Sarah Merrell is a sportbike rider, pit bike racer, model, and actress. We’re pretty sure she can ride circles around you, us, and most of the people we know. She wasn’t born a kick-ass rider though. Sarah took her journey learning to ride seriously, and pushed through the times where thought about quitting. Now she’s passing racers on the track and shaving seconds off of her old laps. Check out her story.
Name: Sarah Merrell
Home town: Asheville, North Carolina
Claim to fame: AMC’s Ride with Norman Reedus. Out of all the TV shows I’ve filmed, it was my favorite experience and the only one where I got to ride a motorcycle!
Pineapple on pizza: Yes, with bacon!
Three things I couldn’t live without: My R6, my husband, and my jacuzzi tub after a long day of riding!
I can whoop anyone’s ass at: Pit bike racing… but sadly, I haven’t been able to beat my husband. He’s crazy fast.
The thing I’m most proud of is: Having learned to ride. I had moments when I thought I would never be a rider. But, I didn’t give up.
YouMotorcycle: Let’s start with how you got into motorcycling. What’s the story?
Sarah Merrell: I’ve been riding for about 9 years. I began by riding on the back of my husband’s R6, but soon found it was very uncomfortable. He said to me one day, “Why don’t you just get your own bike?” I never thought I could really do it, but he encouraged me. I did the MSF course and got my first bike. I started out very slow and fearful, but through my husband’s encouragement, and motivation from other female riders, I became more confident.
YouMotorcycle: You actively made a point of making motorcycling a part of your life.
Sarah Merrell: Definitely. I sought out opportunities to become a better rider like Total Rider Tech and instruction at track days. I also found a lot of support from the women motorcycling community. The more experienced riders spent time with me, gave me pointers and let me follow them. After getting some track days under my belt and working hard at my skills as a rider and learning as much as I could, I started to see improvements. Before long, I was keeping up with the guys and moved up at track days.
Pic by US 129 Photos
YouMotorcycle: And there’s a Dragon in your backyard too, isn’t there?
Sarah Merrell: I feel very blessed to live near one of the best motorcycling destinations in the world: Deals Gap, North Carolina, where “The Dragon” (US 129) is located, boasting 318 curves in 11 miles.
YouMotorcycle: Are you always up on The Dragon?
Sarah Merrell: I split my time between my house in Maryville, Tennessee, just 45 minutes from The Dragon, and a lake house at Deals Gap which allows me full-time access to the great roads in the area. In addition to The Dragon, there are amazing roads with stunning, panoramic views of the Smoky Mountains like Foothills Parkway, Moonshiner (Highway 28) and the Cherohala Skyway. It’s a truly beautiful area and it’s a motorcyclist’s dream. On any given weekend, you can find me on the roads around Deals Gap on either my Yamaha R6 or Suzuki DRZ Supermoto.
Pic by US 129 Photos
YouMotorcycle: That’s a great pair to have. I’m a big fan of having two bikes, each with very different attributes.
Sarah Merrell: In addition to road riding, I race pit bikes. Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort has a pit bike racing series. I’ve been doing it for 6 years now and I’m currently in 3rd place overall. I’m the only female racer–the other 13 racers or so are guys. The TV show “Ride with Norman Reedus” on AMC featured our pit bike races in one episode, so I got to meet Norman and film for the TV show.
Pic by US 129 Photos
YouMotorcycle: Too cool. What’s the female riding community like over there?
Sarah Merrell: I’m a big supporter of the women’s motorcycling community for many reasons. First of all, there’s not very many of us that ride sport bikes and seriously ride and do track days. Because of that, we’ve banded together. I meet other women riders and we become fast friends. Also, it’s women riders who have taken the time to help me and motivate me. Through Women’s Sportbike Rally, an annual event at The Dragon, I’ve met so many wonderful, skilled ladies. It’s kind of like being part of an all-inclusive club. We stick together and support one another.
YouMotorcycle: A club that you’ve been a part of for a while now.
Sarah Merrell: Now that I’ve been riding for almost 10 years, I’ve become an experienced rider, so things have changed. Now I’m the one who trains other ladies who are new to riding. I let them follow me, I give them tips, I encourage them to get on the track and to come to Women’s Sportbike Rally.
Pic by Craig Burgwardt
YouMotorcycle: Tell us a bit more about that?
Sarah Merrell: The Women’s Sportbike Rally is coming up Sept. 7 – 9 and I’ll be leading the group ride for the advanced riders. It’s a great opportunity for women riders to connect.
YouMotorcycle: And the men?
Sarah Merrell: Yup. Not just women. I help guys too. I started leading guided rides last year, and I enjoy sharing my favorite roads with people. My favorite route is a loop the includes the Cherohala Skyway. I have the riders in my group wear a swimsuit under their leathers since there’s a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains that we stop at to cool off. And at the end of the ride, we enjoy an awesome dinner at Tapoco Lodge.
Pic by Craig Burgwardt
YouMotorcycle: What are the Deals Gap locals like?
Sarah Merrell: The local motorcycling community at Deals Gap is pretty cool. We’re all good friends and the locals are very good riders. It’s fun to be around so many other motorcycle addicts who have a love for the twisty roads. The overlook at Deals Gap is a hang out spot, as is Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort.
YouMotorcycle: Is it all #bikelife 24/7?
Sarah Merrell: Although it often seems like my life, and my husband’s life, revolves around motorcycles, I do have to make a living outside of motorcycles. I wear a lot of hats. I’ve been a model and actress now for nearly 20 years. I’m signed with Gage Models & Talent Agency and do a lot of TV commercials and bit parts in television shows. I have my first feature indy film, “Beauty and the Beholder”, coming out this year where I play the role of Mallory.
YouMotorcycle: Busy lady!
Sarah Merrell: I also model in photo shoots and runway shows, but now that I’m in my mid-thirties, I’ve transitioned to also being behind the camera. I now direct fashion shows and photo shoots and I teach modeling and acting classes for Gage Talent. In addition to modeling and acting work, I do have a professional job. I have an MBA degree and work for a marketing and public relations firm. I guess I wear a lot of hats.
YouMotorcycle: Tell us a bit about your upcoming projects.
Sarah Merrell: Because of my love of motorcycles, and my experience as a model, I started doing photo shoots with my bike–thus all the photos you see on my Instagram. I’m currently working on getting a new website and blog up and running so I can document my adventures on my motorcycle. I’ve started to get a little traction, but hope to build it.
Sarah Merrell: I’ve gotten to do some modeling/influencer related work for TCX Boots, Sena and Royal Enfield.
YouMotorcycle: Awesome, Sarah! Where are you headed after this?
Sarah Merrell: Right now, I’m looking forward to being at VIR for a track day next week, and my next pit bike race is a couple weeks away.
Thanks for your time Sarah. Keep the shiny side up!
Give this kick-ass rider a follow on Instagram, and click the pic below to check out her feed:
*NEW* Calling all female motorcyclists with a cool story to share:
We’re passionate about getting more women riding motorcycles, so we want to hear why you’re riding, and how you got started. Motorcycling is a small community, let’s make riding more accessible.