November 16, 2015

Moto Babes and Sisterly Love

23 years old and more naive than I look. Even 27 years later, I still find myself thinking like this silly little fool.

In 1993 I entered a 12 Step Program for my drug addiction. One afternoon after I had attended a few meetings, an "Oldtimer" Big Phil took me aside.

"You sit over here next to me at tomorrow's meeting and don't let these sons-of-a-bitches hug you anymore. Come a few minutes early. We need to talk."

Big Phil was a large, gruff man, standing over 6 ft tall and certainly weighing over 300 lbs. He enjoyed telling newcomers to "Sit down, shut up and listen!" Big Phil was 71-years-old and in his 21 years of sobriety, he made it a point to be a mentor to the newcomers.

When I arrived I went straight to Big Phil and sat down, ready to be chastized.

"These assholes here just want to hug on you because you're hot. Don't hug those men anymore. Straight arm them and send them to me if they have anything to say about it."

I was flabergasted. In my 27-year-old naivete, it hadn't occured to me that I was just being groped.

"I thought people would be different here. What about the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions? Aren't we supposed to be treating each other better? I thought we all cared about each other."
Big Phil looked at me with a softness I had never seen him show.

"Assholes are assholes, sober or not. People don't change just because there are rules. If they are assholes outside those doors, they are assholes inside. Many of these assholes have ulterior motives for everything they do, no matter how long they have been sober. Don't trust someone until they've earned it."

I've carried that lesson throughout life and most of the time I remember it. But like any lesson, I can need a reminder now and then.

I attended Babes Ride Out 3 in Joshua Tree. Some of the "Babes" I met were extra-amazing! Jessi Combs, Alicia "Motolady" Elfving, Sofi Tsingos and Theresa Contreras were all exceptionally fun, friendly and warm. All rather public figures, they were some of the most down to earth women attending. 
Babes Ride Out was held Oct 23 - 25 and promised to be a record setting event for women motorcycle riders. With over 1,000 women registered for the 3-day campout in Joshua Tree, CA, BRO3, as it came to be tagged, was intended to be a sisterly-bonding-experience for all who attended.

As the riders filtered in from the Saturday ride, the heat and dust became nearly unbearable. Standing in long food lines and scrambling for shade was only tolerable because everywhere I looked was another woman rider who I was excited to meet.
The motto, "No 'Tudes, No Dudes!" set an expectation of "Bring Your Best Self" I suppose. This motto was actually listed in the rules on their event website. When I read this, the little voice in my head said, "It is unacceptable to bring a man. It is unacceptable to be a bitch to your fellow women riders." I was excited to attend and purchased my ticket months in advance. I waited for this opportunity to meet a new breed of women riders.

Bren has been following my journey for the last year through social media. It was thrilling for me to meet another woman who was so excited to talk about motorcycling!

I rode in with a group of other riders and two chase vehicles (one of them my husband's pickup truck) with a Utopian expectation of great sisterly love.

I was very excited to meet this beauty, Michelle Rodriguez from the East Bay Litas Riding Club. Michelle and I met through Instagram, where the event was mostly publicized, and we were looking forward to meeting. We shared a "Sashtastic" together, a special drink I've created, and did a great deal of laughing afterwards!
Most of the women I met were very kind, generous and fun. But unfortunately, the typical high-school-style cliques were glaringly obvious. Since I didn't already plan a designated buddy, I was pretty much left alone most of the time. This gave me ample opportunity to work and make plenty of new friends, for which I am so grateful!

But the truth is, it hurt to be excluded.

A lone rider, exhausted from the heat, takes a nap on the softest surface available.
As we were leaving on Sunday morning for the ride back to San Diego, our group decided to visit the Crochet Museum and stop for breakfast in Yucca Valley. They didn't seem to be in much of a hurry.

But after breakfast, they informed me that the least-experienced rider in our group, my friend Monica, was riding too slow for some of them. Monica had ridden less than 600 miles on her Honda CBR 250 in her riding career and was still tentative about her skills.They wanted to break up into two groups. As I understood it, a few were going ahead and a few would stay behind. One by one, every one of them blew past us with only a wave, including both chase vehicles.

My friend Monica, a new rider, who was excited to meet other moto-babes. Her enthusiasm was contagious!
Of course, I would never leave any rider in my group behind, so the two of us headed for home alone. I pulled over and gave her a little pep talk and a few tips. After that, Monica lane split (her choice!) for 12 straight miles in traffic snarled by a semi crash. Once the traffic opened up, she sped up and ride at 70 mph (her first time riding so fast). She pushed her bike and herself to new limits and really kicked ass! I was so proud to watch this new rider learn what she is capable of doing.

In fact, Monica kicked ass so much, we beat the rest of the group back to San Diego.
Frankly, I was really pissed that these women ditched us. I thought it was a shitty thing to do. All Monica needed was a little coaching and encouragement; not be abandoned for being slow.

Monica poses at the gas station after kicking some major ass!

A few women reached out to me afterwards and told me they didn't realize we weren't keeping up. I appreciated that more than I can say. I think that says a great deal about them as people and as riders. We all live by our own interpretation of what is acceptable.

Please give me your response in the comments to this question. . . I look forward to your feedback.
I learned long ago that expectations breed disappointment. "No 'Tudes, No Dudes," can be interpreted many different ways I suppose. No matter who you are, I think common courtesy applies.
But as Big Phil said to me 22 years ago, assholes are assholes. . . people don't change.

**I am certain I will get some backlash over this post. It has become UNACCEPTABLE to say anything negative about Babes Ride Out, due to the expectation that we should all be friendly and never bash another woman. I struggled with writing about this event (which is part of the reason I have taken so long to post anything!) because I couldn't write something sweet when that wasn't authentic. I don't think being truthful is bashing if it's done with some courtesy and fairness, which is why I've kept the women in my group anonymous. 

Help me out by adding a little fuel to my bank account. My ebook, "Rude Biker Chick: Lessons From My Daddy" is available for purchase here. If not for you, buy a copy for a friend. The woman in your life will love you for it. Thanks!



  1. I don't know that it is ever okay to leave anyone behind, except if the one left behind urges you to go on without her. Usually if people in a group ride faster and get way out in front (RYOR, right?) they'll wait up periodically to make sure everyone is present and accounted for and follows the same route. I will tell you, though, for this reason and a host of others, I really don't enjoy riding in a group.

  2. Sash, I saw you post that picture a few days ago. And it grated me that one would have to ask the question. Now that I get to read the post explaining it, it straight upsets me. I have spent so many of my own hours, days, & weekends helping new women riders find a bike and/or become more comfortable on their motorcycles. It means the world to me to see a woman learn how exhilarating it is to ride their own, and take control of that machine as if it were a second pair of legs. I have, on many occasions, had to talk to fellow women riders that complain about how slow or inexperienced a new rider is in a group, that we ALL started out there. Women need more support in a mans world. And Motorcycling is definitely still a mans world. I will never leave a woman rider out in the cold. There is no reason to feel better than the next woman just because she's starting out. I give your new friend 5 Stars for attending BRO3, and by god she was lane splitting only ridden about 600 miles in her riding career?! That takes serious balls! WAY TO GO SASH & MONICA!!!!!!! Cheers to you both!

  3. For years, years, and years I was the only woman that I knew that rode. Now I know quite a few women that ride, including my daughter in law. I have rode with many new riders of both sexes, but never ever in all the years did I ever leave someone behind, so it took 4 extra hours, no biggie, you never leave someone behind. Big Phil is correct, assholes are assholes...some just ride motorcycles and are women.

  4. To answer the question asked at the end of your post; never leave a rider behind; least of all a new one! Riding in groups can be great but its been my experience that it really works best with the closest of friends. Large groups of acquaintances/strangers tend to lead to too many unknown variables and problems, at least in my humble opinion. Well done to you both for seizing the moment and enjoying the ride home instead of fretting about the others.

  5. +1 for unknown - I ride alone for the same reasons, but, on the rare occasions I find myself riding with a group, it's staggered formation and if you lose sight of your 6 it's stop and wait- then double back if no one shows up. To me it's all about safety. Of course, these preferring a quicker pace should form a separate group as should those more comfortable at a slower one.

  6. Sash you left some unanswered questions for me. Was Monica a part of this group on the ride down, or did she join the group somewhere on the ride, what is the definition of slow, did the group use a sweep rider, did the group leader address the ride speed prior to leaving, was there any discussion about stragglers, were stopping/catch up points discussed, was there a deadline for some riders to arrive home?

    These questions need an answer before blame can be laid on someone being an asshole. Makes no difference if we are talking about women or men. In Monica's limited 600 miles of experience she just learned a huge lesson, after taking a hugely brave trip, that she is responsible for her own ride. I have friends that I refuse to ride with because I know they stop every 30 miles for a smoke break that lasts twice as long as the 30 miles takes. That isn't riding to me.

    Bless you for taking Monica under your wing and sharing your riding experience with her. I'll guess she was thankful for that and felt good about stretching her boundaries on the bike. We were all newbies at one time and to just ride away from another rider just because of being new is wrong. However, clear ride expectations need to be given prior to taking the ride and riders can then make the decision if this is the right group to ride with.

  7. AZ Harley Dude, Paul, you raise great questions. I'm using "Initials" to secure privacy in sharing more details.
    Yes, Monica was part of our group before we left San Diego. I led our group to Babes Ride Out and covered every one of these points. On the ride home, "KC" stepped up to lead.
    Then we were "informed" we were stopping at the Crochet Museum and for coffee at the cafe in town. I had wanted to leave early and ride alone, but "KC" insisted I join the group for coffee and "we will all ride home together."
    When we were fueling up after a lengthy breakfast, "KC" came to me and said, "Monica is too slow and some of us are in a hurry. We don't want to ride like that so we're riding 80 mph & lane splitting. So, we're breaking into 2 groups; a slower and faster. I talked with everyone and everyone understands, so we'll see ya."
    Then Monica came to me. She was trembling. "KC" had said something similar to her about going fast and lane splitting.
    "Monica, I will not leave you behind, no matter what. I'll ride behind you."
    I believe it was planned by a few and a few didn't know what was happening.. But this was engineered by "KC". No doubt.
    "KC" had been shitty with me all weekend so the tone had already been set.
    Also, "B" had MY HUSBAND'S TRUCK! I had told her a few times that the truck was to stay with me at all times. She blew past us as well. That was the CHASE TRUCK! MY CHASE TRUCK, FOR ME! It was my responsibility. I promised Steve I would stay with it, but it came down to a choice between the truck or Monica.
    "MP" told me at the gas station she would ride sweep with me and Monica. She told me that AFTER she spoke with "KC". She since told me she misunderstood when everyone passed us, thinking I had decided to sweep.
    I'm sure most of the group meant no harm and only followed the bike in front of them. When they saw the truck behind them, they just focused on the ride.
    "KC spoke with Key People to ensure this outcome, even making sure to ask me how to get home without us. It was no mistake on her part.
    On my Facebook in the thread pertaining to this post, Monica has repeated this same information.
    But I can't tell you how heartbreaking it was to be ditched on that desert road. I was livid, Monica was worried and we both felt excluded. It's wrong. "KC" boasted all weekend about knowing so much about group riding, yet she broke Rule #1 as a group leader.
    And if she was in such a fucking hurry, why did she insist we stop for breakfast and the Crochet Museum?
    But as a professional writer I tell it like I see it. My FB is flooded with women and men sharing similar stories. I write to let them know they aren't alone.

    1. Sash, thanks for answering my questions. Seems KC was the problem and I will assume it has been duly noted for future reference. On the bright side Monica got valuable guidance and a better riding experience out of the whole thing. A silver lining as it were.

    2. Yes she did. A couple of the ladies from the group are interested in doing some riding next week and have reached out to Monica and me. But my longtime friend has now called me a liar. I won't continue a relationship with anyone who would say that or think that of me. So, things are shaking up and turning out as they should.
      Lessons learned for all of us is the overall silver lining, certainly.

  8. "Don't trust someone until they've earned it."

    Although some consider me callous for it, I agree with you completely. One is not worthy of trust simply for being alive and human. I'd rather be thought of as cold, than as a Pollyanna; would rather be alive and calculating than dead but with a happy face like Garfield's pal, Odie.

    - Joe at Scootin' da Valley

  9. 1. Never acceptable to leave a NEW, INEXPERIENCED AND OBVIOUSLY NERVOUS rider behind, especially if that rider was a part of your group from the beginning... And not a tag-alonger.

    2. Sometimes the only thing I have in common with fellow female riders is 2 wheels and a vagina. That is not always enough to make me want to be friends or even associate with em.

    3. I love you, your candor, your fairness and your balls. Xoxo

  10. There's a difference between "riders" and "Bikers." Never leaving a man (or woman) behind is one of the things that separates the two. Good job to you, Sash, and a mess of congratulations to Monica for stepping up and Doing It Anyway, despite her trepidation. That's another thing that makes one a Biker.

    Hope to meet you guys on the road one day.


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