Well, life has interfered and I haven’t got an Amazing Canadians post up for a couple of months, but it is time! Today is International Female Ride Day (IFRD) and so it seems appropriate to honour a fellow female rider.
This week, I met with Skippy, who is organizing The Pilgrimage Ride for women this summer. Riding has always been part of Skippy’s life and as she put it – “There’s always been a bike in my life, though mostly for commuting and short runs for fun”. She had just returned from a long trip by bike to promote her event, reconnect with friends, and do some partying in New Orleans! Despite the fact that she had just landed back in Canada, and must have been in need of some well-earned chill time, she graciously agreed to meet with me for a chat. We talked of my Canadian tour last year and, of course, of her upcoming ride event.
Skippy has what seems to be an inexhaustible supply of positive energy. She would have to, having spent her career as a location and event manager in the film industry. Recently, Skippy has had some significant challenges, though. While working on a film site, she was assaulted by a street person. Among other injuries, she had a concussion, resulting in a brain injury which has impacted her ability to perform her work. Taking on a couple of jobs, she realized that she had to give up her work that she has loved for many years and think about re-training for another occupation. This, along with the drawn-out process of trying to get compensation from insurance companies, caused Skippy to fall into a funk which sunk into depression.
It was while coping with this life-changing experience, and mourning the loss of her event organizer role, that Skippy had an “I wonder if” moment about an event ride for women. She had noticed that outside of IFRD and the Women’s World Relay Ride, that there were not really any EVENT rides for women in Canada. She dismissed the idea initially as a fancy, but the seed had been planted and continued to rise to the surface of her mind. She put out some feelers to some potential sponsors and found a surprisingly open and willing response and the wheels began to turn in earnest. Taking on a life of its own, The Pilgrimage Ride was born. Her long-time friend Aileen was drawn into the process, creating a patch and website to promote the ride and being the moral support that Skippy has needed to keep plugging away at the event.
Not satisfied to do things in a small way, organizing a ride wasn’t enough – Skippy wanted to give back to the community that supported her when she first arrived in Victoria 25 years ago, needing help. A limited number of tickets are being sold for the event at the very reasonable participation fee of $85 per person. Participating includes prizes, overnight camping at an exclusive campground, a BBQ dinner, ride patch and local craft beer. Proceeds will benefit the Women In Need Community Cooperative in Victoria. Skippy has worked tirelessly to get sponsors for prizes and stops along the way and organized a campsite that is not normally open to the public. She has even managed to get access to a limited number of bunks in a bunkhouse for those of us who are not so keen to sleep in a tent!
As for the ride itself, it is billed as a quest, of sorts, and Skippy has very successfully cultivated an air of expectancy and mystery-to-be-discovered. In her own words: “The pilgrimage is a two-day mindful motorcycle ride on Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada………It is our wish that the riders will be nurtured by this land, honoured by their fellow riders and feel a little more freedom in their soul for having taken this quest into nature.” She hopes to empower women to recognize themselves as a force in our world and encourage bonding, confidence, and personal awareness. As well, she hopes to foster an awareness and respect for nature, the land, and culture – to commune with the ancient and learn about ourselves. While few details about the route have been revealed, enough were “leaked” to me to understand that this is a time for us to be present on this ride. To be mindful and absorb our surroundings and connect with them. To find our own personal peace and take that feeling away with us. We have all faced personal trauma and challenges, and sometimes we have to step away into our “present” to see the way forward.
I look forward to this adventure, held on July 27 and 28th with great anticipation. You can support Skippy’s fundraising effort by going to https://www.womeninneed.ca/donate and making a donation. If you are a rider that is a female-identified person, a trans woman or consider yourself gender-fluid/non-binary, please check out the website at https://www.pilgrimageride.com/ and join us. Tickets are limited, so book soon! 😊 I look forward to meeting more Amazing Canadians!