The number of women in the world who ride motorcycles is steadily increasing, but it’s still a pretty low number. Lower still are the numbers of motorcycle stunt women who exist in the world, but even if Jolene Van Vugt were one of many, I’m pretty sure she’d still be a rock star.
At 36 years old and having survived a scrape with death, she’s a successful Hollywood stuntwoman and is now featured in a spot for Indian Motorcycles. “For me,” she says, “there’s never been any other way.” Learning about this woman and what she’s done with her life. I believe her.
She was born in London, Ontario, Canada in 1980. Her father and older brother were avid motocrossers, and at the age of 11 she convinced her parents to buy her a dirt bike. At fourteen she was apparently showing some disinterest in the sport. Her parents told her to practice riding or give it up. She didn’t give it up.
She won a bunch of provincial motocross championships in Ontario and 9th place overall in the Womens Motocross Association. She played a large part in creating the Canadian Women’s National Championship, a national series which she won in its inaugural season.
She befriended Travis Pastrana who helped her learn to do a backflip on her dirt bike; she became the first woman to flip a full-sized dirt bike over 60 ft ramp to dirt. She began participating in the Nitro-circus, the otherwise fully testosterone-fuelled “extreme” action sports extravaganza, where she made a name for herself.
It was in that circus where she suffered a terrible injury and ultimately walked away, knowing she would be forever tied to the accident if she stayed there. The motorcycle stunt rider gig seems to be working out quite well for her.
“I can say with enough fire, passion, and commitment, we can all live the lives we were born to live.”
Rock on, Jolene!