Sunol dirt-bike racer Kacy Martinez has been striving to make her mark in the world of action sports, and her hard work paid off in a big way earlier this year when she took home the gold in the women's EnduroCross event at Summer X Games in Austin, Texas.
"This year I got the gold, which I felt was long overdue. I feel like I should have been able to accomplish that a couple years ago," Martinez said.
Martinez began riding at 8 years old when her father bought dirt bikes to start a new family activity. Riding dirt bikes quickly became one of Martinez's favorite things to do, and now at 24 years old, she has developed a professional career out of it.
Martinez specializes in EnduroCross, a dirt-biking event in which participants ride at high speeds through short laps laid out with jumps and obstacles such as tractor tires, logs, bark and water pits. She has competed throughout the United States and internationally in Brazil, Germany and Spain.
X Games first included EnduroCross in 2011, and Martinez won the bronze medal that year. The following two years she did not qualify for a medal in the event, finishing fifth in 2012 and sixth in 2013.
Since competing in her first X Games, Martinez has switched to a new racing team, Factory FMF KTM, which she said is a level above her previous team.
"After my first year when I got bronze, I kind of went downhill. But I think with the new bike and new team, they've really stepped it up in helping me," she said. "I was able to train a lot and I have a track in the Fremont hills where I was able to practice. So, finally I got the gold medal and I was really happy."
Martinez also competes in a different racing circuit than she did back in 2011. She's now a part of the Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) series, which requires her to be on the East Coast for most of her races.
Last year, Martinez lived in North Carolina to be closer to her work destinations, but she moved back home to Sunol at the start of 2014. She now flies to and from the East Coast to compete. "I like being home much better. I missed my family and my dog a lot," she said.
The women's EnduroCross event at this year's X Games took place on June 6, and the following morning Martinez had to fly to Ohio for another race. Despite not being able to rest after winning the X Games gold, she was triumphant at the Ohio event, winning her class and the overall race, which included male and female participants.
"That was probably the best weekend of racing for me, going from the gold in Austin and then winning in Ohio," she said.
Right now, Martinez keeps her gold medal hanging around the Gibson guitar she also received for winning the race at X Games, but she plans to have a keepsake shadow-box made with the jersey she wore that day and the medal hanging inside.
A passion for racing and strong family support continue to motivate Martinez.
"My parents make it to a lot of my races," she said. "They really support what I do because we grew up doing it as a family and it's really cool to have them there."
Up next for Martinez are four more rounds of GNCC races, which start back up in September through the end of October.