Enduro Racer Kelli Emmet and Her Cross Training – Advice for Any RiderA few years ago, I broke my foot (no surprise if you have read my other...
A few years ago, I broke my foot (no surprise if you have read my other pieces). I was squidalicious. I also didn't walk for 15 weeks. Once I did start walking, my partner at the time told me he wouldn't let me on a motorized 2-wheeled vehicle until I rode bikes—bicycles.
We started going to the pump track, then I picked up a road bike, and next came the single track. That is where I fell in love. I returned to motos, slowly, but was hooked on Mountain Bikes. It's the single most important exercise I do that directly helps me to ride my motos (street and dirt).
But don't take it from me, take it from pro mountain biker, Kelli Emmett. Kelli is one of the top female mountain bike racers in the world. From XC to Enduro, she crushes. But, Kelli actually rode motos before MTB...
"Mountain biking is great fitness for the moto." Emmet tells us. "Even though I can go a month without riding my dirt bike, I still can ride motos all day. I've notice when I ride with people who do not do any fitness training outside of dirt biking they can get tired after an hour or two of riding."
We sat down with Kelli (who is busy racing in the middle of Enduro World Series for the first all-female pro team Juliana-SRAM) to find out more about her riding.
RA: Which came first, the MTB or dirt?
"Well, it was actually motos first. I was obsessed with riding motos when I was a kid. I grew up on a farm in Michigan and spent my childhood working. I saved up enough money by age 8 to buy this little 75 Honda. I was a total tomboy and would ride that dirt bike up and down the apple tree rows. In high school, I would go to the motorcross track with my brother but never raced. My senior year in high school, I found out about mountain biking. My brother had got hurt on his motorcycle and decided to get into mountain biking instead. Once I started mountain biking, I jumped fully into it and didn’t have much time for anything else besides training. I put the dirt bike up for a while and then about 10 years ago, I decided to buy a YZF250 from a friend in Colorado Springs. Four dirt bikes later, I ride as much as I can on trails between races."
RA: How has riding dirt changed your MTB?
"It's nice now that I am racing Enduros instead of cross country because I feel like there is more of a cross over. The biggest advantage is strength. My upper body and legs are stronger for mountain biking when I can ride on the moto. Moving and picking up a 250 lb. bike is way harder then my 25 lb. mountain bike. On the dirt bike, I am moving at a faster pace and obstacles come up much quicker, so I learn how to find lines at a quicker pace. Also, body positioning is very similar for down hilling, and I can always work on letting the bike move underneath me and bending at the hips. But, I would say the biggest change has been that I’m more comfortable at higher speeds."
RA: When did you do your first moto race?
"Ohh. I didn’t do my first moto race till about 7 years ago. It was a total last minute decision. And, I had no idea what I was doing and I just started riding my brothers XCW 300. It was a big bike and I only rode one day before I raced it at this Enduro outside of Denver. I finished 2nd and had so much fun racing. I was racing XC at the time and vividly remember the difference between the 2 styles of races. During an XC race, you are wanting it to end because it hurts so much. I didn’t want to end and wanted to keep riding. Unfortunately, I travel so much with bike racing at the moment, I don’t have a lot of time to race motos. So, I usually just try and ride when I’m home between races."
RA: What is your current dirt bike?
"It’s a Husaberg TE 250. I’m still a 2 stroke fan."
RA: Did you switch brakes on your moto? Has there ever been any issue with that?
"No, I don’t have any issues crossing over for some reason. It’s very different in my mind."
RA: Obligatory women's question ...Do you ride motos with ladies?
"Yes! I have a couple girl friends who I ride with. I live in Colorado Springs, and we have trails right out the door. We travel all over Colorado to ride together. I have more and more girls asking me about how they can get into moto riding and where they can learn skills. It’s pretty cool. When I started, I was the only one."
Take it from Kelli ...
"It’s easy to get started with mountain biking now a days. You just need to find a quality bike that fits you. I recommend checking out the Juliana’s, of course. But, go to your local bike shop and let them know you are interested in mountain biking or what ever type of riding you would like to do. The sales people should be able to help you find the bike that fits you correctly. Having the right size bike is very important. Once, you’ve find a bike, look into the local riding scene. There are so many clubs hosting group rides for women only and skills clinics. Learning some basic skills can help you improve very quickly."