Vans Girls x Babes Ride Out East Coast

 

This past Memorial Day, I ditched the normal BBQ parties to ride to the Catskills with my friend Kelli and about 200 other women who ride. The ride was full of hiccups, including some bike problems that cost us major delays each day! But each night of the event, we entered the campground in Narrowsburg, NY to nothing but cheers and smiles for miles.

That weekend we broke down, we swam in waterfalls, we got lost, and we raced back to the campground against the sun. But most importantly, and in true Babes Ride Out fashion, we got to talk life and hang out with some awesome ladies. Among those ladies were Brittany Wood and Genevieve Davis from Vans Girls.

Due to some bike problems, I missed out on a ride with the lovely ladies from Vans. But, I did answer some questions for the Vans Girls blog about how I got into motorcycles, what it's like to work in an industry that has had historically few females, and what it takes to get ahead.

Excerpt:

Brittany, Vans Girls: You always hear about riding becoming this huge life-changing experience. Do you feel your life has changed in any way since getting your license? How?
For sure. I think that a lot of people think about what they want to do constantly, but wanting to do something and doing it are very different! I think that getting a motorcycle in the first place was a huge step in getting the confidence to do something that was maybe a little unusual and that I was nervous to do. But doing it and taking trips and riding different types of bikes has made me confident in ways that I know have since bled into other parts of my life. For me, that’s huge.

Read more here!

RevZilla x Babes Ride Out East Coast!

I'm really proud to say that RevZilla will be donating gift cards to this year's Babes Ride Out East Coast Raffle!

If you know me, you know I work for an awesome tech company in the moto industry- RevZilla. We sell everything from helmets to jackets to exhaust. The photo above is from 3 years ago when I was just 1 of 4 female riders in the company. Now I'm one of many and a million nation-wide!

Learn more about us on babesrideout.com > roll call and make sure you check out RevZilla.com for any last minute gear or parts you need for your trip! Don't know anything about gear or not sure what else you need for your trip? Call or email and ask for one of our Gear Geeks or watch our Women's Gear Guides. They all ride and can get you set up :)

Can't wait to see you ladies at BROEC in just a few weeks!

Xx Alessandra

THEY SAY TWO WHEELS MOVE THE SOUL...

On a warm Sunday, I heard the low rumbling of a motorcycle from my third-floor window.

It wasn't the first time that I had heard the sound or that it had made my heart skip a beat. But, it was the first time that we were going on a date.

Four years and seven bikes later, we don't ride on the same bike often, but when we do it reminds me of that first ride.

When you start falling for someone, and you're falling for them hard, there's something incredibly intimate about a first motorcycle ride's long embrace. There's something about holding on, about being intertwined.

And when you eventually ride next to each other and catch that first glimpse of your shadows overlapping between the sun's rays- well, I think that's about as close to witnessing our souls moving as we will ever get.

Happy four year anniversary, babe.

RWTH x Madewell, Babes Meeting Babes

Dear wonderful babes, it was so nice to meet some of you for the first time this past Sunday at Madewell Philly!

Gone are the times when it was weird to walk up to someone and say 'hey, I follow you on Instagram.' I actually used to fight that, but over the years I've realized that there's no point! Whether you work regular hours or odd hours or no hours, meeting other women who have a common interest isn't always easy. That's why I love riding motorcycles and why I wanted to do this event at Madewell.

A huge shoutout and thank you to Madewell and to Lily, in particular, (who used to be the event coordinator for Madewell's Philly location) for coming up with the idea and setting this up. I'm so thrilled to now have you working with me at RevZilla. :)

Another big thank you to the ladies of The Fox Run for sharing the event and meeting up! It was awesome to meet so many of you and to see you meet each other for the first time too.

And to Virginia, Babes Ride Out's East Coast manager, for sharing the event as well.

The whole point of this event was to meet other ladies who ride or are interested in riding, and maybe shop and drink and eat a little too. Because, why not?

And drink & eat we did! Thank you Art In The Age, for the Sage and Rhubarb cocktails (a post on summer favorites from them to come), and Lil Pop Shop for the sweets!

I can't wait to see you all at the Fox Run & Babes Ride Out East Coast! xoxo

Harmony, Lucy, Marie, Kelly, & Mae of The Fox Run. See you ladies soon!

Madewell x RUNWTHEHUNTED present..

As a rider and a DoItYourself woman I value quality, fit and function. I seek clothing that is both flattering and utilitarian, serving my needs as a do-somethin woman. Like many women, I crave goods that will stand up to the adventures of my day to day life.

I wear Madewell jeans because they do just that.

Join us next Sunday at Madewell's Walnut Street store for a:

Meet n' Greet & Shop Event!

Meet other girls who have a passion for two wheels and shop n' sip with sweets while you exchange info for this Spring's upcoming all-female rides: The Fox Run & Babes Ride Out East Coast!

See you there!

Important and True: Madewell's heavier-weight jeans don't rip at the thighs or stretch out at the butt. But, they are not considered riding gear.

Even the heaviest weight denim is not proper riding gear unless it is lined or reinforced. Preferably with an abrasion resistant material like kevlar and/or CE rated armor. Find out more on RevZilla.com.

IT ALL STARTED WITH A SIGN : BABE CAVE, LONDON

About a year ago I was thumbing through Instagram and came across this wonderful feed of beautiful roads, a beautiful girl, and two words that made me want to leave work to hang with my friends.

BABE CAVE. A British brand selling t-shirts, patches and vintage finds. Inspired by motorcycle culture, music and everything 70s.

But, that's not why I support the brand. After introducing herself as best one could from across the pond, I asked the woman behind Babe Cave to tell me how it came about. Here's her story:

"So a little about myself,

My name Louise Henesy but my friends call me Weeze. I'm 28 years old and currently live in Hackney, London.

I got into motorcycles a couple years ago, during a road trip with my friend, one of those bucket list check points.  We planned our trip LA to San Francisco to Joshua Tree & Palm Springs.  When we were staying at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs we invited our friends to join us out there and they came by motorcycle.  I mentioned I had never been on one and yeah within a couple of hours I was sitting on the back having a ride round Palm Springs.  I was hooked.  
I first learnt to ride about year and a half ago, my birthday fell on a Monday, so you can imagine all my friends were working, so I ended up going north to my parents place for a long weekend. As I got to my home town I noticed a motorcycle training centre had just opened and I thought 'fuck it I'm diving in'  So I booked my CBT for the day of my birthday and it was honestly the best birthday ever!!  I spent my birthday learning everything as I was a total motorcycle rookie.  I think as I've gotten older I have a more 'make shit happen' attitude.  I currently don't have a bike, but next year I will invest. London life is super expensive so it's a case of saving what I can each month.

Babe Cave launched Summer 2015 and has been a dream.  I was going through some changes at work & as all creative people know the visual element in business is sometimes a 'luxury'.  So as visual work was a risk I had to really think about the bigger picture.  At this point there were some real strong brands beginning to emerge from really inspiring women and I knew this was something that maybe could bridge the gap if anything did happen to my visual work and it was something I'm passionate about. The name Babe Cave came about during my road trip along the PCH, I bought a sign from some store for my apartment back home & the name kind of struck a chord

Babe Cave is influenced by 70s vibes and motorcycle culture.  I'm heavily influenced by music so a lot of my designs & social posts reference lyrics and are often given a twist. I have also recently added a Vintage Section to the Cave so I thrift when I can and its how I love to spend my weekends. Most recent collab is with my friend Matt Sabbath. He came up with a great design & his artwork is that 70s psychedelic feel so it felt like a great partnership.  He understood the brand & I was confident to let him come up with some ideas, I gave him some slogan & lyrics to play around with and I'm stoked on the end result."

On Music

"I love all types of music but I think the music that spoke to me the most was defiantly Punk.  Punk has shaped my life & made me the person I am today.  Punk then turned into Hardcore punk and I think thats where I found excitement and felt part of something real special. Bands like MDC, Minor Threat, Jerrys Kids and Negative Approach are massive influences in my life.  I could identify with their lyrics and loved the explosive energy they had when they played.  Aside from Hardcore Punk, I love 70s rock 'n roll bands like Black Sabbath, Lynyrd skynyrd, ZZ Top and of course Creedence.  These guys were perfect for my first road-trip along the coast. The soundtrack was simply called "the playlist with Ted Nugent on."

On the Influence of the 70s
The 70s was such an explosive time, punk was blowing up homes & the skateboarding scene took on new level. The 70s was 'radical' in every possible way, everything was a FUCK IT / DIY kinda vibe and thats what Babe Cave is all about. Its two fingers up to people who say you can't do this and to authority.  Do what you want, fail or succeed, who gives a fuck as long as you are enjoying the ride."

On Moto

"The women's motorcycle scene is really taking off here in England and its great to see!  I think women doing something that has been generally populated by males is amazing and I'm super supportive of these strong women.  I've found a lot of very supportive female bikers who have welcomed me into their world and are always on hand for advice.  No matter what level you are at riding the support has been unreal and it's super refreshing."

On Heroes - "The girls owning their own brand and killing it."

Elena Costa for 'The Costa Sisters' & Buffalo Riders - "Elena and her sister are videographers and produce the most beautiful videos for events. It's super dreamy. Those girls work real hard and you can really tell by the quality of their work."

Burds London - www.burdsldn.com - "These babes specialise in badass denim, double strength denim for bikers.  I love their aesthetic and branding so if you guys are after some killer denim that will last, head over to their store"

 

Follow Babe Cave // Instagram @babecavelondon

Shop The Look // Join the Cave @ http://www.babecavelondon.com

ONE IN A MILLION

photo by DCar

photo by DCar

When I first started riding, I didn't have any girlfriends to ride with. But, I did have one special homegirl who trusted me enough to get on the back of my bike and experience it with me. Now, 1.2 million riders are female. That's 14%, up from 9% in previous years. And 17% of new riders in Gen X and Gen Y are also women- 34% them on "big bad" cruisers. I'm so happy to suddenly be a part of this movement that's all about empowerment and having fun. To all the new riders or ladies thinking of riding out there- you can do it! So the next time you see a lady rider, slow down and say hello. You just might meet a new friend to experience these amazing times with 💘 

Want to read more about female ridership? Head over to RevZilla's blog, Common Tread to read more:

http://www.revzilla.com/common-tread/number-of-women-riders-hits-all-time-high

Xx,

Alessandra

PHILLY'S OWN: JINXED

Around Town is all about celebrating the details and finding things that say Y-O-U. One way we tend to do that is through our homes and through the shops where we hunt for home.

On the Hunt & Home part of the site, you’ll find lots of Philly interiors that are full of unique things. I’m proud to say that a lot of those things were found in our very own city at our very own Philly-born JINXED.

JINXED is a retail brand comprised of five stores that sell vintage decor, housewares and t-shirts while also supporting underground artists and small businesses in the Philly area. What sets them apart is their unconventionally fairly priced vintage and their cool-yet-not-too-cool shop attitude!

In addition to the shops JINXED also sells some pieces daily through Instagram. If you don't follow them already, you should check them out! You never know when that perfect piece will pop up. Just act quickly, because they sell immediately.

S H O P  T A L K

On the eve of the official opening of their FIFTH storeGrand Opening this Saturday, Dec. 12th, from 12-8PM @4521 Baltimore Ave, West Philly- I met up with the Philly born shop-owner, Mike Supermodel, to talk about the evolution of the business.

The first thing I asked him was how he wound up with five stores, most of which opened in just the past few years. His response: “things happen by accident- but, not really.”

Okay, I thought. Please explain...

U N E X P E C T E D  B E G I N N I N G S

When Mike bought JINXED in 2004 it was a t-shirt company and the original store was on 4th street, just south of South street.

I was in high school at the time, and what I remember is an obscure little shop with lots of street-style art and in-your-face-shirts. I also remember Mike being a little intimidating, but no furniture to speak of. Then the recession hit and South Street, along with most of the stores on it, kind of trailed off.

At that point, JINXED shifted its focus to going to Tattoo Conventions where Mike continued to sell shirts. Through that scene, he also met a few other business owners who eventually asked him to share a retail space. And so, the JINXED store at the Piazza in Northern Liberties was born.

But when the other renters sharing the storefront ultimately decided to move on to other things, Mike was left with a big space and not a lot to fill it. Not wanting to close the store, he hit the streets to try to come up with a plan.

Where he wound up was at the intersection of Kensington and Allegheny, probably one of the gnarliest drug corners in Philly at the time. But, what he found there wasn't what anyone might expect.

In Philly, especially in the deep pocket neighborhoods farther from downtown, you'll often find furniture being sold on the street. K and A, in particular, was usually host to "clean-out guys" gutting houses and looking to make a buck off of someone's unwanted stuff. Mike? He saw it, he realized he could sell it, and then he hooked a boat trailer and some plywood up to his two-door Ford Explorer and loaded it all up.

Then, without jacking the price up too much, he sold it.

And so, not quite on purpose and not quite by mistake, JINXED became the JINXED that you see today.

But, even with access to all these unique pieces, you won't find any of it at Mike's house. "Selling this stuff," he says, "it changes the way you live." Because, if there's anything he's learned from selling vintage, it's that there's no point in holding on to anything. 'Cause at the end of the day, "this is just all of the stuff that won't fit in the coffin."

 

M O R E  T H A N  J U S T  D E C O R

There are two other things that I love about JINXED and both have to do with communities that JINXED supports. One is the community of artists and the other is the community of business owners.

Perhaps what's so awesome is that you can tell that JINXED has a real relationship with both.

Take the relationship with the art world, for example. JINXED does something a lot of retail owners fail at, which is keeping things exclusive and accessible.

 In other words, you can find art at JINXED that you might not see anywhere else. But anyone can see it or buy it, and they can do so without the usual gallery attitude that goes with it. I'm not a particularly art-savvy person, so I can really appreciate that! And the artists who just want to get out there, I'm sure they appreciate that too.

Gush Gallery presents Double Dutch by Kate Harrold. See more of her city-inspired manipulated digital photography at the JINXED Grand Opening on Saturday 12/12 from 12-8PM @ 4521 BALTIMORE AVE, West Philly. www.kateharrold.com

But, what I love most about JINXED is that it's from Philly and that it's part of our little city circle of life.

In fact, a few years ago- before I had ever formally met Mike or really knew much about the store- I ran into a friend who jokingly was making fun of me for seeing me there so often. At the time, I was a little embarrassed. But years later, I'm glad I'm still doing just that.

When I shop at JINXED I know that I'm supporting a small business. And more importantly, I know that they are supporting other local businesses too.

Take, for example, this weekend's JINXED West Philly Store Grand Opening. In addition to the artwork shown above by Kate Harrold, you'll also find Philly-based Little Baby's Ice Cream. They'll be there with a special JINXED "Box Truck" flavor. And if you attend this weekend's event, you'll get to be a part of the community and support all three.

And that is a detail of city living that's really worth celebrating.

JINXED WEST PHILLY

GRAND OPENING - Saturday Dec. 12th, 12-8PM @ 4521 BALTIMORE AVE

Featuring Artwork by KATE HARROLD, Curated by GUSH GALLERY

Babes Ride Out : Do It For The Babes!!

A little over a month ago I went to Babes Ride Out - an all female motorcycle campout and riding event held in Joshua Tree California. This year, it was the largest one in history with 1200 women in attendance.

 I put down 600+ miles on the biggest bike I've ever ridden with my friend Kelli and Lauryn, a girl from Milwaukee who we met there. It was a dream.

I wrote about my experience on RevZilla.com, the moto retail company that I work for. I'm really excited to share it and I hope you enjoy it :)

Excerpt:

On Saturday morning, we woke up in Joshua Tree, Calif., along with about 1,200 other women. We looked at all four of the suggested rides for the day and decided to go to the farthest one, Salvation Mountain. We taped directions to our tanks and headed south.
Our first stop set the tone for the day.
At a gas station in Coachella, a woman walked up to us with her daughter in tow.
“Are those your bikes?” she asked.
We could tell she was surprised when we confirmed they were, because she turned and nodded excitedly to the little girl. Then she said told us it was her daughter’s eighth birthday.
“Would you take a photo with her for her birthday?” she said. Before she even finished asking, we said yes. Her daughter walked over to us shyly, but smiling from ear to ear.
As we rode away, I remembered something that happened a few weeks earlier at The Race of Gentlemen in Wildwood, N.J. A friend of mine yelled to a lone woman racer, “Do it for the babes!”

Thanks for reading!

-Ale

New Found Feminism : A Lesson In Confidence and Empowerment

I haven’t thought about Gloria Steinem in years. Probably, since college.

But about a month ago, I was reading Porter magazine and there she was.

In college, I never really considered myself a feminist. Not because I didn’t agree with the ideals and goals they support, but because I found that the women I spoke to were really bitter. They were angry and some of the women I met through those classes just openly hated men. I guess that negativity was something that I didn't want to be a part of at the time.

But here I was on a plane, years later, California bound and on my way to the world’s largest all-female motorcycle event: Babes Ride Out. I was about to have an experience that encompassed women meeting, supporting, and encouraging other women. It wasn’t about man-bashing but about women-boosting, if that makes any sense.

As I read the article in Porter magazine, I remembered what made me not want to call myself a feminist years ago and I laughed. I realized that the younger me was kind of an idiot. Of course some of the women I spoke to then were upset or bitter, they were paving the way for generations to come. They had been fighting for a long time, and maybe, they were just trying to stoke the fire in all of us.

I read on, and towards the end of the piece, Steinem speaks to whether she will eventually 'pass the torch.' “I explain that I’m keeping my torch, thank you very much- and I’m using it to light the torches of others." she says. "Because only if each of us has a torch will there be enough light.”

That sentiment stuck with me, and when I got back from my trip, I thought about it more and more. Women supporting other women is important, but sticking together is key.

Since I work in the motorcycle industry, I started to think about what I could do to positively impact the women around me as well as the women I don’t know in the riding community during my day to day. As time passed, I started to meet with the other women at work and reach out to support other women who ride. Slowly, I started to feel my work align a little more with my life.

But, I did feel a little self-conscious about it.

My mother is an integral part of the harm reduction agency she works for and my roommate is a saint at the homeless shelter that she works at. Was I really doing anything impactful by supporting other women on motorcycles? I wasn’t sure, but it did feel good.

Almost a month after my trip, I attended the Pennsylvania Conference for Women along with 8,000 others. The conference focused on how optimism, positivity and support are important because they ignite hope in other people. That alone, spoke volumes. And though it made sense, it was nice to hear out loud.

After the event, there was a book signing and I heard that Gloria Steinem would be there. Obviously I wanted to meet her, but she was already gone. I bought her new book, On the Road, anyway.

Later that night, I settled into bed with my pajamas on and DCar snoring by my side. I opened the book and found this:

“Before she leaves, my new friend tells me to look out of the big picture window at the parking lot.
‘See that purple Harley out there- the big gorgeous one? That’s mine. I used to ride behind my husband, and never took the road on my own. Then after the kids were grown, I put my foot down. It was hard, but we finally got to be partners. Now he says he likes it better this way. He doesn’t have to worry about his bike breaking down or getting a heart attack and totaling us both. I even put Ms. on my license plate- and you should see my grandkids’ faces when Grandma rides up on her purple Harley!’
On my own again, I look out at the barren sand and tortured rocks of the Badlands, stretching for miles. I’ve walked there, and I know that, close up, the barren sand reveals layers of pale rose and beige cream, and the rocks turn out to have intricate womblike openings. Even in the distant cliffs, caves of rescue appear.
What seems to be one thing from a distance is very different close up.
I tell you this story because it’s the kind of lesson that can be learned only on the road. And also because I’ve come to believe that, inside, each of us has a purple motorcycle.
We only have to discover it- and ride.”

I closed the book and smiled. I found my purple motorcycle some time ago. But suddenly, I felt much more confident about empowering other women to find theirs.

We are all passionate about different things.

Another woman's success is not your failure

when we are working towards the same thing.

Wildwood, New Jersey : The Race Of Gentlemen

A few weekends ago we rode down to Wildwood for The Race of Gentleman, aka TROG. TROG is a weekend-long event paying tribute to American automotive history by letting vintage motorcycles and cars race along the beach.

Aside from the obvious beauty of the ocean and clear blue sky, there's also something to be said for the people who have a passion for riding old machines. And, I think there's something special to be said for those who share that passion with others.

After the races, we caught a little golden hour.

And on Sunday, DCar and I made it home just in time to enjoy a little Fall supper outside.

Wednesday... From The Outside In

We often spend a lot of effort focusing on what goes into our homes, but what about what's on the outside?

Home should be a place you feel happy to come back to. Somewhere you can lay your head and rest your boots.

And what better way to greet a tired traveler than with flourishing leaves or flowers by your door?

When people put effort into beautifying the outside of their homes the inside becomes so much more inviting.

In the city, it's really nice to see when someone do just that. The residents of this local Philly home get it, when will everyone else? :)

On Riding Bitch... For Lack Of A Better Term

Over the years, the female riding community has grown. It’s grown so much and so much of it, I think, has to do with the support that other females have given each other. It's simple, women empowering other women. But let’s back up a moment. Who taught this new wave of women how to ride? Was it another woman - a friend, a girlfriend, a mother, a sister? Was it a daughter? Through the vastly growing online community of female motorcycle riders, so many have shared their stories surrounding who taught them how to ride. And surprisingly enough, many (though definitely not all) involved a man.

While the idea of learning how to ride from another woman makes my heart smile, I myself learned from a man. Unlike so many women who have who have been riding for years, I didn't learn from my father. I learned from my boyfriend. When we met, I already had my permit. I was going to buy a bike whether he was supportive or not. But to he and his friends’ credit, the support that they gave me throughout the learning and bike buying process was not only present it was tremendous.

But before I met my boyfriend, I had not been met with the same kind of support that a woman in 2012 might hope to expect. Though my family was supportive, the other men in my life before DCar were not. In fact, my previous boyfriend rode. When I told him I wanted a motorcycle too, he told me that he didn’t want me riding unless he was there to pick out the bike. Throughout the conversation, I realized that he was slowly going to take control of the process and he wasn't going to let me make any decisions on my own. Considering that he was halfway across the world, his words didn’t hold much weight and our relationship didn’t last. But, his conviction in deciding what I could not do was a pivotal moment in my relationship with motorcycles. I wasn't going to settle for being his old lady and I wasn’t just going to ride bitch.

So, I got my permit. I had no idea what I was going to do after that, though. I had a few guy friends who rode, but I never really felt they understood why I wanted a bike or that I really wanted one because I was such a novice. In contrast, most of them had been riding or oggling bikes for years. In their eyes, I was just an overly eager passenger.

DCar seemed to arrive at that perfect moment where I was at a crossroads with what to buy bike-wise. He and our friend Justin scoured Craigslist with me until they understood what I wanted, and didn't want, as my ride. Then, they helped me look for it. But, never once did they tell me what I couldn't ride.  Instead, they shared their experiences and let me make up my own mind. They empowered me.

In the meantime, while I looked for a bike, I rode with Dan. He picked me up from work, we went on dates- we went on double dates. I felt like a koala bear peering over his shoulder, happily watching the road. Never once did I feel like I was riding bitch.

Fast-forward a few years and we now live together in an apartment with a garage that's attached to our bedroom. I have three bikes and he currently has two. I've moved beyond my little ‘74 CB200 to a Sportster and recently even tried my hand at riding off-road (see the post below*). But, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t still occasionally ride bitch. Because sometimes riding with the person who taught you (who truly empowered you) - be it a parent, lover or friend - is so much more than just riding bitch.

Kudos to all of the men out there who support and empower women- be it riding, or otherwise.

Things I Learned In The Dirt

When I started riding motorcycles, I didn’t know much about riding offroad. I still don't! Read: city girl, born and raised. But, a few weekends ago I took my little '94 Yamaha XT225 Serow offroad for the first time and it was probably one of the most challenging, exhausting, and exhilarating things I have ever done.

For my first forray into the dirt world, I trucked my bike out to Freeland PA and met up with a co-worker who grew up around the coal mine there. It's not exactly an area designated for motorcyclists, but people ride there anyway. We rode through what I assume are normal dirt trails but we also hit mud, some silty sand-like terrain and a few sketchy trails that were full of rocks. Here are a few things I told myself while trying not to eat it.

Don't use your front brake. I’ve never purposely ridden downhill into a crater-like pit before because it looked fun. In fact, watching people skate deep bowls makes my stomach a little knotty. But, this looked kind of sandy. So I figured what the hell, the worst that can happen is I fall into some sand. And, that’s exactly what I did. Before my second try, my co-worker stopped me and gave me some sage advice. Don’t use your front brake. Doing so while riding downhill can literally flip you over the handlebars. It makes complete sense now, but it was nice to have someone there to actually say it.

Don’t look down. We started off in that weird black sandy bowl but eventually made our way to some semi-narrow, woodsy trails. At first, I kept looking down in disbelief that I was finally riding offroad in the woods. I was also looking down to brace myself for every rock I passed because I didn't really know what I was doing. After eating it in the first tight turn, I kept my head up and set my sights on what was in front of me instead of panicking about what was below. What I realized was that by looking down, I was missing the best part of the ride. Looking ahead, I watched and felt the trees pass by and couldn't help but smile. This is the view I had been waiting for.

Trust the bike. This reminds me of when I got my second bike, an 883 Sportster. I didn’t love the cantankerous added weight of a Harley and riding fast made me nervous because I didn’t feel as in control as I was on my first bike, an old little ‘74 Honda CB200. But over time I realized that the Sportster was actually easier to handle at speed. I just needed to trust it! With the XT, it was the same lesson all over again. Those rocks I kept seeing? I realized I couldn't always go around them. I needed to trust the bike to take me over them. After all, there’s a reason the bike's front end feels that way.

Next time, bring more water. Three- plus hours and one bottle of water? Rookie move.

Get a GoPro. This was my first ride offroad, and being the sentimentalist that I am, I wanted to document it. But I didn't have a way to carry my phone with me, so I had to make Dan stop whenever I wanted to take a photo. In the gnarlier trails, it just wasn't worth it. Truth be told, I was too busy picking my bike up.

Never underestimate your street smarts, even in the woods. We found ourselves by a coal mine that was so vast and deep, there was no going through it. I was nervous even getting close to the edge of it. The only thing to do was to go around it or go back the way that we came. But at that point, we had been riding for a few hours and we kind of just wanted to go home. I was also starving and home was a lot farther for me. Of course, that’s where my co-worker Dan’s bike got stuck. His 400-plus pound BMW F800GS didn’t make it a foot through the mud before the rear tire started spinning and the front tire started sinking. After trying to get it out for a few minutes, we took a step back and just watched as it stood there unmoving. As I looked down into the coal mine, I could feel my mind wanting to go into panic mode. There was no easy way out.

But, I knew that panicking would only make things worse so I pushed all of that out of my mind. Instead, I tried to help push the bike again. It didn’t budge. At 5'2" and 100 pounds, I felt like a bird hitting a window. After a few more tries, I took another step back and remembered another moment where I had seen someone on wheels get stuck in mud. Three words: My Cousin Vinny. I had recently seen the movie for the first time with my boyfriend's family. In the movie, Joe Pesci's car gets stuck in the mud on a hunting trip and he needs to make it back to the city for a court hearing. To stop his tires from spinning, he grabs the floormats from the car and throws them under the wheels. So, I found a plank-like piece of wood on the side of the road and stuck it under Dan’s front tire as he pushed and throttled it out of the mud. It worked. I immediately thanked whoever made that movie in my mind and was beside myself that I came up with an idea that actually worked. Meanwhile, as I stood there practically jumping for joy, his rear tire completely roosted me with mud.

photo by Dan M.

I drove home watching the sun set on my little mud covered thumper through the truck mirror. She was all banged up and dirty - exactly how she should be.

If there is something you want to go for that you're just not sure about, try it.

It might not work out. But if it does, it could be just as fun as you thought it would be... 

Shovel Trouble

Shit happens. But, when there's someone to ride through some of the shit with you, it's not so bad.

A few weeks ago, my Uncle was in town from London. That Saturday he came over with my little brothers and my Mom to play Monopoly and have family dinner. Naturally, he wanted to see our garage. Being a former track guy, primarily concerned with performance oriented bikes, he was curious as to why DCar chooses to ride the type of bikes that he does. DCar just looked at his Shovelhead and talked about how he liked putting it together and learning how to take it apart. It's simple, in a way. His recent triumph? Getting the timing just right. But as always, there's always something else to change, fix or maintain. My Uncle doesn't ride anymore, but it was nice to see two people who ride for completely different reasons talk about why they love doing it.

That Sunday I headed to my Mom's for one last dinner with my Uncle and DCar rode over to his parents to see his Grandpa Bill. On the way home from his parents, his oil filter came off. I ran home, took off my heels, threw on some vans and hopped in the truck to bring him some oil.

Filling it up with more oil didn't do the trick because the oil filter wouldn't stay on. So, we decided to tow the old girl home. I won't lie, being as tiny as I am I got pretty nervous pulling the ramp out of the truck to help him load the bike in. But, I could tell he was more nervous than I was. So, I just grabbed the rear and told him I had it. Somehow, we got it in there! And then, like two degenerates covered in oil, we got Chipotle.

Is it Poppin or Naw?

Over the years, I've really come to love living for the details. Be it at home, with my bikes or with the clothing that I wear or even the places that I frequent. I don't just want to buy something because it's cute or because it's so hot right now - though that does happen. I prefer to buy and do things because I relate, because I'm supporting something or someone awesome. Or simply, because it makes me feel good. And yea, I get called a hipster because of it. But, who cares.

What's funny is that this concept seems so simple but it isn't. At least not to me, because I didn't always feel this way. In fact, when I was younger I would really sweat the details. I would try to be different while trying to stay on trend. You know, the typical negative self-image issues that young girls get sucked into. In retrospect, I thought I was dressing and doing for me but I wasn't. I was just fitting in.

I suspect that I'm not the only one that feels this way. Though, what's interesting is that I didn't really notice this change in myself until recently when I changed jobs. By recently, I mean the past two years or so. Right now, I work with a ton of men. And as much as I miss working with more women to share my enthusiasm for fashion or jewelry, or what have you, it's forced me to decide what my style really is. Because let's be real, I could wear a trash bag to work and none of them would really care. Hell, I don't even really have to care. But, what's happened is the opposite. At first, I was nervous about wearing my floor length skirts, fitted overalls or hall-echoing heels around guys who were basically hanging out at work in jorts and graphic tees. But with few women around to judge or even to compliment, I just started wearing whatever I wanted and loving it. Wake up on my period and throw on an oversized grandpa cardigan, my boyfriend's worn in white V, black skinnies and comfy but tall pointedwedgebooties? Oh, and those tie dye socks too. Yes please. I started feeling comfy and sassy and didn't give a fuch. By not really caring and just dressing for me, I started dressing more like me.

Now, I guess you could say that's just a byproduct of getting older.... or becoming stupider. Or maybe, I've just become a little more independent. Maybe, maybe not. But fashion and lifestyle, to me, have become so much more than just looking good or buying things from somewhere because it easy or accessible . It's about living for the details, celebrating them every day and feeling good doing it.

"Around Town" is going to be just that - celebrating the details. I hope you like it!

What's what: Madewell tunic, thrifted Via Spiga booties from Retrospect, Dooney & Burke doctor bag from the Fairmount Flea Market. Plants from ACE Hardware on Fairmount Avenue- they have the best succulents and this location has been in the neighborhood since I was a little girl!

Easy Does It

The weekend before last was the Hatboro Car Show, otherwise known this year as Moonlight Memories. It's mostly classic cars, but there's the occasional bike in between too. We took some backroads up there and arrived just in time to push our bikes over to our friends new shop, RPM Cycles.

Growing up, I never went to car shows. In fact, my mom didn't even own a car until I was in eighth grade. We also just didn't really stay in the states during the summer very much. But when DCar and I started dating, summer car shows were one of the first things he took me to. Between the old cars, good food, water ice and cold beers, it was the most American things I had done in the summer since a pig roast once in West Virginia.

I like classic car shows so much now, not just because it's become our 'thing' or because it's a fun thing to do in the summer. I also just really love seeing the owners of these cars. They're usually standing, or sitting, dutifully next to their cars. They might be chatting with people who walk by or they might just be sitting and watching as passersby get up, close and personal with their prize possessions. Either way, there's usually some sort of smile or look of pride there. And that is something that I've come to love to see. And I guess, as I get older, I'd like to think that I'll feel that way some day too. Easy does it, for now.

Let There Be Light, A Sunny Fishtown Loft

After occasionally running into them around town, I really started to get to know Jessie and Deanna through our mutual interest in motorcycles. My boyfriend, Dan, and Jessie met through the Cast & Salvage guys a few years back and Deanna recently got a bike of her own. When I met them, they were living together in an apartment complex at Ridge Ave and Spring Garden St in Philly, an area that doesn't really feel like a neighborhood because its in an annex where a few different neighborhoods collide. From the moment I met them, they both talked about wanting a different place with more space and it seemed only natural to me that they were looking for more community too.

Before I shot their place, we met at the La Colombe in their neighborhood, Fishtown's newest addition to Frankford Ave. Jessie and a friend also met us there and Dan trickled in about an hour later. As we were leaving, we ran into at least two more people that we know. By the looks of it, they were already more at home and happier being in the mix of things. And when we got to their place, I saw Deanna practically skip out of the car in excitement to go open her door.

Their place is a little slice of fresh air. Philly doesn't really scream loft the way that New York does, but if there's a loft worth seeing, it's theirs. And it's right where you would least expect it-- in an old church on a quiet street in the heart of Fishtown.

Q: You and Jessie recently moved to Fishtown from the upper downtown area. What did you look for when hunting for your new home and why?

Space. We were living in a "garden apartment" which is a fancy name for a basement. It had huge windows, which helped open it up, but it was cramped and had little storage. We wanted something open, large, and with lots of character. Basically, something that would echo our personal styles. A functioning kitchen was also important, because I love to cook. We got lucky and knew Dom, who owns the place, and after a quick tour, we knew it was for us.

Q: Your new digs are in an old church. Tell me more about that and the owner of the building.

We don't know a ton about it, but several locals have told us they used to attend services there back in the day. Amazingly enough, the building as it stands today is pretty similar to the way it was built (at least from the outside). Dom, a local photographer, got the place about 15 years ago, gutted it, and made the main building into his home where he lives with his family. The stained glass is all original, and he's done an amazing job preserving the art-deco details in the design. We live in the converted rectory, which is still connected to the main building on the first floor.

Q: What is your favorite part of your new space? What was the biggest challenge/surprise?

The windows. I've never lived in a place with so much light. They have screens, but we hardly use them. They're a statement in themselves. The biggest challenge for us will always be storage. We just have too much stuff. The place has no overhead storage in the kitchen and only one closet, but we've made due utilizing other pieces of furniture and significantly downsizing.

Q: As you guys continue to get settled in, what are some of the home projects you are looking to take on?

We've been in the space for about 7 months and we're already itching to change it up. The great thing about living in a studio-esque environment is that there aren't any designated rooms, and we can set it up however we want, and change it again if we get tired of it. Our next project is to rearrange the whole living space. We're saving up for a new spindle bed frame, and we have a ton of reclaimed wood from the old church they just demolished on Belgrade. The wood is going to eventually be pipe and flange shelving next to the safe, and the bed is going to be caddy cornered where the work bench now is. Throw in some vintage rugs and a ton more plants, and we'll be in a good spot until the next idea pops up.

Q: You both seem like you are constantly collecting and creating new things. How do you keep your space so interesting and ornate, but clutter free?

An advantage of having such an open space is that it never feels too crowded. We've focused on finding some funky storage solutions, like the metal bookcase we keep our motorcycle ephemera in. It gives us a place to store and display our knick-knacks without crowding shelves and filling boxes. That, and I'm just the biggest neat freak you'll ever meet. 

Q: If you could build your dream home, what would it absolutely include and why?

A garage for Jessie's growing motorcycle collection and a sun room so I can exercise my green thumb. An outdoor space of our own would be cool too, because after 3 years together and 3 different apartments, we've never had one.

What's what: Couch - Craigslist score. Coffee Table - passed down from Jessie's grandmother. Peacock Chair - Phantastic Phinds Furniture Consignment. Desk - hand-built by Deanna. Entry Table - the pieces were purchased from @oldschoolfinds on Instagram, assembled by Jessie. Safe and kitchen pew knook - original to the space. Bed - Ikea. 48 Star Flag - flea market find.

Deanna works as the lead on Social Media Strategy for Sailor Jerry Rum. Jessie is a designer and artist as a part of True Hand Society, a private design & tattoo studio. Thurston & Shermie are their resident fluffballs.

Follow Jessie and Deanna on Instagram: @deannarama @jessiejaytlp

Finding the Old, Unique and Unusual

I met Megan and Tommy for the first time through mutual friends at The Race of Gentleman earlier this year. When I saw photos of Megan's home pop up in my Instagram feed, I didn't just start following her because we had mutual friends. She has an eye for photographing just about anything - from landscapes to interiors, to all the little knick knacks she has found in between. So as soon as I got the blog up and running, I asked her to shoot her and Tommy's place.

I will say that I was a little nervous because I've never shot a home I haven't been to in the past. But, they did not disappoint! My favorite element of their place is the lighting and the contrast that it creates.

Q: You are originally from New Orleans, what brought you to Philly?
Megan: I moved to Philly to be with my boyfriend, Tommy. It was never a city I considered living in, but I'm glad I did it. Pennsylvania is awesome.


Q: When you were home-hunting, what did you and Tommy look for and why?
Megan: Initially, we just wanted a place of our own after living with his roommates for a while. I was definitely more picky about the house than he was. I've lived in so many places, and with each new apartment or house you tend to acquire more stipulations for the next. I won't budge on a yard, washer/dryer, hardwood floors, and bathtub. 

Q: Now that you are all settled in, what do you love most about your home? What was your biggest challenge/surprise?
Megan: I don't have any particular favorite things about the house itself. I mean, I'm really glad that some of the original doors were kept, I like the banister, and the fact that the bathroom isn't too small. The folks that renovated the house did a lot of stuff that I'm not too crazy about. For example, they covered up the entire fireplace/chimney, the overhead lights aren't all lined up with the right architectural features of the room, the kitchen is awkwardly designed, etc. My favorite thing about our home is how we navigate the more troublesome aspects of it. The biggest challenge was deciding how to arrange the living room. There isn't a single good wall to put a couch against, which had a domino effect with the rest of our furniture. I think we did the best we could given the space.

Q: You have so many trinkets, photos and mementos. Where did they all come from and what inspired you to collect them? Which piece is most special to you?
Megan: I've always had an affinity for collecting anything old and unusual, books, and things found in nature. A good deal of what I have came from searching thrift and antique stores, whether in Louisiana or just traveling. An even bigger portion of what I own has come from where I work, Jinxed. Prior to moving to Philly, I had a lot of stuff. I had a bunch of cool old books, photos, and ephemera. However, working at Jinxed definitely allowed me to obtain more of what I sought out because I'm immersed in it on a regular basis. It's also made me a much choosier person. You see the same stuff come in day after day and you start to realize that it's not as rare as you once thought it was. That's why my favorite things (I can't choose just one) are my photos and any hand-written notes and letters. They capture unique moments and emotions.


Q: If you guys decide to own one day, what would your dream home absolutely include and why?
Megan: A throne room? I don't know, it's tough! We would love to buy something soon. My dream home would absolutely have a grass yard (none of this concrete slab nonsense), a ton of original fixtures and details, high ceilings, a big kitchen, and a garage. I'm torn between a castle and a Victorian mansion, but either will do. 

What's what: The shelf that my shoes are on is made from an old table with the legs taken off. I found the framed portrait of the woman (in the dining room) in a Catholic thrift store in Louisiana. They were hesitant to sell it to me because they felt it was inappropriate, but I convinced them to. I've seen the image before, but I have no idea who made it. The eerie framed photo of the old man (Uncle John) came from Jinxed and there is an accompanying photo of a church. In that one you can faintly see Uncle John standing in front of the church. I love those two photos so much. The portrait of a woman reading (in the curio cabinet) was also part of that set. They're three of my absolute favorites! My coffee table is special to me because my dad made it. Even though it doesn't perfectly go with the rest of our furniture, I'll always use it. It makes a great bench, too! Since I didn't take much large stuff with me when I moved to Philly, most of our other furniture is from Jinxed.

Megan is computer science major, lover of the Middle Ages, and vintage slinger at JINXED. Tommy loves wrestling, music, and works in the film industry. In their spare time, they both like to explore and go on adventures with their dog, Stella.

Follow Megan and Tommy on Instagram: @meganacosta & @tommymanson

Eternal Sunshine in Echo Park

I met Heather and Chachi for the first time in L.A. when my boyfriend, Dan, and I stayed with them before driving up the Pacific Coast Highway to San Fran. Dan has known Chachi through skating in
Philly and had nothing but nice things to say about their place when they lived in Philly together.

When we arrived at their house, I immediately fell in love with their space. At the time, I had never lived with anyone that I dated and I didn't know any young couples with beautiful homes. Heather and Chachi's was the first place I walked into and thought wow, this is their home. I found it really inspiring.

That was a few years ago and there place has only gotten cuter since. Here's a peek at their unique L.A. home in Echo Park.

Q: When you guys moved from Philly to LA, what was the home-hunting process like? Was there one thing in particular that you guys had to have when searching for your new place?

Heather: We had about 2 months to find a place when we moved to LA. We were looking for a place that was light and airy, had a small yard and a lot of character. We love the 1920’s stove and original tile work. The original details were important to us. 

Q: Once you moved in, what was the biggest challenge you faced? What was the biggest surprise?

Heather: The biggest surprise when we moved here, coming from Philadelphia, was that our place did not have heat! We definitely didn’t expect it and have space heaters to keep us warm during our 60 degree winters.

Q: Now that you are all settled in, what do you love most about your home? What piece in your home is most special to you?

Heather: The most special thing about our home to me is our kitchen. I have really learned to cook since I’ve been living in LA. We love making vegan food and sharing it with friends.

Heather: The pale yellow 1960’s Barcelona Chairs are really important to me. I inherited them from my grand mom when she died. She had amazing taste and those chairs became the focal point and inspiration for how we chose to decorate our home. We love midcentury furniture because of her and look for it when we are scouring flea markets in LA. All of the details in our place were found at flea markets. Any Sunday you can always find a different flea market in and around LA to pick up vintage planters, wall hangings, and pottery.

Q: If you guys decide to own one day, what would your dream home absolutely include and why?

Heather: My dream Los Angeles home would include an enclosed back yard area where we can entertain friends, a pretty porch to hang plants and watch the sunsets, more counter space in the kitchen to spread out a little more, and lots more light beaming in through the windows! I could go on and on!

What’s what: The striped planter on our cocktail table is a hand-me-down… from the same grand mom who gave me the chairs. She gave it to my mom and my mom gave it to me. It’s so old and the colors go well in the apartment. The vintage wall hanging above our desk was found at the Rose Bowl Flea Market. I love the different textures and size of it. It brightens up the brown wall. The Bull Skull was gotten in New Mexico when we were driving across the country. One of the many momentos from the best road trip we have ever had! The Record Player is one of our favorite pieces in our apartment. We love listening to records and are constantly buying new old records whenever we find them. We have been listening to a lot of Waylon Jennings lately.

Ryan is the International Sales Representative for Baker Skate Boards and I am a wardrobe stylist. Both of us work in Los Angeles. We have a sweet 3lb Chihuahua named Ruby who we can't live with out!

Follow Heather & Chachi on Instagram @heatherfredrck @flyupsidedown

Shop Heather's Etsy Store : VintageConnectionLA

all photos by Heather*