Motocross: Yes, She Can.....
Motocross has come a long way in South Africa since its spike in the 1980’s, especially for women, who now have their own class, in which to compete in. South Africa has a history of top motorcycle figures, such as Brian Capper, 2002 winner of the Roof of Africa; Tyla Rattray, winner of the FIM MX2 world championship in 2008; and who could forget SA’s current motorcycle ‘it-boy’, Brad Binder, who is currently racing in Moto2 after becoming world champion in Moto3 last year.
The common theme within these notable riders, they are all men. This raises the question – what about the women in motorsport? Women’s ability to compete in motocross was not achieved without struggle, and arduous work. The first competition that women were allowed to compete in was the “Powder Puff” National Championship which took place in 1974 in the U.S.A. The Women’s Motocross Association, which later changed to WMX, was only formed in 2004, and was created to allow women into the motocross industry. Today, women’s motocross is a highly popular sport in many countries, including South Africa.
This interest in motocross, by women, is shared by 17-year-old South African, Nadja Meiburg. Nadja competes in the Ladies/MX over 35 combined class, with the number 41, and is currently 3rd in the Zone 7 - SpeedSpot MX MSA Club Championship for 2017, which is based in Cape Town. Meiburg started riding one and a half years ago, but came 2nd when participating in an interprovincial race, and, in 2016, she received her WP colours.
She decided to take up motocross professionally after her father encouraged her to, as she would ride with him, and eventually he took her for MX training. She cites her dad for being one of her biggest inspirations in the sport, for his unconditional support, and help in allowing her to follow this passion. Another icon she looks up to is German motocross and supercross rider, Ken Roczen, as she says he has a ‘really good riding style.’ Roczen is also a MX2 world champion, and has achieved many other titles.
Meiburg is passionate about motocross and intends on turning this passion into a career, as she would like to compete nationally and internationally. Her favourite part of the sport is competing and consistently learning new techniques. She loves the positive motocross community, and says it has a ‘good vibe.’ She also mentions how her bike allows her to have a lot of fun.
Meiburg rides the Kawasaki KX250F 2017 model, which she purchased from Primrose Motorcycles Centre, located in Germiston, Gauteng. Although she competes in the Ladies MX class, she has competed against guys. She participated in a regional race against the 85cc class and says that ‘it inspired the guys to give their best and for me to push myself more.’ She has also competed in the over 35’s class and enjoyed it thoroughly.
This new wave of young women competing and participating in motorsports inspires girls around the world to explore biking, especially motocross. With people like Italian 4x women’s mx world champion, Kiara Fontanesi, leading the way, women and girls are shown that motocross is not only something they can get involved in, it is something they can excel in, and Nadja Meiburg is on her way there.