MX101 Yamaha rider Krista Casselman is not only one of the most talented up and coming Women riders in Canada, but she also happens to be the better half of young Dylan Wright. With the tough 2016 season ahead of her, Krista has been training hard and has not only spent time in California this winter but currently she is in Florida getting in some spring riding. We caught up with Krista for this week’s Yamaha Motor Canada Amateur Rider Profile.
MXP: Hey Krista, how is your winter going so far?
KC: My winter has been good but very busy. I started school in September at Algonquin College in Ottawa. Since then I have been juggling being a full-time student with two part-time jobs as well as playing competitive hockey. I was fortunate enough to have been able to get away for a week and head down to Gainesville for the Mini O’s this past November as well as our normal getaway to Florida at Christmas with the family. Since Christmas I have been busy with school and hockey, up until last week when my two months of travel and training began.
You’re in Florida right now, how long do you plan on staying there?
Yes, I am in Florida right now. I arrived here last Wednesday, February 24th, after spending a week in California. I will be staying here until the 11th of March. These few weeks will be spent riding different tracks and getting some time on the bike before I head north to JWTF (Jimmy Weinert Training Facility) in Maysville, North Carolina where I will spend the next month training for the CMRC Eastern Canadian Women’s Nationals.
You’re obviously very close with your family. How much do they mean to your racing?
My family means everything to my racing. I am an only child and most of my support comes from them. Their support has allowed me to get where I am today. My Mom and Dad both come to most if not all races with me, and if I am not meeting somebody at the track one of them makes the time to come watch me when I practice. Motocross is a family sport. In my case I was never brought up in a racing family, it is something I found a passion for on my own. Once I started racing it soon became a passion of my parents as well. When we go away for the weekend to race it’s hard to wipe the smile off my Dad’s face; he is usually just as excited to go as I am. My parents sacrifice so much to make sure I get to the track when I need to and often drive long hours to get to certain tracks after a full week of work. If it weren’t for them I would not have all the things or the support that I do today.
I love how motocross is such an awesome family sport. Outside of racing, what are some of your interests?
Other than racing I have to say that sports take up a lot of my time. I play competitive soccer every summer on a senior team in my hometown. I also play competitive hockey during the winter.
Motocross or hockey, which do you like best?
That’s a tough one. Motocross is my true passion, it is something I have grown to love more and more the older I get. Unfortunately, it is hard living in Canada and not being able to ride 12 months a year. I spend my summers at the track, whether I am riding, watching or teaching at camps. My winters are spent at the rink and in the gym training for next year’s motocross season. Motocross is a sport that is self-directed, you have to have the drive, the want and the will to succeed. The team part of motocross is your family and the people that support you, but the will and drive to win comes from yourself and how much effort you give. With hockey it is a team sport, you have to rely on your teammates to give their 100% to win games. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
That’s a great answer Krista and I agree completely. What are you plans in 2016 for racing?
My main focus this year is to race the CMRC Eastern Canadian Women’s Nationals. Other than that my plan is to race every weekend from when the snow melts until it touches the ground next winter. I haven’t decided if I will be following a series or if I will travel and race at different tracks throughout the summer. My goal is to line up and get as many starts with as many girls on the gate as possible. I will most likely travel around Quebec and Ontario as well as New York and Eastern areas of the USA.
MXP: That sounds like a very busy season ahead for you. Now, let’s talk about your personal life (laughs). You also happen to be the girlfriend of Dylan Wright. How did you two meet?
We met when I started riding at the MX101 Sand Del Lee camps. I was riding trail bikes at the time. We never really spoke when I was in camp, I just knew of him. A few years later, once I started to race and got to know more about the sport, Kevin (Owner at MX101 Sand Del Lee) asked me to help out and teach at his camps. Dylan was still teaching at the time and we ended up being partnered up as instructors most of that summer. That gave us an opportunity to get to know each other. It’s been uphill from then!
Is he your biggest fan and biggest critic?
Along with my parents I would say yes he is my biggest fan. When he isn’t busy with his own racing he always tries his best to be with me at my races and he helps me at the gate. He believes in me almost more than I do myself. He is a big support to me. As for critic I would say that he tends to wait until I come to him for help. He isn’t someone to be like “do you know why that happened?” If I am struggling with a corner or a jump I will go to him for help. He will come out on the track and help me until I get it perfect. He sometimes will get his bike and show me how he does it and let me follow him through it. He is someone that I will go to for advice about racing and someone that I can talk to about lines and gate pick. He is more around to talk to and discuss things with other than criticize me.
It sounds like you two have a great relationship. What is the best piece of advice that Dylan has ever given you?
Dylan giving advice? Most of the time he jokes around and says “Just click it up a gear and pin it, you will make it”. But when it comes down to seriousness I think the best advice he has ever given me was at the Gopher Dunes women’s national three years ago, my first national. It was the year that the Women raced the Sunday after the Pros on Saturday. We went out and walked the track together Friday night. I remember it looking like a highway when it was freshly groomed. I had never been there before. First thing I said was “Wow, this track is really nice, this will be a breeze.” He looked at me and told me “Yeah a breeze for the first lap of practice, you wait and see.” I didn’t believe him until I watched the Pros race the next day. That was the year he podiumed as an Intermediate. I remember watching him drive his bike to the wrong trailer after his moto from the exhaustion after his moto. His best piece of advice was “Stand up and stay on the gas. Do not let off or you will fall.” I think his advice was the only thing that got me through my two motos that day without falling or coming last.
You’re probably not the only person to think that about Gopher Dunes when they were walking the track. What is the best piece of advice that you’ve given to him?
In a racer’s life sometimes things get tough when it comes to making decisions. You want to listen to other people but it’s hard to make the right decision because you don’t want to disappoint people. This past spring Dylan was trying to decide whether to try and race East Coast Supercross or not this winter. He was always asking me what I thought he should do to try to get everyone’s feelings on it. I didn’t want to be a factor of influence in his decision so I simply told him “Follow your heart and listen to what it’s telling you to do. Your head is bouncing all these different ideas around but your heart is telling you what is best. Don’t feel bad for not listening or doing what others want, in the end it’s your happiness that matters.” This allowed him to make his own decision without influence, to help him make a decision that would be best for his career at his age. I think that hearing from someone your age and somebody that truly cares about you and your happiness puts a different perspective on your decision making. This advice allowed him to make a decision and not feel bad or like he had disappointed anyone.
That is very good advice, it sounds as though you two are very lucky to have each other. You just were also just in California together. How was that trip?
My trip to California was great. I was happy to be able to take some time and get out west to support Dylan in his off-season training. It was a last minute thing considering I was supposed to be in Florida as of mid-February. I decided to take a detour to California for a visit on my way south. I never really pictured California the way it was. I was shocked to see that highways were on average six lanes each way and that there is traffic at all hours of the day. Highways are built through the mountains and tracks are in the middle of the city. I have never been out West other than Calgary. It was nice to see a different part of the country and explore somewhere new. It was certainly a different lifestyle than what I am used to!
Other than riding, what cool things did you two do?
Actually I didn’t get to ride when I was in California, I just went out for support. Although, I did get to watch Dylan ride. Out of the seven days I was there I got to visit five motocross tracks. I have to say Glen Helen was by far my favorite track even if we weren’t there long. Other than that, I wanted to see LA and go to the beach. We spent a day in LA touring around the city, walked the streets of Hollywood, drove around Beverly Hills and toured Venice Beach. We also spent another day at Newport Beach and went on a Whale Watching boat tour where we saw over 100 dolphins and 3 whales along with several California sea lions.
I’m always amazed at just how many cool things there are to do there. How is California for training compared to say Florida?
I would say it is about the same. It just depends what you are looking for with your training. California is known for having many hard pack tracks where Florida has a wide range of sand and hard pack. Dylan’s was staying at Al Brown’s in Riverside. A lot of tracks are located within an hour or an hour and a half from his place. In Florida, depending where you stay, tracks are much further apart.
Will Dylan be heading to Florida or is he having way too much fun in Cali?
To be honest I am not sure what his plans are right now but I doubt he will make it to Florida this winter. Things are going well for him in California; he is enjoying himself. He seems to be learning a lot and he has gotten the chance to test some things for this summer. I would assume that the closer he gets to the end of his three months in Cali he will make his way East at some point. Whether it be to ride or drive home I am not sure, his plan will likely depend on the weather up North.
Where do you call home?
My hometown is Gatineau, Quebec, a little town across the bridge about fifteen minutes from Ottawa. Gatineau is a big town compiled with five cities amalgamated together. I live in the Aylmer sector of Gatineau on the outskirts of the city. Although it only takes five minutes to get to town, it’s nice to live in the country and have a big backyard and a lot of acreage to rip around on.
I’ve never been there, but it sounds very nice. Tells us something interesting about where you live?
Gatineau is the fourth largest city in the province of Quebec. Everyone always assumes that if you’re from Quebec you must be French. Well, I am a perfect example with my mother tongue being English. Gatineau is one of many bilingual cities in Quebec. A lot of us speak both English and French. Gatineau is also a city that borders the City of Ottawa. We are within 10-15 minutes of all the government and historic things in Ottawa.
Well Krista, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Enjoy your time down South and please ride safe. Final question, who would you like to thank?
I would like to thank, first and foremost, my parents. Their love and support has gotten me to where I am today. From the long car rides to races, the overnights spent driving and the fifteen weekends we spent racing last summer, I truly appreciate all the time you guys sacrifice to allow me to be at the track doing what I love. Next I would like to thank Dylan for all that he does for me, from working on my bike, to taking me riding or dragging me around to your races, to watching me when my parents aren’t available, to packing my gate and helping me prep my gear. Your support has been incredible over the past two years and I appreciate all the time you take out of your busy schedule to work with me.
Lastly I would like to thank Jim Koleman and Wheelsport Racing, Kevin Tyler and MX101, Jeff Casselman Excavation, FMF, FXR, Matrix Concepts, Cycra, MD Distributions, Forma Boots, 100%, Atlas Brace Technologies, Works Connection, Pit Posse Motosports, Sunstar, Ride Engineering Inc., MotoTape, Dunlop Tires, TwinAir and MoTool. Looking forward to a new season with new sponsors, bring on 2016!!