When a person thinks of a 14-year-old girl, they probably usually don’t immediately picture dirt, loud motors and big jumps. But they might if they know Sara King.
King is an amateur motocross racer from right here in Fort St. James, and she travels all over during the racing season, riding her Honda 150 cc four stroke motorbike over huge jumps and through rough tracks, racking up the honours as she goes.
And it’s not always the gentlest sport either, but she must be doing something right, as she has only had one major injury.
“I have had a lot more bad crashes, but I haven’t broken anything other than my collarbone, so I got off pretty lucky,” said King. But the races can still make her mom a little nervous.
“I don’t watch a whole lot,” said her mom, Kathy King, explaining how she is careful where she chooses to watch from. “The definition of a good weekend is she’s still walking and the bike’s still running.”
Sara recently raced in Raymond, Alberta at the Western Canadian Amateur Motorsports Championships on a sand track she described as “pretty gnarly.”
“It’s probably the craziest track I’ve ever ridden,” she said.
After riding in two classes over three days, she came out second in the Ladies ‘A’ class, winning $275 for her efforts, and eleventh out of 41 riders in the super-mini class, in which there was only one other girl racing.
She has also just completed the spring series of races for the Prince George Motocross Association, in which she placed first in the ladies, and third in the super-mini.
King has been racing since she was about eight years old, when she travelled to a motocross race her cousin Steven was in with her aunt and uncle. She had a small trail bike at the time and they took it along for her to ride around while she was there and her aunt ended up entering her into a race.
She must have liked it, because she’s been racing ever since.
Her mom Kathy said in those earlier years, there weren’t as many races, and the circuit was smaller, so they only raced every other or every third weekend.
But things have gotten much busier since then, and the family has been on the road a lot this year already, with five weekends in a row, then one off and then the recent race in Raymond, and then they head to Terrace.
“The circuit’s grown and she’s gotten more competitive, where she wants to be on her bike all the time,” said Kathy.
But Sara doesn’t necessarily get a lot of time to train on her bike, between the racing and the wet weather the area has had this spring.
“So I’ve just been going from race to race and hoping that all my competitors haven’t been practicing that much,” she said.
It seems to be working for her so far at least.
The hectic travel schedule is expensive for the family, but they do it for Sara, and Kathy is grateful for the help they do get, with the fuel for theirs and another local motocross family — the Constantines — fuel bills being paid for by the sponsorship of a few local businesses, “which is huge for us,” said Kathy.
And the competition is getting better, if more demanding as she goes.
When King started, she used to have to race against all boys, but now there are more girls at the races, with some courses, like Kamloops and Pemberton, drawing female riders from the Lower Mainland.
However, there are still only a few women in the north, so at some races, the competition is limited.
“That’s why she rides in the super-mini with the boys, ‘cause there’s good competition there,” explained Kathy.
And she must have earned some respect amongst her fellow racers, parents and officials, because last year, she was awarded the Orin Short Memorial Trophy at the year-end banquet. The trophy is awarded for most sportsmanlike athlete amongst the Prince George Motocross Association, which includes most of the interior of B.C.
“She was quite humbled with that,” said Kathy.
While the family heads to Terrace after this goes to print, the next big race for Sara will be in Kamloops in September, with three days of racing over the long weekend.