When you think about outdoor adventure, the image of thousands of women riding motorcycles and camping in the desert might not be the first one that comes to mind. Yet, that is exactly what two women have created. Ashmore Ellis and Anya Violet are the founders of Babes Ride Out, an international motorcycle riding campout that brings over 1,000 women from around the world together to ride, explore, and have fun.
I had the pleasure of meeting them at OR last month and getting a little insight into this fast growing movement.
Origin: Tell us a bit about your vision for Babes Ride Out and what you hope for the future.
Babes Ride Out: Our mission has always been to encourage women to explore the world on two wheels. We hope Babes Ride Out is a platform to empower women to get out there and adventure to places beyond where they thought was possible. At our events, they can meet other like-minded ladies who share the same love for motorcycling, learn how to “do it yourself”, and get a truly soulful experience traversing some of the most beautiful National Parks in the world. We’ve always said “we provide the destination, you create the adventure” for our events but it’s been incredible to see more women find their own destinations and experiences year round through the friendships they made at Babes.
Origin : Your success has been largely driven by social media. How would you explain that and what advice or tips do you have for outdoor marketers who struggle to make the most of social?
Babes Ride Out: We grew our digital following by posting real, honest, and empowering stories about riders. These women and their journey to and from our events have been the catalysis to getting more ladies interested in riding because they show a “you can do this too” attitude. We aren’t special and don't have magic powers, we are real people who love riding and it shows through our message, our website, and our social media. Advice for those who are struggling to make a connection would be to reassess what your message is and why it’s important. Social media is ever evolving but if you stick to your message, connect with real people in the industry that share your mindset, and feature real people who believe in your brand, you can’t go wrong. I’d take a 100 people following us because they wholeheartedly believe in our mission over a millions of followers who are not engaged.
Origin: Tell us about the types of women who participate in your events. Is camping and outdoor adventure a part of their lives or is Babes Ride Out a forum for them to discover it?
Babes Ride Out: One of our favorite aspects of these events is the wide range of women who attend. Most ladies who attend are 33-45 but we do have attendees in their 70s and some as young as 21. Every person has their own story about how they got there and why they came. Many of these ladies have never camped before or traveled more than 100 miles away from their home city to ride/ camp so we have most definitely seen this event be a true awakening for some. Back in 2013, when Babes originated, it was simply 50 women who camped out for a night on a dry lakebed. We’ve seen those same women ride across the county, travel to ride in other countries, and make a ton of new riding buddies along the way. Over the past 5 years Babes has opened minds, tested limits, and encouraged a more well lived life by getting back to nature. We can honestly say it’s done that for us.
Origin : You're no doubt being approached by all kinds of brands who want to attach themselves to the cool factor that you bring. How do you figure out what collaborations or partnerships are well suited for you?
Babes Ride Out: It’s always flattering when people know about the event and want to be a part of it yet sometimes it doesn’t match up in the best interest for our attendees. We always go back to our roots and the goals we’ve set each year for Babes Ride Out then look at the brand who wants to get involved as a whole. If the brand doesn’t speak to what we are doing, or has a mixed agenda, we kindly say no thank you. We want to work with brands and people who care about the longevity of motorcycling and the great outdoors. We are able to invest and believe in our partners just as much as they invest and believe in us which has created some incredibly strong relationships over the past 5 years that we are extremely proud of.
Origin : A part of your events includes a deep dive into the discovery of the areas, providing itineraries for the participants and giving them insights into the place and local businesses. What's your vision or goals as event organizers when it comes to local tourism?
Babes Ride Out: We do everything in our power to keep Babes Ride Out a true riding event. We go as far as shutting down the event site(s) from 9 am to 4 pm so ladies get out and explore the area. We’ve partnered with local chamber of commerce leaders, National Parks, Land Trusts, and companies such as Visit the Catskills to ensure we tell the story of the area in the most colorful ways possible. A huge initiative we launched at our largest event, Babes Ride Out, was with the Mojave Desert Land Trust in efforts to protect and preserve Joshua Tree, CA while visiting it’s park and National Monuments. We used our social media, website, and newsletters to educate riders on how to visit respectfully, ensure you are leaving no trace, and take personal responsibility for these lands so they are around for generations to come. We have just hit the tip of the iceberg and can’t wait to work with more parks, resorts, and brands to drive this message home. The most beautiful thing about the educational series is that it’s information that you’ll apply to every park you visit, every camping trip you take with your family, and hopefully information you’ll pass on to your friends and family by leading by example. As we grow as an event and promote riding to destinations in some of the most pristine locations of the US, we know it’s important to take responsibility on these things and are excited to do it.
Origin : How do you define "adventure"?
Ashmore: Every single day is an adventure and I am forever grateful to be alive, well, and able. Adventure, to me, can be as simple as getting the trash cans to the curb before the garbage truck arrives, making dinner for friends, rock climbing in Joshua Tree, anytime you can connect the activity with a moment of appreciation. I want to look back on my life and see it as a giant adventure even when I was doing the small stuff.
Anya: I define adventure as something that stimulates my senses and makes me feel something. I tend to look for adventures that require me to push myself in some way, whether physically, mentally or emotionally. To be able to step outside your daily routine and service your soul, to me, that is adventure.