Tuesday, May 31st became Day 1 of my long awaited cross-country motorcycle trip! The journey kickoff was Babes Ride Out, an all women’s motorcycle camping event that occurs annually on both the east and west coast. The kickass founders of this event have been dedicated to bringing together new and seasoned riders by creating motorcycle events and experiences that continue to grow the women’s riding community. To say that it is a fantastically fun, empowering event is a colossal understatement! I attended last year as a lone wolf, meaning that I rode to the event solo. But this year, I returned with a pack! Ten members of our local girl gang, the Litas, rolled out in four different waves- the first being on Tuesday. I led a backroads route for those of us who wanted to take a slower, more scenic three days to roll out the 650ish miles to get to Narrowsburg, NY. Of course, there were shenanigans and misadventures along the way…there always are!
Besides collecting new experiences and creating fresh memories with people you already know, this event is great for making new friends that you get to reunite with. Sarah was a fellow lone wolf and volunteer that I met last year that I’ve remained friends with and even met up with for more camping and riding since last year’s event. This year, she arrived a few hours ahead of us (from New Jersey), and staked out a sweet spot right along the Delaware River, so we were able to just roll in and start setting up camp. As first shift volunteers on Friday morning, we get to arrive on Thursday and pick our campsite before everyone else even gets there! After our shift Friday morning, Sarah helped me troubleshoot my trailer light problem and we got it fixed. I’ve obviously forgotten a lot since my Navy aircraft maintenance days, because the problem was my crappy ground wire crimp!
Although the night temps dipped into the upper 40s, that didn’t stop the karaoke or dance parties, and each day morphed into a beautiful blue sky with warm enough temps to require sunscreen. It took us a bit to get our bearings and figure out which street names corresponded to which road numbers, but we finally got out of Narrowsburg and onto the wonderfully twisty Hwy 97, which runs south along the Delaware River towards Port Jervis.
After taking in the incredible views at the Hawks Nest and enjoying delicious roadside diner food, Rachel and I split off and rode Hwy 42 north to Monticello, then State Roads 17 and 17B to Bethel Woods to visit the museum at the historic site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival (the town of Woodstock is actually almost 200 miles away from where the festival occurred!). Some of my earliest music and cultural memories are from my elementary and middle school years in the 1970s. My Aunt Ruth was a picture perfect hippie – long black hair that she ironed straight, big flowy blouses, bell bottom jeans, knee boots, and she drove a VW Rabbit to boot! She met my mother’s brother, Wayne, right after he returned from his stint in Vietnam as a Marine combat engineer. Does it get any more 1960s groovy than that?! I remember her telling me how she and a girlfriend had tickets to Woodstock, but their car broke down on the way and they never made it. She still has the ticket!! So, of course, I had to go to the museum. It was so awesome. Rachel and I “drove” the magic bus and chilled in bean bags and watched actual archival footage of the concert and interviews with concert goers and performers about what it was like that day. Such a great experience!!!
Back at the campsite, those who enjoy a party partied, and those who enjoy chilling, hung out around campfires and enjoyed an evening of reliving rides and enjoying smores and a fireworks show. Before we knew it, it was Sunday morning and time for me to split off from the group and continue on my journey. I truly lack the words to describe what a fun, empowering experience it is to be amongst 750 women who all ride their own motorcycles and camped for the weekend. Some rode in from as far away as Wyoming and some trailered from as close as an hour up the road. Bikes ranged from Harley, to Indian, to Honda, to Royal Enfield, and adventure and street bikes that I don’t even know the names of. Some custom built their own bikes, others needed assistance from the all-female mechanic crews on site to check oil levels and tire pressure. Some performed a full make-up routine prior to rolling out, others barely got the sleep out of their eyes before hitting the road for the day. We were free to be ourselves and that’s a powerful thing. What a great way to kick off the cross country journey!!