dirt bike

The Last Time I Cried on a Dirt Bike

Photo by Drew Martin for Atwyld

Photo by Drew Martin for Atwyld

babes in the dirt

The last time I cried on a dirt bike was about 4 years ago. I had recently taken the SoCal Supermoto class and had so much fun that I decided I needed a Supermoto bike. Like immediately.  So naturally, I made an impulse purchase that following week. This bike ended up being the wrong bike for me in so many ways. In my own defense, I was dazzled by the fact that the bike had both an off-road and Supermoto set up so I could swap it out. All I had in terms of a dirt bike at the time was my 1977 Yamaha DT 400 so I figured this would be a more modern upgrade. I took home the new 2002 Yamaha WR 426 and immediately had my boyfriend Evan help to swap the Supermoto set up for the knobby tires. He was pretty adamant that this was not a good bike for me but I chose not to listen. We were headed to Kennedy Meadows the next weekend and I was stoked to have a new dirt bike to ride the trails. I hadn’t been there since I was a kid and I let my excitement and impatience get the best of me.

Not only was the WR426 a really big, really heavy motorcycle for me but, the gearing on the WR had been adjusted by the previous owner so that there was also very little low-end power and almost zero first gear. Additionally, the previous owner was a huge dude that probably weighed 80+ pounds more than I did and had the suspension set up for him.  The perfect set up for a 125 pound person on technical single track, right? WRONG!

photos of the fun flowing part of the trails.

photos of the fun flowing part of the trails.

Once we got to Kennedy Meadows we were ripping around on some for the double track trails and all was going well. Then, I washed out in the sand and tipped over. I was not strong enough to pick up my own bike. Problem #1, right. Luckily my dude Evan was there to support. Other than tipping over, I was having a pretty good time. It wasn’t until we got to a pretty technical and rocky single-track trail that I got my ass handed to me. Like I said before, there was almost zero first gear and no low-end power on this bike. Both of which are pretty crucial in technical sections. I kept stalling and having to kick over the bike. Like over and over again to the point of exhaustion. Then I got the front tire stuck between some rocks and stalled again. I kicked it over and tried to ride it out like 5 times. Not happening. Evan was a bit of a ways up ahead on the trail so I did not have him right there to help. Then, I tried to lift this heavy ass bike out from the rocks… also not happening. By this time, I was so physically exhausted from trying to (wo)man-handle this bike, constantly having to kick it over and lift it up. I got back on the damn thing and started kicking it again and it would not start. This is when I started crying. LOL I think I might have screamed out of frustration as well. LOL. I saw Evan walking down the trail and quickly wiped my tears away. I was a little embarrassed. Not because I was crying but more because I had put myself in this situation. Wrong bike for me in the wrong terrain for the bike set up. Evan helped me to get the bike out and we made it back to camp.

My ego was hurt because I thought that I should have been able to handle that. It did not take me long to erase that kind of thinking though. Not only is it not productive but it is also just ridiculous. Dirt bikes are supposed to be fun. Challenging yes, but mostly fun. This experience made me realize the importance of finding the right kind of bike for me, getting it set up for me and the kind of riding I like to do. That day I felt like I had regressed as a rider. Like I was taking a step back and not moving forward and improving my skills. It wasn’t until I got to experience a bike that was set up for me perfectly that I really saw myself improve. I had my Husqvarna FE 250 set up for me by getting it lowered 2” and adjusting the suspension to accommodate my height, weight and riding style. So much goes in to the way a bike is set up and they can all be adjusted. You can reference my previous blog about suspension to hear more about that.

The moral of the story is not to make sure that you have an awesome partner or friend like I did to help you handle you bike. Although it certainly helps and I am forever grateful. It is to do the research and get a bike that is right for you so you don’t cry on the trail. Crying is ok and natural and I personally believe that if you have never cried on a dirt bike then you are probably not doing it right. I am not going to say that this is the last time I will cry on a dirt bike. BUT, I can say that it is the last time will cry because I bought the wrong bike for me.

-Anya

babes in the dirt

 

 

 

Join us as we talk through some of our favorite gear from Fox Racing!

We get so many great questions from new riders. One of the biggest ones is about good riding gear. Well… join us as we nerd out on some of our favorite gear from Fox Racing. Taking a spill on your dirt bike is 100% going to happen and its all part of the fun. Make sure you have the right protection on so you can get back on the saddle.

Trail Pack Essentials for Off-Road Lovers

Getting prepped to head out for a day of off-the-grid riding? Venturing out in to the wilderness in search of epic trails is one of the best parts about owning a dirtbike. I have always found myself encouraged to go farther and ride longer when I know I have my proper trail pack essentials with me. Read on to see what’s in my pack.

babes in the dirt

I would like to start by saying that there are FAR more advanced kits than my own that may be appropriate for certain kinds of off-roading. There are also very slimmed down versions and a more minimalistic approach to your trail pack. It is all about what is right for you and the type of riding that you do. I am lucky enough to get to ride with an awesome group of like-minded off-roaders that have a more advanced knowledge of trail-side problem solving and mechanics. I do my best and try to be as prepared as possible and as self-sufficient as I can be.

Check out each item I carry and click the image to go to the website where you can purchase.

The  CONVOY HYDRATION PACK  from Fox Racing comes with me on every single ride. It carries 3 liters of water and has a larger pocket to carry all my other essentials. The waist and chest strap help to balance the weight of it so that it does not all sit on my shoulders. A hydration pack of any kind will help you to be able to stay out on the trails longer and stay hydrated. This piece is non-negotiable to me.

The CONVOY HYDRATION PACK from Fox Racing comes with me on every single ride. It carries 3 liters of water and has a larger pocket to carry all my other essentials. The waist and chest strap help to balance the weight of it so that it does not all sit on my shoulders. A hydration pack of any kind will help you to be able to stay out on the trails longer and stay hydrated. This piece is non-negotiable to me.

Biodegradable Toilet Paper… Ladies, ya feel me? I have a small bladder and I drink a lot fo water when I ride and sometimes you gotta make friends with a boulder or tree if ya know what I mean. I like to make sure that any trace I leave behind in the wild is at least biodegradable.

Biodegradable Toilet Paper… Ladies, ya feel me? I have a small bladder and I drink a lot fo water when I ride and sometimes you gotta make friends with a boulder or tree if ya know what I mean. I like to make sure that any trace I leave behind in the wild is at least biodegradable.

Spot GPS Satellite locator. This device is great for people that ride on their own and can also come in handy for an emergency. There are 3 settings and you can connect to your “in case of emergency” person cell phone. Setting 1) send a text to your I.C.E. person letting them know they you are ok, you can program a custom message. Setting 2) alerts them of your location and that you are ok but you need help or are stuck. Setting 3) is an emergency alert that gets sent to local emergency responders to your location by any means necessary including a helicopter. This is a peace of mind device that you hope you never need to use. Some people prefer a satellite phone.

Spot GPS Satellite locator. This device is great for people that ride on their own and can also come in handy for an emergency. There are 3 settings and you can connect to your “in case of emergency” person cell phone. Setting 1) send a text to your I.C.E. person letting them know they you are ok, you can program a custom message. Setting 2) alerts them of your location and that you are ok but you need help or are stuck. Setting 3) is an emergency alert that gets sent to local emergency responders to your location by any means necessary including a helicopter. This is a peace of mind device that you hope you never need to use. Some people prefer a satellite phone.

Tow Strap- It only takes 1 experience of breaking down on a trail beyond repair and needing to push your bike back before you decide that this is a crucial tool. Basically you hook up your dead bike to your buddys bike and get towed back to camp.

Tow Strap- It only takes 1 experience of breaking down on a trail beyond repair and needing to push your bike back before you decide that this is a crucial tool. Basically you hook up your dead bike to your buddys bike and get towed back to camp.

First Aid Kit- there are so many great compact versions of this that you can look in to. Find the one that is right for you. I definitely suggest one with burn cream.

First Aid Kit- there are so many great compact versions of this that you can look in to. Find the one that is right for you. I definitely suggest one with burn cream.

Tire Repair Kit- I will be the first to admit that I need to better educate myself on how to repair a tire on the trail. But at least having the right tools will help.

Tire Repair Kit- I will be the first to admit that I need to better educate myself on how to repair a tire on the trail. But at least having the right tools will help.

Clif Bar- SNACKS! Obviously! sometimes you are gone longer than you think and you want to be prepared. Having enough fuel in your body to be able to handle the physical exertion needed to get back to camp could rely on you trail pack snack kit.

Clif Bar- SNACKS! Obviously! sometimes you are gone longer than you think and you want to be prepared. Having enough fuel in your body to be able to handle the physical exertion needed to get back to camp could rely on you trail pack snack kit.

JB Weld Epoxy- A cracked case on the trail truly sucks. This awesome goo is not a long term fix but can definitely get you back to camp.

JB Weld Epoxy- A cracked case on the trail truly sucks. This awesome goo is not a long term fix but can definitely get you back to camp.

Mini Survival Kit- This may be a bit extreme but it is good to be prepared for any circumstances that may arise.

Mini Survival Kit- This may be a bit extreme but it is good to be prepared for any circumstances that may arise.

Trail Tool Kit- Find the right tool kit for you bike. OR put one together yourself

Trail Tool Kit- Find the right tool kit for you bike. OR put one together yourself

Leatherman- Multi Tool for obvious reasons

Leatherman- Multi Tool for obvious reasons

Spare Clutch and Brake Levers- even the most minor of spills can leave you without a clutch lever which can make the ride home zero fun at all. Always keep a spare and the tools to switch it out.

Spare Clutch and Brake Levers- even the most minor of spills can leave you without a clutch lever which can make the ride home zero fun at all. Always keep a spare and the tools to switch it out.

Zip Ties- These babies fix everything

Zip Ties- These babies fix everything

babes in the dirt

Adrienne Hunt and Her New Husqvarna FE 250

Meet Adrienne Hunt @SLOdirtgirl ! After ripping the demo bikes at Babes in the Dirt she decided to get herself a brand new Husqvarna FE 250. We got to catch up with her to hear more about her life on two wheels and why calls the FE 250 her dream bike.

babes in the dirt

What is your name?

Adrienne Hunt @SLOdirtgirl

What do you do for a living? Tell us about your job.

I work in animal welfare and am a veterinary assistant. My job duties range from day to day from assisting in animal welfare investigations, humane education to helping an injured pet in a hospital setting. I recently spent 22 days assisting up at the CampFire near Paradise, California and that was the most heart-warming and heart-wrenching experience of my life. The time, energy and love so many people put in, to make sure these animals were cared for at the front lines and behind the scenes, really reaffirmed that humans can “Be the person your dog thinks you are.”

Where are you from?

Born and raised in San Luis Obispo, California (SLO)

Where do you live?

Still walking the mean streets of “Bubble Gum Alley” (SLO)

 When were you first introduced to riding dirt? Who introduced you?

I started riding mountain bikes in 2012 after losing a bunch of weight, as I needed something to keep me busy after I gave up all the glory and retired from couch surfing. I really got into riding and I did a few downhill and XC races for fun but then started to get involved in other hobbies, so riding took a back seat for several years.

I started missing the adrenaline and physicality of it, but I also had an aversion to big climbs, enter the dirt bike. My fiancé had been riding dirt bikes since we met but it was only until June of 2017 that I was like, it’s time for me to check this out and get up these hills by a twist of the throttle.

How long have you been riding?

I’ve been riding and falling in the dirt for about 1 ½ years now.

I thought that after riding mountain bikes that dirt biking would come naturally for me, it did not, and I learned humility quickly. I had many crashes and made many mistakes when I first started riding but stuck it out, despite a few trail side meltdowns, some tears of frustration and even a few self-deprecating comments here and there, I’ve learned to stick it out and could not be happier with my progression however fast or slow it comes now.

babes in the dirt

Why do you like riding dirt?

So hard to narrow it down, riding through whoop-de-doos or pulling a wheelie, yeah! (Song: Dirt Bike rider)

As you can tell I am super serious person but truly, my favorite part is the progression. I enjoy seeing myself progress and get so pumped when I see other riders and their progression. It is one of the many things that I love about it. Seeing a trail or a section that you said “nope” to and then being able to take it on or seeing your buddy do the same. So cool!

I have made so many new friends and people I consider “family” while riding, I could not be more grateful. I like to throw together impromptu, all inclusive (male/female/squirrel) group rides or little campouts every now and then. I find that this is a great way to have people get together who may not have otherwise met up. It is so fun to see a rider meet another rider who is close to them and see them get all stoked to have someone to ride with near them.

I truly have a good time whenever I am in the dirt so whether it is “going all out” for me or helping newer riders, I love it all.

Run us through the list of bikes you have had?

In 2008 I bought a 1986 Honda Nighthawk 750 and within a few weeks, hit sand in an apex, laid it down and was hospitalized for a few weeks. My family wanted me to take a break from riding, so I respected that. In 2016, things changed and I was able to purchase a Kawasaki Versys with the intent to ADV it out and do some Dual-sport rides. After some fun adventures and mishaps I decided that I wanted something a little more dirt worthy, so I sold the Versys and bought my first dirt bike in May of 2017 which was my 1993 XR250r.  

babes in the dirt

What do you ride now?

We just bought my dream bike, a 2018 Husqvarna FE250 and I could not be more excited for the adventures to come. My first ride on her was just this Christmas at Hungry Valley OHV. We had set up one of those impromptu campouts and I was stoked to get on that maiden dirt voyage. As I confidently threw my leg over my new steed, I put her in first, let out the clutch and promptly stalled it and did a slow-motion fall to the ground.

As we set out on the group ride I knew that I felt very uncomfortable on the bike and I felt I was going to hurt myself if I tried to keep up but didn’t know the bike yet, so I broke off from the group for a few hours and just did my own thing. No pressure, no audience, just me, my bike and my own thoughts. After that I was able to ride with more confidence and a lot less of a death grip.

If you could have 2 bikes what would your other bike be?

2019 Husqvarna 701. We would love to be able to travel more by two wheels and check off some bucket list items. Having something a bit more street orientated with some off-road capabilities would help get some of that list knocked out.

Tell us what you love about the bike you ride now? Why did you choose that bike?

I was able to log some solid hours on the FE250 at Babes in the dirt last year. I think you could equate it to a groupie who just lingers near the bands dressing room, that was me at the Husqvarna demo booth (Hi Allison, it’s USAdrienne!) After taking it out for several rides, I was hooked. The throttle response, the suspension, right out of the gate it felt like a bike that met my current skill level but would also allow me to level up. The best part is it rides like a track bike but is plated for the times I do hit a dual sport ride or need to get from trail to trail.

It also comes down to how I was treated by Husqvarna and how they support riders especially us women. I was treated like I was family from the moment I skipped up the husky booth with childlike glee. They were great with the barrage of questions I had for them and when they had demos going out but had a bike that was not getting ridden, they allowed me to join the demo ride again.

Where did you buy your bike from? How was your experience at the dealership?

We live at least 3 hours from the closest dealer, so I had to call several places to get quotes and talk about what I needed as a rider and what I was willing to spend. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed with a few of the shops I reached out to as there was a lack of willingness to help someone who had to drive to see their product. I get cash in hand talks, but I was talked down to by some dealers or they would not deal with me over the phone at all. I was able to speak with Victor from HYR in Redlands and they were amazing to work with and gave me a great deal on the moto. For us, pulling the trailer, it was over a 5hr drive but it was worth the drive knowing I was being taken care of and my money was going to a shop that seemed to treat everyone with respect.  

babes in the dirt

What kind of terrain do you like riding the best?

Isn't any terrain the best terrain on a dirt bike?! To narrow it down, I really enjoy technical terrain, however you categorize that. It could be the single track that is sloughing away to a steep drop and you keep telling yourself “keep your eyes ahead...” The chunky rock section that has you working that clutch and picking your lines just so, or the steep, rutted, loose hill climb that has you sitting at the bottom of it for a few seconds, trying to pump yourself up for what is to come. I like any terrain that challenges me and helps me progress.  

What kind of terrain is a challenge for you but you want to master?

I thoroughly enjoy but am not great at rocky enduro type terrain. I find keeping the momentum through the chunk can be difficult or I’ll get in my own head and start to think too much about a rock coming up in my path and grab a fist of brake. At the same time, I love the feeling of being in control yet on the verge of being bucked off. Lots of clutch control to work on for me but again, that is why I love the braap so much, you generally can grow as a rider, as much as you are willing to push yourself.

What is the most challenging riding experience you have had?

A month or two into first starting to ride, I was all about enduro. @Crystal_loves_moto this, @Megs_braap that. I was determined to Jarvis off and do my own thing one day, so the fiancé and I went to Ballinger Canyon and I was just going to “explore” and putt-putt around for a “chill ride.” So we went our separate ways and I went to explore this little area I had eyed before that had a dry little creek bed next to it. As I explored, I thought in all my wisdom, what a great place to practice these enduro skills that I have mastered in all my two months of riding and watching videos.

I rode to the creek bed thinking I’ll drop in there and play around these rocks, it is narrow but passable. It is about a 4ft drop into the bed and as I started to drop in, I got a better visual of where I thought I could exit out of and realized, it was impassable and... the front wheel goes down. I looked back up to where I came from and there was no way I was getting it back up, so I had to forge on. With the bike being flooded and the kickstand sinking in when I tried to kick it over, I struggled for over an hour to get the bike to start in the mid-day August heat. It ended up being so sandy and deep that I dug my wheel in many times. With getting stuck several times and stalling the bike, the 1 hour or so adventure turned into a 3-hour knock-down, drag out fight with the terrain and my bike. When I got back to camp the fiancé asked how many miles I got in and I think I pulled a whopping 0.75 miles that day but many lessons learned. 

babes in the dirt

Where are some of your favorite places to ride?

Hollister Hills OHV  ranks pretty high on the list for several reasons. It combines two of my favorite things camping and dirt bikes. The park really offers a new rider a variety of terrain in a more controlled setting and for me that was really helpful to focus on my riding more than worrying about traffic coming at me at times, as Hollister has many one-way trails. One of my favorite areas there is the enduro course and the trials course. From my first visit there I eyed this big tire in the enduro course and a log drop at the trials course. I kept telling myself you are going to hit those one day and with knees shaking and heart punding, one visit I mustered the mental strength to do it. The first attempt on the tire, not bad, I made it, hit the throttle a bit too much at the top and front wheel lifted a bit, it made the landing a bit sketchy but I pulled it off. I thought, lets’ do it again, get better at it! I approached it and just as I was about to go over my brain went weird, I got scared and I just rolled off the throttle and stalled at the top and toppled over. Bike upside down, oil dripping down the frame, there was only one thing to do, take a picture. There are a few goal trails there as well that I want to ride now that I have the Husky like Troll trail but the poison oak factor makes me wonder how worth it the trail is, when I get exposed to that evil leaf, it is no joke. 

I also fell in love with Kennedy Meadows my one time there. I wish I could build a little homestead and live there fulltime. The place for me, has been the best overall riding and camping experience for me, it is just so gorgeous. The trees and meadows, the creeks, the wildlife; Kennedy Meadows just meets every expectation for me when it comes to combining my love of nature, camping and dirt bike riding. The trails vary quite a bit but unless you are an adventurous beginner, it has some fairly technical terrain. I was really able to surprise myself there and made it through many spots that myself and others were standing by waiting for the topple. I really look forward to getting back out there in 2019.

What is on your moto bucket list to ride?

Big Bear, Forest Hill Trail 6, B.C area, Moab, Sawtooth mountains, Tillamook area, race the Donner Hare scramble and many more.

Do you ride with a lot of other female riders?

I have a really solid set of ladies that I have a great time riding with, they live 3-4hours away from me but we seem to find the time to meet up and ride together every few months or so. It goes back to how supportive it can be riding with other women and the growth and bonding you all develop over it. I am able to be a small part of a bigger picture in many ways as a female rider and I really enjoy trying to foster those relationships with other female riders. I enjoy going fast and getting out of my comfort zone but at 36, I have nothing to prove, other than something to myself. With that being said, I really enjoy riding with new riders whether leading or sweeping with a group or just going out to have a good time. I like to see how they learn and if I am lucky to ride with them down the road, to see how much they have progressed. I think some of us ladies, and I am guilty of it, get in our own heads and think we are holding up a group or you don't want to be the “liability person,” You're not, ride your own ride, progress at your own pace.

The bummer thing is I don’t really have anyone that I ride with locally, it would be really nice to rip around with some ladies but they are few and far between, if you know of any that want to ride, send them my way!  

Do you have anyone in the moto world that you look up to?

I look up to so many riders for many different reasons and wish I could list them all but certainly my friend Avila (@avy119). I met her and her husband at one of the random rides we threw together at Hungry Valley. She is a blast to ride with, is willing to try any trail and gets through it with a smile.

My friend CJ (@radical_budhist) also comes to mind. She is someone who I have had the pleasure of watching progress so much since we first started riding together. She was another gal I met through one of those impromptu campouts up at Hollister Hills when we both were pros on fire roads. She is always in a rad mood, keeping the group smiling and willing to push her comfort zone. We all share so many “woohoos!” on our rides.

I look up to all the ladies of the dirt world who are making it happen; @Babesinthedirt and all you have put into this, it has changed my life as rider. Babes has exposed me to opportunities and people I may have never met otherwise. The @dirt_ladies group and what we are trying to do with getting more women riding together and being able to connect with one another.

Last but not least, my fiancé. He has been my number one fan from day one. Always supportive of my riding. Has helped celebrate triumphs, listened to my frustrations and always makes sure that the bike keeps running so we could do it all over again. There is no one I would rather have as my road dog in life. 

What was your experience at Babes in the Dirt/Babes Ride Out events?

One of the best experiences of my life thus far! 2018 was my first year at Babes in the Dirt and

I rolled in early Friday and helped volunteer for the morning until my afternoon Husqvarna demo. I was so excited to try a new bike but super nervous as well. The demo was well paced, everyone had everyone's back and the Husqvarna crew made sure that you were taken care of and had a good time. I was able to meet many of the gals I follow on Instagram and that was so neat to put faces to the names and even ride with a few. That night I made my rounds to the many trailers, tents and car campers that I wanted to say hi to. It felt like there was not enough time in this day, I wanted it to go on but sleep was needed so I reluctantly wandered back to camp for some Zzz’s.

Saturday had lots of opportunities, and it was hard to choose which to do; a Husqvarna demo, ride trail or track in the park with friends, play games at the various booths, check out the cool gear at the Fox Women’s booth or just get to know these ladies who you may only get to see once a year. Some of the dirt ladies set up a small beginner’s ride for a few ladies and we had a great time watching these gals really come out of their comfort zone and own the trails. I think that is one of the biggest things I think a lot of ladies can get out of female only events, you get a different support system, you learn that you are doing okay and that many other ladies are in the same boat. You meet ladies that are rippers but just want to support another rider and are just stoked to see you out on the trail. You also meet newer riders and you bond over the same triumphs and experiences.

Saturday night consisted of merriment and karaoke. I may or may not have had a great time embarrassing myself while singing Macklemore’s “Thrift shop” while coming down with a  cold. 

Sunday was time to say our “See you next years.” We shook the weekends sand off and helped each other load up and prepare for our various distances home. Before leaving I was able to take Brian Garrahan’s group training that afternoon and he made that was such a fun experience. I went into the class thinking I knew a fair amount of the basics for riding but found many techniques that could improve my riding or ways to refine what I was already doing but make it safer and in turn, riding into more fun.

What advice do you have for someone thinking about getting in to riding dirt?

Just be you. We all get into riding dirt for different reasons and throughout your whole moto journey you will be exposed to different types of riders and types of riding but as long as you are true to the reason you ride, the ride will always be fun and always be yours.

It is easy to get into your own head, to think maybe you are not improving enough or when you are riding with people that you are the one, “keeping them back,” you are not. It may not happen overnight but you will find your “people.” The ones you look up to and the ones that look up to you. The ones that keep pushing you to do more because they know you can and the ones that will help push your bike back up the hill when maybe it did not all go to plan. Riding is an adventure and all adventures have ups and downs, just remember, you are doing this for you and no one else, when that is the motivation that is when it really becomes fun.

Anything else you would like to add?

A big thanks to all the ladies and men behind the scenes who are supportive in getting more women riding and having fun in the dirt. Instagram groups like @Dualsportwomen , @WLFenduro, @National_Forest_Riders (NFR) and @Corva are all doing things to help support all riders and our riding community. Husqvarna motorcycles are at the forefront of highlighting this movement of women riders and putting their money where their mouth is.

Fox Womens with their support and proactiveness with their female riding audience’s needs and wants as riders.

And of course, to ALL who have supported me through this journey of mine. It has been such a fun and wild ride since I started riding a year and some change ago. When I joined Instagram, I wanted to try and find more women to ride with and to highlight the struggles and triumphs of someone my age, who just started getting into riding a dirt bike. I have made so many friends and have been able to follow along with so many adventures of others. I look forward to many more years making a fool….er…improving my skills as a rider and look forward to enjoying that journey with others as well. Cheers to #2019yearofthebraap.

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Meet Kate McKerroll and her Husqvarna FX 350

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!

babes in the dirt

What is your name?

Kate McKerroll

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!

babes in the dirt

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.

babes in the dirt

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.

babes in the dirt

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!

babes in the dirt

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 *

babes in the dirt

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!!

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!

babes in the dirt