Home of the first Babes Ride Out UK is owned by Tamsin Jones, a woman who has dedicated a large portion of her life to enduros and teaching others how to ride. She finished the Dakar on her first attempt in 2010, she has also twice been the first lady finisher in the Red Bull Romaniacs extreme enduro, has been on overland trips in Africa, Australia, India and competed in many enduros in the UK and Europe. Tamsin has 10 years experience teaching young people and adults to ride at all different levels from beginner to pro. Tamsin currently has the ladies record of riding the the highest altitude up Mount Everest.
"I am from a little village called Wheatley just outside Oxford but I now live nr Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales. I started riding when I was 24, after 5 years of racing downhill Mountain bikes. I was really reluctant at first as I thought they were smelly, expensive and the kit was horrible (girls kit anyway). A friend came to pick me up one day and took me to look at an old Honda MTX 125, I rode it up and down a country lane and absolutely loved it. We then went trail riding in Wales and I was hooked. I spent many weekends trail riding in Wales or around Wantage with a group of friends. What I really liked about it was the age range of people involved – with most of the other sports I’d been into, everyone was around the same age. Motorcycle seemed to have a deep soul and I met so many passionate people whose parents and grandparents had ridden. I started entering all sorts of events from reliability trials, where cars and bikes are tested off road through the night, to rallies and enduros. My favourite was riding at night and I was really into the endurance side of it. We once did a 32 hour trail ride – started with 20 riders, finished with 3 and rode through 7 river crossings at 2am in a thunderstorm. I absolutely loved it – I’m not sure everybody else did".
On the highest altitude ride Everest: "My boyfriend Craig and I were planning a trip to Nepal and it grew from there, we were just going to go on a nice break and then we had an idea that we’d ride to Everest Base Camp in Tibet and the idea just grew and grew. To be honest we were totally under prepared, the bikes we hired in Tibet we’re rubbish and not what they told us we would be getting, however they ran really well at altitude. It was much colder than we expected and none of the places we staying in on the way had any heating or hot water. We weren’t prepared for altitude sickness and Craig was quite ill. When we got to the base camp it was deserted. No one was there at all. The last temple we stayed in was closing for the winter the next day. So for us it was go for the ladies record as quickly as possible then get out of there. It was pretty scary as the air got thinner and we had to haul the bikes over boulders on the trail. We definitely rode down a lot quicker that we rode up. We then rode to the Nepalese boarder, what was scarier than the ride up Everest was the ride in the back of the truck to the boarder along a very dodgy mountain road. Landslides had claimed some of the route and we had little room to pass. The truck driver was chanting something that apparently was requesting safe passage, we kept our fingers crossed and closed our eyes a lot.
My most of the memorable moments on a moto are ones falling off in stupid places or being washed down a river holding onto the bike. Riding the wall of death in the Romaniacs prologue is probably one that sticks in my mind.
Toughest race I've ever done? Dakar for the endurance – 2 weeks long over 9,000 kilometres, the longest day I did in 2010 was over 1,000 kilometres. Red Bull Romaniacs for technical riding.
At the moment, I am on a KTM 250 exc 2 stroke, it’s amazing in the woods and in tight stuff – you can also alter the power valve depending on what sort of riding you want to do. I haven’t really ridden a road bike to be honest!"
What do you suggest for anyone who wants to get into enduro/ off road riding? Where do you start?
"If you know a group that already ride off road then try and hook up with them, or join the TRF (Trail Riding Federation) in the UK, there are groups that ride regularly in each area. You could have some off road training to get you started – we do beginner courses at Black Desert Training specifically for beginners or there are many other companies offering taster courses around the country. In the UK there are lots of different places to ride so you could get an ordnance survey map and look for the byways, or find off road practise events near you.
What is really important is to buy the right bike. We know so many people who buy bikes that are too powerful or difficult to ride. We would suggest getting a low bike with easy power to learn on – you might outgrow it in a year but you’ll learn so much more than struggling with a big bike. Good options are Honda CRF 230, TTR 125 or 250, Beta Alp 200, we’ll have some at the Babes Ride Out UK if anyone wants to come have a look at them!
Craig and I set up Black Desert Off Road Training over 4 years ago. We’d both been instructors at BMW off road skills school and I’d taught kids for years. At BMW we worked with really big groups sometimes up to 12 riders and we wanted to offer something more personal so we set up Black Desert Training where our ratio is 1 instructor to a max of 6 riders. We teach beginner to expert level and train many people wanting to go on off road adventure trips. Recently we trained a lady who left her job in London and road to South Africa.
At Babes Ride Out UK, we are going to be offering morning or afternoon sessions on both days so either 9 – 12 or 1 – 4, with a max of 6 riders each session. We will provide all the riding kit and bikes. The sessions are for both total beginners or novice off road riders. We will concentrate on standing positions, braking and cornering off road and set up a little practise track. You’ll be surprised what you can learn in that time! Stay tuned for sign-ups.