Sideburn has been promoting adventure riding trips in Morocco and India since 2015, three in each country, all with a Sideburn rep. Me, Ben Part, Travis Newbold, Anthony Brown and Geoff Co-Built Cain. For 2019 we're promoting women-only trip to Morocco run for us by MotoAventures, who has been running biking trips in Morocco for over 20 years.
To make it a Sideburn trip we send a Sideburn rep and we chose photographer, Sideburn contributor and DTRA racer, Caylee Hankins.
Tell us a bit about yourself, age, background, job...
Right, where do I start? I'm 29... no, I'm 30! It’s recently been my birthday and that's a weird new age bracket, isn't it? I'm loving it though. I'm currently based in London as a freelance photographer. Up until the age of 24 I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had always had dreams and aspirations, but I changed my mind every five seconds. From a young age I wanted to be an actress, which is kind of funny as if you put me in front of a camera now I go to mush! But at the time I loved being on the stage, and that was my adrenaline fix back then. I studied musical theatre for two years at college but decided not to take it any further. I then travelled, and discovered photography as my creative outlet and hobby. I never
in a million years thought photography would become my job, especially as I’m completely self-taught.
After a few years flitting around, which included working in hospitality, running events for Heart Radio, working in retail, nannying two amazing kids, travelling some more, hosting at a classy burlesque cabaret (yes, in suspenders and underwear - seriously the most amount of fun you can have when first moving to a new city!), and temping as a receptionist in creative companies, I finally found myself at Spring Studios; a well known photography studios, which specialises in high end fashion shoots. It was a hectic place at times, and I learnt so much from my position at front of house. It wasn’t just any ordinary receptionist job - you needed about ten arms, two heads and a whole load of patience - and I met a fair amount of celebrities and big time fashion photographers (I’m not really someone who gets star stuck but it was always fun to see who would walk in the door). It was a great place to be to stay inspired, and learn more about an industry I was sliding into.
Working at Spring really gave me that taste of a world which I had no intention of being a part of initially, and it was there I realised I needed to make a career change, and move in a more creative direction. I started studio assisting instead, and from there I got picked up by some pretty awesome photographers who taught me the ropes of lighting/photo assisting, often finding myself in the studio or on location with brands and magazines such as River Island, Elle, Vogue, MAC, Barbour International etc. Three years on and here I am, mixing my love for photography, travel and motorcycles, I couldn't ask for anything more, I'm so focused on my career right now and it feels great.
Why do you think Sideburn chose you to be an ambassador on this first women only trip to Morocco?
I must admit I was pleasantly surprised and incredibly excited to open that email while away in Utah... but I was kind of hoping you could answer that question for me! It’s such a privilege, and I can’t wait to go rip in the dunes.
How did you get into motorcycles?
Among all the various jobs I've done, one in particular involved running my friend’s bar hire company, which popped up in locations all over the UK, often taking me to fun and crazy events. One summer’s evening, after five months travelling around South America, I was sent to work in the arches of Shoreditch Studios at one of the first annual Bike Shed events. It was a busy one, and I remember it so clearly; it was an intimate event back in 2013, and there were some beautiful custom builds. I walked around so many times before the actual event kicked off, and had many of conversations with the Down and Out Boys, and Vikki and Dutch of Bike Shed. I have always loved travelling, but it had never crossed my mind that two wheels was an option. That same event was where I met my ex boyfriend, a very talented custom builder, and spending time in his workshop made me appreciate the amount of work and skill that goes into creating what is essentially a rideable piece of artwork. Shooting the process of a build and the bikes too, I found real excitement through creating images of someone so at ease.
How much trail riding experience do you have?
I don’t have that much to be honest! I mostly train on motocross and flat tracks when I can. My boyfriend Grant and I went to Utah earlier this year, where we stayed with our friend and awesome photographer Jordan Pay. He hooked us up with a dirt bike each, and some road bikes too - he’s such a great guy. We rode almost every day. Trails up in the Rocky Mountains, with sheer drops, boulders, rocks. The dusty desert single track trails out near Moab were hands down one of the most nuts thing I’ve done on a bike to date; mentally and physically challenging, but so much fun, to the point where we are always trying to find a way to move out there. A highlight was being able to gear up in the house, jump on to the bikes, and ride fifteen minutes down the road to the beginning of the trail. No headlight, no number plate - that just wouldn’t fly in England, you'd be hunted down and the bike crushed!
What bikes do you own?
I own a 1979 Honda CB125, which is currently having a strip down ready to sell next year, and a CRF125F. I also often steal the G's many bikes; I used to get about on his Ducati Scrambler for a bit last summer, and he kindly gave me his Suzuki GN250 - his first ever custom build - but sadly that was stolen a month ago. Gutting, but that seems to be the way bike life goes in London. It’s infuriating!
The first bike that I ever actually owned was a Honda Winn100 (above); I bought it in Hanoi in Vietnam for $250 on my first ever big bike trip, and I rode from North to South in two months, alongside my best friends. They hadn’t planned on riding it, but I convinced them it was the best way for us to do the trip. It goes without saying that they never regretted it. I didn’t want to sell it on once I reached Saigon, and was in a serious conversation with my dad on how we could ship it back to make it a custom project for us to work on together! My dad’s more in to cars than bikes - he’s the works manager for Mitsubishi Ralliart, and once upon a time was a mechanic and test driver.
What part of the trip are you most looking forward to?
All of it! it’s going to be absolutely insane. I can’t wait to be able to share the experience with some girls I already know, and some that I don’t. Riding the dunes and watching the sunsets are what I’m most looking forward to. I’ve only experienced riding on a sand track once before, but between now and then I’m going to go and ride Dunkirk, which is apparently brutal! So I think if I can get round that then it will help me prepare for the softer, loose sand. It’s all about bike time to keep that confidence up, and to gain more bike fitness and overall skills. I certainly feel it if I haven’t been on the dirt in a while between practice.
Of course I can’t wait to shoot too. I’m trying to figure out the best lenses to take with me - it’s always a battle on rides like this to not bog yourself down with too much heavy equipment!
Any parts of it making you nervous?
I think I always get a little nervous before that first day of riding and jumping on a new bike. I guess if I had to pick a part, there is what looks like a tricky river crossing at one section, but I’m just going to just pin and hope for the best! Or perhaps wise to listen to some instructions from our trusty guides Su and Jonny.
Do you think it's important to have women only motorcycle trips or are they not really necessary?
I think it’s important to have the option, yes. It gives women confidence to know that they can do just as well in a male dominated sport, and gives women the chance to empower and support one another (without what SOMETIMES can be macho, competitive bullshit). They then feel uplifted to go to any other off roading experiences, whether it’s male, female or both. I grew up around boys, as I have four brothers and only one sister, and they have always encouraged me to go full pelt into whatever I’m doing, which is probably why I do throw myself into challenging situations. Not everyone has this kind of male support, and perhaps people can feel intimidated by more qualified, aggressive riders . Although I do think that the moto world as a general is open and encouraging to all, on and off the road, so women shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
See Caylee's photography at her instagram feed - @alittlepickmeup
See the feature she shot on the Sur les Chapeaus de Roues Honda CRF450 in SB35
Find out more about the Sideburn Morocco Women Only Trip