Four years ago, I didn’t know more than a handful of women who rode motorcycles. Then, in the summer of 2013, a flyer started circulating on Instagram for Babes in Borrego, a women-only motorcycle camp out in Borrego Springs later that fall. I didn’t know the organizers or any of the people attending, but I still decided to go. At the time, none of us could have imagined the impact this small event would have on women’s motorcycling. It was the start of Babes Ride Out.
On the day of the event, I don’t think anyone really knew how many (or few) people were going to show up. The whole thing was organized through Instagram, and there were no tickets or official sign-up sheets. That sunny Saturday, at the meetup spot in Temecula, around 50 women showed up on bikes, and a few more in chase vehicles.
We rolled into Borrego Springs in smaller groups — faster riders in the front, and slower in the back. For a few people, this was their first longer trip on two wheels. My friend Jess even rode out on her little Virago 250 — through some serious wind on the 15 freeway and some fairly advanced twisty mountain roads — after only having been riding for a couple of months, and she handled it like a boss.
After stopping for lunch, we made our way to a dry lake bed in the middle of nowhere. This place was not easy to get to — it required some pretty sketchy off-roading through miles of loosely packed sand — and it didn’t offer anything in the way of shade or facilities. But it was empty and quiet, and the perfect place to set up camp for the night.
For those of us who were used to riding mostly with dudes (and I’m going to guess that was probably a majority of us), it was like a whole new world had just opened itself up to us. This was a place where we could feel completely safe and in control. There was such a positive energy surrounding the whole event, I’m struggling to find the words to describe it.
I didn’t own a tent at the time, so I had bought one specifically for this event. And ol’ blue here has been with me to every Babes Ride Out since, despite being a $20 Walmart tent for children that I can only fit diagonally in.
The dry lake bed turned out to be perfect for some impromptu drag racing. With no roads, cars, or cops around, it was a new sensation of freedom to just get on the bikes (with or without helmets) and go as fast as we could.
Here’s a 13 second video clip I took that almost captures how magic it was.
I find it hard to talk about Babes in Borrego without getting sentimental. What Anya and Ashmore started in 2013 has grown into something so much bigger than any of us could have imagined during that first weekend. Babes Ride Out is now an international movement with annual events on both US coasts and in Europe. It’s grown from 50 people the first year, to 500, to 1200, to 2000 women on bikes, and it has inspired countless new female riders.
I have Babes Ride Out to thank for so much, including meeting some of my best friends. And in a few weeks, we’ll be at it again. See you in Joshua Tree!