In our sport a lot of the attention and spotlight is put onto the racers and team personnel, and for good reason. After all, they are the main features of the racing, right? Despite that being true, there are a lot of people behind the scenes that help to make each rider a success. Arguably the most important among them are the wives and girlfriends of these star athletes. They often wear many hats from mechanic, to personal cheerleader, to trainer, and most importantly their biggest fan. Without them and their constant support, many riders wouldn't be to make through this tough sport that we all love. We wanted to take a deep dive into the dynamic of a few racers and their significant others and get their perspectives on the sport, their home life, and their lives around the races. Over the next few weeks we'll bring you exclusive looks into the lives of the women who make this sport and the racers they support so successful. This week we caught up with Falan Vandemeer, fiancee to Brandon Scharer of the 3D Racing EBR Performance Yamaha team.
Hey Falan! Tell us a bit about yourself and who you are.
Well to start, my name is Falan (named after my dad Alan). Im 23, and currently I am a full time, online, college student working towards my Bachelor’s degree in English. When I am not at the races with Brandon on the weekends you can find me reading. I can read basically anything as long as it’s got a good story line.
How did you meet Brandon and get involved in the sport?
It all started at a family BBQ back in 2012, I was in my senior year of High School. One of my cousins happened to have Supercross on that night, it was the first round of the East Coast that season. It also happened to be Justin Bogles rookie race…that was the race that him and Malcolm crashed together, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I was hooked, and started watching Supercross, then Motocross from there on out. That same year my other cousin was getting ready to race a Loretta Lynn Regional Qualifier. My mom, step dad, and I went to the race to support him, and even though that was a stressful day for my cousin he was able to qualify! Then I started to go to any race of his I could, and decided to pick up a camera and try my hand at some moto photos. A year later I was still taking photos, really enjoying it and possibly thinking of pursuing it as a career, when I took some photos at a local event…the Transworld Slam to be more specific. I went home that evening and began to edit photos, unsure of who half the guys were in the photos (I was still learning about the sport), when I stumbled upon a photo that I really liked. There was dirt flying in the photo which was in focus, while the rider in the background was turning in a berm somewhat out of focus. He didn’t have any numbers on his bike so I had no idea who he was. At the time I was trying to promote my photos on social media, and I uploaded the photo and said just that, “One of my favorite shots, but I have no idea who the rider is”. Against all odds…a person I didn’t follow, and who didn’t follow me, tagged the rider who was none other than, you guessed it, Brandon! After Brandon was tagged in the photo we started talking, and he asked me out on our first date not long after.
Did you know a alot about Motocross and Supercross prior to meeting him?
Somewhat yes…I had started watching it a year prior to us meeting, but I had no idea what the sport was really all about.
What were your initial thoughts about the sport?
Super exciting! One of the better sports I was into! At the time I was going to school to be a sports journalist, and I was set on being a reporter for SX and MX, that’s how much I loved it.
What surprised you the most about the life of a professional Motocross and Supercross rider?
The amount of work they have to put into the sport, which such little payback to them.
How has his involvement in the sport shaped your relationship?
One thing for sure, if it wasn’t for Brandon and his racing I wouldn’t have had such amazing life experiences. I’ve travelled to so many new places, “survived” a motorhome fire (which includes all my clothes being destroyed/burnt), and I've even been Brandon’s #fakemechanic, which has hands down made us stronger as a couple. I’d be lying if I said racing wasn’t both of our main priorities, and it’s what we plan our lives around…and I’m perfectly okay with that. In fact, if Brandon stopped racing I wouldn’t know what to do…it would be really weird.
Walk us through a day in the life of you two?
To be honest, we’re a pretty “boring” couple. We don’t stray too far from our normal program. Our typical day would be Brandon waking up super early to start getting ready to head out to practice, which involves him having to force me out of bed as well. We go to practice together, he rides while I sit in the car and read whatever book I’m reading. After practice he washes and preps the bike, while I’m still reading. Then we head towards home, go to the gym for an hour or two (which he has to force me to go to as well). Then we go home and by then it’s time for dinner. Finally it’s time for bed; we actually call ourselves an “old couple” because more often than not we are in bed by 9pm. Sometimes we watch our favorite show “How I met your mother”, but only if we’re able to stay up a little late, Brandon is usually knocked out halfway through the first episode.
How do you impact his career/training?
I give all the credit to Brandon. He is his own mechanic/trainer/racer. If it wasn’t for him and his own motivation, and his downright love for the sport he would not be racing still. All I am there for is to support him when he needs me.
What is the most stressful/negative part about sharing your life with a pro rider?
Number one, would be the constant fear that he will get hurt. I don’t care if he breaks a pinky, it absolutely kills me to see him in any sort of pain. Being his #fakemechanic actually keeps me sane on race days because instead of worrying about him getting hurt I’m focused on getting his lap times/positions during the race.
Number two would be the instability of things. Unfortunately, there is nothing permanent in this sport…one day you could be the biggest thing out there, the next people forget who your name is. You have to be committed to going all in, and being able to go with the flow. This is includes moving, not having work, living on the road…etc.
What is the most exciting/best part?
On the other hand I would say the instability of the sport is what makes it so exciting. You never know opportunity is going to be coming next. Five years ago, I would never have thought that I would have travelled to as many places that I have been to. Another thing I love is the fact that I have met so many lifelong friends through the sport. Shout out to our friends Brent and Christina, whom I wouldn’t have met if it wasn’t for Brandon and his racing!
As someone who has an intimate connection to the sport, what would you like to see changed within the sport?
I just wish there was a broader industry, not just like five factory teams…If there were more opportunities for privateers I guarantee that if you put over half of them on a factory bike you would be surprised with the results. But unfortunately, only a handful of racers will ever get that opportunity and it’s a shame. This ties in with the money issue as well…I think if there were more racers on factory bikes, the racing would be more exciting, more sponsors would pitch in money because there would be more viewers, and overall the racers would be able to live off of the salary that they are getting. Money is definitely an issue. Just my opinion.
What is one cool fact/thing about Brandon that fans should know?
One funny thing I can come up with is that he is ambidextrous, making him really hard to eat with because he can never decide what hand he wants to use and he’s constantly elbowing me! Also, he’s actually a decent golfer…he somehow even got me into watching golf with him! And enjoying it!
What is one cool thing that fans should know about you?
Aside from me liking to read, I also love to write as well. That’s actually what I am going to school for, to be an author. I’m currently working on my first fiction novel…so who knows; maybe one day you will see my name on the cover of a book!
What encouragement or advice would you have for other people who’s significant other is an aspiring pro racer?
Hang in there and be as supportive as you can! Things can get really difficult sometimes, but that is when you really have to step it up as a girlfriend. You are their best friend, and essentially one of the only people that they will listen to. Constantly encourage them, and support them. Don’t be afraid to go with the flow, and don’t be afraid when things get out of control. They know what they are doing, and you also have to trust them, just like they trust you (even if they sometimes don’t show it). Also, don’t be afraid to live your own life outside of racing as well. You deserve a future just as much as they deserve a future in racing!