By Joshua Scheer, reporter, County10.com
(Riverton, Wyo.) – Through the last five years, Nicole “Nix” Gaudern has smashed her wrist, broken her arm and separated her shoulders. But that hasn’t slowed her down. This year she hopes to earn enough points on the motocross circuit to go pro.
Gaudern said she was born in Riverton but her family moved to Colorado when she was young. She returned to her home town just three years ago.
After school and living a life as a rodeo pro, Gaudern was working in a bank in Idaho. One of her cubicle neighbors was into motocross and eventually convinced Gaudern to go for a ride with her. She said she planned on just riding occassionally with her friend for fun. Gaudern readily admits to not being a natural on a bike (“I kept wrecking in first gear”), but she was hooked quick. On her second practice ride, her friend talked her in to doing a race.
“When we went to the races I sucked so bad,” she said, adding she’s not sure she even made it one full lap. “I was bruised head to toe.”
After her first race, she trained over the course of the next few weeks to tackle a second race.
“I just got so addicted that quick,” Gaudern said. “My passion’s always been competition,” she added later.
She quit her job at the bank two or three months later. Since then, going pro has been in the back of her mind, but she said she took it to the next level in 2010.
She’s travelled to many of the western states, reaching as far east as Tennessee, competing in events under the National Motosport Association and American Motorcyclist Association. The people she’s met along the way constitute almost a second family, she said. And now, there’s “no life but motocross.”
Gaudern made Riverton her homebase about three years ago and has enjoyed racing the Wyoming circuit on top of her travels. Wild West Power Sports is one of her primary sponsors, and she gets her bike through the local business. When she needs to have work done on her bike or her van, she tries to keep the work local.
So far, 2011 has been the highlight, she said. She made it to nationals and ended up ranking in the top 20.
2012 was a bit more trying. Gaudern said in May she opted to hit a small race while visiting her sister in Grand Junction, Colo. She took a turn too wide and hit the soft outer edge of jump, causing her to lose control, roll and flip. When she tried get back on the bike the handle bars didn’t look quite right and her right arm wasn’t working. Turns out Gaudern broke her upper arm, forcing her out for the majority of the season. She got back on the bike in November. Thinking back to the day of the wreck, she recalls hearing a loud snap and wonders if that was her arm.
When she broke her wrist a couple years ago, she was alone at the FCRA Motoplex on Paradise Valley Road practicing. Gaudern believes the crash knocked her out. Luckily her phone had service and she was able to rouse a friend to come help her out.
“I cannot have a major injury,” Gaudern said, looking toward the season that’s just now beginning. “I need to get to regionals so I can make it to nationals.”
If she can make it to nationals, she should be able to earn enough points to get her pro license. That will open the door to more sponsors and bigger paychecks. But for now, Gaudern will continue working four part time jobs to help fund her career.
Despite the injuries and the risk, she can’t put her finger on why she continues to race.
“That’s the weird thing, I don’t know,” Gaudern said. “It’s a lifestyle. … It’s just so much fun that if I stopped, I’d probably get depressed.”
(Video by Seth Schaeffer and James Drake.)