Hett revs up off-road profile
They call her the first lady of off-road racing. She will ride anywhere, anytime and while in a sport dominated by masculine men, she still maintains her feminine side.
Victoria (Tory) Hett is riding a Valley Motosports, Husaberg TE250 for the Corner Grass Racing Team out of Wardlow, Alta. this season.
Two weeks ago at the Geico Motorcycle EnduroCross in Las Vegas, the 29-year-old nicely painted her nails and toes “Husaberg blue” and then battled to sixth spot in a field of 25 ladies at the Orleans Arena.
EnduroCross is basically a torture test which incorporates various elements of extreme off-road racing into a Supercross-style setting, including rocks, boulders, logs, sand, mud, a water hole and giant tires.
“The logs are strategically placed so you can’t ride a bike through them,” chuckles Hett, who drove almost 24 hours from Vernon to Vegas with two racing buddies.
“People love it because it’s a complete disaster to watch. There is total carnage. I qualified right away and it (main event) went really well. I had a bad start. There was a big pile-up and it took me a while to get through it. The few girls who escaped it were too far ahead.”
Alberta’s Shelby Turner claimed the women’s title ahead of Salmon Arm’s Chantelle Bykerk. The indoor chaos has been running for five years in the U.S. and seven in Europe.
The 5-foot-7, 160-pound Hett, who has defeated several men in her career, will try again to reach the X Games (Aug. 4 in Los Angeles) by racing in a June 8 qualifier in Sacramento.
“I’m pretty confident I will do well in Sacramento and qualify for the X Games. It was a learning experience in Vegas. Once I put some laps down, I felt really good.”
Hett enjoyed a dynamic debut on her new bike at the March 30 Katoom & Doom race near Campbell River. After pulling the holeshot, Hett rode clean for more than four hours to place second out of 23 riders in the Intermediate category.
A week later, at the Desert 100 in Odessa, Wash., Hett ruled the ladies class by close to seven minutes, sweet redemption after leading and running out of gas 10 miles from the finish last year. She gated top-10 out of 800 riders on the line.
Hett has tweaked her mental preparation in the past year.
“It’s really important to really stay calm. You have to relax and concentrate on your stance and grip. If you fall over at the rock corner (indoors), you can’t panic. If your heart rate stays at 80 per and goes up to two minutes max, you’re done. You can’t recover in time to compete efficiently.”
A regular off-road race in the outdoors lasts three to six hours so it’s cardio based. Indoors, where the main event goes maybe 15 minutes, it’s all about anaerobic, going full tilt for 45 seconds at peak performance.
Hett claimed a female bronze medal at the ISDE six-day world enduro championships last September in Germany and was the first Canadian woman to finish and be accepted into the 2010 worlds near Mexico City, where she also bagged bronze.
In the summer of 2011, Hett earned huge respect as the lone female entrant in the hellish Xtinction race in the Badlands of Alberta.
She was a last-minute entry just hoping to survive the weekend without injury or destroying her bike and with any luck, completing a lap of the qualifier.
From the Singletracks website: “Well, that’s what she said. Hett’s riding said otherwise as she put many of the guys to shame, climbing the big hills and completed not one, but two laps of the qualifier. Hett actually had time to do a third lap of the qualifier but elected to play it safe and risk not qualifying for the main.”
She became the first lady to ever finish the extreme enduro, in three hours, placing 32nd overall.
She has worked in the Kal Tire marketing department for two years and feels lucky to have solid support from company owner Rob Foord, a serious mountain bike enthusiast.
The 2002 Fulton grad spent five years in the RCMP, serving in Penticton and Keremeos before the endless paperwork drove her to try a new career.
While some families hold Sunday dinners, the Hetts race motorcycles. Tory’s father, Rob, competes in the Super Senior class. Her younger brothers Jordon and Malcolm fly in the Expert and Pro divisions, respectively.
She will ride in the Pacific Northwest series events in B.C. and the Royal Distributing Canadian Cross-Country Championships.
Hett, named after her April 15, 1984 birthplace of Victoria, is a major fun-seeker who enjoys horseback riding with her mom, Julie, on the Hetts’ acreage in Cherryville, hiking, snowboarding and snowshoeing.
Asked if she was a good cook, Hett shook her head and laughed: “I can cook a mean deer roast.”
Also carrying sponsorship from Riders Edge Suspension in Vernon, Emperor Racing, Fasstco and Gamma Sales, she trains or races almost every day, doing crossfit reps at home when she’s off the bike.
“I hope to be in my 70s riding motorcycles surrounded by my friends and family.”