Out of the Blue | Emma Sharpless | Presented by Schrader’s

By Jensen Amyotte

Presented by Schrader’s

Name: Emma Sharpless

Date of Birth: August 20th, 1999

Hometown: Whitby, ON

School/Grade or Occupation: Recent BScH (Life Sciences) graduate from Queens University, current Smith Graduate Diploma in Business 2021 Candidate at Queens University

Race Number: 951

Bike: KTM 150XCW

Race Club: Off-Road Ontario

Classes: Women’s Pro

This week, we feature Emma Sharpless from Whitby, Ontario. | Sherri Gibson photo

Who/what inspired you to get into the sport of motocross?

Before I was even born my dad had a bike for me, so he was my main inspiration for getting into the sport. When I was only a year old, he had welded up training wheels and attached them to our JR 50, tied a rope to the back to slow me down, and off I went around the field behind our house. He was the one who sparked my love for this sport and supported me and he still to this day gives me full support, inspiring me to do my best. 

When not on a dirt bike how do you keep yourself busy?  

Currently, I am completing the Smith Graduate Diploma in Business at Queen’s University, so that has been taking up almost all of my time lately. When not doing school, I usually keep busy doing various workouts; I aim for 5-6 a week which consist of a mix of HIIT, running, and strength training. I also enjoy getting outside as much as possible and hanging out with friends. 

As a racer, are there any obstacles you feel a female racer has to deal with that maybe a male racer does not?

As I female racer, a challenge I face is my size and strength compared to most men. In difficult terrain, if I get stuck, it takes a lot more time and energy for me to get going again than it would for someone bigger. I have been trying to work on slowing down in tough sections to find the best line to avoid getting stuck. 

Emma with her sister, Megan. | Blair Sharpless photo

What is your favourite track and why?

It’s honestly very hard for me to pick my absolute favourite, I have so much fun every time I get out to race. My favourite track over the past few years has been either the Kearney Sprint Enduro or Gopher Dunes XC.

Kearney is a mix of all terrain, they’ve got the enduro-cross track, tight/technical single track, flowy single track, and a moto track. It’s fun because every section you get to use different skills and techniques from the section before.

Gopher Dunes I love since it’s a very fast race in comparison to the ones I normally do. The trails are quick and although the moto track is very sandy, which is terrain I don’t excel in, I get to try something different than I usually do. 

What event do you look forward to most every year, one you don’t ever want to miss?  

One event I would never want to miss is the Corduroy Enduro. It is one of the most challenging yet fun races I have ever done. I have been going to the Corduroy since I was a little girl so I couldn’t wait to be 16 to ride it! I have raced it 5 times total now. I’ve had some great finishes and some that I didn’t even finish at all, but I have still had a blast every year.

The race as a whole is amazing, it has everything; rocky hill climbs, Enduro cross, sand track, grass track, mud, flowy single track, river crossings, and the list could go on. It’s unique from every other race I have ever done, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a new challenging race! It’s definitely one I will never miss!

Do you have any pre-moto rituals? 

My pre-race rituals I would more call pre-race prep since it mainly just consists of nutrition and hydration. In order for your body to perform the way you want it to you have to fuel it properly. The day before a race, especially if it’s going to be hot, I make sure to drink a lot of water – when I say a lot, I mean A LOT. I get dehydrated very easily so drinking enough water is super important for me. The day of the race I usually have a bit more water and Gatorade or Biosteele. My favourite meals/snacks before a race is chickpea pasta salad, bananas, protein bars, or energy balls! I also always like to stretch before I race to avoid injury. 

Emma is the 2017-2019 Off-Road Ontario Women’s Pro Champion. | Unknown photographer

Tell us about your 2020 race season and your plans for 2021. 

My 2020 race season was not too exciting since there were only a few races that were possible due to the pandemic. That being said, last year was a very leisurely season for me compared to the previous seasons but I still had a lot of fun and managed to win a few races. I hope, as things begin to open up, more races will be possible, and I’ll be able to make it to at least a couple for the 2021 season. Unfortunately, I’m extremely tied up with school until August so it will be difficult to be gone the whole weekend racing, but my sights are set on the 2022 season!

What are your biggest accomplishments to date?

In 2017/2018/2019 I was the Off-Road Ontario Women’s Pro champion and in 2018 I finished 3rd at the Corduroy National Enduro and 2nd in 2019 at La Dore National Enduro in the Women’s Pro class.

What is the biggest lesson that motocross racing/off-road has taught you so far?

Racing has taught me perseverance and determination. There have been times where I have been completely exhausted and in pain, but racing teaches you to push through that pain and make it to the finish. Racing has also taught me a lot about being resilient. Sometimes things go wrong, it’s inevitable. Racing has taught me to accept when things don’t go the way I’d like, try to fix it, and come back stronger. 

What kind of track/dirt do you feel you excel at most and why? 

I feel I excel most on flowy single track as it’s where I feel most comfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I love technical sections just as much, however, I tend to get ahead of myself and get stuck. When I get into the more flowy trails I can get on the gas and ride through smoothly. 

If you ever have children will you give them the option to race as well? 

100%. If I ever have children, I will definitely get them to try racing. If they aren’t into racing, I would love for them to at least know how to ride a bike to go on trail rides or eventually some adventure tours as a family. 

If you could give 1 piece of advice to a female of any age who wants to start riding what would it be?

I would tell them that everyone needs to start somewhere, nobody is going to be a pro the first time they hop on the bike. Like with anything it takes practice, so, don’t get discouraged if you fall off 1 or 100 times. I have fallen off more times than I can count. I also guarantee that you will have support from all other female riders. All the women I know who ride/race want to grow the sport, and are super welcoming to new riders. I love when I go to a race and see new ladies line up at the start!

Emma is so busy with school that she’ll race when she can this summer and shoot for 2022. | DAS Photography photo

What was your first race number and how did you choose it?

My first race number was 13 when I started at club motocross. It was my dad’s old club racing number, so I remember feeling really cool to have his old number. 

What do you like to do in the off season? 

In the off-season I enjoy working out, snowboarding, hiking, cross-country skiing, and skating! I mainly just try to get outside and stay active as much as possible.

Who would you like to thank?

I’d like to thank my dad, mom, and sister for the help and support as well as my sponsors: GP Bikes, Sonic Road Race School, Stadium Suspension and Opti2 oil.

And we’d like to thank Rick Bradshaw at Schrader’s