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Heidi Henry Talks Motocross

Heidi Henry is the first woman to ride freestyle motocross at the X Games.
Motocross Rider Heidi Henry

By: Simon

So you think chicks can't ride freestyle motocross? That's what I thought until I saw Heidi Henry get massive air at the 2002 X Games. I want to learn how to ride a dirtbike myself, so I gave Heidi a call to see what it takes to become a freestyle motocross rider. Check it out!

Simon: So, how did you get started riding motocross?

Heidi: A good friend of mine who owned a bike shop suggested I try it. So, I bought a dirtbike and started riding. I was really having fun and doing it all the time. So, I started to race in the Women's Motocross League. During the races, I would always try doing can-cans (The rider moves one leg over the gas tank to the other side of the bike and back) or other tricks. I would always get as much attention as anyone else, even if I wasn't leading, just because fans like the way I would ride. Even if I crashed and was in tenth place, I'd still get noticed more by spectators than the person leading the race. A friend of mine, Mickey, said I should try riding freestyle because there were no other girls out there doing it. She had a big ramp set up in her backyard so I went and tried doing jumps off that and just went from there.

Simon: That's cool. Do you ever get scared when you're flying off a massive jump or getting huge air?

Heidi: I used to always be pretty scared whenever I came up to a new distance. I would be like, 'What am I doing? This is nuts!' But the past four or five shows, I haven't really been scared. It's a great feeling. It just comes down to having more experience and being able to judge things. You always wonder about what could happen because even if you're not scared, things can go wrong. But I'm not scared anymore, so I'm stoked on that.

Simon: What's the worst injury you've ever had? Have you ever, like, busted your head open or anything?

Heidi: I've never busted my head open. I came up short once on a 70-foot jump. The bike caved and I basically folded my body over the handlebars. I cracked some ribs, hurt my wrist and ankle and my pancreas got bruised, but I didn't have to be hospitalized, which was fortunate.

Simon: Do you think you'll ever try doing a backflip on your bike?

Heidi: I can't say never. It's really dangerous, so it's not likely but I can't say never. I might try it sometime. If I had the right training facilities and good trainers and a foam pit and lots of practice, I wouldn't put it past me.

Simon: I'm actually kind of interested in becoming a freestyle motocross rider. Any advice?

Heidi: Go to a motorcycle shop and find out where the track is - somewhere that has proper trainers and medical guys on site. Don't just grab a bike and head out to the boonies somewhere by yourself. Ride and race in as many races, and at as many different tracks, as you can.

Simon: What's the coolest thing about your job?

Heidi: It's all pretty cool. When I was a kid I never really knew what I wanted to be. I just wanted to have one of those jobs that makes other people say, 'Oh my god. You get paid to do that?' It's awesome. I love meeting the people I meet and making a living doing what I do. Can you believe it? I actually get paid to ride my dirtbike. I feel very fortunate and I'm just so stoked.

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