It’s Queensland Women’s Week, and we’re shining the spotlight on the talented women involved in motorcycle sport. Today we’re meeting Motorcycling Queensland’s (MQ) 2015 International Rider of the Year, and Female Rider of the Year, Jemma Wilson.
Happy International Women’s Day!!! I have been a part of the Enduro community for ten years now. I have watched the ladies class grow from the same four girls at every event to, at some events, upwards of twenty, and our speed climb from midpack Clubman to running sometimes compatible with the fastest in Australia.
There have been many ups and many downs for me individually, but overall I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to make it this far, and am excited for what the next ten years in this industry can bring.
My 'how I got into riding' story is the usual one; my Dad and older brother and all the neighbourhood guys would trail ride on a Sunday and I eventually convinced Dad when I was twelve to get me a Yamaha DT175 and let me join in.
I raced a little in the boy’s class as a junior, then once I turned sixteen and could compete in the senior Ladies Class, I started racing in the Australian Offroad Championship (AORC) and the Australian 4 Day Enduro (A4DE).
However, once I finished school and moved away to University, although I continued to compete, it wasn't a priority. I studied law, and in the beginning of the degree at least was planning on becoming a lawyer. Then I guess you could say, one thing led to another... I finished my Bachelor of Law in 2011 and then the following year embarked on my full time World Enduro Campaign.
Racing for me grew from something I did for a bit of fun with my Dad and brothers and has grown to be my entire life. It is extra challenging being a female in Enduro. Yes, at some events like the World Championships we get to cut out some really tough sections (keeping in mind that these are hills or creeks that the best riders in the world struggle on) but that is the only break that we get. It still takes everyday training and riding and getting sponsors and fundraising to get to the top and we get a pittance in payment and the level of support that is needed to go the fastest that we can is just not there… yet!
I have come to terms with the fact that I personally, as a female in Offroad racing, am not going to make a profit. I have sunk 10 years into something and have $0 in my bank account to show for it. But that doesn’t meant that I regret a second of it so far, or that I think that the younger generation won’t have different opportunities.
Plus, it is a good thing that money isn’t the only way to measure achievements. I have won three World Championships as part of the Women’s Austrlian International Six Day Enduro (ISDE) team, and finished on the podium individually for the last three years. I have been top five at the World Enduro GP’s since 2012, have won two Aussie Championships, and finished on the podium steps at 17 Aussie Championship overalls. I have been crowned a Queensland Champion seven times, and while I’m on a roll… I’ve also won Australiasian Dirt Bike Mag’s Female Rider of the Year a few times, and won MQ’s Female Rider and International Rider of the Year last year!
However, what really counts to me as highlights are the experiences that I have had and memories that I’ve made. Because of racing Enduro, I have travelled to over 20 countries, met so many wonderful people, and had some of the best and most spontaneous weekends of my life while randomly staying at the homes of World Championship winners.
I may not have made money out of this ten years of racing but I have been given the opportunity to chase my dreams around the world and set whatever goals I see fit and achieve them.
At the end of the day I love Enduro and there is no better sense of achievement for me then at the end of the tough race.
Boys have had 100 years headstart in this industry but every year we catch up a little and in the future I am sure that we will have the same opportunities as the boys.
So come girls, get involved in this fantastic outdoor adventure adrenaline filled sport!