Women in racing and riding off-road are indeed a special bunch. While the numbers of women in the sport appear to be growing – we are still in the minority of a mostly male dominated sport. I have often wondered how many women are in the industry working behind the scenes… Many unsung hero’s within the sport that do a bit more than you may imagine. We tend to find ourselves taking on tasks that used to be thought of as mans-work maybe because women are pretty organized and driven to do well – we like to prove we can do tasks that may be out of our wheelhouse. There are women right now in our industry designing, building, procuring, organizing and so much more… Its also pretty fabulous when you learn about the women that are working to increase women’s participation within the sport and we can truly learn so much from each other.
I am not aware of many females promoting off-road racing series – however I have recently become aware of a pretty cool woman that is a wonderful mother of two beautiful children and enjoys horse riding, off-road racing, snow biking and promotes a pretty sweet series in Montana! She is definitely fierce and ambitious… Meet
Julia Anne Caruana from Montana’s Premiere Off Road Dirt Bike Racing Series – Montana XC Series and her business, 5th Gear Productions!
First Let Me First Say CONGRATULATIONS To Julia – With her first WIN in Womens C at the Coal Mine Coulee XC this past weekend!!!
How old are you and where do you live?I’m now 38 years old, and I live near Three Forks, Montana.
How did you get interested in riding? and how old were you when you started?I got my first dirt bike in 2009, when I was 29, but have only ridden about four years between pregnancies. It was a KDX200 that I bought off a guy who just spent several days in the ICU after rupturing his spleen on the bike. That same year I attended the Big Sky XC, and that was the beginning.
How did you get involved in promoting races and is it difficult being a women in the world of off-road promotions? Tell me a bit about it… I started to attend the XC races, and raced Burt Timber XC a year after my daughter was born (2012, on a YZ125). When the series needed a new promoter, I was happy to volunteer. My background in equine event management gave me the confidence that ‘dirt bikes can’t be that different’. I was wrong. I say this with jest, but managing a mostly male dominated sport has its own difficulties. Some because I am a woman, and a lot because they are mostly men. When I started promoting the Montana XC series, I had just learned I was expecting. Couple a new business with a new baby, and the first year was certainly a proving ground.
I had two goals that season; use a timing system for the race results, and improve the women’s’ race participation. My second year, 2016, we switched to Moto-Tally timing, and saw a continuous growth in the Women’s classes. In 2015, the series had one Women’s C member (Sarah Hagel of Billings, Mt) and two Women’s B members (Rosy Walsh-Handl of Great Falls, Mt and Christie Marks of Helena, Mt). The Women’s C class grew to six members this year and five members in the Women’s B. Our race participation’s numbers are even higher than the series’ memberships. In September, the Pipestone XC which I produce, had six riders in the Women’s C, four in the Women’s B, and four in the Women’s A. This is the first race that we had entries, and finishers, in a Women’s A class. Instrumental in the growth of the women’s participation has been the women themselves. Jackie Steinmann and Bobbi Massic have been instrumental in building the comfort and confidence of the riders on the line with them. I know, because I am one of those riders. At the 2016 season opener I fell in love with the sport all over again. I met Jackie Steinmann at Pipestone XC when I was running the timing for the A race. I didn’t have a bike since I had sold my YZ125 with the last pregnancy, and I had a really bad itch to ride. I decided to saddle back up with the bike I had the most confidence on – a KX100. It took some looking, and a lot of encouragement from a friend, and I finally had my leg over a bike again. My first ride back, and my first ride with Jackie, was May 16th, 2016. I got more seat time in that year than ever, and even checked a ride of my ‘moto bucket list’. A frayed clutch cable and three fuel transfers later I finished the ride – and cemented a friendship with Bobbi Massic and Megan Anderson. This spring, I was riding at the host ranch for the Coal Mine Coulee XC and I could see that I was over-riding my beloved KX100. It was time. I bought a KTM 150xc on April 20th. And I started to race – first with the Grand Prix series at Helena’s Last Chance Raceway and recently at Billing Motorcycle Club’s 4 Hour Relay with Cindy Kilmer.
How long is your season? This season has faced a lot of challenges at the hands of Mother Nature with wild fires and droughts causing three races to be rescheduled of the seven in the series. And one of those just rescheduled again because of unseasonable snowfall. I’m blessed with incredible race promoters across Montana. The series is a mix of private and public land races hosted by clubs and private promoters. There is a large variance of topography among the venues, giving riders from each direction a homecourt advantage at some point in the series. We race from as early as March to as late as October. Weather and pasture rotation are the biggest factors to our season. We’ll be setting the 2018 dates in the next couple of weeks.
I got into something new this fall – I’m looking forward to my first winter on a CRF450R Timbersled I got from Yellowstone Motorsports in Bozeman. This is the first four stroke I’ve owned, and I know I’ll miss the tangy zip of a two stroke, but I’m anxious to spend another beautiful season riding (snow)bikes with my friends.
Thanks Julia! I wish you the best in all your endeavors and look forward to riding with you next time I get West!