If you haven't been following Crystal Levesque, you're missing out! Her Instagram photos and videos show that no obstacle is too tough and no trail is too gnarly if you commit to continuous improvement and approach it with the right attitude.
She shows that being the best isn't about being a perfect rider. It's about hard work and dedication, accomplishments as well as the crashes and falls that get you there! You gotta pay to play, and Crystal always plays with a hilarious and vibrant personality and a super positive attitude.
Crystal Levesque - Vancouver, BC Canada
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN RIDING, AND HOW'D YOU GET STARTED?
I’ve been at it for 11 years now. Riding dirt bikes had never really crossed my mind until a former boyfriend surprised me with my first bike – a DRZ125. Honestly, I initially wasn’t very interested in riding.
WHAT MADE YOU STICK WITH IT?
The more my boyfriend at the time took me out to explore, the more I fell in love with it. I’ve always been someone who enjoys challenges and overcoming the frustrations inherent in learning something new. Riding quickly left me wanting to prove to myself that I could do more – I could be faster, I could learn to wheelie. It spiraled into this crazy addiction of always wanting to achieve something greater. At the same time, I also find a calm in riding, so its become therapy for my mind, body and soul!
WHAT TYPE OF RIDING DO YOU DO ENJOY THE MOST?
I spent a decade riding motocross tracks, but I’ve recently fallen in love with trail riding and tackling endurocross obstacles like boulders and downed trees. I love exploring and seeing new terrain and mountain sides. I’m always linking up with new people and either showing them around my local areas or joining in on others rides across the border.
Nothing beats the adrenaline rush you get from riding through the mountains over gnarly rocks and roots! It really pushes me to my limits and I’ve learn so much more about myself and my bike.
WHAT BIKE DO YOU RIDE, AND WHY?
When transitioning from motocross to woods riding, I really wanted to have the same sort of set up in the woods. I chose a 2014 KTM 250XCF because I was comfortable with the power delivery and handling of a four-stroke.
Fast forward one year and I am ready to make some major changes with bike choices. I recently had the opportunity to ride a Husqvarna TX300 two-stroke, and that was a game changer for me!
WHAT EXPERIENCES ON DIFFERENT BIKES HAVE TAUGHT YOU ABOUT YOUR RIDING PREFERENCES?
I am proud of the gains I made on my four-stroke this year. Four-strokes are great bikes for steep hill climbs or fast and flowy single track where there are less obstacles in the way, but they have clear disadvantages for my type of riding and my size. They’re heavier bikes to maneuver in the woods, making movements like pivot turns and climbing rocky sessions tough at times.
I don’t run a Rekluse in my bike, so I am always on the clutch. Four-strokes tend to overheat and flame out in the gnarly terrain. This is a constant battle as I take on more technical terrain and bigger log hops.
So back to my new-found love of two-strokes… I found the bike to be a lot lighter and much easier to get through the slower tough terrain. The bikes don’t overheat as easily and the power is there when you need it. One of the biggest benefits of the two-stroke is the ability to get the front tire off the ground with ease, making it much easier to get over the bigger logs and rocks. The bike is just so nimble!
WHAT WAS ONE OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?
Haha, well first I had to figure out how to keep the bike upright for more than 10 feet! Learning to balance the weight of the bike can be very challenging at first, especially in sandy terrain. I improved a lot by working over and over on the small things like balance and proper body form.
DO YOU EVER TALK TO YOURSELF IN YOUR HELMET? IF SO, WHAT DO YOU SAY?
OMG I don’t think I would survive a ride without humming a tune or talking to myself! I am guilty of swearing a lot through the tougher terrain, and quite often you will hear me laugh after a gnarly crash which is my way of celebrating the fact I am still alive!
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR A NEWER RIDER?
Be patient! I know it’s so easy to start something new and want to be the best at it right away, but this sport takes a lot of determination, dedication, and patience. Don’t give up when you have any sort of setbacks and remember that baby steps are better than no steps. I conquered a lot by just always showing up despite many failed attempts and it made those moments of success that much sweeter! And take advantage of every opportunity to join a group ride or learn from a more experienced rider. We all start somewhere and as long as you understand the process to becoming a great rider through observation, practice, advice, and persistence you will go further than you think.
WHAT'S THE SINGLE BEST TIP ANYONE EVER GAVE YOU ABOUT RIDING?
I’ve had the opportunity to ride and learn from some really talented individuals, and one thing that was always repeated to me was proper body positioning and form on the bike. I started to practice with small drills like figure eights, small wheel hops, weighting the pegs and wheels. This helped me to understand where my body needs to be when jumping logs and rocks or navigating single track. I never worry about speed. As you conquer different techniques, your speed will pick up without you even noticing. So, #1 piece of advice: practice the small stuff like balance and body positioning any chance you can get.
WHAT RIDING PLANS DO YOU HAVE IN MIND FOR 2018?
This year I am going to do my best to attempt a few races, locally and throughout the United States with friends. I’ve been at this a year now and I’m eager to push myself to the next level and see what I can accomplish by adding some more challenging riding to my year. I have a few trips already lined up: I will race my first desert-style race in April at the Odessa 100 and will be in Salt Lake City, Utah in May to adventure in the infamous Moab. I want to host some ladies rides locally as well. I did a few of these last year and they were a blast! I love meeting new women in the sport and learning something new from one another.
I’ll be flying by the seat of my pants for the rest of the year. I don’t do well with a schedule so I am going to live in the moment and see what kind of adventures I find and people I meet along the way. From racing to exploring new terrain, I will have a crazy year ahead of me!
@crystal_loves_moto @overandoutmoto #fastfriends