On a mission
By PAUL CHAMBERS
LIKE mother, like daughter, like sister, like father, like son, like brother!
Those people who believe talent is due to nature more than nurture should look no further than the Bates family for proof of their argument.
Ashlea and Elisha Bates are the new generation in a family of riders to take first the BMX and now the motocross world by storm.
Ashlea, who is 14, was a talented BMX rider who transferred onto moto cross bikes five years ago and seven-year-old Elisha has been riding the motorised bikes since she was four years of age.
Next weekend they both begin their quests to win the All Female and 50cc Challenge when they ride in the first of three rounds at Nowra, with the second round taking place at Oran Park and the third at Young.
This major competition is in its third year now and includes riders from all over Australia so the field is always large and tough.
The girls enter the event very optimistic of their chances of success, especially Ashlea who has a great previous record in the competition having won it in its first year and finishing fourth last year despite riding on a borrowed bike after her own bike blew up in the very first race.
Elisha is also really looking forward to Nowra as now that she has turned seven she is able to ride competitively for the first time, having only been able to ride in exhibition type races where no-one wins or loses over the last few years.
In what is a hectic schedule for the young girls, they are also currently taking part in the big Go Girls Race Meeting, and are about to embark on south-east Queensland competition as well.
The Go Girl meeting includes four rounds of races with all competitors racing in three races per round and then the points they score in relation to the position they finish are totalled up at the end of the round to get an overall winner.
The first two rounds, in Tivoli and Chinchilla, have been completed, leaving only the races in Roma and Kingaroy to finish the competition.
Both of the sisters, and their friend and riding partner Ashley Grady, 14, are already winning their respective competitions so more success seems inevitable here too.
Then the girls will switch their focus onto the big one, the Australian titles at Coolum, Queensland from September 28 to October 2.
Ashlea is undaunted by this level of competition, in fact she is looking forward to it having finished in third spot in 2002.
So what is it that the girls enjoy most about their sport?
Ashlea had no hesitation.
"I love the fun of riding, but most of all I enjoy riding against and beating the boys!" she said.
"My greatest achievement was coming third in the Australian titles in Western Australia in 2002, when I competed against 69 boys."
Elisha also said the fun of riding was the main attraction for her.
"It's great fun riding with all my mates" she said.
"As long as I am out there and the wheels are turning I'm fine."
Their mum Jo, who was also a good BMX rider in her time, is very proud of her daughters' achievements.
"It is great that they are both out there doing something that they really enjoy and are good at, and they especially love mixing with, racing against and especially beating the boys," she said.
"It is wonderful watching Ash following her dream of eventually becoming a professional motocross rider in the States and Elisha trying to match her in all she does and following in her big sisters footsteps."