The Motorcycle Portraits is a project by photographer/filmmaker David Goldman, who travels the world making documentaries, and takes time out to interview interesting people in the motorcycle scene, wherever he might be.  The result is a single exemplary photo, a geolocation of his subject, and a transcribed interview.  The audio of his interviews can be found on The Motorcycle Portraits website.

The following portrait session is with Anya Violet Aghababian: rider, event organizer, entrepreneur.  Anya co-founded the all-women ride/camp weekend Babes Ride Out, the women’s dirtbike gathering Babes in the Dirt, and the women’s motorcycle gear company Atwyld.  The term badass comes to mind when considering Anya’s accomplishments and cultural impact, giving women not only safe places to gather and ride, but also the gear to get there in.   Here are some of Anya’s thoughts on riding:

Anya Violet Aghababian photographed at Running Springs CA, Sept, 30 2020. [David Goldman]

First Experiences

I first got into riding motorcycles when I was about seven years old, running on a 50 cc dirt bike. Both my parents had a background in motorcycling, my dad riding a street bike and my mom on any dirt bike. And yeah, we all used to ride trails and race on the central CA coast where I grew up, and it’s something that has trickled over into my adult life.

What Does it Mean?

So what does motorcycling mean to me? Fun, it means fun. Every time I’m on my bike, I’m having fun, whether it’s by myself or with a group of people. That’s pretty much the only reason I ride is for fun.  Today we’re in Green Valley Lake at the entrance to some of my favorite off-road trails.

Great Experiences

One of the greatest motorcycle experiences I’ve ever had was actually this year. Earlier this year, me and seven other girls rode dirt bikes through the Sahara desert for five days, it was an incredible experience through crazy sand dunes and just out in the middle of the desert and dry lake beds. And it was absolutely beautiful. It happened actually right when the whole COVID thing hit: we thought we might get stuck in the desert in Morocco. So we ended up having to cut the the trip a little bit short and banzai back to  get out of the country before they closed the borders. So we ended up being the adventure of a lifetime essentially because so many things happened while we were gone basically the world was falling apart. And here we are ripping through the desert on dirt bikes, trying not to care about it. But when things got really serious, we had to turn around and get out of there and we basically got out of the country by the skin of our teeth.  The memories of that trip will definitely last a lifetime. One of the greatest moments of that trip was climbing this 400 foot tall sand dune – it was crazy. It was like this sea of sand dunes and you’re kind of like surfing them, it really feels almost like surfing a wave: you’re kind of cresting and coming back down and then peaks and valleys and there’s this one 400 foot tall dune and you just gotta like really power up it, but right when you get to the top you have to let off the throttle a little bit so you just peak right at the very top of the dune and it is the most beautiful overwhelming feeling when you are that high up and all you see is an ocean of sand dunes and it’s it’s was such a surreal moment – I will never forget that.



David Goldman is photographer and filmmaker who has traveled the world on projects documenting human trafficking, maternal health and marginalized people. He also interviews and photographs motorcyclists in this travels for his series The Motorcycle Portraits. You can follow his website here, his IG here, and his FB here. Explore all his stories for The Vintagent here.