Sports

Major-league motocross hits city

Nanaimo motocross racer Natasha Bartlett will be competing at the Rockstar Energy Motocross Nationals this weekend (May 31-June 1) at Wastelands Motocross Park. - Photo submitted
Nanaimo motocross racer Natasha Bartlett will be competing at the Rockstar Energy Motocross Nationals this weekend (May 31-June 1) at Wastelands Motocross Park.
— image credit: Photo submitted

This weekend’s motocross will be easy to find – just follow the buzzing.

That’s how Nanaimo’s Natasha Bartlett discovered the sport, and it’s led to fast laps, podium finishes and now the Rockstar Energy Motocross Nationals.

Living in Victoria a couple of years ago, Bartlett heard a sound that she couldn’t immediately identify, and she followed it to the Westshore Motocross track. She was already a competitive downhill mountain biker, but she’d never really seen bikes like these.

“It was awesome. I get goosebumps just thinking about it,” she said.

The problem was, she was injured.

“It was a real bummer. I was watching this but I knew that I couldn’t even participate for a few more months,” she said.

It gave her something to look forward to, though, and by the next season, she was already racing and winning, with half a dozen top-three finishes on Island circuits. Bartlett’s enthusiasm for the sport has also led to coaching and volunteering.

Even when her bike was stolen recently, it didn’t slow her down. She borrowed a bigger four-stroke bike, loved it, and made the switch.

“As I got a little bit more competitive it made sense to basically start looking at a bike that could keep me on the same level as the rest of the ladies and in some cases, the guys,” she said.

The entire motocross community is welcoming, she said, but there’s a special dynamic among the women.

“Once the gate drops, there’s absolutely no doubt about it, we are 100 per cent focused and it’s a competitive scenario and we’re all on the edge the whole time,” she said. “But when the race is over and the dust settles, it’s really about the camaraderie and who shares the same passion as you do.”

At this weekend’s nationals, Bartlett will not only be sharing that passion, but also her home track. Wastelands Motocross Park is a well-groomed, fun course with great terrain, she said.

She looks forward to facing a full gate of out-of-province riders; she isn’t setting any specific goals other than having fun and being competitive.

“It’s going to be really great to see what they have and how I compete, how my bike competes and how it all shakes out,” she said.

The Rockstar Energy Motocross Nationals will be held on Saturday (May 31) at Wastelands Motocross Park on Weigles Road up Doumont hill. The main events begin at 12:10 p.m. Saturday. Women's nationals will be held Sunday starting at 11 a.m. For a full schedule of the weekend's activities, please visit www.nanaimomx.com.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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