By Jake Thompson
Danville Middle School student Kayden Young likes to get dirty and go fast and the 14-year-old has been doing so since he was 4. That combination of mud and speed paid off this year as he placed second in the 2012 AMA Racing Mid America Cross Country National Championship (MAXC) series 85cc class.
“Riding helps me get away from stuff, helps me stay relaxed and I’m not stressed. It feels good to ride,” Young said. “My dad (Gordon) used to ride a lot when he was young and he just got me started with training wheels on my little PW 50. Next year I’m probably going to go to big bikes because the age limit is 15.”
Young started out riding his little PW 50 on six acres of family land with a motocross track. He then progressed to a KTM 50 at age 6 and then to a bigger KTM 50 at 9 and then advanced to a Kawasaki 65 before settling in with his 85cc. He has just upgraded to a 105cc. This coming season he hopes to ride a YZ 125.
Unlike motocross, this type of racing starts off heading into a track in the woods that averages between six and eight miles in length and it is a timed event. The object is to get in as many laps as possible during that time.
The MAXC is based mostly in Indiana with a race or two in Kentucky or Illinois and features 10 competitions. Riders participate in each race, being awarded points for how they finish.
Young took first in the first five races of the season before finishing second in his sixth race. A 13th in the seventh race cost him some points on what Young described as an “awful track” and set him back a bit, but he was leading the series heading into the last race.
Like most racers will admit, they’re only as good as their equipment and on the first lap of the final competition heading up a hill his bike blew up. His day ended with a DNF.
Young and his father thought it was a piece off of a spark plug that fell into the piston and tore the motor up.
“I was pretty sad and didn’t really like it that much,” Young said.
During the season, Young fractured one wrist while racing and then fractured his other in practice. After getting the cast off one wrist, he found his other in a cast a very short time later.
He took it in stride and, with the assistance of his mechanic, put in a clutch that allowed him to shift without using the traditional method of pulling the clutch back.
“My back tire caught and I came off the bike and braced with my hand,” Young said. “I ended up racing with the cast and with the new shifter it was easier for me.”
Young is becoming a bit of a mechanic himself, learning the basics of what it takes to keep his bike up to par. He changes his brakes, tightens and replaces his chains, changes the oil, cleans the air filter, and washes his bike because “my dad doesn’t do that for me anymore.”
Young says the sport is rather pricey with travel and equipment costs, along with the time it eats up. However, the father and son duo drive early in the morning or go the night before and camp.
Sponsorships help offset some of the cost and Young is currently aided by TKO Graphix and Denney Excavating and Demolition.
“I write a resume and send it to a place and they will e-mail or call you,” Young said. “I put up a bunch and had quite a few get back to me. It usually is a discount for purchasing their products, but every little bit helps.”
Young spends his weekends racing and tweaking his bike and through the week he is a normal teenager. He likes to play X-Box, hang out with his friends, and is thinking about running track this season in the distance events.
Young said he’s looking at going into the U.S. Air Force after high school to get money for college where he wants to study engineering.
“No matter what I do, I’ll always want to ride, even if it is just free riding,” Young said. “I just like it so much I don’t think I would ever stop.”