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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Born to race

Most 3-year-old girls would be happy with a doll. Sarah Whitmore asked her dad for a motorbike.

"He said I couldn't ride one until I could ride a pedal bike without training wheels," said Whitmore, a member of St. Timothy Lutheran Church, Cheboygan, Mich. "So I said, ‘OK, then take my training wheels off.’"

Now 15, Whitmore has followed in her dad's footsteps by competing in motocross events for the last three years. Motocross is a motorcycle race on a natural-terrain course that includes steep hills, sharp turns and often mud.

Last year Whitmore won her second consecutive national motocross title at the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals. While she won that title without much sweat, even singing to herself during the race, the sport has its dangers. Recently, Whitmore cracked her pelvis competing in her first open-class race.

"It hurt, but I got to get out of school for a few days, which was cool," she said.

Racing throughout the country, Whitmore is traveling most weekends. She said her friends think she's crazy, but few of them have seen her flying 75 feet in the air or taking the checkered flag.

Despite the time it takes, the young cyclist manages to keep active at church, volunteering in the nursery and performing skits for services. She is also a member of the congregation's first youth group.

Whitmore plans to keep racing as long as she can. "If you're a man and you're good, then you can make a lot of money. But it's hard for a woman to make a living out of it," she said. "I want to race for as long as I can, and if I can't make a living from it, I want to do something with the sport."

If the sport will become more lucrative for women, young women such as Whitmore probably will be leading the pack.


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