Sarah Whitmore is one of the fastest women on the planet when it
comes to riding a dirt bike. We know it takes a lot of strength to go
fast on a motocross bike, so she must be big, right? Nothing could be
further from the truth when it comes to Sarah. She may be taller than
most girls at 5 feet 8 inches, but her listed weight of 126 lbs. seems
heavy. Although she trains routinely and admits to working hard on her
strength, she still maintains her feminine side while achieving the
highest accolades as an athlete. Since strength and conditioning are
such an integral part of racing, Virtual Trainer decided to call Sarah
and find out how she maintains a woman’s physique while competing in
such a physical sport.
Racer X: Hey, Sarah, what are you up to today?
|Richardson's RV Yamaha's Sarah Whitmore |
Sarah Whitmore: Not much, it’s early out here in California. I’m actually getting ready to go ride here in a little while.
That’s cool. I caught your segment on MTV when you were at Pastrana’s. Any backflipping plans for today?
[Laughs] No, not today.
What was it like being on MTV?
It was pretty cool. Like, the other night we were at Outback having
dinner and the waitress was like, “You really look familiar,” and
asking me if I had ever been in there before. And then she figured it
out and said that she recognized me from riding on MTV. So that was
kind of cool to get noticed.
Let’s talk a little bit about your background in MX and how you train. First off, how old are you and when did you start riding?
I’m 21 years old, and I started riding when I was about 7. I wanted to
ride when I was a little younger, like when I was 4, but I crashed into
the house. And I rode a little when I was 5 but got scared. So I really
started up when I was 7.
How long have you been racing the WMA series?
Well, I raced one race in 2000 when I was 16. I've been pretty much full-time since then, so about six years now.
Did you train much as an amateur?
As an amateur, I just rode a lot. I used to run some, and then I
started going to the gym when I was 15. I didn’t really know what I was
doing back then at the gym, so riding was my main source of training.
were some of the misconceptions regarding training you had as an
amateur that you do differently now that you're a professional rider?
Well, when I first started going to the gym when I was younger, I
pretty much just did what everyone else was doing. I used to lift
weights, not really knowing how much weight to use or how many reps to
do and stuff like that. I guess I used to lift using a lot of weight
and maybe only one or two reps. I definitely don’t do that anymore, and
when I do lift weights, I use really light weights and high reps. But
it stinks because I look kind of funny when I’m at the gym lifting
five-pound weights and I can barely get them up and stuff. I’m pretty
much a weakling!
Do you have a trainer?
Yeah, I train with Kevin Barda out here in California. I just started
training with him since I moved to California. He's the first trainer
I've ever had. I haven’t been in California for very long, so we're
really just starting out.
Does he work with you full-time, or does he have other clients?
I guess he works with me full-time, but he's also a professor at a
college. I don’t see him every day or anything like that. He helps set
up my training program and guides me through it. He's like my training
read on your website that you lift weights, run, and do kickboxing.
Those are three awesome supplements for MX. Strength training is
crucial for women. Do you feel that the strength issue is the main
difference between the men and women when it comes to MX?
It's definitely the biggest issue. That and the fact that girls are
usually more timid than the guys. Everyone always tries to tell me that
you don’t need strength to race and that great form and technique is
how you go fast. But these are usually guys that weigh 175 pounds and
are way stronger than me. I don’t think that's true at all. It’s really
difficult to go fast on a rough track if you're not strong. Guys are
just naturally stronger, so they have a definite advantage there. Guys
also have more of a tough, can’t-hurt-me-type mentality, where I think
girls are naturally more mellow. Guys are usually just more aggressive.
As much as we like to think that we're as tough as the guys and just
don’t care, all of us have that motherly instinct. Girls are just born
Are any of your female competitors just exceedingly strong compared
to the rest of the girls, like the Williams sisters are in tennis?
Well, I don’t know about that, but I do know that all of my competition
is stronger than me. Jessica Patterson is pretty strong, and so is my
teammate Tarah Gieger. All you have to do is look at them and you can
tell they're very strong athletes. I've always been the weakling. I
know this because at the races, like, the day before the race when we
have free time, my friends and I will do stuff like arm wrestle. Not so
much at the WMAs but at the local races, and it just makes me laugh
because I’ll get beat by a 14-year-old! They feel all cool and stuff
and say, “I just beat Sarah Whitmore at arm wrestling,” but then we go
out on the track and I beat them. They may be stronger, but I’m faster [laughs].
Wow, I can’t imagine how fast you're going to be in the future when
your trainer gets done with you. Just look how much faster Ricky
Carmichael is now than before Aldon Baker got his hands on him!
Yeah, strength is definitely an issue for me. I used to tell the guy
that was doing my suspensions that I needed the best setup out there
because if the suspension wasn’t just right, then it was really hard
for me to control the bike. If I start to swap in the whoops or a rough
section, I’m just not strong enough to muscle through it and save it
like the guys. I’ll end up on the ground.
Yeah, that can even be a bigger issue now that the four-strokes have
taken over, especially since that bike is a little heavier than the
two-stroke. I read that you weren’t comfortable on the 250F at first.
Is that starting to change?
Yeah, it is now. I'm definitely getting more comfortable on the
four-stroke. I've been riding the new bike every day and adapting to
it. I think I didn’t like it when I first rode one because the old
frames just felt so heavy. But with the aluminum frames, it's so much
lighter and feels so much better to ride. They turn really well and
handle so much better.
Check back on Monday for Part 2 of our conversation with Sarah Whitmore.