As strange as it might seem, to simply call Vicki Golden a groundbreaking athlete would actually be a disservice to everything she’s accomplished in her career. Over the past decade, the Southern California native has accomplished more on a motorcycle than any other woman in the history of two wheels.
Golden began her career as a racer, mixing it up alongside the fastest females on the planet in the Women’s Motocross Championship, which resulted in a trio of X Games gold medals in Women’s Moto X. That success provided the inspiration to become the latest rider to break the sport’s gender barrier, where she became the first woman to qualify for an AMA Arenacross Main Event and earn her Monster Energy Supercross license. She didn’t stop there. Golden chased her dream of racing under the bright lights and in the big stadiums of supercross, and successfully became the first woman to qualify for a Monster Energy Supercross night program.
At this point, Golden could have arguably been considered the most accomplished woman in motorcycle racing history, but she wasn’t finished breaking more glass ceilings. She shifted her focus to the world of freestyle motocross, where she was a natural on the metal ramps. She made more history by becoming the first woman to win an X Games Moto X Best Whip medal.
With her career thriving, Golden almost lost it all in 2018 when a freak accident at a FMX demo left her with a severely broken leg. A total of seven surgeries were needed just to save her leg, and the idea of riding again became an afterthought. Over the next year, Golden showed how tough she truly is. She didn’t just recover from her injuries, she returned to the bike and picked up right where she left off. A year and a half after her accident, Golden became the first woman to backflip the 12-foot “moonbooter” ramp at Nitro Circus Live.
Golden’s latest achievement has officially landed her in the upper echelon of all-time greats in motorcycling, man or woman. In July, Golden became the newest owner of a Guinness World Record when she broke a mark set by none other than the greatest daredevil of them all, Evel Knievel, in font of millions on “Evel Live 2.” Golden smashed through 13 wood walls of fire, and while the buzz of accomplishing such a historic feat still lingers, Golden is already fully focused on her next task of competing at 2019 X Games in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she’ll look to add more hardware to her collection of four medals.
Monster Energy caught up with the newest member of the Monster Army, to get her thoughts on everything she’s accomplished as a rider.
Vicki, what does it feel like to be a Guinness World Record holder?
“Man, it’s crazy. It’s something that you never really think about, like making it a goal, or how it even comes about. It really all just came from Travis (Pastrana) doing what he did last year and how great of a success that was (and) that inspired me and Axel (Hodges) to try and do these things and break these records. It’s just pretty crazy to think that we were able to put it all together on one big show format, and were able to show the world not just action sports, but how progressive our industry is.”
How did you get involved with “Evel Live” and how did you determine this was the record you wanted to break?
“I talked to Nitro Circus a few weeks before they approached me with the idea. I think I was still on tour with them in New Zealand and came to them with some ideas and seeing if there was any possibility of doing something like that. So I came to them initially, and then they came back to me just a few weeks later with the firewall record. It was a weird record for me, just because at first I didn’t really get it. I wasn’t jumping, and that’s what I do. I jump anything and everything. It was kind of a weird change of pace for me to instead of jumping something just ride in a straight line and bash through walls on fire. It was definitely different, but when you get an opportunity like that you’re obviously going to take it.”
How exactly did you prepare for a stunt like that, as someone who is a racer at heart and has spent your life flying through the air to transition into something as unique as that?
“It was crazy. I didn’t really wrap my head around the danger because I wasn’t leaving the ground. I just thought it was no problem. We did a couple runs, but there’s no real easy way to practice going through walls on fire except to just basically do it. So we started with one that wasn’t on fire and it wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t as hard as I expected without the fire. But as soon as we lit them on fire it changed everything. I couldn’t see nearly as much. I was basically riding blind because of all the fire, and the smoke was getting into my eyes and burning my eyes. I didn’t have much awareness from what I’m used to.”
How does earning a world record compare to all the other things you’ve accomplished in your career? You’ve done a lot!
“It’s really tough to even answer that. I’ve apparently just been stacking up a lot of these world’s firsts and putting myself in the history books. I don’t know. Adding that to the list just makes it all more humbling and makes me smile to say that I’ve done all these things on my dirt bike. And it’s not because I want to be in the history books and say I was the first. I just flat out enjoy riding my dirt bike, and these are the goals I set for myself because that’s what I have fun doing. So every direction that I go I just set goals for myself, whether they make me the world’s first, or not. To be able to do all that stuff on my motorcycle, there’s nothing that could make me happier. It just makes it even better that I get to do something that’s done by the greatest athletes in the world. To put my name alongside legends like Travis Pastrana and Evel Knievel is just unreal to me.”
You’ve arguably accomplished more than any other woman in motorcycle history, and have broken countless barriers along the way. Are you aware of everything you’ve accomplished in your career, and does it mean something different to you knowing the added significance of those accomplishments?
“You know, I think on my bad days I try to use that as a way to bring back the confidence. Anyone that knows me knows I’m a very humble person, and like I’ve said, I just love to ride my dirt bike. So on those bad days I’ll go back and think about everything I’ve been able to accomplish and that’s what gets me through the tough times. To even hear that I’m a female icon in this sport, it’s just very humbling. I feel very honored to be able to come back from (my injury), not even knowing if I’d ever be able to ride a dirt bike again, to getting this opportunity to continue doing what I love.”
You’re one of the newest members of the Monster Army. How did this relationship come about?
“It’s kind of crazy. I was talking with Monster’s athlete manager before I even got hurt (in 2018) and he really wanted to have me be part of the team. Unfortunately, I got hurt and no one is going to sign someone with a potentially career-ending injury. It was just one of those things where it all got put on hold. Then I started riding and getting back into it, going back on tour with Nitro Circus. Everything was working our really, really well, and that’s when we revisited this whole thing. It kind of all just came together at once, the Nitro Circus stuff, the Evel Live opportunity, and going into X Games. It’s just a really, really cool partnership that I’m stoked on.”
What does it mean to have the support of a brand that’s really at the heart of action sports, and is largely responsible for the global popularity of a sport like FMX?
“It’s huge to have the support of that kind of company. They do not just action sports in the U.S. They do it around the world, and they represent our sport so well. They do so much for us. Every athlete is going to work and strive to be a part of the Monster Energy team. That’s what I was working towards, as well. So to finally make it happen and have the support of that team, they’ve already taken such good care of me. They’ve got so many ideas, beyond what we’ve just talked about, and it’s only been a couple months. I’m definitely excited for the future.”
X Games is next. What’s the plan?
“It’s X Games Best Whip! I’m so stoked to be invited back. I’m first alternate for Step Up as well, so I’ll just keep practicing in case I’m needed there. You never want to see any of your buddies get hurt, so I guess I’d rather be a first alternate because it means everyone is healthy. However, I always want that opportunity to get in there and get a medal. I have so many good people behind me, and I’m stoked to have the opportunity to get their logos on TV and support them. Hopefully we can come back with a medal!”