I met Anya through a mutual friend. She was energetic, kind, and neither of us rode street motorcycles at the time. Like most acquaintances, we kept up with each other via social media with the occasional short comments that ultimately kept us just on the fringes of digital friendship. After I had my first motorcycle for two years, I posted I was selling it on Facebook and she was the first person to comment. She came down, took it for a spin, bought it, and we’ve been real friends ever since.
Around 2013, we started planning a ladies-only, one-night campout in Borrego Springs, California. I use the term planning loosely, because the only planning done was where and what time to show up if you wanted to tag along. There was no real agenda, only a route we loved leading to a destination that was so off the grid no one would bother us. Anya and I posted an Instagram flyer and didn’t think too much of it. The night before our unofficial meet up and ride, we were excited at the thought of 10 ladies gathering to camp in the middle of nowhere. You could say we underestimated a tad.
The next morning, 50 women showed up with their gear tied down on bikes of all kinds. Everyone was smiling. We were shocked, excited, and slightly terrified, as these ladies trusted us to lead them to an undisclosed location with nothing in all direction for miles.
Ripping down the mountain with this crew of ladies felt exhilarating and soon we were all fast friends. We talked and laughed late into the night, shared stories and photos, and got to know each other with no distractions around a giant bonfire. It was empowering to be around so many like-minded ladies who were truly being themselves, and it was clear from that night on we’d forever be connected through the common love of motorcycling.
Little did anyone know in the course of those 24 hours, these 50 women would become the catalysts for the largest ladies-only campout in the world, Babes Ride Out. Over the past four and a half years, the event has grown tremendously, as one night in the middle of nowhere turned into a four-day, three-night event that showcases live bands, tattoos, food trucks, interactive booths, and of course tons of epic riding routes to enjoy during the day. You would think the soul of the event would be lost as 50 ladies turned to thousands but that wasn’t the case. With the help of Progressive, we were able to connect on an entirely new level.
Progressive brought a booth to the event called the “Progressive Dark Room.” When ladies used the tag #ProgressiveDarkRoom on their Instagram posts, their images were printed and hung up in a large white tent that resembled a gallery. Ladies were able to pick up their photos as a souvenir and replace them with an intention card they wrote to share why they ride motorcycles and where they were from. I found myself taking breaks from production and going into the Progressive Dark Room every few hours to see what adventures ladies had been on and read the intention cards. Every time I came back, hundreds of new images and stories greeted me.
I was blown away by their humor, honesty, and where they had traveled from to be with us. Some had come back from war, survived cancer, or were celebrating life on a cross-country journey with friends. The stories and photos were endless. To see thousands of cards all staring back at me was a reminder of why Babes Ride Out is so important, not only to myself, but to those who attend. No matter our age, where we came from, or the reasons we were there, we all felt connected that weekend, brought together through the love of motorcycles.
As for the future, we’ll continue to do our best to create riding-focused environments and partner with those who care about the longevity of motorcycling and its culture. Babes Ride Out as an event series, brand, and platform is committed to safe riding, introducing learning elements for new and seasoned riders, as well as building up the ever-growing community of two-wheel enthusiasts. We couldn’t do this without the help and support of all those who attend, take part, and support this swiftly growing community.