The roar of Tigers, the aroma of coffee mingled with something stronger, music to make you move and no cell phone connection… a perfect recipe for lasting friendships.
There is, insists Courtney van Briesen, only one thing cooler than being a biker babe partying in woods in the middle of nowhere for a weekend. And that’s being a biker babe in the company of hundreds of others.
Two days of dancing, story sharing and bike appreciation beneath the moonlight was enough to convince her the fun shouldn’t stop there.
It was late 2015 at the base of Mount Adams in lower Washington where women from Portland, Los Angeles and as far afield as Australia assembled for an annual meet called Dreamroll.
The mood was intoxicating inside two giant dome tents shielding the girls from the rain as the weather simply didn’t matter.
Some went on a 70-mile ride around the park exploring the volcanoes and canyons. Others skinny dipped in the rain, some checked out the ice caves, every road taken saw the same scene of dozens of ladies saluting each other as they cruised past.
I had such a great time, felt so free and strong in the company of so many interesting women riders that I had to keep the good times rolling,Courtney van Briesen
So back home as the post-meet blues dawned, Courtney decided to do her damnedest to ‘keep the gang together’ – and the Torque Wenches were born.
“I had such a great time, felt so free and strong in the company of so many interesting women riders that I had to keep the good times rolling,” she said.
Courtney added: “The day I got back I started getting in contact with all the amazing women I’d met and organising the first ride the very next weekend. More than 30 women were there.”
The group now has 80 members who hold regular rides to explore the spectacular scenery of Portland, Oregon, from the Pacific coast in the east to the line of national parks and forests to the west.
“We have a little bit of everything here from sandy beaches with rolling waves to mountain tops, volcanic rocks and forests so the ride is always different,” she said.
“It’s usually pretty wet but we have pretty good riding from mid-spring to early fall. The winters aren’t too rough, but it definitely pays to have some good rain gear. We do it to fulfill a need – to meet other female riders. I just helped to make it happen.”
Turn up on any given ride day and you’ll find a healthy mix of bikes, including Triumph Bonnevilles and Thruxtons, as well as other makes, vintage and modern alongside Courtney’s ride named Lola.
“She’s a Harley 883 Sportster Iron and I call her that because she’s my showgirl,” she joked.
It’s a women-only domain, but the Wenches do hold all-inclusive events for both men and women in case the husbands, partners and boyfriends feel left out.
“We have a couple of guys who’ve helped us get established along the way, but we primarily wanted the group to stand for women and be named after something strong, empowering and obviously motorcycle related,” she said.
“Torque Wenches seemed like a great play on words that not only encompassed the riding aspect, but also the work we put in to the machines we love.”
The fledgling group’s highlight so far was a ride-out in full Halloween costumes to Suavie Island, and a stroll through the pumpkin patch and a haunted maze.
Courtney said: “That was a real fun fall day. We always try to keep grouped together on our rides, but there are also times when we keep more of a loose ‘get from point A to point B at whatever pace you’re comfortable with’ mentality.
“The main thing is to get together, have fun, see some great places and enjoy each other’s company. What else is there? I’ve spent the last couple of months working on a new organised ride with my husband. Details to follow.”