'Biker babe' takes one last ride down the highway

'Biker babe' takes one last ride down the highway

Though she has driven a motorcycle on every continent except Antarctica, Medford resident Cecile "Cec" Camden-Garrett was perfectly satisfied with just a brief ride Wednesday down North Phoenix Highway.

Friends and a handful of family members cheered as the 76-year-old pulled into the Rogue Valley Manor parking lot on a silver and black, brand new BMW R1200 RT around mid-afternoon.

It was a ride that both fulfilled a "bucket list" goal and closed the book on a 25-year chapter of motorcycle riding that began when she was 49.

Garrett said she wanted to "be able to say I rode until I was 76."

Still an active snow skier and world traveler, the mother of three sold her last motorcycle two years ago when she wed now 84-year-old Wayne Garrett.

A longtime Rogue River resident who was married to dentist Dick Camden until his death in 2002, Cec is known at the Rogue Valley Manor as "biker babe," she admits with a laugh.

While Wayne earned his motorcycle endorsement and took a few rides with his bride, the couple ultimately opted for safety.

Wielding a video camera and waving at Cec after Wednesday's ride, from Hansen's BMW Motorcycles in Phoenix to the hilltop Manor, the grinning husband explained, "She didn't want me to ride because she didn't want me to have any injuries, so she sold her motorcycle when we got married."

Despite hanging up her riding helmet, Cec wanted to take one more ride before turning 77 in December.

"It was perfect weather for it," noted Cec's son-in-law, Mike Smith of Medford.

In 25 years, Cec has taken motorcycle tours in Africa, Europe, South America, Australia, Alaska, Nova Scotia, the islands of New Zealand and Italy.

"It came right back," she said Wednesday. "I practiced for two or three minutes in the BMW parking lot and it felt like it always did."

Manor pastoral director Don Hildebrand, a longtime friend and fellow biker, tagged along for the journey.

"We're always talking about riding. She's done all the things I've only dreamed of," he said.

Hildebrand said Cec had forgotten little about being on a bike.

"You could tell she was really enjoying herself," he said. "I was following her and the pace kept picking up and the corners started coming quicker and quicker."

Retirement hasn't slowed Cec or Wayne. They hired a pilot and visited checkpoints of this year's Iditarod in Alaska. In October, they take off for a trip to Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands. In December they plan to visit the Panama Canal.

"Our motto is, 'Do it while you can!'" said Cec. "So we're going to."

Craig Hansen, owner of the bike shop, said after years of friendship with Cec and her former husband, he was glad to do a good deed in granting an old friend a final bike ride.

"I've known her since the early '90s. She and her husband at the time came in because they were planning a trip and wanted to ride motorcycles. I forget whether it was Europe or Germany, she's been so many places, but they were going to ride BMWs so they came out to get a feel for the bikes," Hansen said.

"Our clientele is more like a club than a retail business, and Cec is one of those people that, if she ever needed something and I had the money or the ability to do it for her, I wouldn't have to think twice."

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Reach her via e-mail at

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