Out of the Blue | Taylor Athay | Presented by Schrader’s

By Jensen Amyotte

Brought to you by Schrader’s

Name: Taylor Athay 
Date of Birth: October 27, 1997
Hometown: Oakville, ON
Occupation: HR for a global construction tool company
Race Number: 279
Bike: YZ 250FX
Race Club: AMO
Classes: Ladies B

This week, we feature #279 Taylor Athay from Oakville, Ontario. | Tusk Photography photo

Who/what inspired you to get into the sport of motocross and how long have you been racing/riding?

My dad has always rode dirt bikes so I have been around them my whole life. He got my little brother and me our own bikes so we could join him in the trails when I was pretty young. No one would have thought I would ever be into motocross because I was always very cautious and didn’t enjoy getting dirty when I was a kid. I have always been very athletic; I grew up playing soccer, was a competitive gymnast, and then got into All-Star Cheerleading which became my passion.

Fast forward to summer 2019, I had just graduated from Western, finished my last year of collegiate cheer and had no sport or passion to come home to. I decided to get back on my old Honda 150R and try riding around at some tracks. I would ride any chance I got and decided this was going to be my new passion. I bought myself a YZ250FX and started practicing as much as I could.

I like to set goals for myself each season with one of them in 2021 being to try a race some day. At the start of the 2021 season, my plans were expedited when I was going to watch my boyfriend race but the COVID restrictions wouldn’t allow spectators. The way to get me into the race was if I were signed up as a racer too. There was no pressure for me to actually go and race, but I like challenges so I decided I would give it a go.

My first race was at Gopher Dunes. I was really nervous but ended up loving it. I am now in my second season of racing AMO and having so much fun with it.

Taylor comes from the world of competitive cheerleading.

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

I’m sure there are plenty of guys that do run into the same obstacles, but my personal experience has been trying to find a bike that is good for my size. I miss the days that I could touch the ground and pick my bike up! I have been working on my strength to be more independent moving my bike around (sorry to everyone that has had to pick my bike up off me – I appreciate you). Another would definitely be finding gear to fit…my gear bag is a mixture of kids’ sizes and men’s kits so it’s either too big or too small.

From your first ride to where you are now what is something you never thought you would be able to overcome but have?

Looking back at my first time on a motocross track, I would have never thought I would be racing or even improved as much as I have. I am really proud of the progress I have made and plan to keep pushing. Coming from cheerleading at a high level and competing at the World Championships, riding has been a very humbling experience for me being so used to excelling at something and now having to start over and learn something new. I have learned to be patient and put the time in to see results and I have doubted myself a lot but I am so excited to see how much more I can improve.

Who has been your biggest inspiration/hero on and off the track?

I have Nych Burnside (#313) to thank for where I am today and is someone I look up to both on and off the track. I have never met anyone so multi-talented from racing motocross, to hopping on a race sled for the first time and racing snowcross. He is by far one of the hardest working people I know balancing full-time work and racing on weekends. Nych is such a well-rounded and kind person, and the first one running onto the track to help someone when they’re down. I admire his strength, his resilience and appreciate how much he helps me and motivates me when I doubt myself.

She entered her first race as a way to get through the gate during the pandemic.

Tell us about your 2021 race season and your plans for 2022.

As mentioned before, my 2021 race season began very unexpectedly. I only managed to make it to a few races last year, but I had lots of fun and learned a lot. AMO has a really awesome schedule with lots of different tracks for 2022 so I am looking forward to racing a handful of them. I got to race at Auburn Hills which was really neat since I had never been there before. I am out there to have a good time and grow my skills which is what I plan to do again this year. I am going to keep riding as much as I can and hopefully minimize the amount of ‘dirt naps’ I take on the track LOL…

What is the biggest lesson that motocross racing has taught you so far?

I always thought motocross was a physically demanding sport (which it absolutely is), but I have found that your head can play a huge part in your performance which is something I didn’t expect. You can get on a bike and have lots of skill, but when you get out onto the line it’s a whole different experience. I have learned the importance of self confidence and thinking strategically. You need to be just as strong mentally as you are physically.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I wish I had a crystal ball, but what I can tell you is that I will definitely still be riding. I have a demanding career which I am eager to grow in so I value the time I get to practice whether its after work or on weekends. Ideally, I would love to own a house with some land so we can build a track to ride whenever with friends. Maybe get a dog (or 3) and travel around seeing new places and new tracks.

Nych is such a well-rounded and kind person, and the first one running onto the track to help someone when they’re down. I admire his strength, his resilience and appreciate how much he helps me and motivates me when I doubt myself.”

What was your first fear when you started riding and how did you overcome it?

When I was younger I watched my brother get run over by another rider at a track which kind of stuck with me. When I first started riding I was really scared of getting in the way of others, since I was slower and thought that my ponytail would make me stick out. I learned to just hold my line, ride smart and I have had a lot other riders tell me not to worry about it which has made me feel better about being out there. I like to remind myself that everyone has to start somewhere!

A lot of people ask me if I am scared of getting hurt which surprisingly I really wasn’t when I first started (probably from being dropped in cheer enough times lol) BUT after a few broken bones, I am starting to be a bit smarter with what I am hitting and letting go of the bike when things go south instead of it taking me for a ride.

What do you like to do in the off season?

I really wish there wasn’t an off season! But in the winter months I love to snowboard, snowmobile and travel.

Who would you like to thank? 

My friends and family for cheering me on! Special shoutout to my dad & brother for helping with my bike (my mom tried once so thank you for trying), Nych & Christie for their amazing support and helping me live my dream! Thank you to Holeshot Designs for always making me look good out there and to Motocamp Canada for a place to ride in the summer.

Huge thank you to Schrader’s