ST. GEORGE — Skyler Howes has raced his dirt bike over, through and around every nook and cranny southern Utah’s deserts have to offer. Now he’s headed to the deep, dark forests of the Eastern European nation of Slovakia.
“This is no joke,” Howes said. “I’ve ridden in the desert my whole life, but the mud and trees and forest, well that will be an adventure. Quite honestly, I have not ridden in that type of terrain. Ever.”
Howes, a 23-year old who works as a manager and coordinator at the Washington City Community Center pool, is one of just 30 endurance motorcyclists selected to represent the USA in the Slovak Republic in the International Six Days Enduro competition. Riders from virtually every country in the world (nearly 600 in all) will compete in the week-long event, with competitors travelling more than 160 miles a day.
Howes said the physical toll of the competition is immense.
“It really is all about the endurance,” he said. “I have a special 6,000-calorie a day diet I will be on, just to keep my strength up. It’s going to be fun. Hard, but fun.”
Along with the 160-miles a day, each rider will have a special section of the ride in which the competitors will face unique riding challenges. Howes calls them “special tests” and they might include a particularly winding route, thick forest area, hardscrabble ground and/or mud and roots.
The uniqueness of the course will challenge Howes, but his life on a motorcycle should have him ready for just about anything.
“My dad put me on a motorcycle from the time I could ride a bike — three or four-years-old,” Howes said. “I’ve done endurance riding my whole life here in the desert. But I had never done Enduro until last year. I tried out last year in Idaho City, but had some issues and just missed out. This year I did much better and I just got a call from the American representative telling me they wanted me as part of their team.”
Howes credits his dad, Bill, and his grandpa, William, for putting him on this motocross trajectory. But he also knows the sport he has chosen takes a lot of financial backing.
“This trip is going to be pricey,” he said. “I need to raise about $20,000 for the trip. I’m going to do as much as I can and also hope for a little help.”
Howes will be teaching off-road riding classes and selling t-shirts through his website, www.skylerhowes.com. He has also established a gofundme page, which currently has just over $2,000 so far in two weeks.
Howes, who will have to do his own maintenance (tire changes, prep work, etc.) as per race rules in Slovakia, vows to make the trip worthwhile.
“This is a huge honor, but I’m not going over there to just show up,” he said. “I want to win and I want to represent Utah and Team USA well.”
- Skyler Howes’ gofundme page
- Skyler Howes.com
- American Motorcycle Association
- Skyler Howes on YouTube
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