Babes Ride N Rage “BRNR” ... I think the name says it all! The journey is challenging but there is no better reward then rolling into camp and being greeted by cheers, honks and friendly faces. Instantly, you are reminded why you hopped on the bike that September morning and made the 500+ kms trek to Northern Ontario.
If you haven't heard about this kick-ass weekend just for ladies then here it goes: BRNR started in 2014 to bring like-minded women together for a weekend of riding, camping and shenanigans. It's a great way to meet new people and put some miles on your bike. The event brings in ladies from Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, rural Ontario and even parts of the States. It might seem intimidating to saddle up your bike, ride hundreds of kilometres and camp with a bunch of new people but it's 100% worth it!
My first year attending BRNR was in 2016. There were a few of my riding buddies who had heard of it but had never been and, much like me, a bit intimated to take the long ride solo. So, we planned to ride together and check out what all the fuss was about!
...f#%k it, let's do this!
Since this was my first year I really wasn't sure what to expect or how to pack. At this time, I only had my Honda CBR600RR which has absolutely no storage and was hard on the wrists to sit in that aggressive position for hours on end. Don't get me wrong, I love love love this bike but it does have its restrictions. The other option was to take Jeff's bike on the trip. It was a Honda Shadow 750 which has always been reliable and good on gas but there was one minor drawback. Jeff did some customizing a few years back which involved lowering the bike, making it a hard-tale (no suspension) and putting a solo seat on the bike. The bike looks mean and badass but isn't the most comfortable bike to spend 7+ hours on. It was my only choice, and nothing was stopping me from making the trip, so I said f#%k it, let's do this!
Sometimes you have to get creative! I was able to bungie my tent and tarp to the front fork, load the saddlebag with rain gear (the only time I seem to have rain gear) and everything else including my sleeping bag and bed pad went into a dry-pack knapsack that I'd have to wear on my back. Now, there was just a small item of directions. It was my first time going North on my bike and GPS wasn't an option so I wrote down the directions, put them in a zip lock bag and taped them to the tank. Yep, you heard me ... taped them to the tank. Now, the tape might have removed some of the paint on Jeff's tank (oops) and you can see the marks today but I chalked it up to my contribution towards the rat bobber look.
I was all set! Thursday afternoon came, we all go off of work, saddled up and hit the road. We decided to meet in Kitchener and then head out towards Barrie in hopes to find our resting spot for the night. We eventually made it to our Airbnb with a few wrong streets, a minor roadside break down and all of us cursing in our helmets. We rested up in our cozy basement suite and went over our plans for the next day. We were going to meet up with the two other ladies headed to BRNR and then randevu with a larger group from Toronto. The larger group was headed up by one of the BRNR organizers (Betsy) who knew the gas station stops and most importantly how to get to the campsite. It was still a long day of riding but it was an incredible feeling to be in a large group of all-female riders on bikes loaded with camping gear, headed up highway 400 to highway 11 with nothing but smiles on our faces, two wheels on the ground and gas in the tank.
The journey was long but well worth it! We rolled into Fisher's Paradise in Field, Ontario with a couple of hours to spare before dusk. We turned into the campground and headed down the gravel path. The last section of the path lead us to 'base' camp which was situated right on the water. There was a huge fire pit, outdoor sauna and plenty of space to pitch our tents. The vibe was excitement mixed with a sense of peacefulness.
The evening was relaxing, everyone started introducing themselves, talked about the ride there and eventually gathered around the huge fire to laugh our asses off. The night dropped to the low single digits which was bearable and it was nice to get some rest after a long day of riding.
Saturday morning came quickly and the air was fresh, the water was calm and the fire was still smouldering from the night before. It was a free day to do whatever you wanted. Stay at camp to swim, head into Sturgeon Falls for some food or get out and tour around the area to ride the beautiful back roads. It was just recommended to be back at camp for supper time because tonight was our night of shenanigans! Which included moto games, raffle table, pinata, drinks, snacks and fireworks!
There was a small group of us that rode into Sturgeon Falls for the afternoon so we could stop at the grocery store and check out the town. We were back to camp with plenty of time to spare before the games got underway.
Once everyone was back, the evening began! First on the list were slow races down at the campsite. The goal is to stay on your bike, cross the line last and stay in your lane! Great event and a hoot to watch! The other activities were pretty killer too. There was a raffle table which was full of prizes donated by kickass sponsors, a pinata filled with candy and to top it off the BEST fireworks show I've ever seen!! The fireworks were set up along the sandy beach which is just down a small hill from the fire. The colourful lights reflect off the water and the loud booms echo in the calm night sky. Everyone is gathered around counting the number of coloured flares that fire into the sky in between the ooh's and ahh's that come with a terrific show. It really was the perfect way to spend the last night of our babes' moto adventure weekend!
The group dwindled as the night went on until there was nobody left around the fire. The air was chilly but calm until an intense storm blew in overnight. We were fairly protected by the tree line so there was no immediate danger. However, things always sound far worse when you're in a tent and can't see what's going on outside.
...all I could think was please don't let this bike blow over on top of me.
The kicker for me was I had parked my bike beside the tent so I could throw a tarp over my tent and bike to keep the dew off them. Now, the bike was a little uphill with a kickstand that was never shortened after Jeff had lowered it. What does that mean? Simply put, it doesn't lean as much as it should and rests in a fairly upright position. As the wind howled, the rain poured and the thunder rumbled, all I could think was please don't let this bike blow over on top of me. Who or how am I going to call for help in the middle of the night!? It ended up being a bit of a restless night but I survived!
The next morning you would have never known there was a storm besides the wet grass and water on the surrounding tarps and tents. Thankfully, the early morning sun was starting to shine which helped dry things out so we could pack up. We wanted to get a jump on things since this was all new to us and we have no idea exactly how long the 500km trip home was going to take.
The game plan was to head back the way we came which was towards North Bay and down highway 11 and west of Barrie. We were all frozen to the core and couldn't feel our hands or feet despite wearing as many layers as possible. So, around the 80km mark, we made a detour stop outside of Trout Creek and pulled into an Esso on highway 124.
...looked like lizards laying on the ground trying to heat up
We filled up and found an open area of pavement to sprawled out and soak up the warmth of the sun. We must have looked like lizards laying on the ground trying to heat up but it worked! The funniest part was when another motorcycle group pulled into the gas station and saw us, ladies, out on the pavement. They were a group coming back from a weekend charity ride and didn't take them long before they ventured over to our sunny oasis to chat and ask us what we were doing. The crew was friendly, asked questions about our bikes, knew the organizers of BRNR and commended us on our travels. It was a nice break and before long the feeling came back into our hands, we said our goodbyes and off we went.
We continued on our route home, making the necessary stops throughout the day. We ended up meeting a couple of ladies from the weekend when we stopped in Gravenhurst at our halfway mark so our little group of 5 became 7 and off we went! The last stop as a group was just outside of Barrie. We said our goodbyes and broke off into smaller groups towards our final destinations. At this point, I was cold, tired and as much as I love riding wanted to get off this bike. Nevertheless, there were still three hours in my future until I'd be home and I didn't want to stop any more than I had too.
Once we hit the turn towards Orangeville there was a sense of relief but still away to go. We had previously decided that we were going to break off in Orangeville so we could take more direct routes home. We hit the break-off intersection, honked our horns and waved goodbye and then I hit the throttle towards Arthur. It was a nice change of pace after a weekend of group riding. However, the road was straight and seemed to go on forever but slowly I was making way my home from this wicked ass journey called Babes Ride N Rage.
The rush of accomplishment, adrenaline and happiness came over me.
The last county road before our house was just over 10 kms. I turned onto that road and was singing at the top of my lungs in my helmet. The rush of accomplishment, adrenaline and happiness came over me. I had never done anything like this before and was so damn proud of myself for doing it! It was a wonderful weekend of memories that will last forever and challenging myself to do something I didn't think was possible.
...and then realize how much of a dirt-bag-like state I was in
I pulled into the driveway and Jeff greeted me in the garage. It felt good to be home and equally as good to finally get this 1000 lb backpack off my back. I turned off the engine, gave Jeff a hug and then realize how much of a dirt-bag-like state I was in. My next thought was... I literally don't know if I can walk into the house let alone stand in the shower. My legs were sore and tired so the idea of hot water kept me moving. My next obstacle waited for me in the backyard. I left the shop and headed towards the house only to immediately be rushed by our two big dogs who must have thought I was never coming home because it was daily excitement amped up by a million. I finally made it into the house, shut the bathroom door and had the best shower of my life which was followed by a cozy sleep. I think it still took a good day or two to get the chill out of my bones but this journey was worth every damn minute.
Is it next year yet?
Author: Perth County Moto - Lindz O'Neill @motolindz