Story by MATT BERNARD & Photography by DAMIEN ASHENHURST at Dirt Action
The list of winners of the Excel Rim Rider of the Year Samurai Trophy is an impressive one: Toby Price, Jay Marmot, Meghan Rutledge, Matt Moss and now, the 2014 winner, Jess Gardiner.
The criteria for this award are a brilliant performance not just on the track but also off and it’s open to all motocross, supercross and enduro racers in Australia. Jess fits the bill well. Her results in 2014 have been nothing short of spectacular and her championship rollcall for 2014 is extremely impressive.
The 2014 Australian Enduro X Championship, the Australian Off-Road Championship, the Australian Four-Day Enduro Women’s overall and third place overall in the Enduro World Championships. To cap off an impressive year, Jess claimed the overall women’s class victory in the International Six Days Enduro and was a part of the Australian women’s team’s domination of the event
On results alone, Jess is a deserved winner of the Excel Rim Rider of the Year. But that’s not all that helps Jess stand above the crowd and win this award.
Australian EnduroX Championship
Australian Off Road Championship (AORC)
Australian Four Day Enduro (A4DE)
Enduro World Championship (EWC)
3rd Women’s overall
International Six Day Enduro
1st Woman’s Overall
1st Women’s Team
BEHIND THE SCENES
Jess is an extremely hard worker, punching out long hours driving a dump truck for JK Williams to pay the bills before often racing home with a couple of daylight hours to spare and cycling on the M7 cycleway or a training session with her training partners.
It’s a tough life as an enduro racer, especially a female enduro racer. Jess races the same tracks as the blokes in the World Enduro Championship and will put many blokes reading this to shame around gnarly tree-root infested trails.
Unfortunately, she’s unable to put work aside to train and race fulltime. Jess is always the first to praise thanks to her bosses at JK Williams, who’ve never held her back from chasing her dreams, offering time off when needed, being flexible as she jets between Australia and Europe and ensuring there’s a job for her when she returns.
“This award is something that I really treasure due to all the hard work, dedication and life commitment of my sport,” she said. “It’s really rewarding for me and I can’t thank everyone enough for noticing me to be nominated for this honour. “It’s also a true inspiration to prove women can do it, too. The women in our sport are really developing and evolving into something special. I will continue to push for the growth and kick some goals on the way.”
Any young rider can look to Jess for inspiration as a good role model. Flick on the news any one night and you’ll see a footballer doing something stupid and posting it online. The dirtbike world hasn’t been without some of this either, with plenty of riders posting stupid photos and not representing the sponsors in a professional manner while online.
Social media is a real make-or-break for athletes these days and Jess is one of the leaders in the Australian dirt bike field on line. Her social media presence is always positive. Fans and followers are kept up to date with her movements, her sponsors are promoted and it creates a real insight to Jess’s life.
At any time you can have a quick scan of her feeds and be enlightened and informed of what she’s up to. Jump online and check it out and give Jess a follow and, next time you see her at the track, stop and say “G’day!”
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