frencholive

42 months ago

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Sisters Are Dirtin’ It

Dirt and mud are caked, sprayed, ground and jammed into and across every crease and cranny of both bike and rider.  She’s exhausted, the bike is a mess, and her joy has no words - but you see it when she peels the goggles off her filthy face and reveals blue eyes brimming with pride.

Ready. Set. Ride

Ready. Set. Ride

Meet Stephanie Yankovich: Registered Massage Therapist and dedicated dirt racer. In 2019, after only six short riding seasons, and one previous attempt, she had just completed the Promation Corduroy Enduro, Canada’s longest running and most gruelling trail races. “The Corduroy isn’t about the win; it’s about finishing and becoming one of the lucky riders to receive those elusive finisher medals.”

The Look of Love

The Look of Love

As with so many individual sports, the true competition happens within, which is one of many reasons why Stephanie is smitten.  “There is no other activity, that forces me to be present and live in the moment like ripping through the woods, holding on for dear life, my heart singing, riding with my moto family.”

The Coveted Cord Medal

The Coveted Cord Medal

To be clear, none of this came easily.  Before attempting “The Cord” Stephanie and her XR100 experienced plenty of failure.  “I spent much of my first few seasons falling off the bike, going for involuntary swims in muddy water holes, screaming and giggling in my helmet (never quite sure if I was laughing or crying) as I went through the growing pains of learning to ride.” Over the next three seasons Stephanie rode her way through several 4-strokes before landing on her beloved racer, a KTM 200XCW, which she’ll ride for as long as the nimble 2-stroke is willing.

But the effort has been worthwhile, “Riding is everything! My passion, my fun, my therapy, my exercise, my community, the thing I share with my partner, my life.”

Dirt Riding Dames

Dirt Riding Dames

One of her favourite memories was walking across the stage with Team Canada at the 2019 International Six Day Enduro (ISDE) in Portugal, a surprise birthday trip for her partner Ian Peters, a former ISDE competitor himself and the person who introduced her to the sport.  It was a memorable experience to be a volunteer, Stephanie as an (RMT), and at the checkpoints with her mate.

Before The Battle

Before The Battle

Back home, Stephanie is inspired by the growing momentum of women.  The 2019 Promation Corduroy Enduro hosted top female racers like Lexi Pechout, and members of ISDE’s Team as well as the largest number of female rider entries to date. “There [also] has been a noticeable increase in women off-road riders over the last season or two,” writes Stephanie. “I think it's reflective of a grassroots movement gaining steam due in large part to female rider focused events like Dirtastic, Babes Ride Out and my favourite event, Over And Out.”

This is why Stephanie is so involved. “It’s really important to me that I give back to this incredible community that’s been so supportive of me, especially by encouraging other women to leave the road and get into the dirt.” It's the same reason she was motivated to start a trail riding group called the Dirt Riding Dames, and why she volunteers with the Ontario Federation of Trail Riders (OFTR) and Off-Road Ontario.

Stephanie In Her Happy Place

Stephanie In Her Happy Place

Stephanie has come a long way since her days of accidental aquatics, but her enthusiasm is not waning. Accusations that she’s obsessed with the sport are met with agreement because, as Stephanie states, “racing lets me challenge myself (physically, mentally and emotionally) and test my mettle, and that’s something that I’ve realized I need to be happy, and quiet the inner voice that’s always yelling “is that the best you got?” In short, “it feeds [her] soul.” 

It doesn’t get better than that.

Passed inspection

Passed inspection

Want to know more about the Corduroy Enduro, or any of the women’s riding events listed? Check back with EatSleepRIDE for more personal profiles and informational essays about who and what’s happening on motorcycle tracks, trails and tarmacs around the world. And if you have a story to share, feel free to let us know.

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