Babes Ride Out UK, 5th-7th August 2016
Babes Ride Out, originated in California three years ago, set up by a couple of friends who wanted to meet more women who ride. An Instagram led meet up inspired 50 women to attend their first camp out, then 500 the following year and 1200 in 2015. (A rumoured 3,000 are expected to attend their Joshua Tree event this year!)
In 2016, the group has sprouted some offshoots - first to the US East Coast in May and most recently, the first International camp out, in the beautiful Brecon Beacons in Wales.
'Presented' in the UK by the London girl biker group (and emerging fashion brand), VC London, about 150 women arrived at the venue (a gorgeous farm, owned by the Dakar experienced and Black Desert Off-Road school owners, Tamsin Jones & Craig Bounds) on Friday 5th August. In a picturesque stone-wall enclosed field, at the top of the hill above the village of Treharris, it was time to set up camp!
The field was a perfect site for pitching the tent (if not the Triumph Sprint, which stayed in the car park). Girls set up as soon as they arrived, then with the help of free beer from one of the sponsors, everyone milled around, getting to know their neighbours in the campsite as well as checking out the bar, dance and merchandise area in the adjacent barn. It was fun meeting a broad range of women, a number of whom had come across from the States (home of the BRO franchise) as well as a few from the Netherlands who were members of their local Litas group (a sort of female motorcycle meet up franchise). From the UK, there were girls from across England and Wales with a single entrant from Scotland. A big hand has to go to the group of 125 riders who rode from the Bike Shed in London to the venue. They were all in good spirits when they arrived, despite a few break downs en route and a 10 hour journey time!
On Saturday, we woke to glorious sunshine which made for a great day for riding. A number of people had pre-booked a taster session with the Black Desert guys whilst the main ride out was for 125ers. A briefing session was held and off putt-putted a range of small and larger bikes with girls bedecked in denim with sparkly lids. Wales can't have known what hit it!
For the rest of us, we rode out either on our own or with people we had recently met. This is probably something that the organisers could look at a bit more for next time. Whilst the more outgoing people easily paired up with new friends, the natural British reserve meant a few women were left on their own when they would have liked others to ride with for the shared experience.
I set off with a new buddy and three biker friends I know socially but have never ridden with from London. A spirited lead pair with a more casual following three (the other two kept me company!) set off across the Beacons to see the roads of Wales. In the sunshine, with the quality tarmac of Wales, little can beat it.
All in all, this was a fun event, well run by the organisers, both from the UK and US. The challenge for future events should be to increase numbers as the group was slightly small for the evening shenanigans to have enough atmosphere. Oh - and they need to repeat the weather forecast!