Fake It ‘Til You Make It

2021 Kawasaki KX 85, 2015 KTM SX 85

One of the most badass moments I can recall in recent memory came from none other than our soft-spoken, clover plucking, 11-year-old girl rider, Lily.

It didn’t matter that it was by mistake, she made it look slick.

We had just taken the leap moving her from a 4-stroke Honda CFR 80 to a brand new Kawasaki KX85. This was no small jump- but from watching her cruise comfortably on that 80, to clearing tabletops on a borrowed 110 pit bike like she was eating breakfast- we knew her current hardware was holding her back. That’s not to say a mom feels the warm fuzzies making such a large transition.

The day of purchase came with big smiles, ooh’s and ahh’s, and a few photos; it even came with an offer of sponsorship from the GM of the dealership. While flattering, the trepidation of the sponsorship offer was just the beginning of the butterflies that would come. To give credit where it’s due, that first shaky ride around the yard did not result in her landing on her back. To the contrary, she was able to successfully ride out those first few laps; managing the factory-new clutch like she was shaking the hand of an old friend. Still- you guessed it- those mamma nerves did not subside.

With no more stalling left to do, the bike and my dewy rider had their day at the track. I can still remember my heart evading my chest as she geared up and her dad got her bike started for her. Break-in oil still coursing through the bike’s veins. My nervousness spilled over onto our group as I had already decided “something” would go wrong that day. While the bike roared loudly, sucking the spring air in to cool its rage, I made my way over to the booth to pay for her bracelet. The new season had adjusted the track’s design and layout, and I confirmed with an attendant the new entrance to the otherwise familiar track. Too quickly, Lily received the go-ahead, and sharing my nerves she joined the other riders and took off onto the track- the wrong direction.

The Dirt Side, Groveton, NH

Paul, the burly grampa-like beast of the track began running. This was an attendant that wouldn’t run for the last plate of track-family-pot-luck-pot roast moved like life and death was on the line. And it was. An eleven-year-old lil’ lady was heading head-first into a group of adult riders, the mistake which could be life-altering.

He waved her down and she submitted from the track. I can only imagine the tongue-lashing he publically gave her came from the place of a stern “guardian angel”. The mix of nerves, excitement, and whirlwind she was experiencing- added to the now imminent need to exit the track away from the on-looking parents and spectators resulted in one thing: too much throttle.

That inferno of adrenaline and octane presented the most bad-ass riding wheelie off the track, over the berm, and threw the main gate; steering her directly toward the safety and privacy of her campsite. To everyone else it appeared as a presentation of controlled defiance- even though she didn’t even know what had happened until we all caught our breath and told her what she’d done.

But in that moment, she was a renegade. And when we re-tell the story, she is still.

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