[WLF] PRO-FILES: Kristin Parke - 16
RIDER: Kristin Parke
RESIDENCE: Summerland B.C
GARAGE: KTM 200 XC-W
RIDING TYPE: Offroad // ENduro
Kristin’s Riding Past
My home town of Golden B.C. is a small little town situated between the Selkirk, Purcell, and Rocky mountains. Where two heritage rivers join, the Columbia and the Kicking Horse. It’s a haven for the outdoor enthusiast. I grew up on a mountainside outside of town, where I was able to roam free. I spent my summers camping, fishing, berry picking and just exploring the woods near our home. In the winter we would toboggan, and build snow forts. I remember missing the school bus because there was a cougar at the bus stop, or a bear was in the yard eating compost. Our favorite was what we called the Tarzan Swing. It was this massive old tree off in the bush that someone, years before my time, had tied a rope too. We would hold on tight and hurl ourselves down the hill, swinging around the tree to a not so soft landing on the other side. You would think that in such an ideal environment that dirt bikes would have been a given. However I didn’t start riding until much later in life.
Back in 2005 I met my husband, Al. He is the one who I have to thank for my love of motorsports. But it wasn’t something that happened fast. After dating for a while, I took a teaching job in Thailand and six short weeks later I was on a plane headed for the other side of the globe. While living in South East Asia I bought my first bike, if you can call it that. I rode that little 110cc bike through the city traffic, along the highway, and through the back roads to a secret beach spot. It had its quirks, the throttle stuck a time or two, but I loved it.
Fast forward to 2016. Al and I are married, have two young boys, and are living in the sunny Okanagan. Spencer, our oldest, was 4 at the time and dreaming about dirt bikes. He would wish on stars, and drop not so subtle hints about wanting a “kid sized dirt bike”. Al grew up riding, racing, and rebuilding dirt bikes, so I suppose it was in his blood. Spencer turned 5 that October, and we surprised him with a Suzuki JR50 – he was over the moon. Around that time Al suggested we sell our 1964 VW single cab and outfit the rest of the family with dirt bikes. To his surprise, I agreed.
My first dirt bike was 2007 CRF 230f. It was heavy, it was gutless – it was a tank. It didn’t take me long to realise how much I loved riding. Hooked after just one ride. I would practice in our field, and Al would take me out on the trails near our home. He would teach me the basics, pushing me further with each ride. Al has a tendency to lead me down some gnarly trails, often ones I have no business riding. He gently pushes me further and further from my comfort zone. Saying that he will keep going, keep pushing, until I say stop. The challenge to keep up, to make it over obstacles, and to power through my fears has kept me moving forward. With challenge comes growth. I can get into my own head, and am often my own biggest hurdle. I feel so lucky have had Al by my side coaching, and cheering me on as I ever so slowly progress. Being able to share this passion with my best friend makes the failures less painful, and the successes that much sweeter.
The CRF 230 was a great beginner bike, but I found myself quickly outgrowing it. I wanted more than it could give. I moved on to a KTM 150sx. And what a new world that was! To say I struggled with the transition is being kind. I would spend 20 minutes only to move 2 feet before stalling again. I learned a lot from that bike, patience mostly.
I went back and forth about whether or not I should keep the 150, after all it wasn’t built for the type of riding I was doing. I had come to the conclusion that the SX would only make me a better rider in the long run and so I decided to keep it, at least for a couple seasons. Two days later I got a text from Al. He had gone out riding with a guy who had a KTM 200xcw – my dream bike. He was thinking about selling and upgrading. So, just like that I had unexpectedly bought a new bike. It’s been love ever since.
Now, when I first got into riding Al asked me if I ever wanted to race. My answer was a hard no. The world of motorsports can be intimidating for a woman, let alone one who didn’t pick it up until later in life. Racing just wasn’t something I could see myself doing. But to be honest, I am competitive by nature and it was just a matter of time. October 2018, on my 33rd birthday, I competed in my first race. A 45km enduro that I was horribly unprepared for. My goals were simple, don’t die and try to finish. I was bruised, battered, and my bike was broken but four hours later I crossed the finish line. Hooked again.
Since getting into the dirt bike scene, we have been members of the South Okanagan Dirt Bike Club. The club has secured mile after mile of designated riding trails and promotes responsible stewardship over the land. They host several great events throughout the year, our favorites being “Creaky Bones” (the first event of the year), and Kid’s Day. The kid’s day is all about the next generation. Teaching them skills, basic bike maintenance, trail etiquette, and responsible riding. It’s always a thrill to see so many young riders in one place.
Looking forward at the upcoming season, I am anxious to get out riding. However, as a mom of two busy, young kids it’s nearly impossible to get enough seat time. (Can we ever get “enough” seat time though?) I am fortunate that my boys both enjoy riding and it’s something we can all get out to do together. My oldest has big dreams – racing the Iron Giant at Erzberg to be exact – and I love to be able to help him further his riding so maybe one day he can make that a reality.
So far there are a handful of events I plan to attend. The @Mudhunniez (a female race team based on Vancouver Island) host a women’s campout that I hope to attend, along with all the great local events that our club puts on. I hope to fit a race or two into the season, still deciding which ones won’t kill me. One year I hope to make the long drive down to California to be at Babes in the Dirt, but that seems to be an unreachable dream, at least for this season.
When I first started riding, I was nervous. It can be overwhelming, intimidating and frankly a bit scary. The world of motorsports is largely dominated by men and I wasn’t sure I would be able to find my place in it. Instead, what I have found has been nothing but a supportive, encouraging environment where I have been able to grow and thrive. I hope to keep riding, to keep growing, and to encourage other women to step out of their comfort zones and into the wonderful world of dirt bikes.
Interior Power Sports:
Shout-out to Murray Newman of Interior Power Sports / Newman Racing Suspension. Whether he is dialing in my suspension, or fixing another one of my busted pipes he is has been a huge help and resource when it comes to keeping my family on the trails.
One of the first women riders I started following on social media was Megan Griffiths (@megs_braap). Her positive attitude and passion for dirt bikes was always such an inspiration. When the opportunity to attend one of her clinics with Traction eRag came up, I made sure I was able to attend. Practicing basics, and learning proper techniques with her was such a beneficial experience. She made the day into an encouraging environment and after a day full of laughs, a few fails, and some successes I walked away with the tools needed to help further my skills, and better my riding. I’m looking forward to putting in the time to continue practicing what I learned and seeing how it translates to the trails.