Review by Julie Ann
It’s easy to read Ashley Fiolek’s memoir, Kicking Up Dirt, and think, “this girl is crazy-insane,” as you read about her terrible crashes, daredevil feats and high-risk career choice of motocross racer. But a deeper look reveals Fiolek as a fighter battling to overcome physical obstacles and achieve gender equality in motocross racing. She’s a girl with a deep love for her family and a strong faith in God, not to mention a fun-loving, happy-go-lucky teenager who loves texting, food and goofing off with friends.
Kicking Up Dirt details Fiolek’s progression from motorcycle-riding in the Michigan woods, through years of perfecting her skill in the amateur ranks, to finally becoming a two-time champion and professional Honda factory rider. Oh, and there is that little plot twist of profound deafness. Fiolek’s story is as thrilling as it is inspiring.
Never one to sit still and lead a humdrum life, Fiolek recounts electrifying races, heart-stopping action and horrific, gut-wrenching accidents, including one during the 2009 season finale – the Women’s Motocross Association championship. During the race she crashed her bike and snapped her collarbone in half.
Kicking Up Dirt also focuses on the how Fiolek’s family supported, sacrificed and encouraged her to the success she’s achieved. She recounts how life as a young motocross racer has taken a toll on her family and how it has impacted her relationship with her father, as he served as both her dad and coach. She also shares how her Christian faith enables her participation in such a high-risk sport and gives her confidence to succeed.
Kicking Up Dirt also provides a crash course in motocross – the history, slang and points system. There’s even advice for young riders hoping to break into this wild sport. Shortly after reading Kicking Up Dirt, I decided to watch my first motocross race – the 2010 X-Games finale. I was able to understand all the terms the announcers used and knew most of Fiolek’s major competitors. It was thrilling to watch Fiolek ride an impressive race to another X-Games gold medal knowing where she came from and what she has overcome to get there.
More than a good story, Kicking Up Dirt will inspire and bring hope to anyone who has ever struggled to conquer obstacles to achieve a dream and live life to the fullest.
Kicking Up Dirt by Ashley Fiolek with Caroline Rider ©2010 Harper Collins ISBN: 9780061946479, $21.99 208 pp. Hardcover; photos throughout and eight-page color insert