Hailing from the Bayou state comes a 19-year-old with bubbly personality and a drive to succeed in everything she does. Aspen Neely is balancing college and preparing for nursing school as she lives in Cairo, Ga training at Georgia Practice Facility. Starting off in mx at 9 years old she’s managed to maintain good grades and continue working out and working while qualifying for Loretta’s the last 8 years proving she’s one of the elite riders in women. I was able to catch up with Aspen while she was down at GPF and this is what she had to say.
How old were you when you started racing?
I was 9! My brother Palmer got a PW for his birthday and I kept riding it, which I was way too big for. I came home from school and was surprised with a KLX110. It all took off from there for my family.
Do you feel your family is closer because of you and Palmer both racing and training together?
Yes! My family has been together every weekend since we started racing, I don’t think there has been more than 5 races my mom or dad has missed. It’s pulled us closer together as a family.
Do you feel as a woman this sport is harder?
Yea I do, women don’t get much support in this sport unless you’re the very top few. Nobody takes us seriously, women always hear the phase “but you race women’s.”
What motivates you to continue racing?
I really love racing because it always keeps me on my toes. It’s exciting and addictive to think about how I’m going to do in the next race or who I’m going to be battling with. I also enjoy riding with my friends and having fun.
What does it mean to you to be at GPF and have a program and consistent trainer?
Being at GPF such an awesome program to be a part of, it’s like having extended family on the same property with me. The Woods family not only does a lot for me, but for everyone that is there. Mrs. Terry is always organizing fun events and making meals for us, Mr. Ray keeping the place in tip top shape, and josh keeping the track prime and training us! It really helps it feel like “home” which makes everything else go smooth.
How do you balance training and college?
Attending college and training for racing keeps me very busy! I also just started a new job at Burn Boot Camp which Josh’s wife, Melanie just opened in Tallahassee. Becky, the head trainer at Burn keeps me in shape and helps with a nutrition program. I am thankful to have Becky at Burn keeping me strong while I haven’t been able to be on the bike as much.
How do you feel about the year looking back?
This year has been rough on my family. My Pops (grandpa) was sick this entire year so my dad and mom stayed in Texas with him for his last months. During that time, my brother got hit by a car while cycling one afternoon just a couple of miles away from GPF. It was a scary incident and has kind of scared me from cycling. I used to go cycle everyday whether I was with a group or by myself. Now I’m more cautious and try to be more aware of my surroundings. Then, one of my training peers at GPF, Estrella, had a bad crash at Mini O’s, leaving her in a coma for 14 days in Gainesville, Fl. I have spent every weekend traveling down there to spend time with her and her family. Every time I go I am speechless of her progress from the previous week. She is so strong and such a fighter, this rehab will kick her back into shape and she’ll be back with us #gpfgirls (myself, Anna George, and Alyssa Cole) before we know it. My family has also had our own share of other obstacles we have had to endure. So, yes it has been a rollercoaster of events this year but if I have learned anything it’s to live life to your fullest every day and to never take it for granted.
Were you satisfied with your experience and riding at Loretta’s?
I was very satisfied with my results from Loretta’s this year since I went in kind of blind folded and didn’t have any expectations. I wasn’t planning on racing because I was away at school and hadn’t ridden in about 8 months. I went to an area qualifier with my boyfriend and started watching the races, I didn’t think I had missed it until then. I said to him “let me wear your gear and ride your bike to qualify I’m going to race this year” so I got that done, starting riding more and made it at my first regional. I did the GPF LL summer camp and loved getting to ride everyday again. I’m so glad I decided to race. It was such a fun experience to race with no pressure on myself, or having certain expectations like I had for myself in the past.
What are your plans for racing in 2018?
2018 I plan on racing Loretta’s again. If all goes as planned, this will be my 9th year racing at Loretta’s! I would like to race Daytona, Freestone, and Loretta’s if my school schedule allows it. I plan on starting nursing school in the fall so I think that it would be fun to get in one last good year before the real world starts!
DAILY BREAD BY / JESS TEN HAGEN
(Know someone that should be featured?)