by: Allie Spurgeon
Wednesday, March 29, 2023 | 7:00 PM
Looking at the top of the WXC class, it can seem like they've always been that great! But just like we see those celebrities’ grocery shopping in magazines where they're "just like us!", so is the WXC class. They all started from somewhere, they all struggled at some point. So, we asked a few of the top WXC racers, "What would you tell the younger version of yourself that wanted to accomplish what you have in racing now?" Here's what they had to say.
Traci Pickens - 12 time WXC ATV Champion
High school version of me: I wasn’t popular, had more boyfriends than girlfriends due to the hobbies I was interested in (ATV riding , hunting , sports) big hair, not pretty, unhealthy skinny. After the passing of my father and brother I thought my dreams of being a racer were over. Part of me felt like crawling in a hole… but I could hear my dad’s voice saying, "you can do anything, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t".
I'm happy I chose the "I could do anything" path. I went to college, earned a degree as a Physical Therapist Assistant, started a career and bought my first ATV. With that purchase, my dream of being a racer became a reality with a lot of sacrifices, discipline, and hard work.
I would tell my younger self that hard work makes the dream work even if you have to take the long way to get there. It’s so worth it. Life is not to be lived by anyone else’s timeline , live YOUR timeline. Surround yourself with good people, those who have the same goals and dreams as you.
Tayla Jones - 3X WXC Champion, 6X ISDE Champion, Loretta Lynns Podium
When I was a kid racing in Australia, I would never win. It was frustrating at times! I just wasn't naturally talented on a dirt bike. I'd put in a lot of work, but it wouldn't show at the racetrack, I'd end up 3rd or 4th all the time. My parents supported me by taking me to the races or tracks every weekend, I just kept pushing to learn more and develop my skills at my own pace. My dad would drive me hours to go ride at a sand track, or I'd get off the school bus at my coaches’ house and train until my parents picked me up. My final race as a junior, I finally won against the girls that had beaten me forever, one of those was Kenzie Tricker haha. I didn’t have the talent, but I had the determination and mental strength to keep going. There were times that I definitely felt like giving up, but I never did. I never would have the accomplishments I have in racing now if I had! I would tell myself, if you want it bad enough, you can make it happen if you never give up. Keep working at your skills, keep going, even when you don't see the results!
Rachael Archer - WXC Champion
Around the time I was racing 85's in New Zealand, I realized I really wanted to be the best. I was racing three series, enduro, motocross, and cross country, and sports in school. I wanted to do everything I possibly could to be the best. I used to stress myself out so much, I didn't take the time to have fun and enjoy myself in the moment. I was too focused on being the best and doing everything I could instead of enjoying the journey. I would tell my younger self, don't get so caught up in the end goal that you forget to enjoy the whole ride!
Hannah Hunter - 2X WXC ATV Champion
I started when I was younger, and did really well at first, but struggled a lot when as I got older. I had a lot of break downs that cost me a lot of championships, that really messed with my head. I knew I was the better racer, but I still struggled with it. Finally, something clicked, and I was able to ride like myself and be consistent. I would tell my younger self to just never ever give up, and to not let your head mess with your abilities.
Rachel Gutish - 12 year WXC Racer, 5X TKO Women's Champion, X-Games Bronze Medalist
In my first GNCC pro race, I was 15 years old, on a supermini, lined up next to Maria Forsberg on her Factory KTM 250. I legit wanted to ride back to my pit, crawl underneath my van and never come back out. Maria and Mandi Mastin were so kind to me that first season. Which is why now that I’m the experienced veteran I try to give back and help the younger up-and-coming riders wherever I can, or at least make them feel welcome and like they belong here too.
I got lapped at my first four races. I was just getting totally blown out of the water, and it was pretty demoralizing. Even as I improved and got better, I always had this sense of impatience, like I’m working so hard and giving it so much, but it still just isn’t enough. I’d get super frustrated because I wasn’t competitive yet, there were a few times I got demoralized and wanted to throw in the towel. It also made racing not always a pleasant experience. Sometimes I let my frustration and disappointment outweigh the pleasure I feel riding and racing my dirt bike - and inevitably that just made things worse, and defeated the whole reason I started racing in the first place.
So, I’d tell my younger self to look around. Stop and smell the race gas. Be patient. Have fun. Enjoy the process. And keep grinding - it’ll come eventually, just not as soon as 17 year old Rachel thought it would.
Korie Steede - Current WXC Bike points leader, multi-time WXC race winner, ISDE individual 2nd, Loretta Lynns podiums
I was racing mostly motocross, and added woods racing on top of it when I was 14. I was so stressed about trying to do my best at everything which became very overwhelming at such a young age. I was so burnt out I realized I was just going through the motions rather than having my heart dedicated to the sport. The more I matured the more confidence I found within myself and as a result would help my race finishes. I had to take a couple steps back and realize it's a mental game, that can't be rushed! I was feeling like this from the time I was 13 to 19, and it took the fun out of the sport. I would tell my younger self to CALM DOWN! Trust the process; everything will come with time.
Champions are never an overnight success; they're built over the course of years through effort and perseverance. Each one of these racers went through struggles, failures, plateaus, and frustrations just like any racer does. We hope their words of wisdom inspire you to keep going and keep building towards your goals. Follow @Women.Of.Moto on Instagram to stay tuned with all things women’s racing, and message us with more questions you'd like to ask the WXC classes!