Professional motocross star Tarah Gieger has experience competing on some powerful machines. Now, however, she will showcase her skills on an underpowered pit bike. She is part of the massive competition — featuring 11 two-rider teams — known as the Pastranaland Pit Bike Championship that airs Saturday on ESPN2.
Speaking with PopCulture in an exclusive interview, Gieger previewed a "frightening" experience that turned into a "blast." She explained that none of the competitors had any practice time on the small Kawasaki KLX110 pit bikes. They just had to go onto what she described as a "revenge-type course" and figure out how to jump the underpowered machines amid a mass of people. The end result was a chaotic day of racing in which several people crashed, but they all avoided injury while creating a unique product for ESPN.
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"It was a pretty brutal course," Gieger told PopCulture. "I think [Nitro Circus star] Hubert [Rowland] was paying everybody back for always going out there and wrecking anything he builds. So it was funny that it seemed like a revenge type track, but he knew what he was doing. He made an amazing track, but it was definitely frightening.
"Everybody, after they walked it, was a little scared, to say the least of what was going to happen. But we all went out there and we all practiced together and everybody got it dialed in and it still didn't change the fact that it was tough to get around. A lot of people were crashing, but everybody toppled back up and everybody escaped it relatively unhurt."
While 11 teams of two competed during the Pit Bike Championships, Gieger was part of the only female team in the competition. She partnered with 3-time world champion mountain biker Anneke Beerten to form Team cbdMD. Gieger had full confidence in her teammate heading into the competition, but their partnership was very last-minute.
"Originally, it was supposed to be [cbdMD athlete] Vicki Golden and myself. But unfortunately, a couple of days before the event, just at home practicing on her normal big bikes, she broke her wrist," Gieger explained while adding that she couldn't ask some of her moto friends to race on little bikes with very little notice. "It was a last-minute scramble and we wanted to keep it an all-girls team. ... I knew Anna was always down and she had done up a bike school event out at Pastranaland with me last year. I knew she was prepared for the chaos of Pastranaland and she's a really competitive person."
Gieger could not provide any in-depth details about the day of racing, but she did discuss one frightening moment. She said that she and another competitor got tangled together while going off a jump but managed to keep on their bikes. Once they landed, however, Gieger nearly ran into Dusty Wygle, her husband/one of the Nitro Circus members. After "ping-ponging around," they avoided catastrophe and continued racing. "Thankfully, I think both of us might have been some of the few riders that didn't actually crash," Gieger commented.
With the Pastranaland Pit Bike Championship complete and ready for viewers, the multi-time X Games medalist will continue training for a busy slate of competition. She is racing in two AMA National Championships this fall. This includes the National Hare & Hound Championship that begins in mere weeks. She continues to train while incorporating a mix of time in the gym and sessions on the bike near her home in Bend, Oregon. This time on the bike "beats her up," but Gieger uses her cbdMD ointments to help her body recover.
Pastranaland Pit Bike Championship airs on ESPN2, starting on Saturday. The first broadcast is 12 p.m. ET, and then a repeat airs on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. Fans that missed the first two broadcasts can tune in on Aug. 17 at midnight ET and later on Aug. 23 at 10 a.m. ET.