Mark Bjorklund of Super Rat with his Sodium Distortion Ducati S4RS salt racer. That’s the “I just broke my own record” smile.
Babes in the Dirt 2015
Last weekend, the ladies of Babes Ride Out threw an event for motorcycling women called Babes in the Dirt.
While a good group of women from all levels of on and off road riding experience made their way into the desert, I hung back to catch up on work and rest up for my upcoming dirt bike camping trip. So, the wonderful Kerryann De La Cruz is going to cover the whole adventure below, along with photos from April Craven and Corinne Lan Franco.
“It’s now the Thursday after Babes in the Dirt. You ever have those moments of ‘shoulda coulda woulda’ after doing something? I do. On many occasions I don’t live up to my own standards and find myself post-incident wishing I would have been more social, stayed up later, been a little crazier, taken more risks, spent more time with friends, pushed myself past my comfort zone… etc, etc, etc. I can whole heartedly say I absolutely do not have that feeling this week, in fact the only thing I’m feeling really is the desire to go back to Hungry Valley for many more weekends with other friends in the dirt. The weekend could not have been more perfect, a string of “challenges” weaved into an otherwise smooth sailing weekend because hey, without challenges in life how the hell are you supposed to learn anything, I prefer life with a side of chaos, it keeps me grounded.
So I’ll start from the week of, because it doesn’t start the day you arrive, we have bikes to prep, gear to pack, carpool arrangements, work and school schedules, oh and sleep (I think I missed that one).
Sunday before Babes in the Dirt, this was to be the day of chores, in fact my gun was even supposed to be cleaned and guess who still has a dirty gun sitting on her kitchen table? Yep, that, amongst many other domestic chores and prepping the bike had to be put aside for my severe case of food poisoning. The body is an amazing thing, it completely purges itself of toxins that will have adverse effects on your internals, however in that process you’re usually either one of two places: hunched over/sitting on your toilet or laying somewhere within ten feet of the bathroom for pretty much the entire day but definitely not doing chores, cleaning your gun… and most certainly not prepping your motorcycle.
Monday rolls around and I did more laying the fetal position but less bathroom action and Tuesday I’m back at work seven pounds lighter and 25% “there”. Oh, did I mention I lost an employee, so that makes two times more work for me….yay! I powered through the week the best my body would allow and come Wednesday I arrive home from work at 10pm or so and I’m so exhausted I decide to pack in the morning to meet my friend April after work Thursday to deliver my gear so I don’t have to lug it when I ride to her truck after work on Friday. Packing at 4am is always fun, I somehow managed to pack dirty clothes just aimlessly looking through laundry baskets that I assumed were clean because remember, the chores were not done! Speaking of which I’d like to apologize to my carpool buddy April for the smell. Anyhow we get to Friday, I ride my bike to work and my boss decides to surprise me with some additional work that I knew needed to be done, and if I didn’t take the opportunity that night this project would have been put on hold for a while again. So needless to say, we got a very late start Friday, I finally loaded my back in her truck at midnight at her apartment at UCI and we were off to her home in Ventura so get a few winks then load her gear up Saturday morning before the event. Not ideal but, just a challenge, right?
Saturday rolls around, April and I load up her bike with my steed in the back of her pickup and head out. We get to Gorman and drive towards Hungry Valley OHV park and I immediately see the potential for good times. As we enter the park and make our way down the road which has multiple off shoots off the main paved road to camping areas and many trails. We find our site, park, and I notice someone riding towards us on an old Yamaha dirtbike in a retro custom painted helmet and retro MX gear. Turns out it was Anya, one of the awesome humans that put this whole shindig together. She welcomes and thanks us for making the trip and being a part of the maiden voyage of Babes in the Dirt, then putts off to check on all of the other visitors.
The campsite was spacious and comfortable. There were restrooms, fire pits, picnic tables, and at the center of the grounds there was a huge covered dining area with grills more fire pits and a small amphitheater with a stage which would host our riders meeting before the fun started. I was pleasantly surprised with how the grounds were setup, definitely a good place to host a massive group! The riders meeting consisted of Anya talking about the rules of the road at this park, advising the newbie dirt that babes herself and Amber “Bam Bam” of Dirty Girls Project would be there to assist in the introduction to dirt as well as be the guide of a couple of beginner/intermediate group rides they would host throughout the day. I personally have experience in riding dirt and am comfortable on black diamond trails so although I didn’t need any assistance with riding on dirt, I appreciated they were there to help the ladies who had never touched dirt before, and there were MANY ladies who were not, including Ashmore herself. Amongst Amber and Anya, they also had pro rider Victoria Hett that came with Husqvarna and assisted with heading up the rides and providing instruction to new riders. I can absolutely say every girl left there a better rider thanks to these ladies!
Speaking of Husqvarna, they were gracious enough to bring their 2105 fleet of off road bikes from 85cc to 450cc for all of the ladies to take out. THAT is huge, I was totally blown away by the fact that they came through to support this event. I was even more excited to ride one!
April and I unpacked a little more and unloaded the bikes, then put on all of our gear to get ready for a ride. We were missing Francesca but decided to go for a quick spin until she arrived. April has very little time on fire roads let alone real dirt trails so I rode extremely conservative for her comfort, between her inexperience and crappy street tires there was no shredding. I wanted to get her out there to get her feet wet, or dirty I should say, so we played it cool. All in all she did well putting around the easy trails.
After a while, April saw that Francesca had texted her so we headed back to main camp to meet up. April was still nervous about the dirt and started getting hungry so she agreed to make lunch while I took Francesca out to check out the trails. Francesca has a good amount of dirt riding experience on her massive DR650, we have ridden trails before and I have seen her pull off some amazing stuff… so we hauled ass through the trails and then somehow ended up in the sand wash. Both our bikes are heavy DualSports and do not like sand, so I ended up pulling out of the wash only to find Francesca’s DR was trying to kill itself. She dumped it and somehow landed perfectly for the glass fuel filter to break right at the neck (as luck would have it). Wow, really? We JUST started and her bike decides to do something that could kill her weekend. Oh hell no, we’re going to fix it! I left her there and head out to camp to see if anyone has spare fuel line so we could patch in some line where the filter was, and guess who comes to our rescue? Husqvarna! They had a random line which was not ideal but workable to allow the fuel to pass from tank to engine so I headed to my toolbox and grabbed some duct tape(just in case), and a screwdriver and flew back to Francesca. The cool thing is we both work on bikes, and we just don’t give up, so between the both of us we were able to get her bike back up and running to not only get back to camp but run throughout the weekend and get her home Sunday!
We get back, eat our lunch and then all of us head out to brave the cold temps and high winds to do some riding. Some girls were doing rides with the instructors and others were going on their own, since April was pretty inexperienced we decided to do our own thing so we could personally help her. One thing about April is despite the fact that she is a bad ass in her own right, she is also a pussy cat and I could easily see her saying “screw that” and heading back to camp with certain challenges that involve her getting hurt. So we tailored our ride for just us to enjoy, and that we did!
At some point we decided to take a break, and headed back in to chill and check out the Husqvarna camp. The first 20 people who signed up were eligible for a demo ride but they were happy to squeeze in anyone they could as long as there were spare bikes. When the previous group came back with the bikes it was finally our turn to take out the beasts! April decided to sit out the demo ride and Francesca and I took out their 250’s. There really is no word to describe the feeling of riding a top of the line dirtbike after riding a dual sport but wow, talk about confidence inspiring. There is nothing (within my ability) that bike wouldn’t do, I literally ride the bike twice as fast and twice as ambitious as my KLX250S. Francesca also attested she felt more confident on her more than capable 250. The neat thing was based on your skill and familiarity with the area you could take the bike out and romp on it, so we took full advantage of that opportunity and rode for about 30 minutes. At some point it began to hail during our ride but we enjoyed riding the bikes so much it didn’t even phase us, we powered through for another 20 minutes of shredding dirt. It was light and nimble, easy to ride through sand, killed any incline at threw at it and powered through every drifting turn with consistency and ease. In fact, it absolutely ruined my bike. We returned the bikes with gigantic smiles plastered on our faces and we literally would not shut up about how fucking awesome these bikes were. So I guess you could say Husqvarna totally made our weekend! Thanks Husky!
The day eventually turned into night but the weather was proving to be not conducive for a good night. Strong winds, cold temps, and sporadic rain was too much for some to deal with and only a few of us stayed to brave the night. There was a flash flood warning, but SoCal flash floods are so hit or miss, we chanced it.
A few of us huddled around the main fire pit for warmth and to swap stories and liquor. At some point my tent poles broke in half from the sheer strength of the wind. This is when we knew we were sleeping in the truck- so we continued to party on into the cold windy night. Funny things happen when you get a bunch of strangers around a camp fire with a few drinks. We all learn personal things about each other, struggles, and triumphs. We bond and connect. We are just a few humans having a splendid time in less than ideal conditions enjoying conversations instead of disconnected gazing into our phones and distracted by our surroundings. I got so comfortable that I showed everyone my Fire Marshall Bill impersonation that I mastered at 13 years old that I haven’t done since. Yeah, there was a whole lot of crazy going on as well too. But you had to be there.
The next day we woke up cramped, tired, and cold in the truck. After managing to clean up, make breakfast, and some French press coffee, we packed up our bikes. We ended up being the last ones at the site and we all stopped and sat there making sense of the amazing weekend that just happened and went by so fast, almost without a trace. We all agreed that this was one of the best weekends we’ve ever had much like Babes Ride Out in Joshua Tree last year which we endured together, and swore we would make the next one, if there is a next one. Now to go back to our regular lives on Monday….that’s the hard part.
From the bottom of our 2 stroke hearts, thank you Anya and Ashmore for putting this all together!“
-Kerryann (April & Francesca)
Don’t miss the past posts from Babes Ride Out events! And make sure to visit the Babes Ride Out website to keep up on future events.
Photographs by Corinne Lan Franco (IG @corinnelanfranco) and April Craven, thanks ladies!