Name: Lindsey Palmer
Home Town: Conifer, CO
Sponsors: BluStarr.com, Race Day Performance, Autoflex Systems, Fly Racing, Team Gus, Aztec Family Raceway, Mom, Dad, my brother Bryce, Seven10 MX Phone Graphics, Alpinestars, Victory Circle Graphix, Fay Myers
Interview by Sarah DiMare/Photos courtesy of Blustarr.com
Growing up in Colorado, Lindsey Palmer played soccer and softball and was involved in Girl Scouts, like most of the other girls her age. After participating and being successful in many of the traditional "stick and ball" sports, she felt unfulfilled and decided to look for a sport that offered more of a challenge. It wasn't until she tried motocross at age 11 that she finally found her calling. It provided the challenges and adrenaline rush she had been searching for and after her first ride, she was hooked.
Although she got a relatively late start in the sport, her passion, drive, and overwhelming love made her a quick study. After spending every spare moment training and practicing at the local tracks, Lindsey raced her first moto at 13. Just a few short years later, she earned her way into the professional ranks of women’s motocross, a feat that takes many years to accomplish.
Lindsey competed in her first WMX professional races in 2009 and became more competitive with each round, but it was at this point she was forced to face the biggest challenge of her life. A CT scan after a crash revealed the unfathomable news of a tumor on her brain. Never one to back down from a challenge, she dealt with this potentially life threatening discovery with her family by her side. They decision to have surgery was made and thankfully they were able to remove the tumor.
Lindsey approached her post surgery recovery regimen as a challenge and impressed her doctors and physical therapists with a drive and unwavering will to heal quickly. In less than a year she was back in action and able to race her first complete season of professional motocross. Since that time, Lindsey has consistently maintained top-10 finishes at the Nationals and finished fifth overall at the final round of the 2013 WMX Pro Motocross Triple Crown, earning seventh for the season.
Lindsey is an amazing woman and athlete, one with an unwavering perseverance and will to succeed. After hearing her story, we decided had to get to know her a little better.
How did you get started riding?
I was in Girl Scouts when I was 11, and one weekend we had a little camping trip planned. While my mother and I were on the trip, my dad bought my brother a dirt bike. When we got home, I saw him flying around our backyard on his new bike. At first I didn't really care but a week or two later, I really wanted to give it a try. As soon as I hopped on, I loved it! I started riding his bike so much that my brother started getting mad, so my dad went out and got my first bike, an XR70.
Tell us about your first race.
My first motocross race was at Milliken, Colorado, and I was 13. What I remember most about that day was how hot it was and that I got my butt kicked! [Laughs] I remember my dad telling me, “If you want to do any more of these, you'd better start winning.”
It wasn’t long after that you got your professional license...
Yes, it was really cool and looking back, it all happened so fast. Each year I moved up a class and three years later, I was racing in the local Pro women's class. A lot of the women in that class raced in the National series, like Ashley Bonham and Lauren Volunteer. I really looked up to them and wanted to follow in their footsteps and race in the nationals. I had the opportunity to meet Miki Keller (WMA founder) and I sent her my pro racing application, along with my resume of wins and competitive finishes with other national level pros, and my application was approved!
When you started racing, did you ever think you would make it as far as you have?
I had no idea I would do as much as I've done, but since my first day on a bike, racing women's pro motocross has always been my primary passion.
Soon after obtaining your professional license, you had to have surgery to remove a brain tumor. Tell us about that.
The doctors diagnosed a rare condition in my brain called osteochondroma tumor, a bone and cartilage tumor. We found it four years ago after a really bad crash. They transported me from the track to a small clinic where they did an MRI and first spotted the mass. At the time they where unsure of what it was and assumed it was an inter-cranial hematoma. I was taken to a larger hospital where they ran a battery of tests and found out that the tumor had been there for a while. In the years before they discovered it, I had gone for routine checkups without anyone noticing anything or having any side effects, so I thought maybe it wasn't a big deal. At a follow up visit the doctors measured the tumor and said it had gone through a growth spurt and it was to the point where it had to be removed before it became a potentially life-threatening situation. The surgery was scheduled for December 15, 2009, and luckily all went very well. I spent one day in the ICU and four days in a recovery room. The doctor said it was one of the most successful surgeries he had ever done. After removing the tumor, they did a biopsy on it and that’s when they found out it was an osteochondroma tumor. Luckily it is the most benign tumor, so there have been no issues since the surgery.
That was in December of 2009, and you still raced the full WMX series in 2010. What was the recovery process like and how long were you off the bike?
They said there would be a three month recovery period before I could even ride, so it was about 4 months total. With that schedule I wasn't even able to ride until April, and the season started in May. It felt like the longest three months in my life, but I tried to stay as active as I could. Recovery and physical therapy started off with little walks and worked up from there. It was challenging and difficult because I had to be very careful not to put to much pressure on my head. Sometimes bending over and standing up would make me dizzy, so I had to not make any sharp or harsh movements. When I was finally cleared to start riding they made it very clear my skull was not completely healed, but it was good enough ride as long as long as there was no impact to my head. At that point I got really good at rolling jumps, and spent a lot of time on turn tracks. Once April came, I had to put my head down and work hard. Luckily I have had no issues since, and have been in once to get a clear bill of health. It was a challenging, strange and unexpected ordeal, but everything happens for a reason. If I never crashed, we would probably still wouldn't know it was there until something much more serious happened. Finding it early was definitely a blessing in disguise.
Throughout your professional career, you have consistently finished in the top-10. What do you have your sights set on now?
Top five for the championship! It is going to take a lot to get there and it's a big step to becoming a top-five rider, but I know I can do it. I have a lot of people behind me, helping me to become better. I just need to put my head down and give it 100-percent. Most of the women get more track time than I do, because they're not going to school full time, but I'm giving it my all and feel like this is going to be my year. I hope that all of the girls coming up through the amateur ranks share the same dream as I did will have the same opportunity to compete in a women’s national series.