Dirty Girls Moto Adventures

What do you get when you combine two of the best things in life – female friendship and motorcycles? You get women-only motorcycling clubs where women find other like-minded women who love to roll on the throttle, goof off, get into all kinds of trouble and enjoy a good laugh together at the end of a good day’s riding.

The first in this series of women-only riding clubs is the Dirty Girls Moto Adventures group from my very own Washington state. As you can tell from their name, they ride dirt bikes and adventure bikes. While the individual members – most of them are familiar names in the Seattle motorcycling scene – have pretty cool adventures on their own, together they form a formidable force.

Women Who Ride: The Dirty Girls Moto Adventures club

Name: Dirty Girls Moto Adventures
Country: USA (Washington)
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DirtyGirlsMotoAdventures
Twitter: dirtygirlsmoto

 

Please introduce yourselves. Hi! Our group name is Dirty Girls Moto Adventures. We consist of 9 core team members from all walks of life: Tracy Jeffries, Deb Shiell, Gaila Gutierrez, Jill Oliver, Shalmarie Wilson, Kay Miller, Steph Terrian, Laurie Wilson Smith, Carrie Finch – and our Honorary Dirty Girl Mary McGee. We are a group of friends who enjoy riding motorcycles of all kinds, with a focus on off-road riding, camping and adventuring. We got the name Dirty Girls on one of the off-road riding weekends and it stuck.

Our group does not have membership rules or charter; we consider ourselves as women who bridge the gap and help bring down the barriers women encounter when beginning to ride off-road and who might be intimidated to go off-road because of lack of skill, connection and relationships. We want to encourage all women to be ‘dirty girls’ by empowering, supporting and encouraging them.

Where are you based? We are all based in Washington State, USA. We’ve been contacted by women who live out of state and love what we’re doing and want to be involved. It is wide reaching and growing – we’re excited when we are contacted by other women riders who have interest in what we’re doing and want to do it too.

Why a women-only club rather than a co-ed one? Most women ride and approach riding differently than our male counterparts. Not wrong or right, just differently. We contemplate more, weigh out options. This group clicks and even within the group we have varied riding styles, but we all understand those styles, and support each other.

While we ride with a lot of guys and have a great time, our women-only group fosters relationships with women who might not feel comfortable being in the ‘shark tank’ alone. We’ve all experienced intimidation signing up for rides that are primarily male. We know as women we will support and encourage each other, we invite new riders along who aren’t as skilled and help them feel comfortable. Plus we have WAY more fun! We have no problem stopping lake side, stripping down and jumping in! Even the men have said it’s more fun riding with the Dirty Girls!

 

Women Who Ride: The Dirty Girls share a laugh on Mt. Walker

The Dirty Girls share a laugh on Mt. Walker

Are there any formal bylaws or rules? We have no formal bylaws at this time. Our only rule is it’s got to be fun.

How diverse is your club? We didn’t set out to create a club or seek members; it just happened that there were a group of women, living in the same region, who love to ride and share the same passions. We are very diverse in that we all have different economic and religious backgrounds, some are single, others are married. It’s not about what we are as individuals, it’s about what we share and our common passion, which is riding. With that said, we also have a ton of fun doing non-riding activities, laugh till our cheeks hurt and just have a great time being around each other.

How do you recruit new members? We do not recruit members, but we do invite women to join us in training, riding events and weekends. We always have an open invitation for anyone interested in joining us.

Have you ever had to ask a member to leave for any reason?
No… but we know there’s always a first for everything! We have a blast after our rides and around the evening bonfire – at times we’ve had to remind each other that we might not crack that next bottle of wine because we are riding in the morning! (note: while having fun may include libations, we support each other completely in no drinking and riding).

Is there any advantage to having a formal riding club vs. just getting together with a bunch of friends and going on rides?
We like the informality of riding as a group of friends and keeping it simple, but as we have gained local attention in the riding community, creating a formal group seems like something we want to explore. We are still figuring it out. Some of the advantages are that we have been sponsored at some events and there are possibilities for that to occur more often. Having a formal group may generate more opportunity beyond a group of friends riding.

Do some of the members belong to co-ed clubs? If so, have they noticed any differences in their experiences between both clubs?
Yes most of us are involved in other riding groups as well. Dirty Girls Moto Adventures being a women’s only riding group is different in that we are more aware of the unique way women hang out together, support each other, as well as the challenges we face.

Do you do anything to encourage young girls to get into motorcycling? We encourage all girls (not just young ones) to ride! As women riders, we are a source for providing information on training, events and rides and encourage their participation. We gain attention just by being out and about and are approached all the time. Simply being at events representing women riders provides inspiration and encouragement to girls of all ages.

EVENTS

Do you host any regular events? We host events year round – it could be anything from single track dirt rides, street riding, weekend campouts and rides to local events. We also generate enthusiasm directed towards women to join us for larger local and regional rides, races and rallies.

Can you talk about any memorable rides or group events your club had? Heck yes!! Almost too many to list; almost every weekend we were off doing one ride or another. It doesn’t mean all 9 of us ride together all the time – we do split into smaller groups based on schedules and interest in particular rides and events. To name a few… we did the Desert 100, Riders for Health Scavenger Hunt on the Olympic Peninsula, the 24-Hour Starvation Ridge Race, the Touratech Rally, the Hoh Rainforest ride, Washington State Backcountry Discovery Route (WABDR) and lots of super fun weekend camp and rides.

We post events on our Facebook page in case others want to join us: https://www.facebook.com/DirtyGirlsMotoAdventures.

What’s the Desert 100?
The Desert 100 is an off road dirt bike race put together by a dirt riding group called the Stumpjumpers MC. It is a 100 mile course expanding across eastern Washington high desert country in Odessa, WA. A portion of the dirty girls attended this race in 2013 for the first time to participate in the Dualsport ride event. This was a led ride of offroad, dual track and single track riding. The single track portion was not expected but we rode through it quite well for our first time experience.

We went through everything from mud puddles and ½ mile whoop sections to deep silt and single track runs through tight sage brush trails. It was a blast to ride and participate in.. We witnessed the open start of the Desert 100 which is where the racers line across the horizon and open throttle to race across the desert through sage, silt, mud and ravines to the starting gate for 100 miles of severe endurance dirt racing.

Getting muddy

DirtyGirls_Desert100

Can you talk a bit more about the Starvation Ridge race and what it involved? The Starvation Ridge Race started out as the Dirty Girls being asked if we would help “The Heavyweights” (a male moto group) in the pits as they competed for the first year on large CC motorcycles, KTM 990’s and larger. The Starvation Ridge 24 Hour Race is either a team competition of up to six riders, going as many laps as each individual can and switching to next rider, or a single rider going as many laps as they can in a 24 hour period. It is a race of endurance for both the motorcycles and riders.

As the discussion continued we thought “what the heck, why don’t we race?!” We had less than two months to plan, train and show up. We thought it better to race individually in the Iron Woman class so that we could help each other through the laps (as a team race only one rider is allowed on the course at a time). Two Dirty Girls helped in the pits, six raced, three did not qualify due to injuries and broken motorcycle. For the majority of us, this was a first time ever experience, with less than 6 months of trail bike time and without any experience in extreme endurance race like this. We were there for each other as support. We knew that some of us may not finish and that some of us were probably way out of our comfort zones, but we planned for it and went into this race and test of endurance knowing that we had each other’s backs.

DirtyGirls_Starvation ridge

If only to attempt it and walk away knowing that we did what others would not even think about.. It was a wonderful feeling competing and being there for each other. Cheering each of those in succession of achievements in the 22 mile course to actually placing in the top finishers.

It was an amazing and unforgettable experience.

Do you do any charity rides or events together? Dirty Girls support Riders for Health fundraisers locally though riding events, auctions and selling Riders swag. The events range anywhere from day rides to a weekend camping/scavenger hunts, volunteering booth time at motorcycle events and shows and even turned the 24 Hr Starvation Ridge ride into a fundraiser. We’ve helped raise a lot of money through these events and feel grateful we are able to support such an incredible cause.

Dirty Girls also support various causes individually whether that is something like Dogoodasyougo.org, which pairs travelers with volunteer opportunities along the journey, cancer awareness (we have cancer survivors amongst us!), local food/clothing banks, veterans, environmental causes, etc. Donating time to charities, whether as a group or individually, is something we all feel strongly about.

DIRT RIDING

How did some of you get into dirt biking and how did you gain experience? Each of the Dirty Girls has a different story. Most of us recently grew into it after riding street motorcycle, then dual sport bikes. Riding off-road, dirt tracks and forestry roads really expands your seat time and riding styles so most of us for this reason expanded to riding on dirt. It was especially cool that we found other women our own age doing it.

The majority of the Dirty Girls have taken off road riding courses over the last two years. It has helped us tremendously with our confidence and abilities in a short amount of time. However, as with all things, our motorcycle joy crosses all thresholds. Some of the Dirty Girls enjoy the technical single track concentration and endurance riding while others love to just ride the quiet forest service roads and explore outside the city.

Do you have any pointers to good dirt bikes for beginning female riders? The first pointer is do it because YOU want to do it, not because someone thinks you should do it. Riding on dirt is about expanding your comfort zone and challenging yourself. Finding the right moto and starting on a motorcycle that you feel comfortable with is super important. Some riders prefer two stroke lighter weight bikes, while other riders prefer 4 stroke motorcycles, larger, more comfortable to ride that do not require gas mixing.

Take into account how much dirt riding you plan to do and type? Single or double track, adventure touring, licensed and street legal or strictly offroad? Some of the Dirty Girl group has settled on KTM 200s after a year or so of trying different motorcycle sizes and types. The KTM is a light and responsive two stroke and adaptable to adjust height for us shorter legged gals. However it means trailering the motorcycle to riding locations as it is not licensed for street righting getting from point A to point B.

If you can, take a class with a company that allows you to use or rent their dirt bikes. Also, if you have friends who have dirt bikes get out and try them on for “size”. Start out with some basics, stopping, turning on grass, figure 8s, etc. Don’t let anyone convince you to run it through ravines and over deep gravel if it is your first time out. It is a very rare occurrence that you drop a wad of cash on a motorcycle without trying it out and have it actually be the one that you love to ride. So get some seat time, see what fits you and is going to be the right bike for the type of riding you want to do.

There is no straightforward answer here. Lots of things to consider, money, type of riding, style of rider, etc. Get some good protective gear, proper dirt riding boots, proper chest and arm protection, neck protection and a helmet and get some seat time. And most importantly, have a great time!

 

FORMING YOUR OWN CLUB

Can you give some advice to women who want to form their own women-only riding club? This is a difficult questions to answer. We are a fairly new group of like-minded women who share the same passion for motorcycle riding and have experienced similar challenges in off-road riding. With that said, we didn’t go into this thinking we would create a riding group, it just happened. Our group is unique in that its focus is off-road riding and we feel we accomplish more collectively than individually. When riding off-road you should have a buddy and as the group has grown it allows for more opportunity to ride together and attend events that are male dominant. We started a Facebook page to share our adventures and discovered that people were interested in seeing what we were doing and wanted to follow us.

You need to start with the members that share the same passion. Our group has been riding on road for many years; the Dirty Girls group came together from our mutual passion for off-road riding. For us, it’s about having fun, laughing, encouraging and supporting each other and lifting our motorcycles when we have an off bike experience J Because we are a group it allows us to get out more often and have a kick butt time!

We think things to avoid are not letting the formalities of creating a group get in the way of why you’re a group in the first place, i.e. when it becomes more ‘business’ than fun, then it can create fractures within the group that wouldn’t be there otherwise.

We have more of a voice and presence as a group in our local motorcycle communities and are recognized as a legitimate and fast growing demographic. This gives us more influence when pitching ideas to companies about female interests.

FEMALE FRIENDSHIP

Have you developed any close female friendships or a sense of sisterhood due to this club? Many of us definitely feel a sense of sisterhood and have learned a lot from each other. Experiencing and dealing with challenges builds trust. We feel we have each other’s back and it’s accelerated our friendships with each other.

When you ride as a group for 3-4 days through back country, dry-camping and coaching each other through the toughest trail obstacles, there’s an unspoken camaraderie that develops which has lead to wonderful, strong friendships.

Dirty Girl Carrie Finch:

“We definitely have developed a sisterhood and have learned to depend on each other. When out in the middle of the woods, far from any town, we face challenging terrain and are always afraid of wrecking or falling off our bikes. It’s not as big a worry when you know that the girls with you have your back. We have experienced mechanical failure also and worked our way through it. When you ride as a group for 3-4 days through the back country, dry-camping, and coaching each other through the toughest trail obstacles, there’s an unspoken camaraderie that develops which leads to wonderful, strong friendships.”

Dirty Girl Deb Shiell:

“When we came together for the first race ever – it is the closest that civilians get to understanding the friendships and bonds that are formed when soldiers go to war, or SWAT teams hone in on bad guys. There is a focus, a friendship and mutual understanding and awareness that forms. There is great comfort in knowing that those to your left and right have your back and will help you through any challenge.”

 

DirtyGirls_funday

If someone from Washington read this interview and wanted to join your group, what would they need to do?
They can “like” our Dirty Girls Moto Adventures Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/DirtyGirlsMotoAdventures. They can also follow us on Twitter @dirtygirlsmoto.

Dirty Girls and friends



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