It’s not hard to get inspired to ride when you look at Kate McKerroll. We’ve seen her rippin’ her Husqvarna FX 350 up sand dunes, through tire pits and over logs. She met her match when she hopped on this bike and we thought we would reach out to get to know a bit more about her and her life on two wheels. Read on!
What is your name?
What do you do for a living? Tell us about your job.
My day job - Marketing Coordinator at VICE Media
My night job – Aspiring writer. Stay tuned for the next issue of Fast Times Mag!
My weekend job – Volunteering at women’s off-road events and competing in as many Off-Road Ontario races as my schedule will allow :)
Where are you from?
Barrie, Ontario, Canada
Where do you live?
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
When were you first introduced to riding dirt? Who introduced you?
I first rode a dirt bike the day after I learned how to ride a bicycle, when I was 5 years old. From what I have been told about the story, my Dad was certain he would have a son. His plan was to raise his son to be a bad-ass biker dude just like he was! Spoiler alert: He didn’t end up having a son, he had a daughter, but that didn’t stop him from carrying out his plan to raise a bad-ass biker to follow in his footsteps. Thanks, Dad!
How long have you been riding?
19 years! Wow, that makes me sound old.
Why do you like riding dirt?
This is so hard to express in words. Riding dirt has been a part of my life for so long I don’t remember a time without it. It has become a part of who I am. When I was heavily into racing, I devoted my whole life to it. I won’t lie, after nine years of racing and finally winning a Canadian championship, I was really burnt out. I had lost the love I once had for riding. It started to feel more like work than fun and I felt like a lot of people had high expectations of me.
After I won Walton National in 2012 and scored a few top 10 moto finishes at Loretta Lynn’s Amature national, I decided I would take a break, go to University, and take a stab at a normal ~ non-moto ~ life. This is a long winded answer to your question but, it’s important to mention. After taking a few years off, I realized how much I missed it. I missed the freedom, the independence, the challenge! I missed having something that was only mine, something that no one else really understood. It was what made me, me!
I eventually stopped trying to run away from riding and decided I would change my relationship with it. When I got back into riding dirt I decided to take it down a notch and try off-road riding and racing rather than motocross. Since I have made the shift and started riding for enjoyment and FUN rather than constand competition, my love for dirt is stronger than ever. It is the only thing that keeps me 100% present. In today's world, we have a lot of distractions, riding dirt requires an immense amount of focus and concentration. It is the only place where I feel present and focused, I guess you could say it is my way of meditating.
Run us through the list of bikes you have had?
Wow! I have had too many to count. To summarize, when I was 5ish, my Dad put me on my first bike which was a JR50 from 1980-something. It was so rad! After that, when we realized we really wanted to make a go of this whole dirt biking thing, he bought me my first KTM. A KTM 50, for my 7th birthday. From there I moved up the ranks as I grew, moving from a 50 to a 65 sx to an 85 sx to a 105 sx and by the time I was twelve I had my first full size KTM 125 sx.
A few years after that KTM started making the 144 sx and the 150 sx. I always loved 2 strokes and prefered racing them, so we moved up to the 150 sx and that is what I raced for most of my career. I had a short summer fling with a Honda 250F but, it wasn’t long before I wanted my 2 stroke back. I finally sold my last 150 sx a few years ago. Now that I am living in the city and don’t have a truck, it’s really hard to get myself to an MX track to ride. I sold the 150 sx and got a 500 exc which is my commuter, grocery getter, fun-haver and sometimes race bike! It was only this spring that I got a chance to try out the Husqvarna fleet and have been trading between the FE 350 and the FX 350 this summer. Of all the bikes I have had, the FX 350 is such an impressive machine. It is so fast and handles so well!
What do you ride now?
I am currently riding a 2018 Husqvarna FX 350 and a 2015 KTM 500 exc. I also rode a 2018 Husqvarna FE 350 earlier this spring, it is such a killer bike!
If you could have 2 bikes what would your other bike be?
I am so blessed to already have two bikes right now! But, if I would have ANOTHER, I would really like to add a Vespa to my fleet. It sounds cheesy but living in Toronto I would love to trade my dirt bike for a red or dare I say… pink scoot on Monday morning to zip to work for the week. You can literally park them anywhere and they are so cute.
Tell us what you love about the bike you ride now?
The Husqvarna FX 350 is an incredible machine. It has so much power. What I love is, it is basically the bike version of me! A cross between motocross and off-road! Haha! It packs the punch of a true motocross bike, something I am used to riding due to my history in MX, with the gearing and handling of an off-road bike. It is the best of both worlds. Do I even need to mention how epic the electric start is? It almost feels like a cheat! I am also so impressed by the handling, although the FX 350 is one of the most powerful bikes I have ridden, and to be fair, a lot of bike for someone my size/weight to handle, I always feel like I am in control. I really respect the amount of time and R&D that Husqvarna puts into engineering these motorcycles. Building a best in class motor is one thing, but building a chassis that can house that power and perfecting the ergonomics to make the rider feel one with the machine is magic!
What kind of terrain do you like riding the best?
I love flowy single track. There is absolutely nothing better than ripping through some smooth, windy, loamy trail after a bit of rain. Growing up in MX, I do really miss the perfectly watered, groomed tracks, but I have come to love the feeling of freedom you get when you are ripping through single track. As I say this I am thinking back to a loop of single track I rode two weeks ago at the Algonquin Two-Day Trail Ride and it was basically an MX course that weaved between trees. It had sandy, bermed corners, some kickers, some open straightaways, it felt like it was right out of a movie!
I feel like this is a bad answer though, considering that is every riders dream terrain. I also love motocross tracks, obviously, oh, and sand! I rode dunes for the first time ever in April and it was SO EPIC!
What kind of terrain is a challenge for you but you want to master?
Wet roots and wet rocks. I honestly do not like anything wet/muddy. As I mentioned before, I am a totally spoiled MX rider who is used to close to perfect conditions on a consistent basis. When I get into the slippery/mucky crap that is in Northern Ontario I have a bit of a tantrum before forcing myself to carry on and try my best to grin and bear it! LOL! I want to learn to love that stuff and see it as an exciting challenge rather than a chore.
What is the most challenging riding experience you have had?
This Spring I went on a twelve day riding trip to the Southwest. We rode through Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado. Before the trip, I had close to no off-road riding experience. I had really only ever ridden Motocross. I had no idea how challenging it would be and I 100% underestimated what off-road riders go through. That shit is gnarly! Not only did we tackle some of the toughest trails in Utah, the infamous 5-files-of-hell being one of them, endurance also played a part in how challenging it was for me. Twelve days of riding is a lot. Half the battle was getting up each morning, popping some pain killers and pushing forward. I was so proud of myself at the end of the trip, I left a totally different rider. Check out the latest Fast Times Mag for a full recap of my trip!
Where are some of your favorite places to ride?
My all time favorite place to ride is at Monster Mountain MX Park in Alabama. It is the MOST epic MX track I have ever been to. It is literally motocross Mecca.
Aside from my dream location, the place I love riding that are closer to home are: RJ Motorsports Park, Simcoe County Forest and the Ganaraska Forest.
What is on you moto bucket list to ride?
Babes in the Dirt is on my bucket list!!! It looked so fun last year!
It is also my dream to ride down the coast in Oregon, where the trails meet the beach.
* heart eyes *
Do you ride with a lot of other female riders?
This season I have been! I was lucky enough to help out at two ladies training days this spring where I met a bunch of female riders from Ontario. This season I met Stephanie Yankovich, a female off-road racer who has started Dirt Riding Dames, a riding community that encourages girls to get out in the dirt! I am hoping to help Steph with a few of her organized rides in the Ganaraska Forest this summer. If you are a female rider in Ontario, check out her Facebook page: Dirt Riding Dames.
Do you have anyone in the moto world that you look up to? (does not have to be a pro rider)
You!! And all the ladies who are thinking entrepreneurially and using their passion for two wheels to create a platform for others. You are all killing it!
There are more ‘for ladies by ladies’ events/brands now than there has ever been. It is people like you who are creating a stage for ladies to come out and show their stuff in a fun, encouraging environment. Because of the work you and other female event organizers are doing, sponsors are noticing the demand and finally stepping up to support us! On behalf of female riders everywhere – we appreciate you!
What was our experience at Babes in the Dirt/Babes Ride Out events? (if applicable)
I haven't been to any BRO events yet L, but I am dying to come to Babes in the Dirt!!
What advice do you have for someone thinking about getting in to riding dirt?
DO IT! It is scary, yes, at first, but it is so empowering! If I can do it, you can do it. If you ride street, dirt riding will help you take your riding to the next level. If you don’t ride at all, start! As I mentioned before, there are more events/opportunities for ladies now than ever, for anyone thinking of taking the leap, we are all here cheering you on.
Anything else you would like to add?
Just a big thank you to Husqvarna Motorcycles Canada, Fast Times Magazine, Tiger Distribution and Everstoked Adventures for your support as I make my way back into the off-road world. I couldn’t do it without the amazing people behind me.
And - If any Ontario/Quebec ladies are reading this, join me for the Ladies Ride and Social in the Limerick Forest on August 25th!