As many may know, Puerto Rico native Tarah Gieger left the Home Depot Center with a gold medal dangling from her neck after competing in the first-ever Women's Moto X racing event. With X Games now behind her, Gieger plans on transitioning her momentum from X Games into some moto wins at the last two rounds of the WMA season. We were able to catch up with Gieger this morning to discuss her '08 season and winning a gold medal at X Games 14…
What were you doing to prepare for the 2008 season, Tarah?
I was doing what I had to do. I was doing 25-minute motos, riding my bicycle everyday, and working my butt off.
Therefore you planned on kicking some ass this year, huh?
Definitely! That's always what you hope for. I definitely felt ready, and I felt like I could put it to 'em. However, it seemed like one thing after another started happening to me, which hindered my performance.
What was the source of your troubles?
Right off the bat at Hangtown I got cleaned out, and my throttle grip got ripped off my handle bar. I had to pull into the mechanics area for that, and by that point I was already a lap down… I crashed again because my suspension wasn't setup for the track. It was a bit of a rough start for me (laughs).
With all of the problems you had at the beginning of the season, was it difficult to move forward or were you able to use it as motivation and progress?
It was hard, but I knew I had the next weekend in Texas where I could go out there and do well. I showed up at Texas, and I was feeling pretty good on the track. I was the fastest in practice, but once I was on the line my clutch ended up overheating and I ran into the gate; so that didn't work out either. They ended up cutting our race a little short, and I had third, fourth, and fifth place right in front of me at the checkered flag; but I ran out of time.
What's your take on the WMA format at the Outdoor Nationals? You have one moto on Saturday and your second moto on Sunday. It seems as though it's a bit of a hassle.
Yeah, it sucks. We barely get to ride at the track as it is, you know? If you add up the amount of time we actually have on the track, I think we have all of 40 minutes of track time. The guys get two hours before they even race, so it's kind of frustrating. It's cool having the race on Sunday that way people can actually see us ride.
Do you happen to know if anybody is working on a more efficient/effective format for the '09 WMA season?
Oh, we're always trying! We try improving things each year, but we're hoping that with the new people who are running the AMA (I think MX Sports took it over, too) things will start working out.
What was going through my mind when you heard that there was going be a women's Supercross race at X Games?
I was pretty excited! At last years X Games and at the MX World Championships, the tracks seemed pretty mellow, so I wasn't too stressed out. Once I found out it was going to be a legitimate Supercross track, I got the opportunity to ride a specially designed SX track. It was pretty intimidating and not what I expected, but slowly I was able to get the feel for it. The X Games track wasn't as gnarly as what I'd been practicing on, but it was still pretty crazy.
What's one of the more difficult things to adapt to on a Supercross track?
To be honest… Everything. You need to have a flow on a Supercross track. I wasn't jumping sections that I knew I could do until the last lap of the last practice before the race. I was never able to figure out the whoops, either.
Why is that?
I was being too timid coming into them. They weren't full blown Clear Channel Supercross whoops, but they were definitely bigger than any amateur whoop sections, you know? I didn't have a chance to really dial in my suspension for whoops because I was trying to get things figured out on the rest of the track, and we only had a week to figure things out.
How was it hitting a 75-foot double with a ramp as the take off?
It was awesome! I never saw it as something that was gnarly; I saw it as being a lot fun. It never scared me.
Is there a different technique utilized when you are hitting a ramp?
I think it's almost easier (laughs). All you have to do is ride off of it. It's definitely something that you just have to go for, you know? There is no sizing it up.
Tell us a little bit about the actual race and your battle with Jessica Patterson…
I didn't get off the line all that great. I had practiced a start before the beginning of the race, so I knew how slick the first turn was going to be. Once the race started, Patterson went really wide in the first turn because she couldn't slow down; Sherri Cruse and I tucked around the inside and came up one and two. However, Patterson put it down on the first lap and was able to get by the two of us. I did my best to ride steady and not make any mistakes (laughs).
Was there a bit of a gap between you and Patterson?
Nah, I was right there because I was jumping two different triples within a couple of rhythm sections that she wasn't doing. I would let her pull a tiny lead, that way I could do the sections she wasn't, but if I stayed right on her rear wheel I couldn't do those sections.
If Patterson didn't make the mistake that she did, do you feel as though you could've been successful in moving around her for the lead?
I think I would've tried different lines, but I think I could've moved around her in one of the sections that I was doing.
How big was it for you walk away from X Games with a gold medal around your neck?
Bigger than anything I think (laughs)! It was pretty awesome!
With X Games now behind you, what are your plans for the rest of the season?
Uh, try to get some wins in the WMA. I am going to go out there and give it my all like I did at X Games and hopefully get a win before the season is over.
Is there any word on you being part of the Motocross of Nations for '09?
I haven't heard anything in a couple of months. I've been really busy, so I haven't had much time to work on anything for the Motocross of Nations. But, I would love to do it once again! I hope we can put something together because it's such a fun event. I would really like to go out there and represent Puerto Rico.