For some people, riding a motorcycle for six miles over various forms of terrain seems like a daunting task. For Brian Petty of Clanton, six miles is a piece of cake.
Petty has recently returned from his trip to Finland to compete in the International Six Days Enduro, a motorcycle championship that consists of the best racers in the world vying against each other for six consecutive days. It’s arguably the toughest motorcycle race on the planet.
Petty is an independent rider, meaning he has little to no monetary support from motorcycle manufacturers. This made the race twice as tough on him, but he still managed to do what several others couldn’t: finish the race without a mechanical failure or accident, all while staying in a time limit for each day.
“We finished,” he said. “I got a bronze medal. It’s not as good as I hoped, [but we finished].”
Make no mistake; it was anything but a Sunday ride for Petty. The ISDE is designed to separate the toughest riders from the rest of the field. You don’t win, or even finish, just by luck. A rider has to have nerves of steel and a high tolerance for pain to make all six days.
“The first two days were the absolute worst,” he said. “No doubt. It was very rocky and rough, and the trails were absolutely brutal. Never doing it before, it’s a learning experience. You have no idea what it’s like. The second day was rough, because there was no time to recover from the first.”
Once learning to tough it out on the trails, Petty had to learn the concept of managing speed on public roads while going from checkpoint to checkpoint, all while trying to stay in the time limit.
“We’d go on highways,” he said. “Not racing, just going to checkpoints. If you go two times the highway speed limit, they take your license. The cops wrote 180 tickets the first day.”
And, if a racer manages to last on the trails, and avoid the speed traps set out on the highways, there’s one more factor that has to be defeated: lady luck. It doesn’t’ matter how quick a rider is, if a bike breaks out on the trail, that’s it. If you can’t fix it yourself, tough sledding; there’s no pit crews, no stops, nothing to help a rider once they hit the course.
“I didn’t have any bike trouble,” he said. “I didn’t have many major issues, and had no mechanical issues. A lot of people didn’t finish.”
Petty said despite the sheer toughness of the event, he said he would like to make a return.
“After it’s over, the race is a lot of fun. Meeting people from all over the world, it’s an incredible experience. I would love to go back.”