In 2013, two women reconnected at the Born Free vintage motorcycle show. Their names were Ashmore Ellis and Anya Violet. They hatched an idea, just a simple “girls’ weekend” of moto camping in the desert, and they thought it would be fun to reach out to the other woman riders in their social media circles. To their surprise, 50 women showed up to what they dubbed Babes in Borrego.
The following year, they upped the ante and rented out a private campground near Joshua Tree, California. The location was ideal for what was always intended to be a riding-focused event, surrounded by beautiful sweeping roads that carry you from desert to alpine mountain terrain, all within a few hours’ ride of the Los Angeles area. You could fly in to LAX, rent a bike from EagleRider or MotoQuest, and ride to the event. When asked how many women they expected for this second campout, now officially called Babes Ride Out, they answered “about 150.” In fact, 500 women registered.
The third year, 1,500 women from all over the world showed up. Now in its fifth year, Babes Ride Out has expanded to the east coast and the UK, plus the off-road Babes in the Dirt event. I went to Babes Ride Out (a.k.a. BRO) 5, my first ever BRO experience–and in fact my first women-only event ever. The experience was pretty remarkable, so I managed to beg a few minutes of time with Anya and Ashmore to get their story and learn more about this unique event.
Woman Rider: How old were each of you when you first started riding? Tell me about your initial experiences.
Ashmore: My first experience was on an electric 3-wheeler my mom got me for Christmas back in the ‘80s. I was barely walking at the time and she thought giving me something with a little power was a great idea! From there she got us a gas powered 4-wheeler that had a governor on it but we learned how to take it off pretty quickly so we could go over 35 mph. We destroyed that thing. From then on, there was a giant void until I moved out to California. Some of my friends were getting into bikes and it looked like so much fun. I bought a little Yamaha from the ‘70s and tried to see what this “riding” thing was. First experience summed up to “I hate this.” I dropped it in front of coffee shop making U-turn and stalled out at every light. Within 24 hours I was signed up for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course and benched the bike until I got some proper training. That class made me love motorcycles and understand them a whole lot better. From then on, practice…so much practice!
Anya: I first started riding a 50cc dirt bike when I was 7 years old. I was the only one out of my two other sisters that really fell in love with riding motorcycles. Both my parents had bikes at different points in their life so I guess it was kind of meant to be. My mom and I rode dirt bikes all throughout my childhood, riding trails and racing motocross all over the central coast of California. I took a break from riding during my late high school and college years but got right back into it in my mid-twenties and dirt bikes progressed to street bikes pretty quickly. Riding became a central part of my life again and it feels so good!
WR: You guys met at another event in 2013, so I guess it’s safe to say that events are a great way for women to meet other women who are into the same stuff they are. What advice would you have for someone who is interested in attending BRO (or another event) for the first time? It can be pretty intimidating….
Ashmore: Motorcycles events are amazing way to connect and each one is so different. If you are feeling a little anxious, reach out to another person on Instagram that has posted they are going and say “Hello! I am going too” to break that proverbial ice. We’ve seen so many ladies connect on social media this way which is truly what the platform was designed to accomplish. You’d be surprised how many ladies come out to our events by themselves. I instantly have so much for respect those ladies and they end up leaving with a handful of new friends. And if you get there and start feeling out of place, come find me! I will be there to give you a hug and high five. You belong, you fit in, and you are just as important as anyone else at Babes Ride Out.
Anya: Basically, exactly what Ashmore said. Babes Ride Out was started simply because we wanted to meet other women who ride and by coming to one of our events you will do just that. I can’t even count how many amazing friends I have met through moto camping and anyone who is interested in joining in the good times will leave with a bunch of new friends to ride with.
WR: Women’s gear: pink or no pink?
Ashmore: Someone once told me that it’s not the motorcycle that makes the person cool, it’s the person who rides it. Same goes for gear, wear what YOU like, what fits, what you can afford. I’m just stoked gear exists and we are seeing so many new options pop up.
Anya: To each their own but pink is just not for me.
WR: Who is/was the most influential woman in your life?
Ashmore: My mom. Robin is a self-made woman who has accomplished things that simply amaze me. Her “you can do anything and I will always support you” attitude has always pushed me gently and comforted me when I’ve made mistakes. I am truly lucky to have her on my side.
Anya: I have to say my mom, Julee. You can’t miss her at Babes Ride Out, she is everywhere. She is a very powerful person and has the ability to manifest anything she puts her mind to. She is one of the warmest people you will ever meet and her sense of humor and wit is unmatched. Plus she is really, really fast on her motorcycle.
WR: Where is your favorite place to ride?
Ashmore: Northern California. True heaven on earth is riding around Truckee, Ebbett’s Pass into Tahoe, Nevada City, Mammoth, Bass Lake, along the Yuba and Feather Rivers, etc. I can’t get enough of it.
Anya: The central coast of California. I am a little biased because it is where I’m from. Endless twisty backroads, coastal cliffs and eucalyptus forests galore!
WR: What’s your top “I haven’t been there yet, but I’m gonna” place to ride?
Ashmore: Alaska has always been such a dream to visit and if you add riding motorcycles to that mix, I’d lose my mind.
Anya: New Zealand. But only if I can bring my dirt bike and my street bike. It just looks so gorgeous and remote!
Curious about Babes Ride Out? Check out their website here. Keep scrolling for photos from the event.