5th annual Ride California

By Huggable Dee

WITW invades Big Bear

Big Bear, Calif., June 8–10—Ladies started arriving in Big Bear, California, on every kind of two- and three-wheeled motorcycle to the 5th annual Ride California event. Ride California is a regional event of Women in the Wind (WITW) that includes members from California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Oregon and Canada. The event was hosted by the Riverside WITW chapter, Ladies of Chrome & Leather (LOCAL) that started the first Ride California in 2014. This year’s event had close to 100 ladies in attendance.

WITW President Catherine Grabowski and another member of the Long Island chapter flew in from New York to attend the yearly event. WITW is an international women’s riding organization that was formed in 1979 by Becky Brown in Toledo, Ohio, by placing an ad in her local newspaper. Soon after, 11 women took their first ride through the scenic byways of the Maumee River. Since that day, Women in the Wind has expanded to more than 1,400 members and 118 chapters, spanning the globe across the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Portugal, New Zealand, Ireland, Wales, and most recently a chapter in Kathmandu, Nepal (their chosen chapter name is the Himalayan Gypsies). Membership is open to women who own and/or operate a motorcycle of any make.

Ride California group photo
Ride California group photo

WITW is quite a diverse group of ladies. On more than one occasion I have heard members saying they would have never met many of the other ladies had it not been for WITW and I agree. I have been a member for almost 20 years and the only other group I’ve ever ridden with was the H.O.G. chapter, and while many WITW members do ride Harleys, the others ride an array of differing brands. One day of the event, while walking through the parking lot at Big Bear, I was just in awe of the gorgeous bikes. There was a different brand of bike every way I looked from BMWs, Ducatis, Harleys, Hondas, Spyders, and everything in between. There were trikes, bikes pulling trailers, and even a bike with a sidecar.

The three-day day event offered numerous escorted and unescorted rides to the many lakes in the area, Strawberry and Keller Peak fire lookouts, and Joshua Tree National Park. The main escorted ride on Saturday had approximately 80 ladies riding to Chaparral Motorsports in San Bernardino via the sweeping curves of Highway 38. The ladies enjoyed a barbecue lunch while cooling off in the shade before riding back up to Big Bear. A highlight of the ride was having professional highway photographer Jon Cossentine snap action photos of each rider’s bike with beautiful backdrops of pine trees and yellow wildflowers.

Best spoon story told by Shelley Beetler, Jackie Cliett, TJ Pillsbury, and Trish Carlson (LOCAL chapter)
Best spoon story told by Shelley Beetler, Jackie Cliett, TJ Pillsbury, and Trish Carlson (LOCAL chapter)

The Saturday night banquet was the culmination of three fantastic days of riding and camaraderie. One of the high points of the evening was the telling of the best “spoon” story for the sought-after monstrosity of a spoon that has to be carried home on a bike. The spoon is a WITW tradition that started in the 1980s when founder Becky along with a few members of her Toledo chapter and their husbands were out for a ride. One of the ladies caught her pant leg on her shifter lever while slowing down and ended up kissing the pavement. Although not hurt, she was a bit shaken up and was mostly upset at the dent and scrape she put on her newly painted custom tank. The group stopped at a restaurant to collect themselves. The lady’s husband handed his spoon to her and jokingly mentioned something about her staying in the kitchen instead of on a bike. Now all chapters have their own regular-size spoon which is handed out for those “oops” moments. The winning story, which won hands down with its hilarious side-splitting tale about an all-girls’ road trip to Sturgis, was told jointly by four members of LOCAL Chapter.

ackie Menzies and Christie Ackmann of Sin Sity Sisters on Highway 330 heading up to Big Bear
ackie Menzies and Christie Ackmann of Sin Sity Sisters on Highway 330 heading up to Big Bear

LOCAL Chapter also introduced a new feature to the Ride CA event this year which was the California Missions Trail Challenge. Members of WITW who completed the contest by visiting all 21 missions on their bikes received their patches at the banquet. Eleven ladies completed the challenge.

Another feature of the banquet is the presentations by chapters who are vying to host the next Ride CA event. The Fresno chapter, Fire & Ice, won the votes and will be hosting Ride CA 2019, which is open to all WITW members and female guests 18 years old and older.  If you would like more information about WITW or any of the California chapters, please go to their website at www.womeninthewind.org.

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