Local motorcycle racer to represent U.S. in worldwide event

Published 3:03 pm Friday, June 10, 2011

At first glance, riding a motorcycle seems like an easy thing to do: Maintain balance, know your limits and try not to lay the thing down or come off it unless it’s parked.

Now, imagine trying to do the aforementioned steps while riding against 500 other people, eight hours a day, for six straight days.

Now you’re starting to get where Clanton’s Bryan Petty will be this August. Petty will head to Finland to compete in the International Six Days Enduro, or ISDE, starting Aug. 8.

“It’s been called ‘The Olympics of Motorcycling,’” Petty said.

The ISDE is arguably the most prestigious dirt bike race in the world. More than 500 riders from close to 30 countries across the world will race across all kinds of terrain.

The goal is to out-ride and outlast everyone else to become the top rider in the world. Each country is considered a team, and the national teams are made up of smaller teams.

The event adheres to strict guidelines about time and what a rider can do to his bike. Once the race has started, there is no stopping. There are no pit stops, there are no time outs and there aren’t even any relief riders.

If you break a part and can’t fix it yourself, you lose.

“Any problem can drop you down,” Petty said. “You can’t change any main part of your bike. At the end of the day, you have 15 minutes to change tires, and 10 minutes in the morning to work. That’s the only free time you have.”

The race itself is a grueling event for all riders, but for Petty making it the distance might be twice as hard. While the team he’s on does have sponsorship, it’s not the same as having complete manufacturer support.

He rented his own bike just for the race and is having it shipped to Finland with the rest of the Team USA bikes.

“It’s pretty much [for] love of the sport,” he said. “People who have ridden all their lives know what a big deal this is. I made up my mind I wanted to do this, and [I did].”

Much like the Olympics, the ISDE awards medals to its competitors. Gold is awarded to all riders who finish within 10 percent of their class winner’s time, silver is awarded to those within 40 percent, and bronze goes to all those who finish within the allotted time.

Petty knows he’s fighting an uphill battle. The United States has never taken the World Trophy win at the ISDE.

The fact he is on a smaller team makes it even tougher for him, but there’s still a chance a weekend warrior could come away with international glory.

“There are some club riders that get factory help, but not me,” he said. “It would be a big accomplishment.”