Founder of many things, including the Ladies Offroad Network, Charlene Bower, shares her colorful history in off-road. Included are the highs and the lows and a lot of personal history between Big Rich and Charlene. It’s a great listen.
Be sure to SUBSCRIBE to Conversations with Big Rich on your favorite Podcast Player
4:19 – I had the coolest van in high school – metallic blue
[00:01:20.420] – Big Rich Klein
On today’s episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Charlene Bower. Yes, we’ve interviewed her dad, Bob Bower, but now we’re in with Charlene.
[00:01:33.230] – Big Rich Klein
Charlene and I go back quite a ways and we’ll discuss all of that. Charlene, thank you for coming on board and being on Conversations with Big Rich and talking to our listeners.
[00:01:48.960] – Charlene Bower
Absolutely. I’m so excited and you and I have a lot of fun stories to talk about.
[00:01:56.220] – Big Rich Klein
Yes, we do. I don’t know if we’re allowed to talk about them all.
[00:01:59.600] – Charlene Bower
Yeah, we can talk.
[00:02:00.660] – Big Rich Klein
We can talk generalities at least. I know we’ve got it. We’ve got to talk about your your crack kitten, you know, but it all Piston cat crack cat. The whole world. Yeah.
[00:02:16.560] – Big Rich Klein
Or the Oroville crack cat. Yes. That’s the. Yeah, Piston was Piston’s a lovely kitty. Anyway, so let’s let’s go and get started like we do with everyone and, you know, where did you grow up and, you know, born and raised.
[00:02:36.840] – Charlene Bower
Yep, I was born and raised in Palo Alto, California, which is in the Bay Area, San Francisco area with, as you mentioned, my dad, who is rad and thank you for having him share his story. And then my mom Deanna is very well known as mom around campus. And then my brother Brent, who is a couple of years younger than me, and I was bigger than him until he was about 11. And then I stopped having a smart mouth and realized he was bigger than me.
[00:03:11.970] – Charlene Bower
Yeah, it was an entertaining household.
[00:03:14.900] – Big Rich Klein
And I can imagine. I can imagine. So what were the earliest memories? Well, first, let’s before we get into those memories of when you guys got started off roading, let’s get into the basic facts of school. And you know how you know, what kind of student were you? You know, were you athletic? Were you scholastic? Were you did your own thing? Where do you fit in?
[00:03:48.580] – Charlene Bower
I was the good student. Believe it or not, you were the guy was a good little student, OK? Yes. Yep. So I went through high school playing volleyball and track shot put and discus, even went to the state in shot put this and gained a volleyball scholarship at the end and ran A’s and B’s through school, which really was it was all very kind of my parents because they’re like, hey, you get good grades, you do great sports and don’t worry about working.
[00:04:19.990] – Charlene Bower
You know, we’ll handle that. So until they gave me a rad van to drive around that had a 460 Ford fuel injected engine in it, that was the coolest thing in Palo Alto. Clearly. A van?. And yes, was a multicolored and like round windows in the topic. It was metallic blue, metallic blue in the pinstripe, and it was like a faded red. So I convinced my dad that we had to paint it metallic pink because that was like that old school era 80’s color combo.
[00:04:59.380] – Charlene Bower
I my dad look at this. It’s faded. We got to do something about this, can’t we just paint it metallic pink. It’ll just kind of go.
[00:05:06.400] – Charlene Bower
And he went with it. I like that.
[00:05:08.650] – Big Rich Klein
Don Johnson in Miami Vice look.
[00:05:11.800] – Charlene Bower
Exactly. Exactly. And so then they realized how much fuel that was costing every day while I was going back and forth to school. So I finally got my very first ever four wheel drive, which was a Jeep Cherokee white one. So every time I see a white four wheel drive Jeep Cherokee running around town, I always my heart just goes out to its XJ friends.
[00:05:34.030] – Charlene Bower
Nice. Thank you. So my brother got in trouble with it, I didn’t
[00:05:38.680] – Big Rich Klein
Oh, he got in trouble with it huh?.
[00:05:41.300] – Charlene Bower
Yeah, I was the good yeah, you were the I was a good kid.
[00:05:44.850] – Charlene Bower
Yeah, my brother and I flip flopped that role in our mid 20s, but at that time, I was the good kid.
[00:05:52.220] – Charlene Bower
He was the wild one.
[00:05:55.520] – Big Rich Klein
So, yeah, you did shot, put and discus and played volleyball. Volleyball is is a given because of your height. Yeah. And then no basketball.
[00:06:09.580] – Charlene Bower
No, I’m too lazy to run up and down the court that much, and that’s why you that’s why you were a thrower and not a runner, OK?
[00:06:17.930] – Charlene Bower
[00:06:21.710] – Charlene Bower
You know, am I. Yeah, that’s not me.
[00:06:25.150] – Charlene Bower
Yeah, but muscle and strength.
[00:06:29.740] – Charlene Bower
You know me. Yes, that’s me. Like yeah. So muscle and strength working on the way I worked out with all the football guys and. Yeah it was great.
[00:06:41.620] – Big Rich Klein
Excellent. So what was, what were some of the good memories back then.
[00:06:47.060] – Charlene Bower
To do with off roading was super fun as being a volleyball in the summertime, my coach hated that I rode dirt bikes because, well, he doesn’t want his athlete to get hurt riding a dirt bike and refused to let me ride dirt bikes during the season. And I don’t know if you know me well enough to know you don’t tell me no. Right. That means that you’re going to do it. And so it just really agitated me that he was telling me that I could not ride
[00:07:18.950] – Charlene Bower
Dirt bikes and the best part of the season right there in the fall. And so one day it was in August, it was during Doubleday’s and they were paving our streets. And you couldn’t move your car out. Right. You’re stuck with the pavement. And so I looked at my mom and I’m like, no, it’s a deal right now. Clearly, we didn’t preplan. Or maybe I did a little. Like, the only way I can get to practice right now is a dirt bike.
[00:07:49.940] – Charlene Bower
So either I don’t go to practice and I get in trouble or I pull the dirt bike out and take it, which they’re dual sport bikes right there. It’s that we were running five hundred miles per weekend. And so my mom’s like, whatever. So I pushed it out. I got it out of the trailer. I put some gear on and rode it up to Gunn High School, to the gym and up right outside the gym and parked it.
[00:08:18.530] – Charlene Bower
And my coach came out and gave me the most awesome look I’ll never forget. Are you serious right now, Charlene? I just kind of shrugged. Oh, my God. I had no choice. Either I ride this or I don’t go there. Asphalting, my street, which one did you want? And so that kind of eliminated this whole conversation about me dirt biking, what I wanted to hear.