Revving up excitement

Thrill of the ride eclipses threat of danger in motocross

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Rick Witner never tires of the smell of burning fuel and the near-deafening sounds of hundreds of dirt bikes revving up their engines.

The Aurora man, like the throngs of others from Craig and across the state, was mesmerized by the hundreds of racers who turned out this weekend for the Rocky Mountain Motocross Association races at the Yampa Valley Sports Riders Complex.

"I love it," Witner said, his eyes never wavering from the riders screaming past. Witner's son, Andrew, 11, competed in Saturday's races.

"I just love the smell of a motorcycle," he added.

Three tiers of campers, trailers and vehicles that served as temporary homes created a makeshift community in the hill adjacent to the Yampa Valley course near the Moffat County landfill. Motocross racers dressed in full protection suits contrasted against onlookers trying to keep cool in summer attire.

Christy Monroe traveled with her family from Greeley so her son, Braden, 10, could compete on the Craig track.

"We've haven't missed one of these since the spring," she said of competitions in the Rocky Mountain Motocross Association.

Asked whether she worried about her son's safety while competing, Christy Monroe emphatically nodded her head "yes."

"I think they just love to go fast," she reasoned.

As a reminder of the risks associated with motocross racing, announcer Rob Powers launched a campaign to take a collection for a motocross rider who was paralyzed recently on the Front Range.

Emergency medical technicians from The Memorial Hospital were on site Saturday to handle injuries. EMT Lynn Nichols said a few racers had been transported to the hospital Saturday, but that translated into a relatively calm day.

"We see breaks, strains, cuts, bruises, scrapes," she said.

Most injuries happen early in a motocross competition, she said. Nichols, who doesn't have children, said if she did, she wouldn't let them race motorcycles.

"I think it's just the test of skill that they like," she said of racers' desire to hit high speeds and sail over jumps.

Rick Witner insists the sport can be as "safe as riding a bicycle" with the proper training and equipment.

Yet, the father said he always gets nervous at the start of each race until he see his son successfully round the first corner, the most common place for crashes.

But the trade-off is worth it. Witner and his son share a sport they enjoy and motocross is an effective bribery tool that keeps Andrew "doing his homework, and out of trouble," Rick Witner said.

"I worry about him all the time," he said about his son's racing. "All we can do is go to motocross school, be educated and teach them the basics."

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