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Interview: Steph Bolam

We first met Steph Bolam when she arrived for the cover shoot of Sideburn 35, on a cold day in late-2018. She had been recommended as a cover star by Gemma of VC London, when we asked if Gemma knew of any riders in the capital who would be up for our cover concept. Steph was perfect. Read all about the SB35 cover shoot.

The next time we saw her, Steph entered DirtQuake 2019, at Eastbourne. DirtQuake was for her, like it has been for so many riders, an intro to the world of dirt track and soon Steph was a member of the DTRA and racing in different classes.

In the run up to the new DTRA season we contacted Steph for quick interview.

We first met on the day of the photoshoot for Sideburn 35. You arrived on a bike to the shoot, what was your riding history up to that point? I had started riding two years before. I learnt off road with a Beta Xtrainer. I rode it to our shoot but Londoners don’t really appreciate the smell of a two-smoker at traffic lights so I keep it just for enduro now.

At the Harley Sportster S launch in Manchester, Aug 2021

What was your first motorcycle race? Sideburn magazine inspired me to give racing a go and my first race was DirtQuake in 2019. I was dressed as a giant tequila bottle riding a Montesa trials bike. I had so much fun and it’s also where I met Gary Birtwistle who recently proposed :) What is it about dirt track that has hooked you? Wow, so much. It’s such a beautiful sport. Firstly it was the design of the bikes and the variety of bikes you can race. But really I love the people involved with dirt track, it’s so open. Everyone is so encouraging and willing to help not just me race, but my daughter too.

Steph & Lola, Gary Birtwistle behind (Photo: Claudia Agati)

What does your daughter thinking of mum racing? Is she planning to race more? Lola really enjoys being at the races. She is always running about with the other kids and has made some great friends. She isn’t a natural born racer, I don’t think, but she enjoys it. She likes to wait for her last race of a day to give it some beans and try to beat her friends. I think it’s important to learn to ride safe and have fun over just being there to win.

Getting to grips with her Rotax framer (Photo: Braking Point Images)

What bikes do you plan to race in 2022? I want to focus on racing my Thunderbike - a C&J Rotax framer. It’s an incredible bike and I am very excited to race it. I will also enter my minibike in a couple of rounds like the TT and Amman Valley as they are bloody good fun on a mini.

Stretching the vintage Bultaco's throttle cable at Greenfield (Photo: Braking Point Images)

What's happening with the Bultaco? Man, I love that bike. She is all fixed now and ready to race. I may enter a couple races on it but I did struggle last year when I was racing two bikes. Going from a vintage two-stroke to a four-stroke was hard. I feel like I need to train more so that I don’t make silly mistakes and hurt that very sensitive engine.

You're racing at Mablethorpe too, tell us about that. The beach is so unique. I feel like an absolute hero on a tiny farm bike. I think I am going really fast and then I see a video and it’s so slow I can’t help but laugh at myself. I love the atmosphere there. I love waiting for the tide to go out and then it’s just non-stop action packed racing. Are you part of Dirt Craft? Dirt Craft is all Gary’s baby. I just occasionally make some food for people on the days, but I like to be there when I can to watch people learn and improve. I am very proud of what Gary has done with Dirt Craft.

Minibike thrashing at Amman Valley. Steph dirt tracks and beach races the 125

(Photo: Braking Point Images)

What are your hopes and plans, from a racing point of view, for 2022 and beyond? I would like to not come last in Thunderbikes. Haha. Beyond that I would like to enter some enduros this year and race my minibike with Minibike Champs.


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