ROLL CALL

Professional Flat Tracker Leah Tokelove is Making Her Way to Babes in the Dirt 5 from the UK!

Leah Tokelove isn’t your average 21 year old even though she says she is. Looking over her accomplishments the past few years is simply incredible as she has not only become a professional racer on her Indian Motorcycle for the Hooligan series, she also races competitively with her KTM in the Pro class. That’s not all…..she has also opened training classes, Days on the Dirt, to help ladies in the UK learn the fundamentals of riding and did we mention she’s a full time student and holds down a job that requires heavy labor at her dad’s building site? If people ever doubted superwoman, here she is. Get to know Leah Tokelove and make sure to give her and the VC London ladies a VERY warm, welcome as they cross the pond to join us at Babes in the Dirt 5!

Photo by Sarah Emma Smith

Photo by Sarah Emma Smith

Name: Leah Tokelove

Instagram Handle: @leahtokelove37

What’s in your garage?

  • Indian Scout Sixty Hooligan Racer

  • Indian Scout Sixty (For road rips), got my license in January!

  • KTM 450 SX-F – My Flat Track race bike

  • KTM 250 SX-F - For Motocross fun

  • Honda CRF125

  • Kawasaki KLX 110

  • Honda Mini Framer with a CB125 engine

  • Honda CRF 250 - (Kindly lent to me by Tara Henry for Trails)

Wow now I feel greedy, motos for every occasion!

Who are you sponsored by?

  • Indian Motorcycle

  • -Alpinestars

  • Bell Helmets

  • S&S Cycle

  • Krazy Horse Customs

  • VC London

  • STANCE

  • Greenfield Dirt Track

  • DTRA

  • Days on the Dirt

  • My awesome family

Tell us about where you are from:

I’m from Lincolnshire in the UK. It’s pretty much the middle of nowhere on the east coast of England, which is ideal as there are plenty of opportunities to ride motorcycles without bothering anyone. I still live in Lincolnshire now and I don’t think that I’ll ever really leave- I’m a country gal.

Tell us about yourself and what you are into:

Aside from racing I think I’m your average 21-year-old student. I like binge watching Netflix, eating way too much crap and drinking more than I can handle- haha. All joking aside increasingly I have very little time for that, as recently my racing has become a lot more serious, most of my spare time away from the track is focused on prep and training. I race Flat Track in the UK, racing for Indian Motorcycle in the Hooligan Series and my own KTM in the Pro class. When I’m not racing or practicing Flat Track I like to go trail riding (I passed my test back in January for my license and I’m now addicted to trails) or I go motocrossing. So really, I like riding a bit of everything. When I’m not riding I’m actually a University student, studying Business Management (yawn) and I work part-time laboring on my Dad’s building site. But have recently started my own business ‘Days on the Dirt’ (more on this to follow). Being a student and racing actually fits together nicely, it gives me a lot of flexibility to train, ride and travel for events. I really enjoy sports of any kind and just generally being active. I love traveling and enjoy writing about my experiences. I hate tuna and carrots.

What inspired you to want to ride two wheels?

Growing up in rural Lincolnshire we don’t have many cool parks, shops or attractions. There’s not really that much to do as a kid, but there is an abundance of fields for learning how to ride motorcycles on! And with the encouragement of my Father who had dirt bikes and a bike on the road it was quite natural for me to start riding. My dad got me a little PW50 as my first ripper, at the age of 5. And we used to just ride around the farm near to where we lived, he was on his KTM and I was on my little Peewee. We’d just tootle about for fun. And for a long time, riding dirtbikes was all about fun for me, I’d never considered doing anything more than that. But after one Summer of riding KLX 110’s (I still have these to date) when I was around twelve/thirteen, I had ridden non-stop and found that I was actually getting pretty good, as fast as my Dad and faster than a fair few of his mates! So, we thought that an ideal place for me to make my racing debut was just at a local series on the beach! My Dad bought me a Suzuki RM85 and it was my first ever bike with a clutch, I spent a couple of weeks getting used to that, did a lot of accidental wheelies and before I knew it I’d lined up for my first race! From there I progressed onto racing Flat Track when we realized that all the fast lads on the beach were doing this Flat Track, so I thought I’d give it a go and now well… the rest is history!

Tell us about Days on the Dirt?

To put it simply the ultimate goal of Days on the Dirt is to get more women riding motorcycles and more women racing them! I do believe that in the UK prior to Days on the Dirt, there was nowhere that a complete beginner could go and learn to ride a motorcycle. I also feel very strongly about the importance of women only events after talking to lots of women about them and knowing how I, a confident rider, do sometimes feel intimidated on generic training days. At Days on the Dirt we have created the ideal environment for women to come and learn, alongside like-minded women who are all there for the same reason- to learn new skills. Whether that be to learn how to ride a motorcycle, develop flat track sills or ride motocross for the first time- we can give women that opportunity at Days on the Dirt. I’m so proud of what Days on the Dirt is developing into and the support we are receiving from not only the women who attend but brands wanting to help out! Days on the Dirt is still young, not even a year old and I can’t wait to watch it grow!

What skills do you practice the most to stay sharp on your bike?

Obviously, I like to keep my Flat Track skills in shape because that’s my main thing but riding lots of different disciplines is so complimentary to your general riding ability. Because bike time is bike time and all of the skills are totally transferable! I also think that riding a smaller bike is good practice too. If I want to push myself harder I usually ride my little Honda CRF125 because when you’re on a bike so small you’re not really afraid of sending it- haha and you push yourself way out of your comfort zone because surely I can do less damage on that than my Indian Hooligan?!

How has learning to ride changed your life?

I actually reflect about this a lot. I often stop and think about what the hell I’d be doing if I wasn’t riding and I seriously don’t know the answer to that! Riding for me, is very quickly becoming about the people that I’ve met through riding bikes. I’ve actually done a WHOLE blog post on this because it’s had such a mammoth impact on me, haha. But in short, I think riding motorcycles has opened up a whole Narnia of opportunities for me. Racing, traveling and different cultures are all things that I have had the pleasure of experiencing thanks to Motorcycles. Take Babes in the Dirt for example. Thanks to my love of dirtbikes I’m going to be visiting LA for the first time, getting to meet heaps of new people that share my passion for riding, adventures and good times. It doesn’t get much better than that does it? Also, to now think that I’ve been able to transform my passion into such a big part of my life is crazy. All the sponsorship, support and the fact that I can do Days on the Dirt and share my passion for others is simply the best. Oh yeah and I’m actually quite fierce and love the thrill of racing- but that’s the norm for all racers right?

What are your goals as a motorcyclist?

My main goals have got to be to just keep on enjoying the ride. Racing where I can (because I’m a competitive lil’ bitch on track) and I want to do a lot of moto related traveling. I think that having fun on and around motorcycles is my main goal, obviously I want to win races too and I would love to race Super Hooligans in the US one day and maybe even some American Flat Track! But yeah mainly travel, meet new people and I’m open minded so I’m just gonna’ enjoy the ride and see where it takes me.

We can't wait to have you attend Babes in the Dirt, what are you looking forward to the most?

Ahh man, I am so stoked to be able to make it out. I turned 21 in November and this is the first event I’ve been eligible for, I don’t think you’re gonna be able to get rid of me now! Seriously though, I love what you guys are doing Stateside and have always followed it and I’ve been fortunate to be able to support VC London with their Camp- which is such a great event for the UK scene. I can’t wait to ride the trails, I’ve heard very good things about riding in California, so I’m stoked on that. I’m also really looking forward to meeting my ‘Instagram friends’ haha and actually meeting the real characters behind the handles along with loads of new people! So yeah, I think it’s gonna be a pretty good weekend of riding, hanging out and partaaayyyyyy!!!

What advice do you have for others who are new to riding or thinking about learning to ride?

-I think as cliché as it sounds learning to ride is one of those things that has a ripple effect on your life. The opportunities it opens up to you from travel, meeting new people and just having a fun way to spend your time. The personal benefits of it too are crazy the amount of stress it relieves, the feeling of freedom and pure joy when riding. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone look grumpy when they take their helmet off after a ride! I really do think that if you’re considering it then you should just take the plunge and go for it, there’s a bike for everyone out there, go and chase it! And motorcyclists are THE most supportive group of people ever and you will for sure find your squad within a much larger squad- period.

What are the 2019 dates for your clinics and how can ladies sign up?

So my dates so far are;

  • 30th March- Flat Track Intro

  • 5th April- Total Beginner

  • 19th April- Flat Track Intro

  • 10th May- Flat Track Intro

With some 1:1’s and private hires in there, with more dates for Summer yet to be announced!

Our facility is Greenfield Dirt Track and you can book in online via clicking HERE

https://greenfielddirttrack.bigcartel.com

Photo by George Pickering

Photo by George Pickering

Photo by Braking Point Images

Photo by Braking Point Images

Kayedeak Photography

Kayedeak Photography

Photo by Juan Trulijo Andreas

Photo by Juan Trulijo Andreas

Kacy Martinez Coaching at Babes in the Dirt 5 with Garrahan Off-Road Training

We are thrilled to announce that the National Enduro Cross Champion and AMA Lifetime achievement award recipient , Kacy Martinez will be coaching along side Brian at the Garrahan Off-Road Training classes at Babes Ride Out 5! This woman has been an inspiration to all of us and we are so honored to have her at the event this year! Read on to learn more about her!

“I’m super excited to attend Babes in the Dirt this year along side Brian at Garrahan Offroad Training! Being able to share everything I’ve learned throughout my career with a bunch of women with the same passion of riding is going to be awesome! Looking forward to meeting and hanging out with all the babes! “ -Kacy

babes in the dirt

 Started riding at 8 years old going out on the weekends with my dad to our local state parks. We would also do a lot of family camping riding trips with my mom and sister who also ride! Not too long after we realized there was a big race at one of our favorite parks and my dad signed me up but quickly realized on the sheet there wasn’t a girls class. While on the line waiting for the start he went down and counted all the pony tails after the race he went up to the promoters and told them there were more than three girls out there and they deserve there own class. The next race we showed up to there was now a girls class on the sign up sheet! We then started following our local District 38 Hare Scramble series and from there we were hooked! I moved up quick in all the female classes and started Racing national level races in 2006. I was at the first women’s Pro offroad race in 2008 that WORCS started and from there I was all in. My life revolved around Racing and I put everything I had Into it! My parents being super supportive drove me to races all over and was still there at the end of my career always cheering me on! Riding for Factory KTM has been a dream come true, there support has been top notch since I signed in 2014! I’m  very excited and grateful to be able to keep my partnership with them by being a KTM Ambassador! 

 

Championships

  • 2007

  • National Hare Scramble Champion

  • 2008

  • National Hare Scramble Champion

  • 2009

  • National Hare Scramble Champion

  • WORCS Champion

  • AMA Female Racer of the Year

  • 2010

  • WORCS Champion

  • 2011

  • WORCS Champion

  • X Games Enduro X Bronze Medalist

  • 2014 

  • GNCC Champion

  • X Games Enduro X Gold Medalist

  • 2015 

  • GNCC Champion

  • X Games Bronze Medalist

  • AMA Female Racer of the year

  • 2016 

  • National Enduro Champion

  • 2017

  • National Hare & Hound Champion

  • ISDE Gold Medalist

   •   ISDE USA Womens Trophy Silver       

        Medalist

   •   2018

   •   Red Bull Rocks & Logs 

        Winner

   •   National Endurocross Champion 

   •   Big 6 Champion 

   •   AMA Life Time Achievement Award

babes in the dirt

 


 

 

 

Adrienne Hunt and Her New Husqvarna FE 250

Meet Adrienne Hunt @SLOdirtgirl ! After ripping the demo bikes at Babes in the Dirt she decided to get herself a brand new Husqvarna FE 250. We got to catch up with her to hear more about her life on two wheels and why calls the FE 250 her dream bike.

babes in the dirt

What is your name?

Adrienne Hunt @SLOdirtgirl

What do you do for a living? Tell us about your job.

I work in animal welfare and am a veterinary assistant. My job duties range from day to day from assisting in animal welfare investigations, humane education to helping an injured pet in a hospital setting. I recently spent 22 days assisting up at the CampFire near Paradise, California and that was the most heart-warming and heart-wrenching experience of my life. The time, energy and love so many people put in, to make sure these animals were cared for at the front lines and behind the scenes, really reaffirmed that humans can “Be the person your dog thinks you are.”

Where are you from?

Born and raised in San Luis Obispo, California (SLO)

Where do you live?

Still walking the mean streets of “Bubble Gum Alley” (SLO)

 When were you first introduced to riding dirt? Who introduced you?

I started riding mountain bikes in 2012 after losing a bunch of weight, as I needed something to keep me busy after I gave up all the glory and retired from couch surfing. I really got into riding and I did a few downhill and XC races for fun but then started to get involved in other hobbies, so riding took a back seat for several years.

I started missing the adrenaline and physicality of it, but I also had an aversion to big climbs, enter the dirt bike. My fiancé had been riding dirt bikes since we met but it was only until June of 2017 that I was like, it’s time for me to check this out and get up these hills by a twist of the throttle.

How long have you been riding?

I’ve been riding and falling in the dirt for about 1 ½ years now.

I thought that after riding mountain bikes that dirt biking would come naturally for me, it did not, and I learned humility quickly. I had many crashes and made many mistakes when I first started riding but stuck it out, despite a few trail side meltdowns, some tears of frustration and even a few self-deprecating comments here and there, I’ve learned to stick it out and could not be happier with my progression however fast or slow it comes now.

babes in the dirt

Why do you like riding dirt?

So hard to narrow it down, riding through whoop-de-doos or pulling a wheelie, yeah! (Song: Dirt Bike rider)

As you can tell I am super serious person but truly, my favorite part is the progression. I enjoy seeing myself progress and get so pumped when I see other riders and their progression. It is one of the many things that I love about it. Seeing a trail or a section that you said “nope” to and then being able to take it on or seeing your buddy do the same. So cool!

I have made so many new friends and people I consider “family” while riding, I could not be more grateful. I like to throw together impromptu, all inclusive (male/female/squirrel) group rides or little campouts every now and then. I find that this is a great way to have people get together who may not have otherwise met up. It is so fun to see a rider meet another rider who is close to them and see them get all stoked to have someone to ride with near them.

I truly have a good time whenever I am in the dirt so whether it is “going all out” for me or helping newer riders, I love it all.

Run us through the list of bikes you have had?

In 2008 I bought a 1986 Honda Nighthawk 750 and within a few weeks, hit sand in an apex, laid it down and was hospitalized for a few weeks. My family wanted me to take a break from riding, so I respected that. In 2016, things changed and I was able to purchase a Kawasaki Versys with the intent to ADV it out and do some Dual-sport rides. After some fun adventures and mishaps I decided that I wanted something a little more dirt worthy, so I sold the Versys and bought my first dirt bike in May of 2017 which was my 1993 XR250r.  

babes in the dirt

What do you ride now?

We just bought my dream bike, a 2018 Husqvarna FE250 and I could not be more excited for the adventures to come. My first ride on her was just this Christmas at Hungry Valley OHV. We had set up one of those impromptu campouts and I was stoked to get on that maiden dirt voyage. As I confidently threw my leg over my new steed, I put her in first, let out the clutch and promptly stalled it and did a slow-motion fall to the ground.

As we set out on the group ride I knew that I felt very uncomfortable on the bike and I felt I was going to hurt myself if I tried to keep up but didn’t know the bike yet, so I broke off from the group for a few hours and just did my own thing. No pressure, no audience, just me, my bike and my own thoughts. After that I was able to ride with more confidence and a lot less of a death grip.

If you could have 2 bikes what would your other bike be?

2019 Husqvarna 701. We would love to be able to travel more by two wheels and check off some bucket list items. Having something a bit more street orientated with some off-road capabilities would help get some of that list knocked out.

Tell us what you love about the bike you ride now? Why did you choose that bike?

I was able to log some solid hours on the FE250 at Babes in the dirt last year. I think you could equate it to a groupie who just lingers near the bands dressing room, that was me at the Husqvarna demo booth (Hi Allison, it’s USAdrienne!) After taking it out for several rides, I was hooked. The throttle response, the suspension, right out of the gate it felt like a bike that met my current skill level but would also allow me to level up. The best part is it rides like a track bike but is plated for the times I do hit a dual sport ride or need to get from trail to trail.

It also comes down to how I was treated by Husqvarna and how they support riders especially us women. I was treated like I was family from the moment I skipped up the husky booth with childlike glee. They were great with the barrage of questions I had for them and when they had demos going out but had a bike that was not getting ridden, they allowed me to join the demo ride again.

Where did you buy your bike from? How was your experience at the dealership?

We live at least 3 hours from the closest dealer, so I had to call several places to get quotes and talk about what I needed as a rider and what I was willing to spend. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed with a few of the shops I reached out to as there was a lack of willingness to help someone who had to drive to see their product. I get cash in hand talks, but I was talked down to by some dealers or they would not deal with me over the phone at all. I was able to speak with Victor from HYR in Redlands and they were amazing to work with and gave me a great deal on the moto. For us, pulling the trailer, it was over a 5hr drive but it was worth the drive knowing I was being taken care of and my money was going to a shop that seemed to treat everyone with respect.  

babes in the dirt

What kind of terrain do you like riding the best?

Isn't any terrain the best terrain on a dirt bike?! To narrow it down, I really enjoy technical terrain, however you categorize that. It could be the single track that is sloughing away to a steep drop and you keep telling yourself “keep your eyes ahead...” The chunky rock section that has you working that clutch and picking your lines just so, or the steep, rutted, loose hill climb that has you sitting at the bottom of it for a few seconds, trying to pump yourself up for what is to come. I like any terrain that challenges me and helps me progress.  

What kind of terrain is a challenge for you but you want to master?

I thoroughly enjoy but am not great at rocky enduro type terrain. I find keeping the momentum through the chunk can be difficult or I’ll get in my own head and start to think too much about a rock coming up in my path and grab a fist of brake. At the same time, I love the feeling of being in control yet on the verge of being bucked off. Lots of clutch control to work on for me but again, that is why I love the braap so much, you generally can grow as a rider, as much as you are willing to push yourself.

What is the most challenging riding experience you have had?

A month or two into first starting to ride, I was all about enduro. @Crystal_loves_moto this, @Megs_braap that. I was determined to Jarvis off and do my own thing one day, so the fiancé and I went to Ballinger Canyon and I was just going to “explore” and putt-putt around for a “chill ride.” So we went our separate ways and I went to explore this little area I had eyed before that had a dry little creek bed next to it. As I explored, I thought in all my wisdom, what a great place to practice these enduro skills that I have mastered in all my two months of riding and watching videos.

I rode to the creek bed thinking I’ll drop in there and play around these rocks, it is narrow but passable. It is about a 4ft drop into the bed and as I started to drop in, I got a better visual of where I thought I could exit out of and realized, it was impassable and... the front wheel goes down. I looked back up to where I came from and there was no way I was getting it back up, so I had to forge on. With the bike being flooded and the kickstand sinking in when I tried to kick it over, I struggled for over an hour to get the bike to start in the mid-day August heat. It ended up being so sandy and deep that I dug my wheel in many times. With getting stuck several times and stalling the bike, the 1 hour or so adventure turned into a 3-hour knock-down, drag out fight with the terrain and my bike. When I got back to camp the fiancé asked how many miles I got in and I think I pulled a whopping 0.75 miles that day but many lessons learned. 

babes in the dirt

Where are some of your favorite places to ride?

Hollister Hills OHV  ranks pretty high on the list for several reasons. It combines two of my favorite things camping and dirt bikes. The park really offers a new rider a variety of terrain in a more controlled setting and for me that was really helpful to focus on my riding more than worrying about traffic coming at me at times, as Hollister has many one-way trails. One of my favorite areas there is the enduro course and the trials course. From my first visit there I eyed this big tire in the enduro course and a log drop at the trials course. I kept telling myself you are going to hit those one day and with knees shaking and heart punding, one visit I mustered the mental strength to do it. The first attempt on the tire, not bad, I made it, hit the throttle a bit too much at the top and front wheel lifted a bit, it made the landing a bit sketchy but I pulled it off. I thought, lets’ do it again, get better at it! I approached it and just as I was about to go over my brain went weird, I got scared and I just rolled off the throttle and stalled at the top and toppled over. Bike upside down, oil dripping down the frame, there was only one thing to do, take a picture. There are a few goal trails there as well that I want to ride now that I have the Husky like Troll trail but the poison oak factor makes me wonder how worth it the trail is, when I get exposed to that evil leaf, it is no joke. 

I also fell in love with Kennedy Meadows my one time there. I wish I could build a little homestead and live there fulltime. The place for me, has been the best overall riding and camping experience for me, it is just so gorgeous. The trees and meadows, the creeks, the wildlife; Kennedy Meadows just meets every expectation for me when it comes to combining my love of nature, camping and dirt bike riding. The trails vary quite a bit but unless you are an adventurous beginner, it has some fairly technical terrain. I was really able to surprise myself there and made it through many spots that myself and others were standing by waiting for the topple. I really look forward to getting back out there in 2019.

What is on your moto bucket list to ride?

Big Bear, Forest Hill Trail 6, B.C area, Moab, Sawtooth mountains, Tillamook area, race the Donner Hare scramble and many more.

Do you ride with a lot of other female riders?

I have a really solid set of ladies that I have a great time riding with, they live 3-4hours away from me but we seem to find the time to meet up and ride together every few months or so. It goes back to how supportive it can be riding with other women and the growth and bonding you all develop over it. I am able to be a small part of a bigger picture in many ways as a female rider and I really enjoy trying to foster those relationships with other female riders. I enjoy going fast and getting out of my comfort zone but at 36, I have nothing to prove, other than something to myself. With that being said, I really enjoy riding with new riders whether leading or sweeping with a group or just going out to have a good time. I like to see how they learn and if I am lucky to ride with them down the road, to see how much they have progressed. I think some of us ladies, and I am guilty of it, get in our own heads and think we are holding up a group or you don't want to be the “liability person,” You're not, ride your own ride, progress at your own pace.

The bummer thing is I don’t really have anyone that I ride with locally, it would be really nice to rip around with some ladies but they are few and far between, if you know of any that want to ride, send them my way!  

Do you have anyone in the moto world that you look up to?

I look up to so many riders for many different reasons and wish I could list them all but certainly my friend Avila (@avy119). I met her and her husband at one of the random rides we threw together at Hungry Valley. She is a blast to ride with, is willing to try any trail and gets through it with a smile.

My friend CJ (@radical_budhist) also comes to mind. She is someone who I have had the pleasure of watching progress so much since we first started riding together. She was another gal I met through one of those impromptu campouts up at Hollister Hills when we both were pros on fire roads. She is always in a rad mood, keeping the group smiling and willing to push her comfort zone. We all share so many “woohoos!” on our rides.

I look up to all the ladies of the dirt world who are making it happen; @Babesinthedirt and all you have put into this, it has changed my life as rider. Babes has exposed me to opportunities and people I may have never met otherwise. The @dirt_ladies group and what we are trying to do with getting more women riding together and being able to connect with one another.

Last but not least, my fiancé. He has been my number one fan from day one. Always supportive of my riding. Has helped celebrate triumphs, listened to my frustrations and always makes sure that the bike keeps running so we could do it all over again. There is no one I would rather have as my road dog in life. 

What was your experience at Babes in the Dirt/Babes Ride Out events?

One of the best experiences of my life thus far! 2018 was my first year at Babes in the Dirt and

I rolled in early Friday and helped volunteer for the morning until my afternoon Husqvarna demo. I was so excited to try a new bike but super nervous as well. The demo was well paced, everyone had everyone's back and the Husqvarna crew made sure that you were taken care of and had a good time. I was able to meet many of the gals I follow on Instagram and that was so neat to put faces to the names and even ride with a few. That night I made my rounds to the many trailers, tents and car campers that I wanted to say hi to. It felt like there was not enough time in this day, I wanted it to go on but sleep was needed so I reluctantly wandered back to camp for some Zzz’s.

Saturday had lots of opportunities, and it was hard to choose which to do; a Husqvarna demo, ride trail or track in the park with friends, play games at the various booths, check out the cool gear at the Fox Women’s booth or just get to know these ladies who you may only get to see once a year. Some of the dirt ladies set up a small beginner’s ride for a few ladies and we had a great time watching these gals really come out of their comfort zone and own the trails. I think that is one of the biggest things I think a lot of ladies can get out of female only events, you get a different support system, you learn that you are doing okay and that many other ladies are in the same boat. You meet ladies that are rippers but just want to support another rider and are just stoked to see you out on the trail. You also meet newer riders and you bond over the same triumphs and experiences.

Saturday night consisted of merriment and karaoke. I may or may not have had a great time embarrassing myself while singing Macklemore’s “Thrift shop” while coming down with a  cold. 

Sunday was time to say our “See you next years.” We shook the weekends sand off and helped each other load up and prepare for our various distances home. Before leaving I was able to take Brian Garrahan’s group training that afternoon and he made that was such a fun experience. I went into the class thinking I knew a fair amount of the basics for riding but found many techniques that could improve my riding or ways to refine what I was already doing but make it safer and in turn, riding into more fun.

What advice do you have for someone thinking about getting in to riding dirt?

Just be you. We all get into riding dirt for different reasons and throughout your whole moto journey you will be exposed to different types of riders and types of riding but as long as you are true to the reason you ride, the ride will always be fun and always be yours.

It is easy to get into your own head, to think maybe you are not improving enough or when you are riding with people that you are the one, “keeping them back,” you are not. It may not happen overnight but you will find your “people.” The ones you look up to and the ones that look up to you. The ones that keep pushing you to do more because they know you can and the ones that will help push your bike back up the hill when maybe it did not all go to plan. Riding is an adventure and all adventures have ups and downs, just remember, you are doing this for you and no one else, when that is the motivation that is when it really becomes fun.

Anything else you would like to add?

A big thanks to all the ladies and men behind the scenes who are supportive in getting more women riding and having fun in the dirt. Instagram groups like @Dualsportwomen , @WLFenduro, @National_Forest_Riders (NFR) and @Corva are all doing things to help support all riders and our riding community. Husqvarna motorcycles are at the forefront of highlighting this movement of women riders and putting their money where their mouth is.

Fox Womens with their support and proactiveness with their female riding audience’s needs and wants as riders.

And of course, to ALL who have supported me through this journey of mine. It has been such a fun and wild ride since I started riding a year and some change ago. When I joined Instagram, I wanted to try and find more women to ride with and to highlight the struggles and triumphs of someone my age, who just started getting into riding a dirt bike. I have made so many friends and have been able to follow along with so many adventures of others. I look forward to many more years making a fool….er…improving my skills as a rider and look forward to enjoying that journey with others as well. Cheers to #2019yearofthebraap.

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Iron Woman | Elizabeth Karcz and the Baja 1000

We caught up with Iron Woman Liz Karcz who is fresh of racing the Baja 1000 in the Ironman class. Yes, that it 800+ miles through the desert in 2 days solo. There is so much that goes in to getting mentally, physically and mechanically ready for a monumental feat such as this. Liz is the second woman in history to complete the Ironman class and finish! Read on to hear about her journey to the finish line.

babes in the dirt
babes in the dirt

Lets start by having you tell us a little about yourself:

Name: Liz Karcz

Where do you live? Albuquerque, NM

Day Job? more like “night job” (I work nightshift) but Trauma/Surgical/Burn/Open Heart ICU Nurse

How long have you been riding? 5 years

What bike do you ride? a 2009 Honda 450X and a 2013 KTM 300 XC  

How did you first get in to riding dirtbikes? My ex’s family was big into dirtbikes. While living in the Tahoe area I really got into mountain biking, and it seemed like the perfect next hobby!

What type of riding do you normally love to do? Desert, but I love some good mountain riding as well 

Tell us about the Baja 1000 and what inspired you to want to do it?

Well, once I got the OK from Mark (Winkleman) to attempt to be the first woman to solo the entire SCORE International series, I started with the San Felipe 250 and progressively moved onto the next event. After finishing the first 3, the Baja 1000 would be the grand finale, so there was no turning back at that point.

The Iron(Wo)Man class is pretty intense, break down what that is all about and how it challenges you as a rider.  

To Ironman a race means you race the entirety of the event on your own. Events as long as these are often done as a team, with each rider focusing on a specific section and giving it their all for a certain distance. There are a definitely a few challenges when committing to the entire distance. For one, you need to know how to pace yourself so that you don’t fatigue out. You need to take calculated risks (more so than a team racer) because if something happens to you, that’s it…you don’t have a backup rider.  You also need to be very mindful of your nutrition and hydration, refueling your body well enough to be able to handle hundreds of miles and hours of exertion at a time. And of course, you need to be both physically and mentally strong. Baja is a beautiful, but brutal place… easily one of the most challenging places on earth to race, and you need to be prepared for whatever she might throw your way.

What bike prep did you need in order to get ready? Any specific modifications? 

Having a Honda 450X to work with was a great foundation for a race bike in itself; they’re proven to withstand a variety of elements and be very reliable down in Baja.  To get Juanita more race ready (yes, my bike’s name is Juanita) my mechanic Greg jazzed her up with the following:  threw in an R camshaft when rebuilding the motor, gold valves from Race Tech for the suspension, Scotts Performance Products stabilizer, Baja Designs lighting (Baja Designs also did a rewind on my stator at the beginning of the season), and converted the gas tank to an IMS dry-break set up. My wheels were built with Warp 9 Racing rims/spokes, Moose steel sprockets, KENDA tires (Washougal for the front, Parker for the rear), and SRT bib mousses. And of course, the best graphics out there to make her pretty were designed & produced by my friend Matt at REV Designs.

babes in the dirt

What kind of training did you go through to get in shape for the Baja 1000?

I’m a pretty active person at baseline, so my training regimen was not far off from my routine. I continued to cross train with mountain biking and road cycling, plus quite a bit of time at the gym doing strength training and cardio  (weights, tire flips, rowing, swimming). To improve conditioning I would try to head up to the crest [Sandia Crest, elevation 10,679ft] every so often and run, and even road cycling up to the crest from the base was a good push (elevation gain of ~3600+ ft in 20ish miles). I usually eat pretty healthy, so didn’t follow any specific nutrition plan, but did incorporate additional supplements like amino acids to help with endurance….and minimizing my ‘adult beverage’ intake helped stay on track.  

babes in the dirt

Tell us about the ride, any mishaps? How was the terrain? Any particularly challenging sections? 

The longest one I’ve been on, that’s for sure! I had no rear brake for the last 50 miles or so (after a tip over onto a rock), but overall no major mishaps! Greg built me an incredible bike. She may have a few battle wounds, but my chase crew did an excellent job servicing the bike throughout the race to keep it running great (I think we did a total of 6 air filter changes, frequent oil checks and topped off as needed throughout the day, and fresh wheels at mile 480). The terrain, variable.  Some fast & flowy sections, lots of whoops, lots of rocks, and lots (and lots) of silt.  The most challenging was everything through Catavina, mostly because of how bad the silt got. The race unfortunately ended for a lot of people between 380-535; stuck vehicles, blown motors, it was a nightmare.

How was your mental state during the race? Were you super exhausted? While you were riding did you ever ask yourself what you were doing or have any doubts that you could finish etc

I was doing pretty well until about 24 hours in. After battling the gnarly terrain between 380-535 for 10 hours straight, sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion was catching up to me and I started to get delirious. I would start zoning out and dozing off riding my bike, and my mind would play tricks with me: was I still on course? Is this the wash I’m supposed to be in? Did I miss a marker? I was tired and sore, and everything looks so different at night. I knew the sun would be up soon and the homestretch was near, so I would force myself to stand as much as I could, and just start singing to myself…anything  to keep my mind active.

I never doubted myself that I could finish, but I did start to get worried that I was going to time out. In the last 50 miles I tipped over the bike on a hill climb (it was just getting so hard to hold on & my form was getting sloppy) and got pinned between my bike and a rock. My bike felt like it weighed over 500lbs at this point, I tried to wiggle myself out but it was hard. I started crying ,cussing, staring at my STELLA watching the time go by. I felt so helpless and trapped. Then I heard a car coming and realized I had no choice but to get myself up, that I didn’t come this far to time out.  I dug down and found whatever ounces of energy I had left to give that bike one last push. I got it up, and kept moving.

Did you feel prepared or un prepared once you started the race?  

I could have used a better night’s sleep, but otherwise, I was as ready as I was going to be. Greg (Sceiford, my mechanic) worked hard with me all year to prepare me from a bike-troubleshooting standpoint, and I had the best chase crew with the right logistics, so I knew I was in good hands and could just focus on riding the bike.

How was the navigation? Did ya get lost at all?

The navigation is pretty easy to follow if you have a GPS. There were still a fair amount of markers left by race day in most sections, but once you got to the coast, they were slim. Unfortunately, after weeks of pre-running it’s just bound to happen so you need to be ready for that. I don’t know how anyone could race without a GPS, truthfully. There is just too much potential for error and to get lost out there.

Was there any other ladies riding that you came across?

When I was riding I was so focused on my own race I honestly didn’t know who may or may not be around me, unless it was at a pit or check point. However (don’t quote me on this) I don’t believe there was any other females racing on a dirtbike or quad…I could be wrong, hard to tell with helmets on; and I don’t believe I was ever caught by any of my  gal pals that race in the other classes (UTV, Truck, Car, etc)…I could also be wrong with this, in the dark it’s sometimes hard to tell, and most of the last 10 hours was a blur as far as my surroundings.

babes in the dirt

Tell us about some of the people you met.

Throughout the season I have been so fortunate to make so many awesome friends! Of course it’s been a blast getting to know some of the other ladies like Sara Price, Ericka Sacs, Kristen Matlock, Julie Boyer, Diane Giannelli, Baja Nikki (to name a few). So many other amazing racers too: Cameron Steele, Steve Hengeveld, Ricky Johnson. But one of the coolest things was having Jimmy Sones come down to help chase me during the 1000. He’s a legend, and so knowledgeable, to have him be a part of my race was really cool.  

Favorite part?

Running into all my friends I’ve made throughout the year, whether it’s locals or people from back in the States. There is nothing like moto family, and even more so, there is nothing like Baja family…it’s just such an incredible place to be experiencing together, no one ever goes home without stories.

Least favorite part?

 I would say it’s a tie between the silt, and having to share a race course with the trucks/cars/UTVs.

Describe your feeling when you crossed the finish line? What was that like?

Relief.  I was so happy to have made it back, me ok, the bike’s ok…. to see my family and friends again, and knowing I was going to get to go back home to my dogs!! The actual reality of what I accomplished would take a few days to sink in, which of course makes me ecstatic…sometimes I still can’t believe it’s over and I did it.  

Would you do it again?

Hard to say. It’s not something that is realistic for me to try to go back to for 2019, but if the right opportunity presented itself in the future, maybe? There are also other events that would challenge me in similar ways which would be fun to try, so I guess we’ll see where the wind blows.  

If you did, would you change anything about how you did it?

I would have definitely started peeing on myself sooner! For the longest time, I was super skeptical about resorting to that as a time-saving strategy…but had I not done it at the 1000, I would have timed out. It makes me wonder how much faster my times would have been at the others if I didn’t overthink it and just did it.

babes in the dirt

Any suggestions for ladies who might be interested in going for it next year?

I would say definitely do your homework. Before doing any kind of racing in Baja, I think it would be very beneficial to get down there for a fun ride beforehand, or link up with another team and go pre-run with them… to get a feel for the terrain around the peninsula, see what roads go where, what towns are where, etc. What a lot of people don’t realize (I know I didn’t until I came down to prerun during the 2017 Baja 500) is just how much the layout of the land plays a factor in planning logistics, whether you are racing on a team or solo.  Not everywhere on the course is accessible by vehicles, not every town has a gas station, not everywhere is ideal for a rider change (if racing as a team), cell phones don’t work everywhere and medical help can be hours away…the list goes on. Does that mean that someone who has never been to Baja can’t successfully race there? No, I’m sure it’s been pulled off before. However, the more you plan and the better you prepare, the better of an experience it will be. Racing down in Baja is not to be taken lightly. It is an amazing thing, but it is also a dangerous thing. You need to know what you are up against, have back-up plans, and then have back-up plans for your back-up plans. That being said, with the right amount of organization and the right people in your corner, it can be a beautiful, once-in-a lifetime experience; commit to it, put in the time and work, and anything is possible.

babes in the dirt

Stacy Dixon & the Dirt Ladies do LA-Barstow-Vegas

2 days and 400+ miles off-road sound fun to you? Us too! Stacy Dixon @pikeylady and @dirt_ladies did the LA-Barstow-Vegas dualsport ride last week and are sharing there awesome story with us. Adventures like these are filled with triumphs and mishaps that help shape us all in to better and more prepared riders. Read on to hear more about her experience and the advice she has for other riders thinking of joining in the fun. Congrats on crossing the finish line babes!

babes in the dirt

Name:

Stacy Dixon (@pikeylady)

Where do you live?

Lancaster, CA 

How long have you been riding?

I’ve been riding dirt on and off for about 8 years, and street for about 2.

What bike do you ride?

For dirt and racing, I ride a 2017 KTM Freeride 250R (two stroke!), and for long moto camping trips or street rides, I use my 2014 Honda CB500X. I’ve turned it into a mini adventure bike.

What is LA to Barstow to Vegas?

LAB2V is a self-guided, two-day dual sport ride that’s been running for 35 years! It attracts hundreds of riders on everything from vintage bikes, to sidehacks, adventure bikes and dual sports. Any street legal bike is welcome, and it’s cool to see what kind of bikes people have used to complete this ride. The routes and mileage vary a bit every year, but it usually totals around 450 miles over two days. It starts in north LA County (Palmdale, CA), stopping in Barstow, CA the first day, then continuing on to Las Vegas the second day. The terrain includes sand, rocks, whoops, gravel, pavement and everything in between. Fortunately though, LAB2V plots multiple route options to suite all kinds of riding abilities. There is the standard “Easy Route”, which is primarily off-road and great for the average dual sport. For those who like to be challenged, there are “Hard Routes” which periodically break away from the Easy Route and contain enduro obstacles like rock gardens, deep sand, boulders and step ups. There are also some “Bail Out” options. If you’re on a heavy adventure bike or need to make up lost time, you can choose to take a stretch of pavement or a well maintained dirt road and give yourself a break.

 

What made you want to participate in LAB2V?

This year it was a matter of continuing what’s become a new Thanksgiving tradition for me, and riding my favorite dual sport event. My first LAB2V was in 2016 after buying my first dual sport and finally getting my motorcycle license. I had always felt so intimidated by street and dual sport riding, but I also couldn’t ignore the desire to try it, and I love a good endurance challenge. One obstacle I faced back then was that I didn’t have a lot of riding buddies, and I didn’t know anyone who wanted to do the ride with me. But I wanted to try it so bad that I was prepared to ride LAB2V solo. I spent months researching the ride and prepping and I had the support of my Mom, who agreed to drive a chase vehicle and help me with pit stops. I also had the peace of mind of there being an amazing volunteer group that puts on the event, including sweep crews, Rescue 3, and experienced riders that were full of helpful tips. The week before the 2016 LAB2V ride, I met someone on a District 37 forum who matched my riding style and also wanted to give it a try. So that year, I showed up to the start, barely knowing that one other person, and we set out on the ride. He wound up crashing towards the end of the first day and couldn’t continue, so I rode and navigated day two by myself. It was a little scary, and my bike gave me a lot of problems that forced me to finish the ride on a bail out. I think I was the very last person into Vegas after dark, but I finished! I also met some good people on that ride and through the social media afterwards, including the amazing Sara Dinges (@dualsportwomen). In 2017, I rode LAB2V again with much better luck, and this year was my third ride!

babes in the dirt

 

What bike prep did you need in order to get ready?

This ride requires a lot of prep! Every year, I’ve actually made a spreadsheet months in advance to keep track of what I need to buy, do and pack so I don’t forget. This year I decided to do some bike upgrades before the ride: a Seat Concepts seat, TUbliss system, JD Jetting kit, new tires, and a Giant Loop gas bag to go with my Giant Loop Mojave saddlebags. My bike’s fuel tank is less than 2 gallons (with no aftermarket options) and LAB2V fuel stops can be 100+/- miles apart, so carrying extra fuel was absolutely necessary. After the upgrades, my amazing friends Ruben Arizaga and Hollie West helped me with hours of bike work including an oil change, new brakes, a carb clean and rebuild, silencer repacking, air filter cleaning and prep, new fork seals, and an overall deep clean and inspection. My fellow LAB2V rider Christina and her boyfriend Giancarlo also provided some much needed mechanical help the weekend before the ride. Then there were the logistics: ensuring my 6-year-old son was taken care of during the ride, booking hotel rooms in Barstow and Vegas, coordinating with the other riders, getting time off work, and organizing the ride home. I also made sure I had all my trail gadgets ready to go: my Antigravity XP10 battery pack (my bike doesn’t have a kick starter) and mini compressor, Garmin Montana GPS, SPOT tracker, Tusk helmet lights just in case, and a GoPro for the fun sections.

Who did you ride with?

This year I was excited to have three women riders with me, and it was their first LAB2V. I rode with Christina (@motorobot), Erica Kim (@itsericakim) and Casey Jaeckel (@tonedapollo), who was recovering from a broken wrist due to a recent street bike accident (such a trooper!). I’ve ridden trails with Christina, who is also on a KTM Freeride, and she put me in touch with Erica and Casey through our Dirt Ladies group.  

babes in the dirt

Tell us about the ride, any mishaps? Did ya get lost? How was the terrain? Any particular challenging sections?

As usual, the ride starts the Friday after Thanksgiving in Palmdale, CA.  We were in line for tech inspection around 5:30am, and there were already hundreds of bikes ready to go! After tech inspection, I picked up maps, a roll chart, rider instructions and GPS tracks for Day 1, then regrouped with the girls to make a game plan. Since I had some experience, I was asked to the group and navigate. Our chase crew included my mom Lori driving the MotoMinivan, Christina’s boyfriend and our team mechanic Giancarlo in a truck with their two pups, and Casey’s friend Kyle, who was also keeping an eye on two other LAB2V riders. We all confirmed where our first pit stop location would be, then hit the road.

As we made our way north to California City, I kept looking in my mirror and thinking how cool it was to see three badass, brave women taking on this new adventure. We kept up a great intermediate pace, and were staying on schedule to make it to Barstow before sunset. Although we carried extra lights for night riding, we didn’t want to use them! After the first gas stop, we headed east towards the lunch location in Johannesburg. Along the way, we decided to test our first Hard Route opportunity in Last Chance Canyon. There were some bottlenecks with other riders once we hit the deep sand and rock sections, which made riding through the obstacles even more challenging. With Casey’s injury, she made the very smart call to preserve her wrist and go back to the less crowded route, with Erica by her side. We communicated to our chase crew that we were briefly splitting up, then continued on. Christina and I put our two strokes through their paces in the long stretches of rocks and deep sand before meeting back up with Erica and Casey at the end of the canyon. It was at that point that Casey was having trouble getting her bike started. Some friends of ours, Billy and Joe passed by and they were able to get Casey’s bike running well enough to get back to the main road, and be picked up by our chase crew. Once again, Casey’s selflessness insisted that we press on while she figured out the fate of her poor CRF.

The trail was from there was fun and flowing, with amazing views overlooking Searles Valley. Then we arrived at a steep downhill with a bit of a rut, which is my biggest fear in riding. I know how I’m supposed to ride downhills, but executing it is another story. As I looked down the hill I saw a vintage XL600 on its side part way down, with its rider looking stuck and unable to fully lift the behemoth of a bike. I got off my Freeride and walked (slid) down to assist. As I helped him lift his machine, I learned he had no front brake! The bike would quickly pick up speed when we lifted it, pulling us all back down to the ground. We decided to push the XL on its side into the rut for leverage, where it could be stood up and walked down in gear, using the clutch as a brake. After the rider caught his breath and expressed his gratitude, he was able to get down the hill more safely. The other riders now had a clear path down, including Christina, who tackled that downhill like a pro. Fearless and confident, she rode down flawlessly as I watched from the rut. Then I realized I still had to walk back up to my bike! This made me realize how steep the hill felt and made me psych myself out even more. Despite being inspired by Christina’s success, I didn’t feel confident about riding down, and I wound up walking my bike halfway down the hill too. I got back on my bike and coasted to the base of the hill, where it plateaued before descending again into a second hill. I tend to be a stubbornly cautious rider, especially in the middle of a 400-mile ride. 

Our entire group reorganized at the lunch stop in Johannesburg, where my mom greeted us with sandwiches, gasoline and ibuprofen. Casey’s bike was still in the truck, where it would stay until we could get to Barstow and let Giancarlo take a crack at getting it running well enough for day two. After a well-deserved lunch break, Erica, Christina and I got back on the road. Johannesburg to Barstow had a lot of fast, flat sections, and it was fun to open up the bikes after all the previous rocks and ruts. The very last dirt stretch of the day was a long, wide whooped out dirt road just outside of Barstow. This is where Erica really showed her speed and skill, as she opened up her 250 and flew across every rut and whoop section with ease. This girl can rip!

We eventually rolled into Barstow to end day one around 4pm, an hour before sunset and ahead of many other riders. I was proud of our pace as we picked up our roll charts and GPS tracks for day two. I immediately started bike prep before my fatigue totally set in. For me, that meant topping off my gas tank and gas bag, swapping out my air filter, replenishing my camelbak, cleaning and lubing the bike’s chain, checking tire pressure, mixing gas for tomorrow’s pit stops, charging all my electronics, loading the new roll chart, and previewing tomorrow’s route options as part of my navigator duties. All I wanted to do was eat and sleep but this ride is all about prep. Giancarlo already had Casey’s bike torn apart by that time and he discovered that, despite his outstanding efforts, the bike simply required new parts and wasn’t reliable enough to ride day two. We were heartbroken that Casey’s ride had come to an end so early in the weekend, but thankful that she stuck around and continued supporting her friends for day two. After carb-loading at the best Italian restaurant in Barstow, we got some rest before another early morning start.  

The next morning we were all a bit sore and were starting to feel the muscle fatigue. Despite how much we wanted to ride the super rocky Hard Route through Calico Canyon that morning, we decided to stick to the Easy Routes and save our energy for Red Rock Canyon at the end of the day, which for me last year, was the highlight of the ride. We left Barstow and rode alongside the Calico Mountains for a bit. It was so difficult to pass up the Hard Route turnoffs into the canyon, but I felt that staying conservative was the best option for the group to get to Vegas while the sun was still up. A small consolation for missing out on the rocky canyon was watching the still-visible full moon hang over the mountain ridges while the sunrise cast long shadows of our bikes on the short stretch of pavement past Calico. It’s easy to get caught up in the fast pace of the ride, but I tried to remember to look up and enjoy the beautiful scenery that we are fortunate enough to be able to ride through.

The pavement faded to dirt and the dirt to sand in a canyon. This turned that beautiful sunrise into a challenging one, as we were now heading directly east in clouds of hazy dust. Ultimately, we popped out onto some fast, wide dirt roads that paralleled powerlines and railroad tracks near Yermo, and the wind helped clear the dust. Giancarlo met us at a railroad crossing so Christina and I could top off our small tanks before the next gas stop in Baker. As we headed off towards our first checkpoint, we turned on to the sandy and curvy Powerline Road. I could see that Christina and Erica were eager to click through some gears behind me, so I waved them on ahead, knowing that navigation wasn’t going to be an issue for several miles. Moments later, I came around a corner to see a group of riders huddled around someone on the ground near a small washout on the left side of the road. Then I saw a Freeride with no one on it and my heart sank. But just as quickly, Christina’s face appeared through the small crowd as she was sitting upright and looking my way with a slightly bloody half grin. I knew then that she was okay… relatively speaking. Erica was by her side and so were a handful of other riders who had stopped to check on her. Christina took some time to recover and felt good enough to press on, so we did. We sped off towards Baker, home of the World’s Tallest Thermometer, and arrived there just before 9:30am. We were still ahead of schedule to be able to ride Red Rock that afternoon, and we took advantage of that with a long break. Giancarlo went to work fixing a few things on Christina’s bike while Erica and I indulged in more of Mom’s sandwiches.

After Baker, it was a quick 50ish miles to Sandy Valley, a tiny little town in Nevada where we were served a hot lunch by the local student council at an elementary school. Once again, the volunteers that come together for this event are amazing! We realized that Christina’s front tire had a slow leak after her crash, so a repair was in order. Giancarlo saved the day with a post-lunch tire fix that allowed Christina’s Freeride to keep going. With a little time lost on the tire change and an ankle issue creeping up on Erica, we decided to take what can only be described as a dirt highway from Sandy Valley to the entrance of Red Rock Canyon to make up some time. On this final leg of the trip, we had a couple other friends tagging along as well: Scott and Ichi.

We arrived at the start of the Red Rock Canyon Hard Route and were immediately greeted with some fun, winding single track leading us to the base of the canyon. We twisted our way through stone-filled dips and climbs until we arrived at a rocky downhill, where sheets of dark red shale were stacked like stairs covered in loose rocks and small boulders of the same color. This place was appropriately named. The downhill ended with a sharp right turn into deep, deep sand where other riders’ tracks wound tightly around Joshua trees and more rocks. I had to keep looking up from the faint trail to find the signature LAB2V ribbon markings and make sure we stayed on course. The sand ended into a deep wash filled with nothing but rocks and boulders, with gravel underneath. Some parts were narrow enough for only a single bike to fit through and the wash’s walls came up over our handlebars at times. But I felt like a kid in a candy store. My little Freeride was built for this type of terrain and my excitement outweighed my fatigue. My bike gobbled up the rocks and crawled up a few small step ups without issue. Eventually the wash widened and leveled out a bit, so I stopped to check navigation while waiting for the others.  

I realized the roll chart and GPS both alluded to a right turn that I had missed, which could get us back to the main road more quickly. This was the first time on the ride that I felt uncertain about navigation, and I certainly didn’t want to lead the group through more enduro riding then they had to, since shadows were getting long and muscles were getting tired. The group caught up and took a break while I turned around and unsuccessfully tried to find a cutoff back to the main road. Other riders passing by confirmed that they didn’t see a turn either, so I double backed to my group. We decided to keep following the wash, since more riders were heading that way as well and none of them had turned back around. It wound up working out and we reached the blacktop a short while later. I linked back up with the GPS track and I knew we were around the corner from the grand finale. 

After a very brief paved reprieve, we were back on winding dirt two track, ascending to the rock garden at the peak of Rocky Gap Rd that seems like the most sought after section of Red Rock and the LAB2V ride itself. I arrived at the peak to find 4x4s blocking all the non-Jarvis lines through the first stage of rocks and step ups. Some riders tried going around the trucks but were having trouble because the lines were nonexistent. Ichi hopped off his bike and assisted the riders ahead of us. Eventually the trucks moved but I was already set up for a less-than ideal line choice. I tried it anyway and dropped my bike. I repositioned, and gave it another shot, and successfully crawled up the first rock face, with Ichi spotting me just in case. He stayed behind and helped some others while I charged ahead with Scott right behind me. There were more 4x4s coming towards us on the trail, which took away more line choices, but we were there for a challenge anyway. I bounced around from one rock to the next, smiling and feeling at home in the rocks. Within minutes, the hardest part of the section was over and it was just a matter of flowing back down some rocky two track before emerging into the beautiful Red Rock Park.

One of the best parts of the ride, is the sense of accomplishment felt when reaching the pavement after Red Rock Canyon. The dirt portion of the ride was over, and I could see a glimpse of the Vegas skyline poking up between the Red Rocks and horizon. I felt so proud of our little group for finishing despite the challenges along the way. I was elated to riding into town, even though we had to jump on the freeway momentarily and caught every red light down Flamingo Blvd on our way to the finish line at The Orleans Casino.  We pulled into The Orleans’ parking garage around 4:30pm, with the last bits of daylights fading behind us. My mom and Giancarlo were waiting proudly at the finish, taking pictures and sharing in our excitement. After some high fives and two stroke revs, we lined up to have our picture taken with Santa Claus and two Vegas showgirls; a traditional LAB2V finish. 

I loaded up my bike and gear in the MotoMinivan, then and rushed to my hotel for that long awaited shower. Next it was time for the LAB2V rider’s banquet inside one of the casino’s ballrooms, which is a cool ending to the event filled with awesome giveaways, photos, drinks and grub. For those who stayed in Vegas through Sunday night, there was an LAB2V bowling event also at The Orleans, which I participated in for the first time this year. My bowling team happened to also win the 50/50 pot that night, so thanks to my teammates Dave, Abigail, and John!

babes in the dirt

 

How was the navigation?

It takes some practice, but this year I felt more confident with navigation and was able to lead the group without getting lost. I use the mandatory roll chart issued by LAB2V, alongside my Garmin, which is loaded with LAB2V tracks before the start of each day. I also carried a SPOT tracker, which was a huge help to our chase crew. They could see our movements every few minutes on an app and receive check-in messages that we were okay when we stopped.

 

Were there a lot of ladies on the ride?

I didn’t hear the official count this year, but the last couple years there were less than 20 women riding out of over 550 participants. That makes it even more awesome to have a group of 4 women take on this ride together! We hope to inspire more female participation by sharing our experience and giving women a resource for information about the ride and how to prepare.

 

Tell us about some of the people you met.

Because of the Sunday night bowling event, I was able to spend time with some of the volunteer 4x4 sweep crews, and learned even more about what they do. One of the volunteers, Abigail Williams, was on her second year of teaming up with her husband and using their truck to rescue several bikes and riders each day. Sweep’s job is stay behind all the riders and help get every last broken bike or stranded person safely off the trails. No one gets left in the desert because of these amazing volunteers and their collaboration with Rescue 3. We can’t thank them enough for their efforts.

Favorite part? Least favorite part?

My favorite part was definitely Red Rock canyon. It offers some challenging but rideable enduro obstacles in the middle of gorgeous scenery at the end of an amazing ride. My least favorite part was that steep downhill, and there is definitely LAB2V drone footage that proves my discontent. Maybe someday I’ll get over my fear and tackle it the “right” way.  

babes in the dirt

Would you do it again?

Absolutely! I hope I get to do this ride every single year, and some day, I’d love to be able to ride LAB2V with my son. He’s only 6, so it’s gonna be awhile! This year, there was an 85 year old man that completed the ride, so there’s no shortage of inspiration when it comes to returning year after year. 

Any suggestions for ladies wanting to participate next year?

Here’s some essential tips:

1)     You don’t need a 500cc, high speed desert rocket to do this long ride. Reliability is key, and you’ll be much happier on a smaller, lighter bike that you’re comfortable picking up multiple times. You’ll need to be able to hold onto it for 8-10 hours straight for two consecutive days. All our girls rode light 250s at a steady, consistent pace and did great.  

2)     You also don’t need a bunch of bike upgrades and gadgets to make this ride happen. My first year, I just used what I had and learned what was essential for the next year. If you love it enough, you’ll accumulate the “nice to haves” over the years as your budget allows. I’ve also borrowed friends’ gear before, and pooled resources with other riders. And don’t forget to get creative! Padded bicycle shorts can be a life saver when an upgraded moto seat is not in the budget. Fuel bottles can be carried instead buying an aftermarket tank. And you can buy an old, cheap smart phone on eBay and load it with a GPS app as opposed to spending hundreds on a dedicated GPS unit.

 3)     Start prepping months before the ride. This includes bike maintenance and training. Ride as much as you can before LAB2V to prevent things like arm pump, blisters and cramps. The gym is helpful too, but nothing beats seat time. The more you ride, the easier it gets.

 4)     Do a shakedown ride during the weeks before LAB2V using all the gear you plan to wear and pack for the ride, and consider the temperatures you’ll be facing. Give yourself time to fix any issues you find before Thanksgiving.

5)     Practice navigating ahead of time, or better yet, find a buddy that’s done the ride before and is comfortable navigating and leading. That way you can focus on enjoying the journey during your ride, and maybe learn navigation along the way. Babes in the Dirt would be a great place to network for LAB2V riders and navigation experts, as well as various dual sport groups on social media, like @Dirt_Ladies and @dualsportwomen.

babes in the dirt





 

Meet Kate McKerroll and her Husqvarna FX 350

It’s not hard to get inspired to ride when you look at Kate McKerroll. We’ve seen her rippin’ her Husqvarna FX 350 up sand dunes, through tire pits and over logs. She met her match when she hopped on this bike and we thought we would reach out to get to know a bit more about her and her life on two wheels. Read on!

babes in the dirt

What is your name?

Kate McKerroll

What do you do for a living? Tell us about your job.

My day job - Marketing Coordinator at VICE Media

My night job – Aspiring writer. Stay tuned for the next issue of Fast Times Mag!

My weekend job – Volunteering at women’s off-road events and competing in as many Off-Road Ontario races as my schedule will allow :)

Where are you from?

Barrie, Ontario, Canada

Where do you live?

 Toronto, Ontario, Canada

When were you first introduced to riding dirt? Who introduced you? 

I first rode a dirt bike the day after I learned how to ride a bicycle, when I was 5 years old. From what I have been told about the story, my Dad was certain he would have a son. His plan was to raise his son to be a bad-ass biker dude just like he was! Spoiler alert: He didn’t end up having a son, he had a daughter, but that didn’t stop him from carrying out his plan to raise a bad-ass biker to follow in his footsteps. Thanks, Dad!

babes in the dirt

How long have you been riding?

19 years! Wow, that makes me sound old.

Why do you like riding dirt?

 This is so hard to express in words. Riding dirt has been a part of my life for so long I don’t remember a time without it. It has become a part of who I am. When I was heavily into racing, I devoted my whole life to it. I won’t lie, after nine years of racing and finally winning a Canadian championship, I was really burnt out. I had lost the love I once had for riding. It started to feel more like work than fun and I felt like a lot of people had high expectations of me.

After I won Walton National in 2012 and scored a few top 10 moto finishes at Loretta Lynn’s Amature national, I decided I would take a break, go to University, and take a stab at a normal ~ non-moto ~ life. This is a long winded answer to your question but, it’s important to mention. After taking a few years off, I realized how much I missed it. I missed the freedom, the independence, the challenge! I missed having something that was only mine, something that no one else really understood. It was what made me, me!

I eventually stopped trying to run away from riding and decided I would change my relationship with it. When I got back into riding dirt I decided to take it down a notch and try off-road riding and racing rather than motocross. Since I have made the shift and started riding for enjoyment and FUN rather than constand competition, my love for dirt is stronger than ever. It is the only thing that keeps me 100% present. In today's world, we have a lot of distractions, riding dirt requires an immense amount of focus and concentration. It is the only place where I feel present and focused, I guess you could say it is my way of meditating.

babes in the dirt

Run us through the list of bikes you have had?

Wow! I have had too many to count. To summarize, when I was 5ish, my Dad put me on my first bike which was a JR50 from 1980-something. It was so rad! After that, when we realized we really wanted to make a go of this whole dirt biking thing, he bought me my first KTM. A KTM 50, for my 7th birthday. From there I moved up the ranks as I grew, moving from a 50 to a 65 sx to an 85 sx to a 105 sx and by the time I was twelve I had my first full size KTM 125 sx.

A few years after that KTM started making the 144 sx and  the 150 sx. I always loved 2 strokes and prefered racing them, so we moved up to the 150 sx and that is what I raced for most of my career. I had a short summer fling with a Honda 250F but, it wasn’t long before I wanted my 2 stroke back. I finally sold my last 150 sx a few years ago. Now that I am living in the city and don’t have a truck, it’s really hard to get myself to an MX track to ride. I sold the 150 sx and got a 500 exc which is my commuter, grocery getter, fun-haver and sometimes race bike! It was only this spring that I got a chance to try out the Husqvarna fleet and have been trading between the FE 350 and the FX 350 this summer. Of all the bikes I have had, the FX 350 is such an impressive machine. It is so fast and handles so well! 

What do you ride now? 

I am currently riding a 2018 Husqvarna FX 350 and a 2015 KTM 500 exc. I also rode a 2018 Husqvarna FE 350 earlier this spring, it is such a killer bike!

If you could have 2 bikes what would your other bike be?

I am so blessed to already have two bikes right now! But, if I would have ANOTHER, I would really like to add a Vespa to my fleet. It sounds cheesy but living in Toronto I would love to trade my dirt bike for a red or dare I say… pink scoot on Monday morning to zip to work for the week. You can literally park them anywhere and they are so cute.

babes in the dirt

Tell us what you love about the bike you ride now?

The Husqvarna FX 350 is an incredible machine. It has so much power. What I love is, it is basically the bike version of me! A cross between motocross and off-road! Haha! It packs the punch of a true motocross bike, something I am used to riding due to my history in MX, with the gearing and handling of an off-road bike. It is the best of both worlds. Do I even need to mention how epic the electric start is? It almost feels like a cheat! I am also so impressed by the handling, although the FX 350 is one of the most powerful bikes I have ridden, and to be fair, a lot of bike for someone my size/weight to handle, I always feel like I am in control. I really respect the amount of time and R&D that Husqvarna puts into engineering these motorcycles. Building a best in class motor is one thing, but building a chassis that can house that power and perfecting the ergonomics to make the rider feel one with the machine is magic!

What kind of terrain do you like riding the best?

I love flowy single track. There is absolutely nothing better than ripping through some smooth, windy, loamy trail after a bit of rain. Growing up in MX, I do really miss the perfectly watered, groomed tracks, but I have come to love the feeling of freedom you get when you are ripping through single track. As I say this I am thinking back to a loop of single track I rode two weeks ago at the Algonquin Two-Day Trail Ride and it was basically an MX course that weaved between trees. It had sandy, bermed corners, some kickers, some open straightaways, it felt like it was right out of a movie!

I feel like this is a bad answer though, considering that is every riders dream terrain. I also love motocross tracks, obviously, oh, and sand! I rode dunes for the first time ever in April and it was SO EPIC!

babes in the dirt

What kind of terrain is a challenge for you but you want to master? 

Wet roots and wet rocks. I honestly do not like anything wet/muddy. As I mentioned before, I am a totally spoiled MX rider who is used to close to perfect conditions on a consistent basis. When I get into the slippery/mucky crap that is in Northern Ontario I have a bit of a tantrum before forcing myself to carry on and try my best to grin and bear it! LOL! I want to learn to love that stuff and see it as an exciting challenge rather than a chore.

What is the most challenging riding experience you have had? 

This Spring I went on a twelve day riding trip to the Southwest. We rode through Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado. Before the trip, I had close to no off-road riding experience. I had really only ever ridden Motocross. I had no idea how challenging it would be and I 100% underestimated what off-road riders go through. That shit is gnarly! Not only did we tackle some of the toughest trails in Utah, the infamous 5-files-of-hell being one of them, endurance also played a part in how challenging it was for me. Twelve days of riding is a lot. Half the battle was getting up each morning, popping some pain killers and pushing forward. I was so proud of myself at the end of the trip, I left a totally different rider. Check out the latest Fast Times Mag for a full recap of my trip! 

Where are some of your favorite places to ride?

 My all time favorite place to ride is at Monster Mountain MX Park in Alabama. It is the MOST epic MX track I have ever been to. It is literally motocross Mecca.

Aside from my dream location, the place I love riding that are closer to home are: RJ Motorsports Park, Simcoe County Forest and the Ganaraska Forest. 

What is on you moto bucket list to ride?

Babes in the Dirt  is on my bucket list!!! It looked so fun last year!

It is also my dream to ride down the coast in Oregon, where the trails meet the beach.

* heart eyes *

babes in the dirt

Do you ride with a lot of other female riders?

This season I have been! I was lucky enough to help out at two ladies training days this spring where I met a bunch of female riders from Ontario. This season I met Stephanie Yankovich, a female off-road racer who has started Dirt Riding Dames, a riding community that encourages girls to get out in the dirt! I am hoping to help Steph with a few of her organized rides in the Ganaraska Forest this summer. If you are a female rider in Ontario, check out her Facebook page: Dirt Riding Dames.

Do you have anyone in the moto world that you look up to? (does not have to be a pro rider)

You!! And all the ladies who are thinking entrepreneurially and using their passion for two wheels to create a platform for others. You are all killing it!

There are more ‘for ladies by ladies’ events/brands now than there has ever been. It is people like you who are creating a stage for ladies to come out and show their stuff in a fun, encouraging environment. Because of the work you and other female event organizers are doing, sponsors are noticing the demand and finally stepping up to support us! On behalf of female riders everywhere – we appreciate you! 

What was our experience at Babes in the Dirt/Babes Ride Out events? (if applicable) 

I haven't been to any BRO events yet L, but I am dying to come to Babes in the Dirt!!

babes in the dirt

What advice do you have for someone thinking about getting in to riding dirt? 

DO IT! It is scary, yes, at first, but it is so empowering! If I can do it, you can do it. If you ride street, dirt riding will help you take your riding to the next level. If you don’t ride at all, start! As I mentioned before, there are more events/opportunities for ladies now than ever, for anyone thinking of taking the leap, we are all here cheering you on. 

Anything else you would like to add? 

Just a big thank you to Husqvarna Motorcycles Canada, Fast Times Magazine, Tiger Distribution and Everstoked Adventures for your support as I make my way back into the off-road world. I couldn’t do it without the amazing people behind me.

And - If any Ontario/Quebec ladies are reading this, join me for the Ladies Ride and Social in the Limerick Forest on August 25th!

babes in the dirt