Off the Cuff with Jacqueline Ross | First Mini O’s Since 2007

By Jacqueline Ross

Greetings, Humans! 

Ever met someone that you didn’t know you needed to meet?  People say it’s fate, divine timing, destiny, or it’s meant to be. Call it what you will, give it to God, Buddha, the universe, a higher power, or whoever you believe in.  Maybe you don’t believe in anyone, but have you ever wondered what your life would be like had you not met a certain person at a particular time?  We don’t meet people by accident.  They are meant to cross our path.  Every person has a story and every story and person has a possibility for a connection.  There’s a grander purpose to all of this.  Without further ado, here we go!  A story within a story and divine timing at its finest hour.  

About a month-and-a-half ago, I made the decision and set a goal on racing Motocross at The Mini O’s.  Fun fact: this was my first time racing a Motocross National in the United States in 14 years!  I had recently listened to a speech from Denzel Washington.  He says, “Do you have the guts to fail?” I do now.

The old me was afraid to.  What if I don’t win? Well, you’ll accept the loss, but never be defeated.  That was my new mentality.  Sure, I’ve “talked” about racing this event over the past years, but something always seemed to come up.  You know, life stuff, work, injuries, or I didn’t think I was “ready.”

Well, I’ll put my own self on blast…in the past years I wasn’t as committed as my goal required me to be.  I came to the realization that I am the problem and I am also the solution to this goal of mine.  I woke up one morning in October, looked myself in the eyes in the bathroom mirror and said, “Here’s the deal, Jacqueline.  You’re going to accept complete ownership.  It’s
YOU versus YOU. You’re going to give 120% every day, your best effort every day, stay the course and see it through no matter what.  No one can stop you, but you

Fast forward to Tuesday, November 23…

Jacqueline on the line with her dad, Joe.

Joe Ross (My dad, but wearing his “Coach and Mechanic” hat, so we’ll refer to him as Joe) and I make the 3-hour journey to Gainesville and arrive at Gatorback Cycle Park.  Quite frankly, I’ve never been this excited or physically and mentally prepared in my entire racing life.  I feel great knowing that I’ve stayed committed to my goal, put in the hard work and effort, and am ready to go have a blast doing what I love. 

Practice gets underway and goes extremely well.  I feel so connected to the bike and the track and am loving every moment. I’m so stoked to get racing underway! 

I’ve signed up to race Women 12+.  The Women 12+ class is stacked with 55 great riders and we have two divisions!  Never have I ever had to qualify for a Women’s class race!  That alone says a lot about how much the sport has evolved and grown over the last decade.  Into staging we go and I’m feeling like I’m on cloud nine. 

Just so you know, the ninth cloud, Cumulonimbus, is actually the highest of all clouds.  So, being on “cloud nine” means you’re as high up in the sky as you can be! 

Through staging we go and into the starting gates.  The 2 card comes out, flips to 1, goes sideways, the gate drops and we’re off.  Being on the KTM150, one of the few competitive two-strokes in a four-stroke-dominated class, I am well aware that I am going to be at a disadvantage on the start.  I don’t allow this to deter me.  I come around the first turn around mid-pack and I start threading the needle. 

By the time we make it half a lap and to the high speed, street-side sweeper I’m into the top 5.  We’re movin’ on up like George and Weezie! Sir Isaac Newton once said, “What goes up must come down.”  He wasn’t kidding!

From being on cloud nine to next thing I know I’m on the ground, laying on my back, everything has turned to black, and I can’t get up.  I just lay there; a complete rarity.  When I crash I usually hop up like a ninja, unless something is wrong. 

Jacqueline with George.

I start to hear a voice and slowly open my eyes.  I’m starting to come to, but it’s just so bright outside, I can barely see.  This man with this head full of white hair is crouched down over top of me.  All I can think of is, “this is either George (A family friend) or Jesus!” 

Thankfully, it’s George and he’s with a medic.  They explain to me that I had encountered a high speed crash through the sweeper and was knocked out for about 30 seconds.  I have no idea what has happened other than I need to find my bike, get going, and finish this race. 

The medic and I exchange a few words. He doesn’t think I should get back on the bike, let alone ride it to the checkers.  Little does he know that I’ve been waiting 14 years for this moment. 

Back on my bike I go, finish the lap, and wait at the bottom of the hill to take the checkered flag.  Much respect to the medic for looking out for my safety as I have no idea how I even managed to get on the bike and ride it the remainder of that lap.  I was a bit off kilter – more so than usual!

Well, this is definitely not what I envisioned my debut back at The Mini O’s would entail: A crash that involves being knocked out, finishing last in my division and now heading to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ).  I can assure you I didn’t dream this dream! 

Thankfully, I’m not injured, just a few bumps and bruises; the easy things to deal with.  It’s always the mental stuff…that’s the real challenge.  Not many people are willing to discuss that, especially top level athletes.  So, let me tear down that barrier. 

Regardless, if you race motocross or not, no one has immunity to not having to deal with their thoughts, feelings, and emotions.  Needless to say, after 3 mini meltdowns, a few walks, multiple staff meetings (where I talk to myself), texts and calls from my closest humans, and a 26-minute car ride chat from Gatorback to the Air BnB with Joe Ross, I’ve got myself in a little bit of a better headspace.  Little do I know of the blessing that the universe has in store for me as soon as I walk into the Air BnB.  Drum roll please, as this woman is an angel in the flesh, MaryElla.  

Jacqueline with MaryElla.

MaryElla not only used to race motocross, she is an avid world traveler, hiker, kayaker, volunteer, and just all around good human.  Oh yeah, there’s one more thing. 3 years ago, on her commute into work, MaryElla was riding her street bike and was involved in a horrific accident which caused her to lose her left leg.  Guess what?  If I hadn’t have shared that with you, you would’ve never had known.  No pity parties, woe is me, or negative vibes for MaryElla. Despite this adversity that was totally out
of her control, she continues to have an incredible attitude and live her life to the fullest EVERY DAY!  A light shines from within this woman that demands to be felt.

After feeling the light of MaryElla, thinking that I saw Jesus, all of the support and encouragement from my closest of humans, and choosing to stay committed and see this goal of mine through, I’m regrouped and ready for my next battle. 

I holeshot and win the LCQ, and qualify to race Moto 2 for the Women’s 12+ class.  We’ve got the good momentum rolling again, only to encounter yet another obstacle in the form of another crash!  This time it’s right off the start and into the first corner!  I can’t make this up!  Let me put it to you this way…If it hadn’t have happened, I wouldn’t have believed it! 

As I am laying on the ground, once again, all I can hear is MaryElla’s voice in my head, “You got to keep going.”  Also, I immediately think of every kid I have ever taught.  I always say how important it is to never give up, no matter what.  What kind of coach would I be if I didn’t lead by example? 

By the time I got back on the bike, I was 27 seconds behind and in 42nd place.  I put my head down and started the charge. I finished the moto in 9th.

With the circumstances that I encountered this week, I learned a few things.  Everything I’ve ever done has prepared me for what I am doing and it’s not about the win, it’s the will to win.  Not just motocross races, but aspects of life.

Content and eager for more,