Three years ago, Anya Violet and Ashmore Ellis had an idea: to gather up a few motorcycle girls and go camping. They posted a meet-up point on social media, and 50 girls showed -- far more than expected.
Babes Ride Out was born and has grown exponentially every year since, with this year's event hitting a whopping 1,200 registrants, the largest gathering of women motorcyclists in history.
"We had no idea it was going to be a thing," Anya Violet, co-founder of Babes Ride Out, said.
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A "thing" it has indeed become, thanks in part to social media platforms like Instagram.
"I think it took off because we used social media for its true purpose," Ashmore Ellis, co-founder of Babes Ride Out, said. "Once these girls started seeing each other and their stories, they started connecting with each other on Instagram and before you know it 50 turned into over 1200 girls."
The reach extended--not only across the country--but around the world. Women began flying in from Australia, London, and Japan, renting motorcycles, and riding to Joshua Tree, California, all to be a part of this historic event.
"Having people from all over the world this year is just mind blowing," Violet said. "It’s kind of like this epic journey and they all end up here, and it’s a huge celebration."
On Friday October 23, the women converged on the camp, rolling in on Harleys, Triumphs, Yamahas, and Motoguzzis.
Women of all ages, all shapes and sizes, all ethnicities, got together with one thing in common: a love of motorcycling.
They set up their tents at the Joshua Tree Lake RV and Campground, and prepared for a weekend of laughter, fun, and of course, plenty of bonding over two-wheels.
"It’s a different dynamic when it’s just females," Violet said.
"It reminds me of when we were younger - those free moments when you’re young, when you’re up with your girlfriends all night talking and hanging out and being completely yourself," Ellis added.
The founders said they wanted this event to not only connect women and create friendships, but to get everyone on their motorcycles.
"We’ve always wanted our event to be a riding event," Violet said. "You can hang out in camp if you want, but go ride your motorcycle in one of the most beautiful places in the world."
Saturday morning the attendees got up, grabbed a map, and hit the road choosing from ninedifferent route options, some as short as 40 miles to others as far as 300 miles. Women who were strangers before the event connected with others who had similar riding skills or motorcycles, and bonded out on the open road.
Violet and Ashmore said they hoped Babes Ride Out encourages more women who want to ride motorcycles to give it a try.
"The day that it’s as commonplace to see a woman on a motorcycle as it is to see a man on a motorcycle is an amazing day," Violet said.
Several women, who in prior years rode in on the back of a friend's motorcycle, vowed to ride their own machines the following year. Many achieved that goal on Saturday. That, in Violet and Ellis's eyes, spells success.
"If one girl goes to an event feeling more confident and like she has a friend, I think that’s the biggest success and what we’d be happiest with."
In early May, Anya and Ashmore will be connecting women motorcyclists again for "Babes in the Dirt," and of course plans are already in the works for "Babes Ride Out 4" in October 2016.