The Wild Gypsy Tour Is A Game Changer For Women In Motorcycling

Women-only event provides three critical added values that never existed until now.

A variety of women from all over the country come to participate in the women-only event at Sturgis Buffalo Chip known as the Wild Gypsy Tour.
Women came from all across the United States to attend the Wild Gypsy Tour 2018 at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip.Genevieve Davis

Riding a motorcycle is my alone time. Which is how I like it. Like other women riders, I don’t typically carry passengers (have had offers from guys to ride “bitch,” but no thanks). Riding is, therefore, frequently solo and long distances, with the occasional group or charity ride, and sometimes a small group of friends.

When the time came to nail down plans for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally this year, I decided to attend the Wild Gypsy Tour with three girlfriends. I'll admit, the loner in me had pause.

But it was hands down the right decision.

Wild Gypsy Tour babes riding on their cruisers near Sturgis.
WGT babes riding near the City of Sturgis.Alyssa Bridges

What Is The Wild Gypsy Tour?

The Wild Gypsy Tour (WGT), a women-only motorcycle festival, was a chance to connect with other women from around the country for five days of Sturgis silliness at the Buffalo Chip. The Chip, plus women, plus motorcycles were sure to equal crazy fun, so I was in.

And it was exactly that. We went to concerts, drank beer, crashed Bikini Beach, attended the motorcycle art and stunt shows, had our bikes washed by “the Hunks,” rode minibikes at Camp Zero, stayed up too late, and woke up too early. And, of course, we rode.

But attending WGT at Sturgis was so much more. As the days flew by, I saw how it is a new and critical value add to the motorcycling world for women.

Stout Tent provided the full glamping experience at the Buffalo Chip in Sturgis.
Stout Tent provided the full glamping experience with beds, pillows, and linens.Natalie Kossek

What Happens At Sturgis With WGT?

Sturgis bike week—the biggest and most celebrated motorcycle rally in the country—can be overwhelming if you’ve never been or are attending alone. There’s so much going on, so many people, so many different places to ride, it can be a daunting event. What’s more, most people come with friends or family, so attending solo is a potentially lonely time.

I know this because three years ago, I attended my first Sturgis Rally alone after owning my bike for a little more than two months. I stayed in a house alone, ate alone, and rode alone more often than not. I ultimately met people and now I have my own “rally family”—but it was a tough go the first year.

The Motorcycle As Art showcase at Buffalo Chip in Sturgis with the Wild Gypsy Tour in attendance.
“Motorcycles as Art” at Sturgis Buffalo Chip.Natalie Kossek

Wild Gypsy Tour provides the very place, people, and things to do that a solo woman, new rider, or a non-rider needs when they attend bike week. The glamping setup by Stout Tent provides a beautiful respite spot. Women come and go, gather around picnic tables, and get to know each other over morning coffee. The events are all optional: Want to do a group ride? Great, kickstands up at 10 a.m. Need a nap? Great, we’ll catch ya tonight. Wanna get tattoos together later? Perfect, let’s get inked!

WGT has it all—it’s everything a woman wants and needs. Like a good boyfriend, it’s supportive but gives you space to do “you.” The Chip’s WGT camping environs have a high-quality aesthetic, but you can still be grungy and hot and dirty. There are women from all walks, so you are guaranteed to find your people.

The Wild Gypsy Tour girls get into shenanigans and ride two-up on minibikes in the camp.
Two-up minibikin’ is always a good idea.Genevieve Davis

And that’s exactly what founder Kelly Yazdi intends: “The Wild Gypsy Tour is designed and created to be a safe haven, a home away from home for women to make their way to the heart of the Midwest for the rally every summer. It provides a creative platform for women to come and meet other like-minded, adventurous women and organically create a sisterhood that will last a lifetime. Any and every woman is welcome here. Always.”

There’s something unique about how women riders interact with each other; whether they ride their own or as a passenger, there is an instant and mutual respect. Where we went to high school, college, or grad school, what neighborhood we live in, what we drive, what our professional title is—completely irrelevant.

The Hunks at Sturgis wash the Wild Gypsy Tour girls’ bikes.
“The Hunks” bike wash.Natalie Kossek

A Community Of Women Motorcyclists

What is relevant is that we ride. We all know the challenge of gear, road grime, sweat, freezing cold, hail, and gas station life, and we all choose it. It’s in that choice that we understand and choose each other. The competitiveness (resulting in cattiness) that unfortunately affects women in certain social or professional circles has never been present—at least for me—in the women's moto world.

At WGT, women show up as they are, dirty fingernails, sweaty pits, and greasy hair. It’s not a bikini contest, a beauty contest, or a riding skills contest. It’s not an anything contest.

Heck, you don’t even need to ride. One woman showed up from New York intending to rent a bike, but when she saw the dirt roads at the Chip she opted not to, given her current riding skills. No problem. She was just as much a part of the group as anyone. She rode “bitch” like a pro on my bike, and on dirt roads, no less.

The Wild Gypsy Tour girls take over downtown Sturgis.
Riding bitch, downtown Sturgis.Stacy Bettison

WGT does an expert job at embracing—and celebrating—the authenticity of women and motorcycle life. Professional photographers and videographers camped and rode alongside us and captured the beautiful, tough, quiet, thoughtful, and wild side of these women—and their beer-swilling sides too. Images and video, on social media and beyond, genuinely document what happens when moto women gather for five days and instantly create a powerful community for women to be seen and heard.

The Wild Gypsy girls have fun in camp with slow motorcycle races.
Party at Camp Zero.Natalie Kossek

The Wild Gypsy Tour provides a venue for women to connect, and then consistently sustains that community afterward in follow-up communications and social media engagement. The end result: The excitement and inspiration they experience at WGT continues well past the moment they go home.

At the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, the founder of Wild Gypsy Tour, Kelly Yazdi, gets a tattoo.
WGT Founder Kelly Yazdi gets inked.Genevieve Davis

A Passionate Group

It’s translating into actionable life changes. I’ve spoken with several women after WGT about what’s next. One woman started writing the book she’s been thinking about for years; another decided to finally shed 25 pounds that have been weighing her down. Another wants to up her riding game and take riding skills classes. And yet another is committing to taking longer, bolder rides, to move beyond her comfort zone of short day rides.

A group of Wild Gypsy girls commemorate their time at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally with a selfie.
Selfie Sunday at WGT camp.Genevieve Davis

The women of WGT come together to share their passion for motorcycles. While every woman has her unique desires for the life she wants, WGT creates a collective space to explore what life can be. And it’s a space—whether next week on social media, or next year at WGT 2019—that women will come back to. Gypsies, by definition, wander. But the women of the Wild Gypsy Tour will return, over and over again, back to their tribe.

The Wild Gypsy girls gather in front of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.
Babes with the great faces.Genevieve Davis
The Wild Gypsy Tour is a great place for women motorcyclists of different backgrounds to come together and bond.
Bonding comes easy.Natalie Kossek