Babes in the Dirt IV: A Ladies-Only Off-Road Campout
Girls encouraging and empowering each other on two wheels
I think we can all agree, motorcycles are one of the coolest things ever invented. If you don’t ride in any way, shape or form, you’re missing out. Seriously. They provide you the closest sensation to what it’d feel like if we could fly, without ever leaving the ground. On top of that, they bring like-minded people together. If you’re able, or have ever been interested, do yourself a favor, and give it a shot. That’s exactly what hundreds of girls did this past weekend at Babes in the Dirt, a girls-only off-road campout here in Southern California.
From Canada and all four corners of the U.S., over 700 girls from all over North America traveled to Lebec, California to attend the fourth annual Babes in the Dirt event. While some were more local, others dragged their dirtbikes across state lines, and some even flew to be there. Just like its more street-focused sister event, Babes Ride Out, put on by the same girls, the whole idea behind Babes in the Dirt is to organically cultivate an inclusive, no-pressure atmosphere designed to encourage women to challenge themselves and try something different, all while having a great time.
Everyone’s journey on two wheels starts differently: some start early, and others not until later. With varying skill levels and dirt riding abilities, this was certainly the case for many girls in attendance. The majority of women there did have some sort of dirt experience, however, hundreds of girls showed up to push past their comfort zones and try something new.
Babes Ride Out and Babes in the Dirt were created by motochicks and all-round badasses, Anya Violet and Ashmore Ellis. Anya’s been twisting throttles since she was young, however, Ashmore didn’t start riding until adulthood, but she’s taken to it like a moth to flames and has developed some seriously impressive skills. Over the past five years, it’s been their goal to inspire and encourage women onto two wheels and spread the excitement that motorcycles can offer. They are truly pioneers in their efforts – hats off to you ladies!
Babes in the Dirt is a free event open to any and all girls, however donations are welcomed because it’s no easy task to throw a party of this magnitude. Fortunately, Babes has picked up a few sponsors along the way that share the same passion of getting more girls on motorcycles. Husqvarna has been a huge supporter since day one. Each year they’ve brought demo bikes, trail leads and professional instruction to help ease the learning curve of riding in the dirt. Fox Racing jumped at the opportunity to come on board as well, to educate women about the importance of riding with safety gear, and also offer demos of their equipment.
Other sponsors lending a helping hand are SENA, See See Motorcycles, FMF, the Kurt Caselli Foundation, Thousand Oaks Powersports and WLF Enduro. I’m a dude, and by now, you’re probably wondering what the heck I was doing there. I’m friends with Anya and many other girls involved through my girlfriend, Jaime, who together with Anya and their other partner, Corinne, also happen to have their own girl-specific moto brand, ATWYLD (you should check it out by clicking here). Being a big dirt rider and supporter of getting more people on two wheels, I volunteered to help out however I could.
That’s when I linked up with the WLF Enduro guys. Their motto is “Further Together”, and I couldn’t agree more. Us guys were coined, “trail dads” for the weekend, and we lead girls on rides, gave directions, kickstarted countless bikes, patrolled the trails for anyone needing help with any bike issues and provided endless high fives and encouragement to girls conquering their fears. Honestly, it was a really cool experience; motivating numerous girls at the bottom of a hill climb or top of a steep descent, telling them, “you’ve got this” or “f%#king send it!” only to see the look of pure joy and excitement on their faces after conquering what they thought wasn’t possible.
Sure, there were plenty girls there who didn’t need any help whatsoever, but most girls were happy and reassured to know there’d be someone to bail them out if they really found themselves in a pickle.
For girls new to dirtbikes, or even riding in general, Brian Garrahan, of Garrahan Off-Road Training, was there all weekend offering discounted riding school sessions, teaching girls the basic fundamentals of riding in the dirt. One of my close friends Megan McCauley, who only started riding motorcycles on the street less than two years ago – and only learned how to ride a bicycle a couple years before that! – drove up to Babes in the Dirt without a bike to check out the vibe of the event and take Brian’s course. The first thing she said to me after I asked her how it went was, “Well, keep a look out for a dirtbike for me!” She’s one of over a hundred girls who took the training course and got hooked on dirtbikes.
Husqvarna was there demoing a wide variety of bikes. From smaller FC 85 and 125s, to bigger, but lowered FE 250s, there was a Husky that would comfortably fit anyone. Alta Motors was there too, letting interested and/or curious girls take their electric dirtbikes out for a spin.
At night when all the dust settled, there were bonfires, dancing, karaoke, partying and all sorts of shenanigans. I retreated back to our WLF camp for most of that, and let the girls do their thing. After all, this was their event, where they could let their hair down and forget about us guys. And I’m totally fine with that – a warehouse full of girls singing and dancing to “Baby Got Back” might sound awesome, but it’s no place for a man. Just hearing it through the walls was enough to scare me away.
This was just day one. Day two was more of the same, except now that the girls had their feet wet, they were excited to push the envelope and venture out further to explore what other trails were out there. We did it all. From flowy single track and switchbacks to more technical rock gardens and whooped-out sand washes – the girls crushed it. Sure, there were some bumps and obstacles to get over during the process, but their newfound confidence allowed them to muscle through everything. It made me a proud “trail dad.”
Night two wasn’t as rowdy, because the girls were mostly tuckered out from a full day of riding. But we must have covered a good 60 miles or more, which for a beginner, is a lot. The girls definitely earned their beers and a spot around the campfire that night. There was always something happening at Babes, and for entertainment, they could sign up for pitbike racing, and oh man, it was one hilarious clusterf*ck. I say that with no disrespect whatsoever, it was awesome. Sometimes I just wish guys could get together like that, put the macho aside and get along like the girls did this weekend.
All in all, Babes in the Dirt went off without a hitch. Of course there were bumps and bruises, as well as broken levers and bent handlebars, but for the most part no one got seriously injured and everyone had fun – even the guys. The team of girls who made the event possible deserve a HUGE thank you. Not just from the girls in attendance, but the motorcycle industry as a whole, for opening the door and encouraging girls, who otherwise might be scared or intimidated, to get into riding through an inviting, no-pressure environment.
If you’re a girl, or a guy who knows a girl who’s interested in riding either on- or off-road, check out Babes Ride Out and Babes in the Dirt. You’ll have a blast at these events, meet new people, make new friends and come away totally inspired – I guarantee it. There’s a Babes Ride Out campout twice a year, with one on each coast, and similarly for Babes in the Dirt, the exception being that it’s called Over and Out on the East Coast. Girls came from all over the country and even Canada for this year’s Babes, so what’s stopping you?
For more info about Babes in the Dirt, or Babes Ride Out, just click the links below.
I was trying to think of some clever girl on girl innuendo... Then I read some of the comments and realized guys like some of us are part of the reason events like this are needed...
Why do there need to be special courses for womyn? Aren't we all equal now?