Babes Ride Out

Story by Andrea Garner// Photos by Andrea Garner
April 13 2016

Even though disaster struck, this babe has no regrets and plans a return journey

In October 2015, more than 1200 women of all ages from around the world descended on a remote RV and campground in the middle of a California desert for a sold-out weekend. This was the third year for Babes Ride Out, and with its rate of growth, this event is not going away any time soon. The event is the brainchild of Anya Violet and Ashmore Ellis, two friends who set out to create a weekend for women to ride, meet new people and share experiences. What they have created is so much more than that.

Through Instagram I connected with not only riding groups, but individual women who were also looking for the same thing – their own epic motorcycle adventure. Having read many magazine articles and online posts of other people’s trips, I was ready to leave my comfort zone, and my country, to set out for my own experience. Knowing the odds were high of encountering snow during my two-week voyage in late October, the decision was made to load my bike in my travel trailer and trek 4000 km to Joshua Tree, California.

I arrived after driving six days from Southern Ontario. Since I had my camper, I stayed on a site that had water and hydro hook-up, thus setting me into the lap of luxury while out in the desert. Many other attendees camped in cars or tents, and the more hard-core ladies in makeshift shelters tied off their bikes.

Release the Monster

California desertFriday morning I awoke early, filled my travel mug with tea and watched the sunrise. It felt so calming to sit in the middle of the desert with no sound and watch the landscape light up in front of me. I knew this silence would end soon enough, as the gates would be open at 3 p.m. and the party would then start.

Inspired by the beauty and drawn out of the trailer by the warm California sun, I opened the camper doors and released Maude from her restraints. Maude is my 2014 Ducati Monster 796. She has a couple of modifications, such as Corse-edition plastics, SpeedyMoto frame sliders, MotoDynamic fender eliminator kit with integrated taillight, custom header pipes to fit a Competition Werkes GP slip-on exhaust and a custom set of Vortex rear set pegs – the basics to make my dream bike even better. With a cloudless sky overhead, and the heat already taking grip, I put on my riding gear and headed
into town for some groceries and the opportunity to take some pictures.
California desert bench
I’ve had close encounters over my 12 years of riding on the road. Falls while standing still, people cutting me off, lit cigarettes exploding on my chest that were tossed out the window from the car ahead – you know, the usual “rites of passage.” Unfortunately, my luck for not having a full-on crash came to an end while being alone, and very far from home. In a split second, my front tire hit a little patch of sand that I had failed to see and I laid my bike down while travelling 90 km/h. I wasn’t cornering, and there was no one else around. I was simply riding straight down the road at the proper speed limit. Most of my riding in the past had been in dirt. Dirt and sand had always been my friend, allowing me to be very comfortable should my bike tires lose grip. I even took Maude out on a dirt logging road weeks prior just because I could. That comfort for road debris is now gone, and my respect and caution has grown immensely.

Now you may think that I had just wasted two weeks of holidays to travel across the states for an event I could no longer participate in, but you’d be completely wrong. I stayed for the full three days and participated in the celebrations, and this is when my experience changed by having people’s hearts open up to me.

Helping Hands

Within minutes of the crash, I had strangers stopping to help, offering shade and water. Barnett, the owner of the property where the event was being held, pulled up, and in a flash was back with a trailer and crew of guys to get Maude and me back to the campsite. As we pulled back into the campground, Ashmore came to make sure I was all right, reassuring me that it happens to the best of us.

Once I got back into the camper and started removing my clothes, I soon realized I needed to make a trip to the hospital. I had a deep gash on my leg. Corinne, another organizer, offered to take me. She never left my side, told me stories to keep me distracted from the pain and even offered her hand while I was being stitched up. We kept in touch the rest of the weekend, and even after I got home.

Since I was no longer able to ride with eight stitches in my knee, I wandered the grounds, and it soon became evident that there was a lot of love and hard work put into this venue. The site itself was built of whimsical art-like structures with tons of personal touches. The food vendors made everything fresh in front of you, allowing me plenty of time to chat up my neighbours, who soon became my dinner companions. So many minute details that were not overlooked to make sure everyone’s needs were met.

Meeting New Friends

A “United Nation of Babes” map was set up for people to locate a pin representing where they had travelled from. Vendors, live bands, tattoo artists, pre- established ride routes and maps, first aid, an astronomy show and even a post-card station to send out well wishes and “wish you were heres.” This also gave me the chance to sit for hours talking to complete strangers. We told stories, compared routes travelled and bonded over scars.

We, as women, are particularly hard on each other, and ourselves. If I had been at any other motorcycle event, I would have packed up and gone home, completely embarrassed of my crash – my ego shot. But this was Babes Ride Out. This is not your average motorcycle rally; this is a game changer, a community gathering of strong, open-minded, self-assured women from many different socio-economic backgrounds. When you can house that many women in a safe and surreal environment, you can create magic. Magic in the sense that no one judges or criticizes what you are wearing, what you are riding, if you are new to the sport, if you have crashed, if you needed help or what you do in real life. It really is a beautiful thing!

Those are the ingredients of an epic motorcycle adventure that turned into an amazing life journey for me, and from all the pictures and comments on social media, for others as well. I came home with more respect for the sport, some new war wounds and bonds with women that will last for years to come. I wasn’t able to get out and do the rides, and yes, I missed out on some of the scenery and pictures, but I’m not worried. I’m already in talks with friends and family who want to undergo this experience for themselves.

For now, I consider my accident as taking one for the team, a sacrificial offering to the motorcycle gods to keep all of the other ladies safe for the rest of that weekend. A pretty minor offering considering Maude had even less damage than I did. Her right frame slider and rear peg took the brunt, and did their job of not allowing a single scratch to the bodywork, frame or any engine components. The front and rear brake levers needed to be replaced, as well as some paint touch-ups to the exhaust. Those repairs gave me the excuse to bring her into the house this winter, and guaranteed me something to do on those double-digit freezing-cold days we Canadians are so lucky to experience, all the while dreaming of going back to Cali and Babes Ride Out 4.


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