In her first Enduro X competition last week in Brazil, Jolene Van Vugt finished nearly three minutes behind the winner, but she's eager to improve upon her seventh-place finish at X Games Barcelona.
"It was nothing like I've ever ridden, and nothing I was able to prepare for, so I just did my best. I had to pick up my bike a lot but I finished the race, so I'm just stoked," Van Vugt said April 18 after the women's Enduro X final won by Spain's Laia Sanz in Foz do Iguacu, Brazil.
"I went out there with a goal of getting here and making it look like I deserved to be here and that I fit in. I ended up in seventh so I'm pretty stoked for my first endurocross ever to finish like that. And now I'm just going to go home and work really hard and for the next one try to beat that seventh, hoping for a top five."
Not only does Van Vugt, better known as Nitro Girl from the Nitro Circus tour and TV shows, hold multiple motocross championship titles, she was the first woman to backflip a dirt bike -- with one hand as well as two. But the challenges that the endurocross obstacles combined with the slick conditions of the course posed in Foz were a new experience for her.
"It was gnarly out there. Coming into this I did the best I could training but never being in a situation like this you try to prepare yourself as best as possible but it always takes a turn sideways," Van Vugt said. "I felt really good in our practices and our seeding. And then we got out there for the race, and with the dew setting in and just the different elements coming into play the track became a whole new 'nother monster."
Coming in as a wild-card entry in the field of 10 competitors, Van Vugt, 32, said she was grateful for the way the endurocross community accepted her last week in her debut race, and now she's looking forward to the next one in May at X Games Barcelona.
"With Nitro Circus I do a lot of stunts and I backflip my motorcycle so I wasn't sure how I'd be received coming in to something like this, but I was taking it very seriously," she said. "And everybody here has been very awesome and very helpful and very kind. So I just look forward to the next one and hopefully I can improve and get a few more positions."