International Women’s Day 2021
In celebration of International Women’s Day, NSORRA is profiling women who have made a difference in our dirt bike community.
I met Marijke at the South Alton hare scramble in 2019. She was volunteering in Timing and Scoring. The first thing I noticed was that she was wearing a hat and seemed to have no hair; I wondered about that. This friendly, outgoing, energetic woman – could she really have cancer? I heard bits and pieces of her story over the next while and was amazed about what this woman was doing and her goals, including her #Conquest4Cancer. She is truly an inspiration.
Marijke, in her own words…
I grew up on a farm in South Africa. My dad taught me how to ride motorcycles when I was around 10 years old. I ripped around the farm on several different four-strokes until I left for a tennis scholarship in the US after high school.
I rode road bikes in Germany each year while visiting there to play tennis in the German summer league, starting in the early nineties.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018, I decided to take on a challenge which would do two things:
- Give me an arena in which to push back boundaries and fear, so I could motivate myself to persevere through chemotherapy treatments
- Raise funds to support the Canadian Cancer Society, which offers other cancer fighters the support I enjoy from close family and friends.
I decided to start training for the Corduroy Enduro, “Canada‘s Toughest Race” (). Since the event was cancelled in 2020, my aim was to ride it in 2021. But another setback was about to hit.
In January 2021, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
On International Women‘s Day, I am in the cancer treatment centre, receiving my first of six chemotherapy treatments, which I hope to complete over the next 5 months.
More than ever, I am thankful for the community support I receive and I would like to continue raising funds for those facing similar battles with cancer.
Regarding the challenge of riding the Corduroy Enduro, Marijke says: “I‘ll be back on the bike to train as soon as possible, so I can support and encourage those sitting in the chemo chairs next to me right now.”
So far, the total amount raised for the Canadian Cancer Society totals $ 9,290 with 100% of the donations passed on to CCS and can be made here:
During the day, Captain Jillian Cross is the Regional Medical Liaison Officer for Canadian Cadets - Atlantic. But when she takes off that uniform at the end of the day, she puts on her mom hat…or her dirt bike helmet.
Jill, in her own words…
I followed in my dad's footsteps (our oldest rider, still going strong at 70) and got on my first bike (crf150) at 19. I started racing a couple years later.
My husband Dan and I started riding at the same time. He has always been my favourite riding buddy, but now he has become my biggest supporter as we navigate our way back to riding as a family.
I took 5 years off to have my two girls and thought that was it for the next 10 years. I was inspired to jump back in when I saw Megan Griffiths’ clinic advertised on the NSORRA Facebook page. I had previously participated in all-male clinics in trials in the past, and couldn't imagine how amazing the atmosphere of all ladies would be - turns out, it was amazing!!
I’m so excited to have enough support to be a mom and race, while connecting with awesome ladies!
After successfully pulling off the Women In Moto event last fall, Jill joined the NSORRA Board of Directors as a dual chair of Women Offroad and Rec Riding. She also actively leads the East Coast Women Offroad Facebook community.
Jill and her team are putting together the event schedule now, starting with our Women In Moto Day on Saturday, June 12. We hope to see a lot of women and girls there, enjoying and celebrating the dirt bike life!
I first met Melissa at hare scramble events where her husband and oldest son competed. Then her younger son joined in as he was age qualified. Finally, Melissa joined the hare scramble ranks, riding with the family trademark number 408. I got to know Melissa at the events, her sarcastic and funny comments adding some levity to the competition. Melissa joined the NSORRA Board as Treasurer in January 2020.
Melissa, in her own words…
I never had opportunities to get into any sports in my youth, let alone dirt biking. It wasn’t until my husband (David) decided to start riding dirt bikes again, that I even entertained the concept. I first started riding a street bike at age 40. Subsequently, my two sons (Sam and Alex) started riding dirt bikes and I honestly felt left out. So with lots of encouragement from my family, I decided to move out of the street and onto the dirt!
I feel like I am young again every time I ride. Being in the woods, in the dirt, challenging myself with every new trail, gives me a sense of living; I mean that will all sincerity. Every sense is awakened and you just can’t stop smiling. It’s euphoric!
I’m a commercial banker by day, and while those skills don’t exactly translate into dirt bike skills, I feel like I’m a better employee, wife, and mother after a day riding my dirt bike. I am a more confident woman since I started riding. I truly believe my sons will benefit from having a strong, dirt biking mom. And I can say with confidence, I have no intent to stop riding anytime soon!
I met Bonnie in 2020. We chatted on the phone first, as she asked about an event. She was energetic and enthusiastic and willing to volunteer as needed. When I met her, she really proved to be a dynamo. She encouraged her kids to get on their bikes and give it their all. She did the same for NSORRA members as she encouraged them at hare scrambles with a word and a cheer. She stepped up to volunteer wherever she was needed and she continues to do so.
Bonnie, in her own words…
I’ve been riding since I was 6, starting with a Honda 50 with banana bike bars before moving on to bigger bikes. As a teen, I got my road bike license and rode a Kawi Ninja Zz6r 1996 in Quebec. In my 20s, I raced in Ontario in the Parts Canada AMA 600 Women’s Cup Challenge and with Pro Honda Oils series on a Kawi 636.
When I moved to Nova Scotia, I sold the supersport bikes and bought a Honda CR85 2006. I started riding with NSORRA in 2012, competing in a few rounds with my newborn in the pits. Now we are a dirt family of 4-1/2 (including our fur baby) and we all ride and compete with NSORRA (except for our furbaby). Chloé is 6 on a KTM-50, Charlie is 8 on a KTM-65, Craig is 44 on a KTM-300 and I’m 41 on KTM-105, but I still love my old-school 2-stroke Honda!
I’m grateful to have met so many amazing riders through my NSORRA activities. This year I’m assisting with social media for the East Coast Women Offroad Facebook page and working to increase participation of girls in dirt biking.
The legend of Robyn Harris preceded her. I heard stories about this woman in the woods who would take on any challenge on her bike, including riding a partially fallen tree lengthwise, even though her bike was much smaller than those of the men she rode with. They spoke with awe in their voices of this young legend.
I finally met Robyn at the Megan Griffiths clinic in 2020 when she took on the “shark tank” challenge and won it convincingly. I have since seen Robyn in action as a competitor and volunteer and have learned she excels at everything she does, whether competing, volunteering as a sweep rider or even playing with the younger riders during down time.
Robyn, in her own words…
I got to ride my first motorcycle when I was 16. My awesome Dad did the safety course with me, even though he already has a license. So far, I’ve learned dirt biking is hard!
Some highlights of the dirt bike course:
- I broke the clutch lever off within 15 minutes
- I was easily the worst rider there
- I cried because the instructor told me he couldn’t give me a license if I didn’t get it together
- I did get my license the next day regardless; my Dad didn’t leave the parking lot across the street for a week because I was genuinely pretty freakin’ terrible.
By 19-years-old, I was riding an RM 85 because apparently you aren’t supposed to launch moto jumps on your DR 200 dual sport (both courtesy of my awesome Dad). My new obsession was Nitro Circus and freestyle ramps.
That went about as well as the safety course:
- Nobody knew what gear you were supposed to be in on an 85 so I had to wing it
- I crashed a LOT
- I didn’t die, it was fun, and I’d do it again!
My newest obsession is hard enduro because scary is fun! You can find me volunteering at the NSORRA events or during the campfire shenanigans afterwards with the best people.
Contributed by Claudine Laforce, NSORRA’s General Manager. Claudine has been actively encouraging women and girls to join in the fun of dirt biking since she began with NSORRA in 2018.