Creating tracks for the next generation
Australia’s queen of off-road racing, Jess Gardiner, has claimed just about every major title she pursued, now the 29-year-old has her sights set on guiding the next generation of off-road riders, and winning a few more titles.
The trophy cabinet of the Yamaha bLU cRU sponsored rider and ambassador has been bulging at the seams since she burst onto the off-road racing scene in 2010. As a fresh-faced 18-year-old, Jess claimed the Australian Off-road Championship, Australian Four Day Enduro (A4DE), and NSW Enduro Championship in the same year.
A decade later, Jess Gardiner’s trophy cabinet contains some of the most coveted silverware in off-road racing. In addition to her multiple World, European, National, and State off-road championships, Jess was the first Aussie woman to win the gruelling Six Day International Enduro (ISDE) and has since claimed six consecutive world titles as a member of the Australian women’s team at the ISDE.
“I’ve won a lot of titles over the years, although I’m still hunting a few,” Jess reveals while working through her list of achievements. “The Enduro World Championship has alluded me; I’ve been as high as seconds and thirds, but I’m keen to add it to the list.”
Looking to challenges starting to appear on the horizon, Jess is already making plans for her post-competition career. Together with her partner and fellow off-road riding legend, Jeremy Carpentier, Jess recently launched the Offroad Riding Institute. The dynamic duo provides off-road coaching to riders of all skill levels, with specialty clinics that include women-only coaching groups, as well as boot camps for younger riders – the combination of a parent-free camping adventure and full days of dirt-bike riding.
When asked if she sees herself as a role model for other female riders, Jess was most certainly proud of her achievements and feels she represents both female and upcoming male competitors. “For sure, I do,” she says. “I love doing our coaching schools. We started the business to give back to the sport, and to also share tips and information with the next generation of female and male riders, things that took me years to learn. I also want to show them the fun that off-road racing and motocross can deliver.“
“I’ve never seen my gender as a defining factor in anything I achieve or set my mind to,” she adds. “As an example, paying for my racing endeavours has always meant holding down a full-time job, for me, that is as a heavy equipment operator for JK Williams Contracting, and I also help out on any mechanical work to prepare race/training bikes. If there’s a job that needs to be done, I’ll jump in and have a go.”
Despite being a legend of the sport, Jess Gardiner remains one of the most likeable, down-to-earth, and approachable people you will be fortunate to meet. Testament to this is her involvement in the recent filming of the Yamaha Motor Journey global films, shot by a crew visiting from Yamaha Motor Company in Japan. What started as a request for Jess to assist with a planned off-road day, quickly blossomed into an offer for coaching, and taking on a starring role in the film by joining in on the week-long action. “When Yamaha called and asked if I could provide a day of riding trails around our family property, the conversation quickly turned to coaching for the riders, and me joining the crew for the road ride segment, it turned out to be an amazing adventure,” explains Jess.
Judging by the smiles and high-fives shared following the ride, the coaching clinic was a huge success. For Mizuki Sashide, riding a Yamaha TT-R230, it was her first taste of off-road riding “I was so nervous, but Jess was very patient and kind,” she said. “Thanks to her, I was able to move forward from beginner to riding on the dirt without fear, I felt the same feeling as when I rode a motorcycle for the very first time. This is something I want to do more of when I return to Japan, so I can be better next time I see Jess.”
Jess is now working toward peak physical fitness to ensure 2023 is her best year yet. “2023 is looking like my busiest yet,” she reveals. “As well as the off-road coaching with Jeremy, I’ll be competing in the World Enduro Championships and all major off-road races throughout Australia, while running the Yamaha JGR Ballards Offroad Team”.