Gabriella is one of those really awesome women that reminds us why we ever started Babes in the Dirt & Babes Ride Out. She always has a smile on her face and you can really see that riding has fulfilled her life in a lot of ways. I recently moved to the area where she lives and she was quick to invite me on some rides. After a run rip on our Husqvarna's to some of her local trails I couldn't wait to hear more about her story.
What is your name?
Gabriella Mylene Sanchez
What do you do for a living?
I work at CalTrans and am currently working on getting my Class A driver’s license so I can operate all of the big boy toys. I also went to welding school almost 3 years ago now, but it’s on the back burner at the moment.
Where are you from?
El Segundo, CA
Where do you live?
Big Bear, CA. I moved up here 9 years ago to snowboard, but now I love living up here even more to dirt bike.
When when were you first introduced to riding dirt? Who introduced you?
I’m actually pretty new to riding, but I’ve been around dirt bikes for about 15 years from my family. About 2 years ago my boyfriend Josh and I were camping with some friends down in Johnson Valley, where I hopped on our friend's TT-R230 and gave it a shot. I kind of had an idea on how to shift from hearing family and friends talk about riding, and knowing how to drive a manual car. We just putted around camp, but that was enough for me to realize that I was addicted. I guess that answers the next question, too, haha.
How long have you been riding?
Almost 2 years
Why do you like riding dirt?
Dirt gives me another playground to play on, something new and ever-changing to challenge and push myself.
Run us through the list of bikes you have had?
I’ve only had one bike; the bike I have now.
What do you ride now?
A 2016 Husqvarna FE350S
If you could have 2 bikes what would your other bike be?
I’d love to have a 2 stroke, the Husky TE250i. The only 2 strokes I’ve ridden were a 2017 KTM 250 Freeride (Thanks, Suzie, for letting me give her a rip) and a mid 1990’s KX500. The KX was sooo much fun. It had what I felt like was an old school feel, stiff suspension with Ricky Carmichael-like bars and a ridiculous amount of power that just worked me in the desert woops.
Tell us what you love about the bike you ride now?
I wish I had more experience on different bikes to give it a comparison, but I don’t have any complaints or dislikes about my bike now. I love every little thing about it! As it’s been my only bike, hopping on a big bike as a very beginner rider was hard and frustrating. Learning how to ride that bike, while learning how to ride different terrain, was all a challenge. But once I felt myself getting more and more comfortable and trying harder lines and terrain, I realized my bike needed a regear. We put a 49 tooth rear sprocket on my bike and it made a world of difference. It made me love my bike even more!
What kind of terrain do you like riding the best?
I like trail riding, the slower, technical stuff. Some tight single track, or bigger rock sections.
What kind of terrain is a challenge for you but you want to master?
Rocks! Not boulder size yet, but bigger than the small shelly rocks. I’m still learning how to throw my weight around on my bike and learning to look for spots to put my feet down to stay upright while riding through rocks.
What is the most challenging riding experience you have had?
Dang, there have been many. But the one that comes to mind first is this uphill rock/loose dirt-to a-downhill, flatter boulder-sized rock section in Johnson Valley, literally in the camp zone we usually camp in. I had been eying it for a few trips and watched Josh and some trials guys go up and over it. One day we were on our way back to camp from a ride, where our group split at the end and I followed one guy to this section. He went up and over it not realizing I was below him, watching him and the line he picked. I sat there at the bottom of it for a few minutes, looking at the lines and trying to motivate myself. I attempted it, made it up about half way before losing traction and sliding out. I don’t know how long it took me to get up it, but I stuck with the outside line that didn’t have any rocks in it but was all loose dirt. When I got to the top I looked down at our camp where I heard the guys say, “she got up that?!” I rode down and told Josh that I wanted to do it again, because it’s “2 to be true” and “3 to be a G” haha. So we rode around to do it again. This time I had a bit of a crowd from the campers on that side, which put an awkward pressure on me. But I really wanted to claim it solidly so I ignored them. Except for one older dude who came over trying to give me advice; he was super cool. I kept trying to hit the same line, on the far right which was the dirt without rocks. It just looked the easiest to me, but I kept sliding out in the same area. My bike died because I got fuel in the charcoal canister from dropping it so much. That just added on to my frustration, but I was so determined that I wasn’t letting it get to me. It was a real mental game. Finally I said f*** it, and went for the middle line which had no run in and was steep, flat rocks with some round ones throughout it. First try, I made it right up, where I just started cracking up at the top like, “why the f*** was I so scared of that line?!” I turned around and Josh and that camp were cheering me on. And then of course I stalled my bike going down the backside and couldn’t get it started, so I just coasted down to the truck. haha.
Where are some of your favorite places to ride?
Big Bear! There’s so much to explore up here, and so many different levels of riding terrain. I haven’t even touched half of it yet; I can’t wait to get better to ride it all.
What is on you moto bucket list to ride?
B.C., Colorado, and a long touring ride in Euroland!
Do you ride with a lot of other female riders?
I do! If it weren’t for the BRO events, I wouldn’t have met any of the girls I ride with. I have to give Sara Dinges from @dualsportwomen a huge shout out for finding me at BRO 4 and connecting me with all of the babes we ride with. What she’s done with her page is amazing, it’s another place to connect and meet other female riders. It’s not creepy how you’d think trying to meet people on Instagram would be; at least I don’t think it is...
Do you have anyone in the moto world that you look up to?
Not specifically. I just like to watch all types of riders and pay attention to their styles, and try to duplicate it myself to see if it helps me or not.
What was our experience at Babes in the Dirt/Babes Ride Out events? (if applicable)
Unreal. Seriously, you can watch the recap videos and hear stories from the babes who have gone, but until you go and see what it’s like for yourself, the only way I can describe it, is as unreal. My first event was BRO 4, where I rode down from Big Bear on my Husky with my friend Harmonee who was on her Harley. I was extremely anxious, going on my first long highway ride, still very beginner and expecting there to be all Harley’s. We arrived at night, and as we were checking in and getting our wristbands put on, the lady told us, “get drunk, get naked, have fun!” We knew right away we were meant to be there. I was surprised by the attention my bike got too. I guess a lot of girls there hadn’t been on dirt bikes or heard of Husqvarna. I was so stoked to let them check out my bike. The women there were unlike any other women I’ve been around. Everyone was so friendly, so cool, so FREE, supportive, curious, nonjudgmental, and an all-around good time. I didn’t know what to expect, but whatever I did expect was surpassed to the moon and back. And then when I went to BITD that following April, where I didn’t think I could have a better time than I did at BRO 4, somehow I did! Maybe because we were in the dirt, or because I had a Husky where Husky was one of the sponsors. But I had an even better time!
What advice do you have for someone thinking about getting in to riding dirt?
Whether you want to get in to dirt bikes or street bikes, go for it! Motorcycles are so much fun, and the motorcycle community is very supportive. Just be safe, take your time and most importantly, have fun!