Out of the Blue | Christine Upton | Schrader’s
By Jeff McConkey
Name: Christine Upton
Birthday: March 20th, 1985
Hometown: Oshawa, Ontario
Occupation: Secondary Teacher
Bike: Yamaha YZ250f
Race Club: N/A
Classes: Ladies, 25 & 30+ Beginner/Junior
How did you get started in racing?
I guess you could say I was at the right place at the right time. A couple of years ago, I was at a New Year’s Eve party, and I met a new friend who is very experienced with all aspects to do with motocross. I was told about a riding school with MMRS as my daughter was showing an interest. The following spring I bought her a PW 50 and took her to the event. As she participated, I saw other female riders and thought it looked fun and I wanted to try. Before committing to the sport, I was told to learn to ride on a TTR 230 and to stay off of the grass and go straight on the track. So I did! I would have to say it has been one of the most challenging experiences both physically and mentally I have ever done. I am now hooked!
As a little girl, did you ever expect to be this deep into a sport like motocross?
Never thought of it!
Do you think motocross is harder for a female to compete in?
Not at all.
Who is your favourite rider and why?
I would have to say I don’t have enough experience in the sport to pick a favourite rider just yet, but I am working on it! I like the fact that John Dowd started racing later in life.
Is there one lady racer out there that you think has paved the way for other girls to be successful in the sport?
I have to give my friend Kristina Sundal some love. After seeing her ride and the style she has, it inspired me. Growing up playing hockey together I knew she raced motocross but I never fully understood it. Now I do, and I give her a lot of credit for balancing a career, hockey, injuries, etc.
We had an opportunity to ride together at the end of last year. At this point, I had a lot of confidence but zero skill. Kristina took me aside and told me to slow down, focus on style, and learn to control the bike and not have it control me. Hearing this advice made me think about developing my style and the importance of feeling relaxed on the bike. As someone starting out it can feel intimidating getting out on the track, however, when experienced lady racers provide encouragement and give critiques to us beginners, I believe that helps build confidence.
What Canadian Pro do you look up to and why?
To be honest, I am just amazed at how fast all the Pros go and how they can even see while they are going so fast. Some of the Canadian Pros are so young and knowing how mentally and physically demanding the sport it is I am amazed at their dedication.
What is your favourite track and why?
I enjoy the challenge and excitement of trying different places and how you have to improve your skills to adapt to various terrains and layouts. However, having two little girls who are learning to ride, too, I would say Motopark is a great facility that has experienced instructors, fun camp programs, and some of my favorite people who are now like family. It is a place you feel welcome every time you go.
Who is your hero?
My mom and dad for endless reasons.
What are your goals for this season?
I want to continue riding as often as possible and develop some style! I am learning real quick how vital fitness is both on and off the bike, so I want to focus on that this year.
What are your biggest accomplishments?
Taking this on with zero experience. Also, last March I drove my two girls and my mom (for some help) to Georgia to ride at Durham Town which showed me how many cool opportunities go hand in hand with this sport. Finally, having a good selection of gear to wear!
What is your favourite part about going to the races?
I love the sound at the start and the feeling you get in your stomach right before the gate drops. I also enjoy seeing how hours of practicing pan out in different race scenarios.
What do you like to do when you aren’t racing?
Hot yoga to recover and I play hockey with friends.
Is it important to have a motocross racer as a boyfriend/husband or just a bonus?
Yes and no. I enjoy that this sport can be independent and you don’t have to rely on anyone. However, it is also a sport that is fun to do with other people who share the same passion.
If you ever have children, will they be motocross racers?
I love the fact that I started this sport because my daughter showed an interest in riding. Now my other daughter loves it just as much. It is cool that the three of us share the same desire to ride, that’s for sure.
Who do you want to thank?
I would like to thank you, Jeff, for this opportunity and answering a million of my questions when I was starting out and of course suggesting I take my daughter to that motocross school. I want to thank Blair Conway at One Shift Away and Davin Grose at Motomechca for helping me with any bike issues. I also want to shout out to Mikey and Cooper at Motopark for always giving the girls and I constructive feedback. Last but not least, the friends I have met along the way who encourage us to keep practicing and have fun!