An interview with the elite off-road
motorcycle racer before she heads to Italy
Britney Gallegos heads to Italy this week to compete in the prestigious off-road motorcycle competition, the FIM International Six Days Enduro race. The 26-year-old world-class off-road racer from the San Luis Valley sat down with The Alamosa Citizen to talk about her passion, how she got started, her dad’s influence, and what she expects when she lands in Italy to race for Team USA.
AlamosaCitizen: Britney, when did you start getting on a motorcycle and how did you figure out this was for you?
Britney: At about age four. My dad, he just kept putting me on a four wheeler and about four years old, it turned into a dirt bike. So from there we just started riding and then I wanted to hit some races. So at about six, we were racing locally, in Colorado. And from there I was winning everything locally at my age group. So we decided to go national. I had several national championships as an amateur and I came up pretty well in the sport. I did have a few injuries along the way between 13 and 18 that didn’t allow me to really be in the spotlight too much then. But when I turned 18, I was healthy and I was focused and both of us were ready to go. So I turned national pro then and started racing off road.
AC: What are the national races you’ve participated in?
Britney: For the start of my career, I began racing the World Off Road Championship Series, which is also known as WORCS. And then in 2016, I started racing in the desert, which would have been the National Hare and Hound. I did my first race in Espanola and I won it. And that race was about four and a half hours long. It was a 100 miles or so. And being that I won it, I was hooked on that type of racing and I went back for the next few rounds of that National Hare and Hound Series, and I finished second for the remainder of the season. And then I decided to make that championship series my main focus for the next few years. So in 2017, I hit it and I was able to finish second in the points that year against a factory rider, Casey Martinez, which was really cool. I had a few good wins that season and it was a good learning year and I was able to take a lot from it.
Watch the interview HERE
AC: When you go to Italy, what’s the expectation when you think of the course, what it’s going to be like?
Britney: It’s going to be an Enduro. What we’ll do is we’ll be on the bike for roughly eight hours a day, and you just transfer from test to test. You’ll have six tests a day. So we’ll transfer from test to test on our dirt bikes through a course that they’ve marked out all throughout the backcountry, and sometimes on highway roads through Italy, and those are transfers and then, like I said, the tests are where our time is taken and that’s really where it matters. But the biggest part is that we’re on the bike for eight or so hours a day.
AC: Sounds really hard. What are your thoughts going in?
Britney: Yeah, I’m excited. I went to the Six Days Enduro three years in a row already prior to this, but just to go help the women’s world trophy team. I’ve never been able to be on it. So I’m pretty excited. I know what to expect. I know it’s going to be very challenging and tough and lack of nutrition, sleep and all of the resources is going to be hitting us pretty dead on. So it’ll be tough and challenging. But with that, I’m very excited to see how my training and commitment that I’ve had to have throughout the summers is going to pay off. It’s another piece of the puzzle that I’m looking forward to plugging in.
AC: How do you train for something like this?
Britney: So typically I spend about three to four days on my dirt bike for about four to five hours a day. And aside from that I do two days of gym training, not a whole lot of lifting weights, just a lot of stability. And yeah, we do lift pretty heavy sometimes, but we don’t focus on building a whole lot of big muscle. And then I do a lot of running and bicycling, mountain biking, stuff like that. Just anything to really keep me active. Just consistency is the biggest thing when it comes to my sport.
AC: Your dad got you started at an early age and it sounds like he’s been a major influence in this whole effort of yours?
Britney: Yeah. I couldn’t do it without him. He’s been my biggest supporter since day one. He puts himself on the frontline to fight a lot of the hard battles to make me be able to focus on racing and do what I do at the level I do it at, because when you get to this level, it doesn’t necessarily become any easier just because you’re living and it’s what you’re doing. It’s that much more work. And I don’t think a lot of people realize how hard it is to compete at this level. Not only physically, but mentally it’s very challenging because you’re held to so many high expectations by everybody around you. And you start to hold yourself to that unrealistic expectation sometimes.
AC: We heard athletes during the Tokyo Olympics talk about the pressure of being an elite athlete. It sounds like you face a lot of the same pressure as an elite off-road racer?
Britney: Yeah. Like I said, people think it gets easier the better you get or the higher up you get in there, but it’s not. It’s never the case. It actually gets harder because not only now do you have to train harder, but you have to spend more time recovering and putting all of the other pieces together on top of still trying to balance your family and everything else that happens in daily life. You have to almost be willing to turn that off, but it’s just a lot of sacrifice to the stuff that you want to do versus the outcome that you want.
AC: You have this passion for your sport. What is the feeling you get when you’re on the bike?
Britney: To be completely honest with you. I love being on the bike, but when I started racing and I started winning, that’s where the passion comes from. The win is everything that you train for. So you’ve got to enjoy what you’re doing, but when I do, I’m very passionate about it. And that’s what makes it so much fun to train and to continue doing that. But at the end of the day, that’s the whole reason why you do it and I’m not even going to say it’s winning. It’s that feeling of being that good, executing every single ride, and the way you position that bike perfectly, just the execution of riding consistently and being at that level is what keeps me going. What kept me going right from the start is I always wanted to be better, better, better because my dad, he was actually a pro too. So I’ve seen him compete and watched him win, and his love for the sport. And I wanted to be just like dad, and at the same time, he was glad to hand me that type of competitiveness to want to be the best at what I do too. And just the love for being better every single time you do something. And every single time you get on that bike, you get on it with intent. And it’s something that’s in your blood at this point. It’s something that you almost need to do, I’m not going to stay to keep you alive, but it’s what makes me feel alive, is that connection that I have with that bike when I get on it and I ride it and I’ve carried that for many, many years.
AC: When you’re a part of Team USA going to Italy to participate, what does that get you in terms of being part of the team?
Britney: Yeah, so this year I was very fortunate to have factory support from Husqvarna (Husqvarna Motorcyles). They shipped me a bike, built the bike, took care of everything, every cost related to racing in Italy, they took care of that. So, like I said, the whole bike, all the maintenance, all the fuel, the shipping that was all taken care of. They paid for my flights and my room and board. So it was like I said, I’m very fortunate because I know a lot of the women world trophy riders in the past didn’t get that. They had to send their own bike and build their own bike and ship it. And I’m not going to say, I just have to show up and race, but I was given the opportunity to show up and only have to really put myself in the position to race. I’m going to be able to just really focus on what I’m doing.”
AC: What does success in this particular event look like for you? What are your goals going in?
Britney: Being my first year, my goal this year is to compete to the best of my ability, to not let anything hold me back, to just really go there and put everything that I have, all my training, all my nutrition, all my riding that I’ve done this summer to work and to see how it stacks up against other riders. To know that I went there with the best of intent and the best of my ability, and I gave it everything that I had and how I finished is where I’m at and that’s really what I’m expecting out of this year. I’d like to be within the Top 10. Hopefully our team will win the world championship because it is all three riders whose scores do get tallied up.
AC: You talk a lot about nutrition. Can you tell us about the importance of nutrition in your sport?
Britney: Yeah, well being, I’m a smaller person, I generally just have to eat everything. I don’t eat junk food. Typically just a lot of rice, a lot of pasta, a lot of protein, beef, chicken, pork, all that stuff you name it. I’ll eat it. And that all helps keep the weight on and keep the body healthy. So, like I said, nutrition and hydration is the key for me, like right around 120 ounces a day of water. And even making sure you have the right amount of sodium in you, just lots of fruits and vegetables. I don’t really have too much of a meal plan or anything. Like I said, I’m so underweight that I can really just eat anything I want. And the more I eat, the better.”
The FIM International Six Days Enduro begins Aug. 30 in Lombard-Piedmont, Italy. Best of luck, Britney.