after its 10th year in production Sept 2016 (better see you there!), I put in a call to Walter of Kickstart Cycle and he gave us the green light to use his favorite campground in the Catskills. We immediately put a call out to Virginia Hall, one of the ladies who has been coming to BRO the past two years and finalized a plan. Babes Ride Out East Coast was born and on May 27th, 2016. 250 lady riders descended upon the Catskills and had opportunities to ride 9 different routes through the green roller coasters of roads that seemed to go on endlessly. We also reached out to the ladies of VC London who run training camps for ladies who want to learn how to ride in the metro area and Babes Ride Out U.K was put in motion. With our expansion into other regions, our biggest event remains in Joshua Tree in the Fall and should remain that way for the foreseeable future.
Why it Matters: As the % of lady riders has risen, women are finding their space within the motorcycling community and with each other. Babes Ride Out serves as a way for digital friends to become lifelong friends and gives attendees a chance to make a real connection with the brands who support them.
We will continue to do our best to create riding focused environments and partner with those who care about the longevity of motorcycling. We are committed to safe riding, introducing learning elements for new and seasoned riders as well as building up the ever growing community of two wheel enthusiasts. B.R.O couldn’t do this without the help of thousands of people (men and women) who take their time and energy to help make Babes Ride Out something we never could have imagined, the most inclusive two wheel experience in the world.