It’s a sisterhood, if you're down for the ride.
By Jamie Charles
My coworkers thought I was crazy when I disclosed my weekend plans: take a motorcycle camping with 500 other women for this year’s Babes Ride Out in Joshua Tree. A friend and I decided to take our chances on a standby flight from Portland to Palm Springs. When we landed, we’d rent some bikes and make the hour trek out to a secret desert location. Once we got to the airport, any strangers toting helmets became fast friends, as it was obvious we were all headed to the same place.
The first hiccup in our trip occurred when the rental company sold out of the bikes we had reserved. Our only options were a couple of Harley Fat Boys: 300-pounds heavier and 1000-cubic centimeters more powerful than the bikes in our preconceived comfort zones. It only took one lap around the parking lot with our hearts set on cruising the desert on two wheels before we decided to go for it and sign our lives away.
Along the freeway, our caravan began to grow as we merged lanes with a bevy of bikes as beautiful as their riders. We made a pit stop for gas and water before making the final push to camp. One left turn off the highway, a couple miles down a sleepy desert road, and we had reached the location that had been emailed to us the night before. When the pavement turned to dirt, the energy of the campground turned undeniably electric. Photographers capturing our entrance and groups of fellow lady riders cheering us on brought out a perma-grin that remained in place for the next 48 hours.
Although the vast majority of the women attending this year’s event were strangers to me, I felt completely at home. Maybe it’s because of the 500 souls meeting up with the shared common passion for adventures and motorcycles; a group of girls that isn’t phased by oil-stained fingernails or gasoline-scented perfume; ramblers who confidently crossed state lines with only a backpack and a sleeping bag strapped to their hardtails; mavericks who rocked sparkle panties with their riding chaps or stunted bikes in leather and lace; gypsies who comfortably slept under nothing but a blanket tied to their vintage Hondas.
The weekend was designated to meet new best friends from all walks of life and riding experiences. If you got stuck in the camp sand, needed help unloading a trailer or just a pep talk before merging onto your first highway, someone was instantly there for you. If your bike broke down or started getting finicky in the heat, you doubled up. No matter what obstacle crossed your path, someone had your back.
Women from all across North America, rode, flew and drove in to spend a weekend with other badass and inspirational women. A safe place was created to confidently be yourself. The only rules were no boys allowed and respect your fellow rider. Whether you’d been on a bike since birth or had been meaning to get your motorcycle license for a while now, you were welcome there.
The annual event was originally dreamt up through a string of text messages between Anya Violet and Ashmore Bodiford a little over two years ago. The pair of friends from LA were planning a camping trip when they noted the growing number of female riders on Instagram and how they wished they could meet them all. In the spirit of “the more the merrier,” they extended an open invitation and Babes Ride Out was born. About 75 ladies gathered for the first official meet up in Anza-Borrego in 2013. It wasn’t long before the awe-inspiring photos of #babesinborrega began to go viral. Smoking shots of lady riders nonchalantly throwing up a middle finger to stereotypes and social norms while cruising dried-up lake beds spread like wildfire. Their free-spirited independence was infectious. With the help of social media, this year’s event grew to over 500 participants, all sharing Anya and Ashmore’s original goal: meet more women who love to ride.
When I bought my ticket to Babes in Joshua Tree, I had no idea what to expect, but I knew I was in for one hell of a ride. So I left my comfort zone, weaved through six lanes of California traffic and rode a couple hundred miles a day in 110 degrees. I spent hours in heat so thick it was hard to swallow, where the only tolerable way to be outside was with the wind on your face at 50 mph. I drank moonshine out of a mason jar, danced to all-girl rock bands and took a Harley up to 100 mph on a barren desert road (sorry, Mom). I learned that riding a mechanical bull after breakfast is a surprisingly effective hangover remedy, and that riding a motorcycle on a windy freeway in a tank top and no bra is a painfully terrible idea (seriously don’t try it, your nipples will hate you). Most importantly, I learned that Babes Ride Out is more than an annual camp trip. It’s a sisterhood, and if you’re down for the ride, we can’t wait for you to join the club.
Learn more and sign up for a ride today over at Babes Ride Out!!!