My name is Tatum. I race in the AMA Women’s National Motocross Series. I’m number 12. People have asked me what it’s like to be a woman and race motocross. I don’t know, except to say it feels normal to me!
However, I’m not like a James Stewart or Chad Reed or Supercross Champion Ryan Dungey, or maybe some other top riders, flying to races (some in private jets!), having a factory ride, or getting paid the big bucks. But I can tell you this – once I’m on the track – none of that matters! I’m going to go for it! And have some fun too!
Guess what I race? You think it’s the latest, greatest machine out there? You think I get big sponsors and free motorcycles? Well, if you said “Yes”, you’d be wrong! I race a bike I bought myself, a 2009 YZ 250F.
I’m going to share with you my experiences of racing the 2010 AMA Women’s National Motocross Championship! And this story is about our series most recent race – the National Motocross at Wortham, Texas.
On Wednesday before the race, we were supposed to start driving early in the morning. But I had a final for school, and it was also the last day of the school semester.
I talked to my bud Jackie (Ives – she’s number 17 racing the Nationals!) that morning and we decided to meet at Chaparral in San Bernardino and then take off for the drive to Texas. But I forgot to tell my dad that, and we went on a super long adventure – made a giant loop and ended up meeting Jackie and her dad – and we were super late. Good start huh? : )
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But we finally got rollin’ and started driving – on the most boring trip possible. I don’t know exactly why, but driving from SoCal to Texas is just boring. Really boring. Lucky for me, I slept practically the whole time, except for two hours that I drove leading into Las Cruces, NM.
We did have a couple of ‘adventures’ along the way. Like when I got a gallon of water, and drank it pretty quickly. Jackie did the same. And then for the next few hours we had to stop so many times for Jackie and I to go to the bathroom … every hour practically! We also went looking for food when we got hungry. We decided we wanted Panda Express. We went on a whole journey through downtown Tucson to find that the Panda Express that was on our GPS didn’t even exist! Fun!
Did I mention driving from CA to TX is boring? I don’t even know where we spent the night that first night, but we headed out a early the next day to go to Jackie’s sister’s house – we visited with her and her husband and spent the night.
On Friday, we headed out and made it to the track – got there at 9am or so, which was cool. Some one shot a pig and stuck it under the Warthog Racing truck, which made Chris (the truck driver) go on a man hunt to find out who did it!
But Friday was just like any other tech day, we got the bikes ready and got through tech and then did a track walk. The track was really sandy at that point. We went to Chili’s that night with the a few friends and met my dad back at the hotel after and hit the beds to rest up for race day.
Saturday morning I woke up and went to Waffle House for breakfast – there really isn’t much around where we were staying or near the track. But we all got some grub, headed out to the track, and went to the riders meeting. Then it was time to get ready for practice, and it was already so hot there! Like microwave hot!
The staff from Asterisk was even emphasizing during the riders meeting about how bad the heat and humidity was, and to make sure we stayed as cool and hydrated as possible. I got going in my first practice, trying to stay in the back to learn the track. At that point, it was so muddy there was squirrel lines everywhere just from how slick it was! I never felt like I really got into a good flow or rhythm very well.
Second practice was the same story – it was slick and everyone was crashing, and the mud was really deep!
Every time I was off the bike and in the pits, I sat in the little pools that Chris got us to cool off in. I think I was in there all day long! Then, our first moto was up – I had 16th gate pick. It was so rad! (NOT! Ha ha ha!!!)
I decided that the smart choice was to go a little outside and not get hung up in the first turn, since the start seemed to be really tight. I got off to a good jump, which turned into a top five start. I felt great until I ran into the back of another rider and lost a few spots trying to pick up my bike. I got going again and just tried to ride a consistent race and stay smooth – which went OK – I ended up ninth.
The second moto again I got another top five start and felt strong – until I got together with a couple riders and made a couple big mistakes. I lost a lot of places that I wasn’t able to regain, so that was disappointing.
But now I know what I need to work on for the next time.
I ended up with eighth overall on the day, which wasn’t too horrible considering it is a long season and I’ve been consistent under the circumstances so far.
So, now I’m back home. I think I’m going to like giving you my stories of my adventures of travel and racing. Our next race in the series will be Thunder Valley in Colorado. I hope to give you a bit more info that just this introduction.
Between now and then, I’m going to get some more seat time on my bike, spend some time in the gym, and try to gain in confidence. (I have a job too. Gotta’ pay the bills you know!)
I’m looking forward to Colorado, and also being able to share my next travel tale with you.
p.s. I can’t tell you how boring the drive is from Texas back to California. I slept the entire time! Jackie and her dad probably hate me since I took up the back seat the whole time!