Cherry McLeod is many things, where to start? She’s a kayaker, motorcyclist, creative (check out her macrame rainbows), brand rep, organizer, and definitely a trailblazer.
We are particularly inspired by her involvement with an all-women motorcycle meetup group called Babes Ride Out. The brand began as a way for women to forge connections and seek adventures in the biker world. We believe that all positive gatherings bring good to the world but there is magic when a group of women get together.
Cherry took some time to satiate all of our curiosities!
What do you think is the importance of the babes Ride Out events? Is it founded on the idea that womens’ spaces are special and important, or is it more casual and just a group of gals hanging out?
Well, there are two ways to respond to the question of importance: The founding purpose of Babes Ride Out from the founders’ perspectives, and the personal importance of these events from an attendees perspective.
Babes Ride Out (BRO or Babes) was founded by two extremely influential, respected and admirable women. It was birthed via a path that many women riders are forced down. Riding a motorcycle has been a male-dominated activity/sport and I have heard numerous stories of women getting their license but then struggling to find a group of women to ride with. Anya Violet and Ashmore Ellis (the founders) created a space for women to gather; where egos are left at the door, everyone is treated equally and the common love for motorcycles is what brings us together.
For me personally though, the importance of the Babes Ride Out events expands ten-fold from those original founding principles.
When I got my motorcycle license in 2016, my primary riding group was my husband and his friends. The more we rode, the more moto contacts we made. I realized quite quickly that the riding community is pretty tight, there are cliques but for the most part, if you meet someone that rides, there is that instant commonality that starts the conversation. My love for motorcycles grew in a serious and quick way. As I learned more about my first bike (a 500cc Royal Enfield Bullet) I became interested in the larger motorcycle community. When I started my Instagram profile, I very quickly found women that rode, that were creating community through riding, that were uniting in their love for motorcycles and the goal from then on became to attend a Babes Ride Out. I remember seeing pictures of the events and being filled with excitement of how it could feel to be there, one of thousands of women, hanging, riding, partying, camping. It was honestly something that was out of this world, nothing I could have imagined and I just had to go.
My first time attending was the BRO in Joshua Tree (Oct 2017). Over the two summers of riding I had gained a host of genuine friends from all over that would be at this event. Some of them I was actually meeting in-person for the first time, having only connected online. I was so amped.
Babes Ride Out means family to me. It’s honestly one of the closest things I’ve felt to my immediate blood family. We are seen as individuals, all unique. But we are united and one in our love for riding. We have each other’s backs, physically and emotionally. Every year since, Babes Ride Out has felt like coming home. I really don’t know how to put it into words but I know that these women - from all different backgrounds, with all different views on life, religion, politics and the list goes on - these women will be there for me, no matter what.
I saw your instagram post with our bandana! You used the phrase "unapologetic and authentic". Hell yeah. Can you expand on that phrase for me? What do those words, or those words together, mean for you?
When I received my Jenni Earle bandanas I read each individual writeup. I love knowing the back-story of each piece, learning more about the maker, and building up my passion for the brand. I loved how it said ’this bandana may cause unapologetic authenticity and moxie’. As I’ve grown older, I have found my self. I am comfortable with who I am, I recognize the inauthentic and I push past self-doubt.
I have become more and more passionate over the years to be my true self, whatever that looks like, realizing that the people that love you for who you are will stay and those that don’t, well you become ok with them leaving.
I received the bandanas a day before we had a spring snow storm. With the one-year Covid anniversary right around the corner, I was realizing and coming to terms with my life as it was. Like so many, my life had changed dramatically due to the world shutting down. And over the last year so much has happened in the world, with social platforms bringing people together and tearing people apart. Over the last year I tried to stay positive, while being completely saddened, filled with anger, frustrated and depressed. I didn’t show my true self much online as I felt there was already so much negativity on there.
The moment I learned about your bandanas, I came to the realization that no matter what came my way, I wanted to just be my true self in the world, and that meant online too. I wanted to be confident in my own opinions, I wanted to be able to share those, and I wanted to be real. So the terms “unapologetic and authentic” rang with me and became a bit of an anthem in my life.
Okay, let's back up, who are you!? How did you become a part of the Babe's Ride Out movement? What role does riding play in your life (personally and professionally?)
I am a Canadian, born and living in the middle of Canada on the prairies (Manitoba). I have recently changed careers in a dramatic way, but with the new-found realization that you have to do what you love, no matter what the paycheck is (cause joy in life is way more fulfilling than any amount of $$). I live in the country, not in the city anymore, and have found room for literally just sitting and watching the nature around me. My life has become simpler over the years, while also more complex with the number of hobbies and interests. Riding for me has become integral.
Riding became somewhat professional when I was asked to be a part of the Livewire Tour with Harley-Davidson (H-D) in the summer of 2019. I was able to share my passion for motorcycles with a larger community of riders. It was a year of learning about H-D, meeting a ton of new people while also seeing and connecting with a number of my rider friends from around the US. It was quite the experience and one I am very grateful I was a part of.
Whether I’m working directly with a motorcycle company or just riding with my friends, motorcycles have become one thing that defines who I am. I ride. I am super proud that I ride and the reasons why I ride define the life that I live, whether it’s riding season or not. Getting my motorcycle license has changed my life and I’m not looking back, riding and the community around riding impacts my life each day.
Based on your instagram, you don't just ride! You are creative as well. Tell me about your leaves and rainbows. Why do you make them, how did you start doing this?
I am just one of many creators that have taken the ‘down-time’ this past year and learned something new. Making macrame, whether it’s rainbows, feathers, wall hangings etc. stemmed from needing to keep busy. It has been an outlet to think and grow while stretching my creative side. Honestly, I never took the time, prior to Covid, to really give my creative mind room to roam so this past year I have let very little stand in my way of just doing what I want to do, in the moment. I’ve also realized, like many, that life is only here for a minute. Appreciate and love-on the people and the things that make you happy, give you peace and bring you true joy. This is why I macrame, this is really why I ride, and this has become why I do most things these days.
Seems like you have a few Jenni Earle bandanas. Which mantra speaks the most to you? Why?
After this past year, the ‘i’m still standing’ is so relevant. I have spent a ton of time pausing, re-evaluating, reconnecting with my inner self. I love the story of this bandana in that this mantra is about seeing the ‘little’ things in life as not so little, but relevant and necessary to stay upright.
‘You are finding hope, you are finding patience…you are resting, you are laughing…you are learning from your mistakes, you are showing up…’ (Jenni Earle’s words)
It’s okay to give yourself some encouragement. It’s okay to look around and see the positives amidst some of life’s hardest times. It’s okay to recognize, learn, grow and keep standing.
I personally wear the ‘gimme some sugar’ bandana the most. It’s petite. It’s mint and it’s actually the first Jenni Earle bandana I’ve owned, purchased at a small boutique shop in Yucca Valley during a weekend at Babes Ride Out. So it all is connected — funny how life does that!
So much inspiration! So much motivation and determination. Thank you, Cherry, for sharing your story.
Get out there