Catching Up with… Brittany Gagne
By Jeff McConkey
Fitness can always be improved, and you can always work on your speed, but with heart, some people are born with it, and some aren’t. Brittany Gagne is a rider with all 3 tools, but will most likely be remembered for her heart during the 8th and final moto of the 2016 Women’s East Nationals.
The rain started coming down hard at RJ’s in Barrie, Ontario, and Gagne was sprinting away from the pack. She had the win in the bag when disaster struck. She dabbed her right leg in the mud and instantly blew out her knee. She gritted her teeth and showed everyone a ton of heart as she finished the race in 2nd, only losing one position to champion Eve Brodeur. Moments like that are what champions are made of. We caught up with the friendly American and this is what she had to say.
Direct Motocross: Hey Brittany, how’s it going?
Brittany Gagne: Hey Jeff! Not bad actually, just trying to stay warm. (Laughs)
What have you been up to since we last saw you at the RJ’s National?
Well, I had knee reconstruction surgery 3 weeks after the injury at RJ’s. The surgeon found a lot more wrong once I went into surgery. What we thought was an ACL/MCL surgery turned into a reconstruction surgery. So they got it all fixed up and I have been recovering.
For the people who don’t know your story, tell us a little about yourself and where you are from.
I’m 23. I’m from New Hampshire, moved to Montana for 2 years. Recently moved back to NH. I’ve raced alongside my brother, Lane, for 13 years (minus the 2 years I was in MT). I raced the Canadian Women’s class back in 2008 for one round then a few rounds of WMX in the states over the years. In 2015, I did two of the East Coast Rounds finishing 9th overall with a 3rd at Sand Del Lee and a 3rd at Ulverton.
Being from New Hampshire/Montana, how did you end up racing up in Canada?
It was all my dad’s idea, honestly. We heard that they had a good series/environment. At the time my brother was on 85s and he got to race what they called the amateur day. I did the amateur day and the National too.
Since coming up, what is it about the series that keeps you coming back?
The environment and the people. Everyone works hard to put on a good series for us ladies; from the event organizers and helpers, to the media. That’s really nice to see. Not only that but I liked all 4 tracks this year. It’s just an overall good and fun experience.
Is there one moment that sticks out in your mind as a high point, and maybe one that sticks out as a low point in your Canadian races do far?
High point was definitely RJ’s second moto. Even though I ended up sustaining a pretty significant injury, I felt like everything just clicked that moto. I was having the most fun I have had all year. It would have been nice to win, but that, to me, proved I had the speed.
Low point was probably Gopher Dunes first moto. I fell twice and didn’t ride like I knew I was capable of. I’m definitely looking to redeem myself this year.
It seems like there are honestly 3 of you ladies fighting for the podiums every week, Eve Brodeur, Shannon Fleming and yourself. What is it going to take to beat those two?
Both of them are fast, solid riders. I definitely think I have the drive and dedication off the bike. I need to put in time on the bike, especially in the off season. Right now I’m focused on recovering fully then I’ll focus on seat time.
You mentioned your first moto struggles at a Gopher Dunes. Being from New Hampshire, do you have anything even remotely close to prepare you for arguably the roughest track in North America?
There is Southwick in Massachusetts. I used to ride there all the time. That’s where I did a few WMX races in the past. It’s sand and it gets gnarly. But that being said, it’s still different than Gopher. Before Gopher it had been a few years since I rode sand.
Ok, you’re now back in New Hampshire, is the plan to have your brother, Lane, push you to the next level on the bike?
I think being able to have my brother and my dad behind me from the second I get back on the bike through the year will be huge. Not only for getting faster but for my confidence as well. I am looking forward to learning as much as possible from my brother on the bike. I can’t wait to start riding again and get back to doing what I love most with my family.
Speaking of younger brother Lane, will we be seeing him at all of the East rounds or just the 4 Women’s East with you?
I know we will be at the 4 rounds the women do, for sure. Other than that most of the plans are kind of up in the air right now.
So, what’s the game plan and goals for this season?
Well, once I get cleared to ride, I’ll start training on the bike and go harder in the gym. My main goal is to recover good so I can get on the bike asap. Goals for this season are to be solid every time the gate drops and ride like I know I can. I also want to better my number 3 and I know I’ll have fun as long as I’m on my bike. I’ll be riding and with my family as a team, so I know it’s going to be a good time.
You have a great family and group of supporters behind you, how bout you give them some love.
First off, always have to thank my mom and dad, they do so much and they are the reason why I got into this amazing sport. Also, my brother, Lane, for always supporting me and being there with advice, my grandparents for sponsoring me, Factory Connection, FMF, ODI, Gaerne, Sunstar, 6D Helmets, Dunlop, Lynks Racing, Leatt, Moto Tape, Pat Gagne Logging, Gagne and Sons Logging, Tigercat Equipment, 139 Designs and anyone else who helps me. It means a lot.
Well, thanks for the time, Brittany, best of luck on the recovery and we will see you at the Dunes.
Thanks Jeff and Direct Motocross. Always great talking to you.