When Khrystal Berry decided to join the inaugural UK ride of an all-girl gang, she thought it’d be pretty straightforward.
She’d decided to cross the Pond for the Babes Ride Out event and thought it would be just a case of pick up passport, arrange transfers and go. She was wrong.
Getting there was an ordeal all of its own and when Khrystal finally reached the Bike Shed to pick up her Bonneville, it was all too much.
But by the time the four days were up, her life – not to mention her view of Triumph’s new Tiger – had changed forever.
Here’s her emotional story…
Tuesday, August 2, 2016
The US Passport Agency’s poor handling of official documents and photos caused weeks of phone calls and, eventually, a stressful 575 mile round trip ride to the closest agency, up north in Seattle, Washington, the day before my flight.
I waited in their office for four hours as they prepared and issued my passport. I was exhausted on the ride home, but thrilled to have passport in hand. On the plus side, I scored some quality time with two dear moto-sisters who both live in Seattle and were available for brunch with me during the wait.
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Flight Day! Travelled over to the UK with my friend Emily who’d been looking for a reason to go to London. She and her cousin, who lives in Iowa, made a plan to meet and go all touristy on England. Flights were good, alcohol was free, and customs wasn’t as bad as people make it out to be.
Thursday, August 4, 2016
After arriving we began to feel our foreigner status as we stared at the map of Underground routes and the Oyster Card dispenser trying to figure out how much we’d need to get to our friend Joli’s flat.
Four hours across London, with showers helping to re-energise us and we were off in a Black Taxi (feeling touristy) to The Bike Shed to pick up the Bonneville T120.
I’m dazed by the flow of London traffic as I try to study the signage and road markings during this short driving-in-the-UK tutorial before being let loose on the streets on a borrowed motorcycle.
While I’m asking Joli questions about left side driving and filtering, Emily is taking in what she can from the taxi windows and marking “Ride in a Black Taxi” off her mental list of Things-To-Do-While-In-England. We were both a little awe struck with it all. This is the first off-continent trip for either one of us.
I was holding myself together pretty well until we got to The Bike Shed. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with emotion… I mean REALLY overwhelmed. Amazing feeling! It was a mix of elation, fear, shock, nausea, and a bit of disbelief.
Not that I’m doing anything no one has ever done before; it’s simply something I have never done before and it finally sank in. A fleeting wave of nausea travelled through me, then my face and ears went completely flushed and next, I felt the pang of tears welling up in my eyes. If I hadn’t been so dang excited, I would have been completely embarrassed. Everything about it was wonderful!
So there I was, standing in The Bike Shed in London waiting to see the bike I’d be riding to Wales for Babes Ride Out UK. I’d just finished pulling myself together when they came out and said there was no Bonneville available in their garage, but there was a Tiger down there.
I’m sorry…what?! A Tiger? “But those are so tall,” kept running through my head. “I’ve never ridden a Tiger. I’m 5’2″. Are you sure there’s not a Bonnie in there?” was all I could manage to say.
Okay, my panniers are made to fit the Bonneville, I now have a Tiger to work with. I also have bungees and a cargo net if I need to get creative with strapping the bags down. That’s good! It was pointed out that it was much lower than a stock Tiger, so that was also a positive. I straddled it and was able to walk it around despite being on tip-toes, and it began to feel more like something I could ride.
Good thing, too, because I needed to ride it through London traffic to Joli’s flat where we would be loading up in the morning. I didn’t have much time to worry about staying on the left side of the road as I was concentrating on not losing sight of my guide while I adjusted to the feel of the Tiger and became surprisingly adept at smoothly filtering through traffic. Filtering is still illegal in Oregon and nearly all of the United States.
We were all there, on an ancient farm in Wales, celebrating our spirited tribe of motorcyclist and the lives we are fortunate to live. Does it get any better than this?Khrystal Berry
Friday, August 5, 2016
Oh, Man… It’s today! Joli and I load up our bikes with our camping supplies and waterproofs. My panniers look silly piled up on the Tiger’s pillion seat under a cargo net, but they’re on and they’re secure. Let’s go!
We return to The Bike Shed to enjoy breakfast with the 125 group and see them off. This is a group of enthusiastic women. Most of this group is sporting “L” plates and has been riding for a month or less. They’re eager to get their teeth into the meat of this amazing community they now belong to. Some of these women have never been out for more than an hour at a time. This ride is nearly 200 miles and is expected to take them more than five hours.
A motorcycle with “L” plates, or learner plates for those who are not familiar with this, is not allowed on the main motorways so their trek will be all accessory roads. Their nervousness and happy excitement is palpable. They were all a little surprised to see other women showing up to cheer them on, but that’s what this is all about.
We’re all out here doing something we love and we are not out here alone. This is a concept you learn rather quickly once you enter the motorcycling community and events like this do wonders to cement this reality.
The 125s are sent out with video rolling and cameras capturing their expressions and freezing this moment for them. I was thrilled to be there to help launch them off on their first big adventure and was looking forward to seeing them again at camp in Merthyr Tydfil.
It didn’t take us long to get out of London and into the countryside. It is beautiful here. Our travelling foursome was fortunate to have reliable machines carrying us wherever Joli’s SatNav directed us. We avoided the M roads and took a long, scenic route to camp. We made time for a couple pub stops and even a quick break for ice cream. The four of us learned more about each other and exchanged contact info for future travel planning.
We arrived at the BRO UK base camp in the early evening and got to work setting up our tents. News had travelled of the 125s having mechanical difficulties along the way and their lack of arrival was beginning to cause concern throughout the camp. As sunset drew nearer, some of us migrated closer to the entrance to wait for them.
It wasn’t too much longer before we could hear their little engines all wound up climbing the drive and I’m sure they could hear us starting to whistle and yell and clap our hands as they came closer. They entered camp the same way they left The Bike Shed earlier that day, with video rolling, cameras flashing and women cheering them on. They’d made it!
Everyone found their ideal camping spots, got settled and migrated into the barn. Time for the live music and free flowing Sailor Jerry. It was a sight to behold. Women of all ages and nationalities dancing, chatting, drinking, telling tales of the days rides. Chairs and hay bales supported many people at a time in animated conversation and the tabletops were covered with empty cans of beer.
Camera flashes functioned as unpredictable strobe lights for the celebrating crowd. What a great day we’d all experienced.
We were all there, on an ancient farm in Wales, celebrating our spirited tribe of motorcyclist and the lives we are fortunate to live. Does it get any better than this?