From makeup to mudJun 02, 2022 10:15AM ● By Lauren Berg
Pat Jacques is used to being a trailblazer. As one of the United States’ premier woman motocross racers, she’s placed in hundreds of events in a male-dominated sport. Now, at 62, she’s turned her attention to coaching and empowering others around her…while still riding a motorcycle.
Riding to success
Jacques was just a toddler when she watched her first motocross race at a German World Grand Prix track.
“I remember very distinctly there was a ravine, and most of the riders went down into that gully and came up on the other side,” Jacques said. “But there were a couple of riders that jumped all the way across and passed people in the air. And I was like, ‘That’s what I want to do!’”
Her family encouraged her interest, buying Jacques a mini bike when she was 8, and her first motorcycle as a reward for making the honor roll a couple years later. Her initial races were against the neighborhood kids in her South Carolina hometown.
“We rode all over; we had a dirt lot next to the house,” she recalled. “And it really was my escape.”
Motocross was in its infancy in the U.S. As such, it took some convincing her dad to allow her to race at the local track because it was considered “too rough” for girls. (Motocross is considered one of the most physically taxing sports, as riders wrestle with a 200-pound bike.)
But after competing in a girls powder puff race where she lapped her competitors, her dad finally got on board, even proudly painting “It’s a girl” on her chest protector. Jacques raced every weekend from then on, but was one of only a few women to do so.
“In my entire motocross racing career—from the time I was 11 until I retired at 34—I only raced against women seven times. The rest of my entire career was racing against men,” she said.
Jacques excelled quickly and went pro after 51 trophies, but it came with what she now recognizes as an unhealthy level of competitiveness.
“A lot of my success was driven by the fact that I didn’t feel like I was good enough,” she admitted.
That competitiveness came to a head at age 16, when she raced in the women’s national championship. Despite feeling like she was the best in the U.S. at that time (and at one point in the race, had a 32-second lead over the eventual winner), she had some bad luck and finished third. She was disappointed about it for a long time. But now, she sees it as one of the greatest gifts she’s ever been given.
“Up until that point, my self-worth was tied up into how I performed…It was such a great gift to realize that I am way more than any performance or result,” she said. “At one point in my life, I was the very best, and that’s irrelevant. What was important is who I am.”
Coaching on a bike
In her post-racing days, Jacques coached a variety of sports and eventually became a life coach, utilizing the skills she learned from the many mentors who helped her overcome her own struggles.
“I always felt like my place was to create space and bring in other people to help heal and grow and transfer, and never realized I would begin facilitating. I found out that I have that skill,” she said.
But whereas most coaching sessions happen sitting down or over the phone, Jacques takes a different approach via private motorcycle lessons.
“I believe that many riders, especially women, are better than they think they are,” said Jacques. “Women develop confidence by learning small bits and pieces and putting them together into a concrete skill, while men tend to build confidence by conquering a challenge. Neither is right or wrong, just different.”
While the scope of her coaching isn’t exclusive to women, her Colorado-based motorcycle/life coaching business, ADVWoman, specializes in protocols and lessons specific to them.
“Fundamental to Pat’s instruction is a belief in empowering women by giving them the training they need to have the confidence to do things they wouldn’t normally do,” said Catherine Meade, 57.
Before meeting Jacques, Meade had done 1,200 km worth of off-road motorcycle riding while touring Africa, but had never felt comfortable on the gravel and sandy roads. After Jacques’ training, however, Meade built up her confidence, even on much more difficult terrain like water crossings.
Meade, who started riding later in life, also found inspiration in Jacques’ abilities as an older female motorcyclist.
“I might be tired, and I’ve got no excuse. She’s 62!” Meade added. “Pat was such an amazing role model in that regard—to watch her, look at her stamina and endurance. And she’s still doing it.”
Women supporting women
In July 2021, Meade and Carla Cavanagh were among the group that joined Jacques on her annual week-long, all-women Colorado Backcountry Discovery Tour, which starts and ends in Grand Junction.
Since Jacques’ initial trip in 2017, the feedback from her students has been more than positive.
“You can’t be in [Jacques’] presence and not be positively impacted by her methods and the knowledge she shares with riders of all skill levels and interests,” said Cavanagh, 59.
When she’s not coaching private lessons or leading group tours, Jacques is working on her upcoming book, which will include the protocols she’s created for women motorcycle riders and the life lessons she’s learned along the way.
And, of course, she continues checking out new trails on her motorcycle.
“There’s nothing that fills me with joy, peace and that centers me like riding the motorcycle. Motorcycling is a moving meditation for me…there’s a freedom there and lightness that’s unlike anything else,” she said.
According to Jacques, riding a motorcycle is much more than just physical ability; it’s about being in a good head space. Her most common life lesson for women: “You’re enough. Right where you are, you are enough.”
To learn more about Jacques’ coaching, visit www.ADVWoman.com or call 970-726-6830
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Pat’s favorite Colorado rides
Fall Color Tour
West of Buena Vista and east of Gunnison lies this dirt bike paradise deep in Colorado’s mining district and rich in history and spectacular scenery. Riders will find everything from easy dirt roads to uber technical single tracks.
This springtime escape from Colorado’s long snowy winters has a number of great trails: Sovereign Trail, Golden Spike, Poison Spider, Kane Creek, Slick Rock, Fins and Things, Chicken Point, Onion Creek and more! While Jacques said it’s all great riding, the trails can by harsh on her bike and her body. “I tend to take my Moab in measured doses!”
COBDR and Alpine Loop
The San Juan Mountains provide a unique off-road motorcycling experience. Thanks to Otto Mears’ historic mining and toll roads, riders can take in some of the most dramatic and spectacular mountains in North America. Engineer Pass, Cinnamon Pass, California Gulch, Corkscrew Pass and Ophir Pass are part of the COBDR and Alpine Loop.
Grand County is Dual Sport heaven! The country covers almost 1,900 square miles that are crisscrossed with county, U.S. Forest Service and BLM dirt roads, and is home to quite a bit of public land with well-maintained single track trails. If you’re into paved riding, Rocky Mountain National Park will take your breath away.