BY KRIS FANT
“What the hell am I going to do with this thing?” Crystal thought, when her high school sweetheart surprised her with a DRZ125 on her birthday ten years ago.
Raised in BC, Canada, Crystal grew up with some of the best woods riding in the world at her doorstep, and yet never even thought about a dirtbike. But, dirtbike in hand, Crystal started riding at the track. She didn’t intend to race, but found that while riding, she could shut off her brain from everyday life, and “it gave me a sense of freedom that I could never find anywhere else.” She has discovered a passion for building skills with her bike, and if you get a chance to watch her videos on Instagram @cyrstal_loves_moto, you’ll be astounded at what she can do with a motorcycle. “I fought woods riding since day one,” but she realized that the woods brought new challenges and new skills to build, and slowly, bike by bike, she has become an avid enduro rider.
The motorcycle community is something else that Crystal didn’t know anything about before this surprise gift. She has valued the friendships she has made, even if they did pull her toward the dreaded woods. She is a brand ambassador for Klim, and this has brought her opportunity and growth she never dreamed of. She discovered that with woods riding, you are exploring with groups of people for hours at a time, building unbreakable bonds. “These like-minded riders have become some of my closest friends, on and off the bike.”
On being a woman
As a woman rider, Crystal takes the opportunity to share her experiences, to be open about her real life challenges, and to influence the entire enduro scene for women. Of course, she acknowledges that it is not unusual to be the only woman in a group of five or more male riders. “Females bring a different vibe. We can talk about our struggles and relate in a different way than we can with men.” “Men have a different approach to training than women. Men scream ‘just hit it.’ but women are much more understanding of your actual abilities out there. We don’t push where we know you are not ready. So the environment definitely changes when you add a few ladies.” She also appreciates having some women around to enjoy face masks, nail painting, and heels with!
“I have so many dreams. My brain never shuts off when it comes to riding.” Her main goal is to race in 2018. She has been wanting to sign up for a race, and it ended up being an endurocross race this past month. She surprised herself, but also got a taste of what she is in for over the next few years. “Hell is basically how I describe it” she says laughing. “I am pushing myself really hard to get out and do some woods races in the 2018 season. I think this will be a great challenge for me and keep my passion alive for the sport. I stay overly driven knowing I have a goal to reach or a new challenge accepted.” She also is a huge influence on her local riding community, introducing new women to the sport of woods riding. She found that by teaching these women the basic skills, she has strengthened her own riding skills. And, the reward has been great.”These women turn into kick ass enduro riders in such a short amount of time! Having a support system is huge for new riders, which I learned right away when being introduced to the enduro scene.” Crystal is repaying the support she has exponentially in the hopes to see women lining up to race next season. “We need to grow the sport.” She challenges each of us to branch out and help where we can.
Cystal has higher riding goals than most people I know, and she has found a routine that works for her. She discovered her love for riding, but realized that she needed to work on her overall health. “Eating clean and adding some form of fitness into your weekly schedule will help you tremendously on the bike.” She rides twice a week all summer, getting up into the mountains with friends. “This helps me with building endurance and fine tuning my skills. It’s a great way for me to push myself without distractions.” Her weekends are varied. You might find her adventure riding or hosting ladies rides. Sometimes she helps out with beginner riders, and sometimes she’ll spend the entire day training for enduro cross. Come spring, you’ll find her hitting the single track, because this year, she is going to race in the woods.
You would think with this level of dedication, that this is Crystal’s full time job, but on top of it, she works as a long haul transportation dispatcher, five days a week, pulling ten hour days. “I often get people asking me how I get so much riding in on top of my every day responsibilities, but honestly believe two hours after work in the mountains outweighs sitting around. If you want to make it happen, you will. It is possible to train hard and have a work life and social life. You might be extremely tired some days, but I have found a chaotic balance that works in my life, and is starting to rub off on others.”
Crystal shared with us her advice to other riders. “Always have fun with riding. Be patient with the process, as it has its learning curves.” When she rides, she’s learned to focus on one thing she wants to achieve, and works on it until she masters it. She has found it helpful to surround herself with a few like-minded riders. “Try to say yes more. I know being new to the sport you always have it in the back of your mind ‘I don’t want to be slowing everyone else down, I won’t be skilled enough, and I won’t make that hill climb. Take the chances you are given to ride with other women or men willing to teach you. This is how you grow and experience life outside your comfort zone.” She reminds us that commitment is key. “There are no short cuts other than seat time and commitment. I learned to embrace all my failures, laugh at myself when I tumbled down a steep hill, and I’m super grateful for the process because it keeps me driven to keep pushing my limits out there.”
Check out Crystal’s instagram HERE!
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