Babes Ride Out

Babes in Borrego & The Original 50 | Meet Riley Johnson

PeopleAnya Violet

"Riding has changed my life. It's sparked joy and sense of community in me. It's brought me to the best people I've known and shown me the most beautiful shit I've ever seen. It's given me hope in good people and adventure like I never dreamed possible. I'm so grateful for every minute on my bike. "

 A photo I took of  Cass and Nina and Celisse leading the pack down into the desert! Right when I cried! .jpg

A photo I took of  Cass and Nina and Celisse leading the pack down into the desert! Right when I cried! .jpg

babes ride out

On October 5th 2013, 50 women rode out to an undisclosed location for a night of camping and camaraderie. What would follow could not have been predicted by anyone. The positivity, passion and enthusiasm for those 50 women has fueled the growth and exposure of a community that has meant so much to so many. We are highlighting each of those 50 women and sharing their stories over the past 5 years. 


Riley Johnson


babes ride out
  • Riley Johnson
  • @wrongturnriley

 

I had been riding for approximately four months and was working as a full time housekeeper for a rich family in San Francisco. Celisse had posted online about riding to LA and wondered if any girls wanted to come. I was off that weekend so blindly said yes without knowing we were even going to an event. We ripped to LA, which at the time, was the furthest I had ever ridden. I remember Celisse was amazed my little Honda CM450 could keep up so well. We ended up at Nina's house and it was the first time I met her. Cass was there too and Alice among other badass babes. It was then I found out it was an all girls ride to the desert. I was intimidated, which was not a feeling I was used to, but all of a sudden I was surrounded by the most beautiful women I'd ever seen, in LA, where I'd never really been.  On top of beauty each woman I met was so confident in who they were and what they rode and I was just a 22 year old from the midwest on my little Honda. For the first time in my life I was at a loss for words. What a feeling!

    As for riding with the whole group. Gosh, that was a trip. I'd been lucky enough to learn how to ride with (in my opinion) some of the best rippers out there, so my confidence in group riding was already pretty high. Learning how to ride a motorcycle in SF will force you to be strong and fast. So I remember being a little frustrated and longing to rip ahead. After the stop in a big gravel lot to re-group (Another intimidating yet amazing moment meeting so many babes, all of our eyes just shining cause we knew we were doing something special. We knew we were up to something good. Me, Nina, Cass and Celisse took the front. This next part is burned into my memory: I'd never really seen the desert and to this day its still my favorite. We came to what looked like the edge of the world, Borrego sprawled out below us for miles. I definitely cried, (no shock there, I am always crying at beautiful shit while ripping) I believe that was my first cry from a bike. I felt so powerful, we were absolutely hauling down the side of a mountain with 50 women on bikes behind us. And I was in the front with 3 of the most inspiring and intimidating women I'd met. It was MAGIC.

After a nice stop and some beers and lunch came the sand.. DUN DUN DUUUUN.. lol I still haven't made it through that sand without eating shit. I had just got done ripping Lana around so she could take photos of babes on bikes. (Who did I think I was?? I'd been riding for four months total and I'm taking ladies around on the back of my bike, classic overconfidence) Now I had Liza on the back of my Honda and we were to ride through two miles of sand. I wasn't yet a strong enough rider to understand that I should ask Liza to sit forward. So she's leaning back into my sissy bar filming and I'm trying to ride in a foot of sand. I mean babes are dropping like flies, it was hilarious, and then BOOM I dropped like a fly too! Busted my head light, bruised my leg but all was chill.

Finally we get to the dried up lakebed, It was so insane! We all walked around smiling and hugging and showing our little scrapes from eating shit, we got back on the bikes and started ripping on the lakebed at sunset. I met so many girls that night. Told ghost stories with Lana. Zipped Nina backwards in her sleeping bag overly concerned for her warmth and probably almost suffocated her. I remember Jack finally pulling in so late and serenading us around the fire. The girls kept teasing me about my fear of scorpions until I found one in my jacket the next morning! I remember feeling in awe and a little bit like I didn't belong in such an amazing place with such interesting and pretty women. I felt small in the best kind of way. 
 

I've stayed close with many of the girls I met that night. When I lived in AZ for a couple years Nina drove out and took me to Sedona for the weekend camping. I see her every time I'm in LA. Last summer I stopped by and we laughed and ate Shoshito peppers and I cook them up constantly to this day. 

I stayed with Cass for a week in LA over the summer. Her husband took me adventuring for the day in his 49 ford and they bought me Budweiser to shotgun in the backyard. :) 

Celisse and I just danced on chairs to an Elvis dance party right before I moved back to MPLS a couple weeks ago. And I still chit chat online with tons of the other inspiring women and follow their lives through social media. I've followed Chevy getting married and comment on her videos of Sequoia probably too much. I’m constantly impressed with Genevieve's work, endlessly jealous of Jenny's adventures and proud of each girl I follow.
 

  In the past five years I've changed immensely. I've moved states probably five times. Went back to MPLS when my mom got sick to care for her until she passed. Moved into the woods by myself for 6 weeks outside of Duluth to reflect and write. I went back to SF worked at a Ducati shop. Moved to Humboldt and grew pot on a large scale. Then embarked on my first cross country rip on the Red Wood Roll and beyond. I've been in love twice and broke my heart twice. I was a helicopter mechanic in Mesa Arizona for two years. Then bartender back in SF, I went to Paris alone for the first time and soon I'm off to India. I started my own annual ride and took twenty five friends to Mexico on motorcycles on the most recent one. I'm now back in MPLS forcing myself to settle for a while and enjoying the family time, cheap rent, and lack of parking tickets.  I've fallen in love over and over with life and I'm as lost as ever. I am as happy as I choose to be. I'm still searching and seeking meaning every day. I ride a crazy wave of emotion about it constantly, but that’s who I am and I'm just running with it. 
 

Since that rip I've ridden cross country a few times over. I started a ride called the Flux Capacitor three years ago. We just finished our third annual trip on a ride down to Mexico and partied harder than ever. It's awe inspiring to have people ride over 600 miles each way three years running just to be with one another and have a good time. It's brought me more joy and laughter and dancing on tables than I could have dreamed. After we got back I loaded up and rode my motorcycle from SF to Minnesota to settle in for a while, though I am already feeling restless of course! Riding has changed my life. It's sparked joy and sense of community in me. It's brought me to the best people I've known and shown me the most beautiful shit I've ever seen. It's given me hope in good people and adventure like I never dreamed possible. I'm so grateful for every minute on my bike. And extra stoked on my flux crew and all my people that continually get out there with me every year. 

I'll see ya'll down the road, ya hear?