Leaping out of the truck: teen biker becomes first woman to compete in Dakar Rally

For 17-year-old Ashlee Boles, being a female off-road racer is about more than just stepping into a lineup that is 70 percent male.

The Ole Miss student and outdoor enthusiast is on the verge of making history: She’s scheduled to compete in the dirt track championships beginning Monday and conclude Dec. 16 in the Dakar Rally.

The Dakar Rally was the longest race in the world until it ended in November, with an estimated 39,000 participants from 132 countries. Boles, one of the youngest competitors in the race, already has won the two-day Best Young Couple Trucks.

The Dakar is run at an altitude of 4,300 feet in Peru for 362.7 miles, according to a report by the Mirror, a British newspaper. Competitors rode in trucks with a team of motorbikes pulling them along at a speed of about 75 mph.

Race officials have said, however, that Boles “is probably the fastest woman ever to take part in the rally.”

Boles is not the only female in the race. A total of three female competitors in six motorcycles, four cars and three trucks, compete in it.

But Boles is excited about competing, and believes the presence of a female is good for motor sport in general.

“For me, competing against the boys on their own soil will be a really cool experience,” she told the Mirror. “Seeing where they have come from, how far they have come, and the determination they have to go is inspiring.

“I will never forget it. The atmosphere of wearing a helmet against the elements, driving the best trucks, seeing the exhilaration and the tears of joy — that will stay with me forever.”

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