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Glamis Gone Wrong - Off Road Notes

Phil Howell
Phil Howell | Writer
Posted April 1, 2006

An open letter from a father whose daughter was killed at Glamis, October 29, 2005.

My name is Patrick Gorrell and together with my wife Samantha we have managed to raise five wonderful children. From the time when our kids were toddlers, our family began taking trips to a place in the desert called Glamis. For those of you who may not be familiar with Glamis, it is essentially a stretch of mountainous sand dunes that runs from the middle of the Salton Sea and extends southward to the Mexican border. The dunes there are truly beautiful. They are made up of a seemingly endless stream of sandy valleys, ridges and deep bowls.

In our early trips to Glamis we found it to be the perfect venue for family adventures. In our many trips there we were joined by a large number of families from our local community of Canyon Lake, California. Together, there in Glamis, we taught our kids to ride and helped each other in the task of raising them into adults. We camped wagon-wheel style in our motorhomes, and at night we ate our meals around a roaring campfire while we shared the day's adventures and an endless stream of stories late into those chilly desert nights. We found it so ideal that we became hard-core regulars. For more than two decades during the cooler winter months we would go to Glamis just about every other weekend. We became accustomed to eating a little sand in our turkeys and relentlessly cleaned it out of every nook and cranny of our motorhomes and trailers. We washed sand out of our hair for days after we got back home. But despite these problems, there was one overwhelming factor that kept us going back again and again -- it was fun! About as much fun as anyone could possibly have.

It is hard to put into words the feeling of exhilaration and the absolute joy that comes from riding in the dunes at Glamis. It is a very three-dimensional experience. You can ride up hills, you can ride down hills, you can ride around and around in bowls and valleys of unimaginable proportions. You can feel the exhilaration of achieving weightlessness during a jump. You can carve turns in the sand that feel like they will rip you right off of your bike. And you can ride for hours at a stretch until your arms are so tired that you just can't use them anymore. From my experience, there is simply no feeling on earth that can match Glamis for its ability to deliver a sense of freedom and power.

Growing up and learning to ride there, my daughter Holly became addicted to these simple yet very powerful pleasures. She was a great rider, and her experiences at Glamis left her with sand in her blood and in the deepest parts of her soul.

Because of its irresistible attraction, over time this one-time haven for family adventures became increasingly crowded; in fact, it is dangerously overcrowded these days. Because of this, and because of our old age I guess, we stopped going there as regulars, but my daughter Holly made sure that we went back every now and then. Her love for the place kept drawing her back for her necessary Glamis fix.

I loved riding with Holly, she was just great. But on October 28, 2005, we went back to Glamis for a very special purpose. Holly and her sister Heather had started a line of women's riding apparel called DAMZL. Together, Holly and Heather identified a need in the in the off-road motorcycle industry that was very personal to them. Despite the fact that they are tough enough to ride with the best of us, they are also beautiful women and have a strong sense of fashion and taste. They resented the fact that for more than 30 years, they had to dress in riding clothing designed by men for men. And from their experience they knew that they could design clothing specifically designed for the woman rider -- clothing with more color and far more practical for women. Their slogan, which I dearly love, is "Feminize the Machine." This founding concept became their mantra, and it symbolized what was to become a real quest for both of them. If Holly had a goal with DAMZL it would be to put a woman dressed in pink at the head of a pack of aggressive riders.

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