Sarah Merrell from Maryville, Tennessee, is a sportbike rider, pit bike racer, model, and actress. Sarah began acting at a young age and later went on to study film, media production and screen writing.
Sarah has modeled in a variety of fashion shows and photo shoots and began landing published work in magazines. Now a Director, Client Service with Fletcher Marketing PR an award-winning marketing and public relations agency based in Knoxville, Tennessee, Sarah Merrell continues to act in television episodes and commercials, and directs photo shoots and fashion shows.
technwheelz: How long have you been riding motorcycle?
Sarah: I’ve been riding motorcycles for 10 years.
technwheelz: Any specific reason you ride for?
Sarah: I ride because it’s my passion and every time I get on my bike I feel like it’s an adventure. I also find it to be peaceful because you have to be in the moment. When I ride, my bike and the road or track are all I’m focused and it’s makes me at peace.
technwheelz: Describe on how you got to where you are with motorcycling today.
Sarah: I used to ride on the back of my husband’s bike, but I found it to be very uncomfortable and not fun. So, he said, “why don’t you ride your own bike?” And I realized that’s what I wanted to do. I got my first bike and started working on my riding. It was hard at first and I was slow, but I learned from better, faster riders. I started doing track days and the coaches really helped me. It took a few years to truly gain my confidence. I’m proud of how far I’ve progressed even though there are still areas of my riding I want to work on. And I’d like see my lap times improve.
technwheelz: The first motorcycle you started riding/ learnt riding and your ride now.
Sarah: My first bike was a Suzuki DRZ Supermoto. I still have it. But I also have a Yamaha R6 sportbike and Honda CRF that is 88cc that I race. I love all my bikes, but I have to say my R6 is my favorite since I ride it on the track and I love doing track days. It’s fun on the road too.
technwheelz: Is there a motorcycling event that you try and attend regularly?
Sarah: I participate in Women’s Sportbike Rally every year, and have been going since 2009. And I’m excited to now be the National Marketing Director for Women’s Sportbike Rally. As far as riding events, my next track day is at Little Tallega in Alabama with Sportbike Track Time in May. I also race with the Fiddies 4 Life race series. We have races every three weeks at Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort. And I’ll be attending Women’s Sportbike Rally in September. I hope to do a few more track days this year.
technwheelz: How far have you ridden your motorcycle?
Sarah: Neither of my bikes are very comfortable for super long rides, but I love riding the Cherohala Skyway and Blue Ridge Parkway in NC and Foothills Parkway in TN.
technwheelz: Do you have a motorcycling achievement that you take pride in?
Sarah: Yes, I was the winner of the Michelin Road 5 Slick Award which recognizes a female rider who is an ambassador in her community by being friendly, helpful and easily approachable. I was also pretty proud of myself for getting bumped from Novice to Intermediate at track days and hope to get my advanced bump someday. And I’ve won a bunch of pit bike racing trophies. I was 3rd place overall last year.
technwheelz: Do you have any motorcycling heroes?
Sarah: Yes, I’ve been a fan of Melissa Paris. I love that she’s a woman and a mom and still this badass motorcycle racer. I think it’s inspiring.
technwheelz: How are women motorcycle riders treated by most people and by male motorcyclists?
Sarah: Oh man, where do I start? Haha. It’s such a mix. I get dumb comments from men of course, like “do you really ride that all by yourself?” And of course there’s what I call the “curse of the pony tail” — no one wants to be slower than the girl so sometimes I have guys riding dangerously and outside their limit to pass me or keep up with me. I’ve had guys wreck right in front of me because of it. However, there have also been many, many men who have been supportive and have helped me with my riding and have coached me. I wouldn’t be where I am today with my riding without the help of a lot of male friends and riders (especially my husband!) over the years.
technwheelz: Parents/ Friends- How do they feel of you riding a motorcycle. Any special comments?
Sarah: My parents have been very supportive. I know they worry about me sometimes, but I grew up riding horses. And let me tell you, horses are way more dangerous. A motorcycle only does what you tell it to do. A horse can have a mind of its own. I still love horses though—a lot of what I learned as horseback rider has helped me with my motorcycle riding. A lot of the same principles apply. And I learned from a young age, when you fall off, you get back on and try again.
technwheelz: The motorcycles you wish / dream to see parked in your garage?
Sarah: I want a Kawasaki Z125 so bad! I’ve been on the lookout for a good deal. This bike is small, but it’s so much fun. A friend loaned me one for the Smoky Mountain Crawl, an annual small bore rally, and I had an absolute blast.
technwheelz: Message to other female riders?
Sarah: Learning to ride wasn’t easy for me. I wasn’t a natural at it. It took a lot of hard work, and there were times I wanted to give up. But I had other women riders who set an example and cheered me on. So I kept working at it. And now, riding is this huge part of my life. So I want to encourage other women who are thinking about being a motorcyclist—if I can do it, you can do it. And it is such a rewarding and fun sport once you gain your confidence. And that confidence will come with time so don’t give up.
Follow Sarah on Instagram at @sarah__merrell and click the pic below to check out her feed
interview as told to team technwheelz
Image credits to respective owners