When Krista Pyburn shuts down her computer after a busy day as a category analyst technician for Hormel Foods, she finds relaxation in an unlikely pursuit. Krista can’t wait to suit up and lose herself in her passion for motocross racing.
It’s not a passing fancy. For more than half of her life, she’s been hopping on fast two-wheeled vehicles to enjoy and compete in motocross, one of the most popular motor sports in the world.
“If I’m not racing on the weekends, I’m somewhere practicing,” she said, giving motocross the surprising moniker of “family sport.” Her husband, Grady, also races, and the two participate together every weekend. In fact, that’s how they met. If they have children someday, Krista would like to see them love the sport as she and Grady do.
Once you get a taste of what motocross is all about, it’s hard to give it up.Krista Pyburn
Motocross, a form of motorcycle racing that takes place on enclosed off-road circuits, has been around for more than a century. It began in the United Kingdom, but it’s since spread well beyond. It came to the United States some 50 years ago.
Krista’s father embraced it during its early years; he was a racer. Krista began following in his footsteps when she was 7, riding dirt bikes in the backyard of the family’s home in Fort Dodge, Iowa. By the time she was 14, she was racing. “I picked it up – and developed a passion for it –fairly quickly,” she said.
Men and women in motocross tend to compete separately due to differences in body size and overall strength. That notwithstanding, Krista often participates in co-ed races on the local and regional levels. More to the point, she’s been able to do so successfully.
As an indication of her skill level, Krista qualified for and placed 32nd in the highly regarded Loretta Lynn national championship in Tennessee last year, to date her most memorable race.
“This is the event everyone who races motocross dreams of competing in,” she said. “You race the fastest 42 riders in the world, having to place within the top eight at an area qualifier and then the top six at a regional qualifier before making it to the national championship.”
Krista is working on making it to the national stage again this year, but this time she’d like to finish in the top 10. It’s an ambitious goal, given the caliber of the athletes.
With its courses of hills, jumps, sharp turns and often muddy terrain, motocross can be a dangerous sport. Krista has suffered 5 concussions, a separated shoulder, a fractured vertebra and lacerations that required sutures, for example. Still, she insists people can stay with motocross for most of their lives. “Once you get a taste of what motocross is all about, it’s hard to give it up,” she said.
In addition to her work for Hormel Foods and her involvement in motocross racing, Krista is a full-time college student, taking online courses that will allow her to continue her studies at Southwest Minnesota State University in the fall.
She’s admittedly busy, but there’s no way she’ll cut back on motocross. The sport gives her way too much enjoyment.
“I get to travel all around the world, and it keeps me in good physical shape. It’s a lot of hard work racing motocross, but that’s why I like it so much. The harder you work at it, the better you get,” she said.