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Holy smokes!

This year marks five freaking years of Babes Ride Out! Thinking about how much this event has grown and what it’s done for the lady riding community gives me chills. For me, 2017 was my fourth attendance at Babes Ride Out. I’m not going to lie; I have some pretty mixed feelings about that. I’m not sure if it makes me a bad ass or a total weirdo with no life or plans. 

My First Babes Ride Out

The first year I attended Babes Ride Out was year 2. I was pretty uneasy about the whole thing. I wanted to be there, but you see, I’m weird. I can be shy AF, but also strangely outgoing. It’s a paradox. But, I didn’t have any friends. None. I had moved to Southern California just a few months prior and was still learning how to form sentences in social situations.

I went to Babes and decided to volunteer. My years in a sorority taught me that if you’re forced into group settings with people, you’ll find a person.

I didn’t find a person.

I got there and felt really fucking weird. I felt like I was on the outside. Everyone already seemed to know each other, and everyone already had friends.

I forgot to wear high-waisted jeans, and my car alarm kept going off.

Yes, that was me.

My car never did that before or after that weekend.

When I left to go pick up my rental bike in Palm Springs (which I thought was 15 minutes away, el oh el), I had already decided to quit volunteering. I wasn’t really helping anyone.

I picked up my bike which was much bigger than my Honda CL and thought about running away screaming. I was REALLY FRIGGEN NERVOUS. Then I met these three beautiful women. Having made the journey from Portland, these ladies were picking up their bikes in Palm Springs as well.

I don’t know if they even comprehend how grateful I am that they were there. The ladies invited me to ride with them, and I could have kissed each one of them just for smiling at me.

Because I had volunteered, my tent was already set up. Once we entered the campground, I regretfully parted ways with my Portland companions. I parked my bike and awkwardly attempted to mingle with campers nearby.

Where the fuck were my high-waisted jeans?

I walked, drank PRB, told awkward jokes, and made no friends.

I was about to throw in the towel (positive I would pack it up in the morning, give two middle fingers, and peace the fuck out) when I stumbled upon my Portland angels. They said I could ride with them the next day.

While we attempted to head out with the group, a few mishaps put us behind the pack. Along the road, we ran into three more ladies from Denver. We became a little band of our own and battled bike troubles and fear all day.

These ladies saw me through a few significant firsts.

  1. Riding on the freeway.
  2. Riding on a mountain. I shit you not; I probably pulled over 20 times.
  3. Riding with women. I actually cried because watching these women ride was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

I left that year with a lot of mixed feelings, but the two overwhelming emotions were gratitude and love. These six women forever impacted my perception Babes and of lady riders.

Babes Over the Years

By the time BRO 3 rolled around, I finally made friends in Southern California. I had considered not attending. Been there, done that. But I knew this year would be different. When a few friends from Wisconsin mentioned they were thinking about attending, I nearly begged them to fly out. BRO 3 was completely different than the year prior. Instead of feeling awkward and alone. I had a small pack of women to ride with. We left from San Diego, took a few new roads to get to the campsite, and made the trip to Big Bear. Again, I was overwhelmed with love and respect for these women and left Babes Ride Out 3 filled with awe and gratitude.

Babes Ride Out 2015

By the fourth Babes Ride Out I was basically a professional. I had been so many times; I had nothing new to learn. I’m not sure what became the deciding factor in my attendance of this event. My best friend had recently started riding, and I wanted her to experience how significant it was to ride with only women. Although she grew up around motorcycles, I knew she had never quite done anything like this. I convinced her to head west and off to babes we went. My life was basically a mess at this time, and this one weekend offered a sliver of clarity and reassurance things would get better. When I packed up my tent and newly-won tank and got ready to hit the road, I looked back at the campground knowing that weekend was exactly what I needed.

Babes Ride Out 2016

Babes Ride Out 5

I pulled over on the side of the road. I almost didn’t go in. I didn’t want to. Last year had been enough. I didn’t want to socialize. I didn’t want to be the sober person. I didn’t want to recall memories of the not sober person.

I went in. I socialized. Less than sober moments were recalled. I ate curry and two slices of pizza. I left glad I came.

Photo by Sophia Branen

Lessons Learned From Babes that Rode Out

I left glad I came because the experience this year, and all the women I’ve met over the years at Babes Ride Out, reminded me of a few very important things.

  1. It’s easy to be a hater. I could talk shit about lady drama, mean girls, and rude shit people did until I’m blue in the face, but what’s the point? It’s so easy to focus on the negative. It’s what comes out of all the weird moments that really matter. Finding the good in something even if someone completely shits on your day is so much harder than hate hate hatin’.
  2. Wherever you go, the fun is what you make of it. I sat and talked for awhile with the most amazing woman from Vegas about this exact topic. It’s entirely possible to have fun anywhere when you surround yourself with the right people.
  3. Women are remarkable. Each year I’ve attended, I was lucky enough to go to this event with someone who was experiencing it for the first time. Seeing the look on their face when they enter the campground, watching their breath escape while riding through the desert — these moments are unforgettable. Every year I’ve been able to perceive this event through someone else, and it’s been a new journey each time.
  4. The recipe for love is two wheels, a team of ladies, a dash sand, a pinch of sunshine, and an endless adventure.

Thank you to the founders, employees, volunteers, and contractors that have made Babes Ride Out possible for the last five years.

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