My Journey to Motocross

It’s a chilly Saturday night in early December at the Perris Speedway in Southern California.  I take my place on the starting line next to 5 other women.  I give my throttle a twist then kill the engine.  Adjusting my gloves and goggles one more time, my mouth goes dry from the adrenaline.  “What am i doing here?  I don’t know how to race Flat Track!  Ok, breathe.  Eyes to the inside.  Butt to the outside. Straighten my left arm.  Right elbow up.  What else did Jeffrey say?  Shit!  A fist enters my view!  It’s the rider next to me.  We bump fists. “Its my first time back in a while!” she says enthusiastically.  I saw her breastfeeding in full gear in the pits just moments ago and already know she’s going to smoke me.  “It’s my first time EVER!”  I reply and we both laugh.  A little more at ease now I focus back on the track. We start our bikes, revving our engines.  The red light goes out.  I kick it into first twisting the throttle, grateful it is a short track and a quick race.  Speeding into the first corner I lean the bike as hard as I can trying to remember everything Jeffrey said.  “Don’t look at the wall or you’re gonna run into the wall.  It’s called target fixation. Keep your eyes up.  Look where you want to go.”  Now on the back straight I can pick up some speed before the next corner that’s coming up fast.  “Focus, focus, look to the inside.”  

It is much harder to go fast and turn left than these guys make it look, especially on my knobbies.  What a wild sport.  I’m in love.  After a few more times speeding around the track, the leader laps me at the checkered flag and we exit into the crowd of racers and spectators, ecstatic.  I’m smiling ear to ear. I came in dead last but I had the time of my life.  Now I get to ride this high for the rest of the night watching my buddies, Jeffrey Carver and Tyler Brandenburger, REALLY go fast around the track.  It’s been a motto of mine the past few years to show up, be brave and participate no matter how scary. Say yes to life and all that the Universe has to offer.

GOING WEST

I moved to California two years ago from a tiny island off the coast of Massachusetts, where I was literally riding in circles with only my Dad and my dog for riding buddies.  

I was offered a position running a private mini horse and donkey sanctuary in Brentwood, Los Angeles.  So far it’s been a dream job and truly rewarding work.  Horsepower!  Once I confirmed my move out West, I dreamt of riding across the desert with a group of rowdy friends I had yet to meet. 

Laughing, dusty, dirty, nights spent under the stars camping next to our bikes and a fire. As it turns out those dreams weren’t so far fetched but were more a glimpse of what I was soon to discover in the Wild West.  That, and so much more.

FINDING FRIENDS

 When I wasn’t at home or caring for the horses, I rode every single chance I got.  Every week you’d find me with my dirt bike loaded up in the back of my pick up truck headed to the wilderness, the Motocross track or practicing and competing with the SoCal Trials Association. 

Before I made any friends in my new city, I was riding solo for months.  But slowly, because our love of two wheels brought us together, I met some really awesome people and finally had myself a gang.

CURVE BALL

Then the unexpected happened.  In March of 2020 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. 

My doctors couldn’t tell me at first what this was going to mean for me besides one major surgery and two reconstructive surgeries.  I had to wait until after my surgery and test results to know more.  This was a shock.  All I wanted to do was enjoy my new life I had finally created in California. I felt really scared, alone and unprepared for what I was about to face.  

 had my first operation on April 9th.  After two weeks of recovery and intense pain things eased up a little.  I also got the good news that I didn’t require further treatment, the surgery took care of it.  It left my body feeling and looking pretty mangled, and in some discomfort that I still feel to this day but damn, I’m one of the lucky ones.  I was back on the MX track five weeks later with my spirit soaring.  My body was strong and I was doing what made me the happiest.

STILL I RISE

I had two more surgeries and some complications.  One in July that sidelined me for a couple of weeks and my final surgery on November 19th.  Phew!  It was all over.  Ten days later on November 29th at 9 a.m. I was lined up on the grid at Glen Helen Raceway atop my Beta 300 two stroke for the Red Bull Day in the Dirt Women’s Grand Prix. 

I still had tape on my wounds and stitches but I was ready to race and to brave the hill that caused me anxiety the entire previous day. (On a side note, Red Bull Day In The Dirt is an epic good time where I’ve met some of the raddest people.  A weekend of rowdy racing, parties and everyone doing what we love best.)  We were off!  I’ll never forget rounding Talladega and then climbing and soaring down Mt Saint Helens for the first time.  You feel like you’re flying. I don’t know about you all but downhills terrify me!  “Remember, gravity is your friend!” my Dad always says. 

On one downhill corner I ran over the back wheel of the rider who crashed in front of me but I managed to stay on the bike.  27 long minutes later I crossed the finish line.  When we rode over and checked the scoreboard later that night I couldn’t believe my eyes.  There was my name.  I WON!  

That Day In The Dirt trophy means so much to me.  It sums up all that dirt bike riding has given to me this past year and all that it helped me through.  How many times do we riders fall only to get back up again stronger?  I have my health, made truly amazing memories through it all and met some of the greatest riding buddies I could have imagined.  We now have our own motorcycle club called The Participators MC.  My favorite line in the documentary “Why We Ride” is a young kid saying, “Don’t be scared. It’s fun … I’ll cheer you on.” And you can bet if I see you out there I’ll be cheering you on too

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