When it comes to telling you about the athletic requirements of being a motocross rider, Red Bull’s Tarah Geiger will do you one better: She'll show you. Like when she rode her dirtbike virtually naked—clad only in a pair of Tech 10 boots—for eight hours as the first motocross rider to be featured in ESPN's prestigious Body Issue. Or perhaps when she became the first woman to race in the Motocross of Nations, or took home the gold medal at the X Games' first women's motocross event. Whether it's rebounding from injuries, battling naysayers in a male-dominated sport, or mastering the mechanics of her bike, one thing's for certain: Geiger is a woman of action.
Is is true you started off as a surfer?
I started surfing when I was real little; my parents are both surfers, so it was not really my decision at first. I do still love surfing whenever I get a break from training and racing.
Were your parents OK with you leaving the water for the dirt track?
My parents are very supportive of what I do. When I first got a dirtbike there was no intention of racing, but I really took to the sport and we just kept going with it. They have been behind my racing ever since the beginning.
You've said it's a struggle to get women's racing respected. Have you met with any resistance as a female rider?
A lot of people try to compare us to the men who race and in turn say we aren’t good enough to be given the opportunities we have been given. It’s like for every one supporter of women's racing there are three that feel we shouldn’t be given any opportunities on the professional level of the sport.
How much do you need to know about the mechanics of a motorcycle as a racer?
It’s really beneficial to setting up a bike if you understand what makes it do what it does. But the truth is that most of the pro men that race couldn’t do more than oil the chain on the bike! I do a lot of my own bike work right now.
What have been some of your gnarliest injuries?
I always say I have been pretty fortunate with injuries over my career, but in 2005 I shattered my pelvis in January, then in July while battling for the [FIM Women’s World Motocross Championship] I broke my C1 vertebrae in my neck. Other than that, it has been minor fractures here and there.
You were the first woman to race in the Motocross of Nations, and you took gold in the X Games' first Women's Moto X event. What other accomplishments are you really proud of?
Those are two really great accomplishments for me, but the other one that comes to mind was winning my second national championship exactly one year after breaking my neck. I heard a lot of people saying I would never be a factor for the win again, so it felt really nice to accomplish that.
What was the transition from motocross to Endurocross (a hybrid of Supercross, trials, and endurance racing) like for you?
The transition has been a lot tougher than I expected. Even though I raced professionally for almost 10 years, not a whole lot transfers over to Endurocross. It has been a lot of learning and struggling; I still have so much more to learn, but it's exciting.
Clue us in: How does a racer cross-train for races, or is it all about being on the bike?
Bike time is really important. You can’t get better at something unless you actually do it, but cross-training is really beneficial for a lot of reasons. During pre-season training I spend four days a week in the gym, as well as cycling.
Who are some Endurocross or motocross athletes you've always looked up to and why?
I’ve looked up to different people at different times, really. Right now I am pretty psyched on Mike Brown. He is a legend racer who has won national motocross championships, raced the Baja 1000, and has also made the transition to Endurocross—and almost won the championship in it last year. It’s just awesome to see someone so passionate about racing and how talented he is to compete at that level in so many different disciplines.
You were the first rider ever to be featured in ESPN's Body Issue; what was it like riding around in the nude?
I was pretty excited about being asked to be featured in the Body Issue. I didn’t actually know I was going to be riding naked, but it turned out really good and it is a great story at parties to be able to say, "I rode a motorcycle naked for eight hours." I don’t see myself pulling up to the track and deciding to ride naked just for the heck of it anytime soon, though. [Laughs.]
What's next for you?
This year I am focusing on the Endurocross Championships as well as the summer X Games in Austin [Texas in June].
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