WRN Editor’s Page with Video: Inspirational Woman Rider on TV This Weekend

Age 50 and on the ride of a lifetime

By Genevieve Schmitt, Editor
She’d been riding only two years on a street motorcycle before committing to take on the trip of a lifetime. Now that trip is landing Laura Ellis on a national television show airing this weekend on Speed Channel.

Laura Ellis Neale Bayly Rides Peru
Laura Ellis suited up for her appearance on “Neale Bayly Rides: Peru.” Behind her is some of the rough terrain she had to tackle!

Laura is an adventurous 50-year-old surgeon, wife, and mother from Asheville, N.C., who was ready to take on a new adventure when the opportunity arose to appear on a television show filmed in Peru. “I love taking on challenges,” she told me. “I’ve done it all my life.”

This challenge involved appearing on “Neale Bayly Rides: Peru,” a three-part television series featuring four riders on a nine-day, off-road adventure from Lima, Peru, to the Hogar Belen orphanage in the city of Moquegua, where they helped out with multiple projects. The series was developed and is hosted by my friend and fellow motorcycle journalist Neale Bayly.
Neale Bayly Rides Peru
Laura (center) and Neale Bayly (right) are interviewed on a stop on their ride through Perus sandy coastal terrain. The riders were aboard BMW F 800 GS and R 1200 GS motorcycles for the duration of their journey.
Neale Bayly Rides Peru Riders
Laura poses with the riders and crew from the show. Neale uses the term “moto-cause” to describe their grueling nine-day motorcycle journey to the Hogar Belen orphanage.
“I really felt like I could set an example not only for the viewers of the TV show, but for my patients,” said Laura. “I’m 50 this year, and part of my practice involves taking people and optimizing their health, teaching them how to set goals and accomplish them. I’m a health and wellness coach of sorts. This was a great opportunity for me to prove that I practice what I preach.”
Neale Bayly Rides Peru Orphanage
As a doctor, Laura was an integral part of this charity mission. In this photo, Neale (right) helps her administer medicine to a child.

“I guarantee it [was] a life-changing experience for all of them,” said Neale, who founded a nonprofit organization called Wellspring International Outreach in part to support the orphanage. “You can’t go through something like this and come out the other side the same way.”

Neale Bayly Rides Laura Ellis
Laura Ellis Peru
I asked Laura if she shed any tears on the trip. “I think I cried two times, one being a beautiful sunset, and the other was [when] this wonderful little boy at the orphanage really stole my heart,” she told me. “He was so cute and so sweet and was the age of my youngest son and had a little scar over his eyebrow just like my youngest son.”
Neale Bayly Rides Peru Laura Ellis Off Road
Laura was the least experienced rider of the group, so she spent several weekends training to ride off-road.

No stranger to adventure sports, Laura is a mountain biker, rock climber, deep-sea diver, and kayaker. Despite her novice-rider status, she says she accepted the invitation to participate in the journey without hesitation, partly for personal reasons. “The charity component is the most important part of the ride for me,” she said. “My husband and I have been talking for the last two years about how we can give back. We’ve worked hard all of our lives. I think being open to opportunities like this at this point in our lives is important—not only being open, but responding.”

You can catch “Neale Bayly Rides: Peru,” featuringLaura, Neale and the rest of the gang, on June 9 at 9 p.m. EST on the Speed Channel. The second and third parts of the series will air on June 16 and 23. Here’s a sneak peek:

5 thoughts on WRN Editor’s Page with Video: Inspirational Woman Rider on TV This Weekend

  1. Faye Owens, go for it! I’m a late-in-life rider—49 when I bought my Honda VTR250. Thirteen years later, and thanks to Ike DeJager of 20/20 Racing, I’m finally playing in the dirt and loving it. Especially since it complements my riding at track days and on the street. Cheers!

  2. I missed the first installment but saw the second and was totally impressed with Laura and the entire group. The roads are amazing and more than a little scary. Reminds me of Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor in Long Way Round (and Down). Makes me think again about riding a dirt bike. Looking forward to the third episode.

  3. This is a really inspiring and AWESOME post! It’s especially empowering for women like me who are just getting started. I am going on my first road trip soon (riding up and down the west coast), and I’m incredibly excited! In my search for riding accessories and tire warmers, I came across a really great company called Moto-D Racing, where I was able to find a great undersuit (it’s really wet on this coast!) and some other other goodies for the trip. Thanks again for this very inspiring article.

  4. I saw the video trailer on BMW’s Facebook page and was very excited to see a woman rider with the group of men, especially riding in the deep sand terrain. A great strive to do good work for an orphanage. Plus it was very impressive to know she has only been riding for two years—now what’s my excuse for not being the adventuress that I am? Truthfully, it’s fear of the unknown and doubting my skills. Even though I’ve been riding for eight years, I’ve never ridden off-road. Say, do any of you ladies out there think I should take off-road motorcycle lessons? I’m thinking I should, since the dirt-bike riders I’ve spoken with say it’s very different. Then I can take a trip of a lifetime, too.

    1. Faye, dirt-bike riding lessons are a great idea! Definitely check out the dirt bike beginner’s section here on WRN, including this great article about how to get started with dirt bikes. You might also like this feature article about Genevieve Schmitt’s dual-sport adventure—she was nervous about venturing off the pavement, too, but she ended up loving it. This story about Alisa Clickenger’s nine-month journey across South America on a dual-sport bike is a great inspiration as well. Good luck to you!

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