How Brittney Palsa Traded Her Back Brace for a Dirt Bike

Scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine, rocked Brittney Palsa’s world in high school. As a 16 year-old girl, a back brace treatment wasn’t just brutal, it was simply unrealistic. In Brittney’s words,

"What teenage girl was really going to walk around with a brace on for 23 hours a day?"

While surgery was on the table, the doctor didn’t recommend it. It would be a painful, tough recovery with no guarantees. She surrendered herself to the sidelines, which was equally disappointing as it was frustrating.

Eventually, the question of surgery came up again. And this time, Brittney decided she didn’t have anything else to lose. 

Her recovery went better than expected, and a year and a half after her procedure, she found herself watching her brother race dirt bikes, wondering if maybe she could do that too.

So she did. 

When asked why she chose dirt bike riding as her initial jump back into sports, she said,

“I’m an all or nothing kind of girl. I was restricted for so long and I kind of felt this release and this confidence. If I was going to do anything, it was going to be something big.”

While the initial rides were frightening – how do I stop, how do I steer, there’s a lot of power here, etc. – Brittney felt that, through controlling a bike, she was in control of her life; something she hadn’t felt since her initial diagnosis all those years prior.

She didn’t get seriously into riding until Mountainist gave her the opportunity to do so. As the first official scholarship winner, Brittney was able to attend DIRTastic, an all-women’s dirt bike clinic.

Between the coaching and the encouragement of over 150 female riders, she left with the confidence to start riding at her local track.  

“DIRTastic showed me that I can do this. If these women can do this, I can too. And not only that. If I can do this, so can you.”


  • IRis

    This is awesome! What an incredible story of courage, there’s no 100% going into surgery but I like that she went for it!

  • Tana

    Brittney, you are a beast! I’d heard the story but the photos bring it to another level. So proud if you!!

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