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Taking A Bike Ride

Summer is always a nice time to take the bikes out for a pleasant ride through the streets of the city.

That is unless you’re Andrew Sanders and Ryan Wileman who have a different idea of riding bikes.

Sanders and Wileman, a couple of 15-year-old sophomores at Ironton High School, ride a different type of bike and they do it across a rough dirt course. You see, they ride gas-powered motocross bikes.

Sanders began riding about four years ago and it was his influence that got Wileman hooked on the sport a year later.

“I got my bike and (Sanders) found out and we began to hang out. He talked my dad into letting me ride,” said Wileman.

Motocross races are held all over the country every weekend and both boys spend a lot of time traveling. Wileman races about every two weeks and Sanders competes almost weekly on the 250cc bikes.

Sanders said he plans to attend races in Tennessee and Virginia during the next few weeks.

“When we started out it was just for fun and now it’s more serious and a lot more competitive. It’s not taken lightly,” said Sanders.

Wileman said they spend a lot of hours during the week training by riding various trails. “You have fun, but motocross is more serious,” he said.

Sanders agreed.

“When we started out, it was just for fun. Now it’s more serious and a lot more competitive. It’s not taken lightly,” said Sanders.

The extra amount of racing has pushed Sanders into the B Class or intermediate level. Wileman is currently in the C Class.

“Once you go up a skill level, you can’t come down,” said Sanders. “(Wileman and Sanders) have raced in the same class before, but not any more, or at least until he moves up.”

Sanders has lofty aspirations when it comes to advancing in skill levels.

“I’ve been riding pretty good lately. I’ve been in the top five everywhere,” said Sanders. “The next step for me is A Class or pro. I have to be 18 before I can go that far. I plan to go as far as I can.”

Wileman hopes to move up as well.

“I got myself a bigger bike. It’s a little harder and I’m still getting used to it. I’m progressing,” said Wileman.

The boys have played other sports, but they said riding motocross is a lot different because there are no teammates to rely on for support.

“It’s a lot different. It’s all about yourself. In team sports it’s about working with your team. This is kind of independent,” said Wileman.

“Team sports is fun to do because you do it with the school and people know how you do. In motocross you don’t have the support.”

Sanders echoed those sentiments.

“This is what you do is what you did yourself. You don’t rely on anybody but you and the bike. It feels pretty good. You’re in complete control all the time,” said Sanders.

There are concerns about motocross being a dangerous sport, but Sanders deflects those ideas.

“I wouldn’t consider it as dangerous as football. There you’re purposely trying to hurt someone,” said Sanders. “If you’re wearing the proper equipment, you’re not going to get hurt (in motocross). There are risks with everything, but it’s not as dangerous as people think.

“I’ve had incidents on practice days, but you don’t have to worry about that in races because everybody is classified by skill level.”

Both boys have long-term plans to ride.

“I’m in it for fun, but I like the competitive level of it. Most people call it quits around their 30s. I’ve got awhile in it,” said Wileman.

Sanders sounds as though he may never retire.

“I’d like to do it as long as I can. There are guys out there 50, 60 years old that are still riding. I think that’s awesome myself,” said Sanders.