Among the 85 revving and jostling motorbikes at the starting line of the Jamalka Off-Road Racing event at Tumby Bay on Eyre Peninsula are seven women who are not just here for the competition.

This means more to them than a trophy.

When Murray Bridge mother-of-two daughters Natasha Sky climbs onto her bike it means empowerment and joy.

Motorbike riding has been her saviour, helping her recover from post-natal depression and managing anxiety.

“I was in a dark place, and every time I hopped on the motorbike and put my helmet on it just made me feel better. It was therapy,” Sky said.

When 18-year-old top South Australian female rider Emma Haylock first began racing motorbikes as a seven-year-old some boys would knock her off her bike. Especially if she was in front of them.

Emma Haylock focuses on nutrition and fitness to improve her riding.(ABC Eyre Peninsula: Jodie Hamilton)

“You had the dads yelling at their sons ‘a girl’s in front of you’,” Haylock said.

“They would take you out and be very aggressive.

“It was pretty scary.”

After 11 years of competitive racing, clocking up state titles and even film work as a stunt rider, the teenager is no longer scared.

Also among the pack is Naomi Findlay of Adelaide who admits she’s addicted to racing after taking it up just three years ago.

“When my Dad passed away I thought ‘stuff it, life’s too short’ and bought a 15-year-old bike and just turned up to a motocross track. I didn’t even know what motocross was,” Findlay said.

Naomi Findlay and Natasha Sky say the female riders support each other.(ABC Eyre Peninsula: Jodie Hamilton)

The three women battled the large field and dusty conditions with Haylock finishing first in the women’s section and 39th overall.

They say the more events for women and girls, the more girls will be able to take up the sport.

Sky is involved in the Murray Bridge Motocross Club and promotes women-only events.

“Last year I organised a full female event [at Murray Bridge]. We had 90 girls come, and we had girls come that had never even ridden on a motocross track,” she said.

“I think the biggest thing with women is just lacking confidence and feeling that everyone’s looking at them and [thinking] that they look silly.”

Racing to tackle anxiety

Natasha Sky in the neon pink and yellow lines up fo the start of the motorcycle event.(Supplied: Dale Bishop Photography)

Last year the 40-year-old Sky raced in 72 events including motocross sidecars, solo and sidecar road trials, solo motocross, flat dirt track sidecar, and solo enduro.

“I have really bad anxiety and I just don’t want to be held back by anxiety, so I just make myself do stuff that’s on the edge,” she said.

“I always say ‘helmet on, world off’.”

She admits to being a bit of a thrill seeker.

“There’s been times where I’ve been riding around the track and I see a big jump or something and I say ‘I’m not just a mum’ and I just fly over the jump, and I’m like ‘woohoo!'” Sky said.

“It’s good to do stuff like that in front of my kids to show them that, you know, girls can do it, and the mums can do cool stuff, too.”

She’s also a self-taught basic mechanic, learning from online videos.

“I give it a go and have a try and do the basic stuff, like changing your oil and filter and all that sorts of stuff,” she said.

She’s had a few close calls in the motocross sidecar.

“I’ve been flung off of there a few times, and run over, which is a bit scary. My husband’s always trying to ban me from riding those,” she said.

Emma Haylock began riding at five years of age and entered her first competition when she was seven.(Supplied: Ian Haylock)

Naomi Findlay said sometimes there were not enough female competitors at events.

“If we don’t have enough women to make a class we don’t even get scored as a result. That’s pretty disheartening,” she said.

“I was one of the women that was lobbying for Finke to put in a women’s class. They had the first separately-scored women’s class last year and attracted record numbers of women.”

Haylock has also watched the sport embrace women.

“There’s heaps of girls now in the sport, which is really good to see because when I started off there was not many,” she said.

She focuses on diet and strength training and says it’s the hardest sport she’s tackled.

Her 250cc bike is twice her 55kg weight.

At 18 years of age, Emma Haylock has been racing for 11 years under her father Ian’s guidance.(ABC Eyre Peninsula: Jodie Hamilton)

“You build so much more muscle than you would with other sports, to ride around the track. Mainly core, and heaps [in the] legs as well,” she said.

She’s also embraced competition with the boys.

“They really push you, and when they’re behind you they will try and do everything they can to get past,” Haylock said.

“It really builds up your heart rate and gets you wanting to put in a gap away from them.

“They’re still a bit competitive, but they aren’t going to take you out and especially if they’re coming around to pass you, they’ll make sure they leave their gap.”