2018-03-01 / Front Page

ALL REVVED UP WITH SOME PLACE TO GO

Aidan Bailey gets set for motorcross contest in Atlanta
BY EMILY JONES


Aidan Bailey catches air during practice Tuesday morning at West Craven Motocross in Vanceboro, N.C. He is preparing for his nationally televised race Saturday. Aidan Bailey catches air during practice Tuesday morning at West Craven Motocross in Vanceboro, N.C. He is preparing for his nationally televised race Saturday. Although he’s just three years removed from kindergarten, Aidan Bailey is gearing up for his national television debut.

The 8-year-old East Shore Road resident will compete against 14 riders Saturday during the KTM Junior Supercross Challenge at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, an event broadcast live at 10 p.m. on Fox Sports 1.

“I am excited to meet the pro riders and walk the track,” said the Melrose School third-grader.

His older brother, John, fueled Aidan’s interest in motocross three years ago. The Lawn eighth-grader acted as a mentor for his younger brother when it came to learning the ropes of the sport, including track layouts.

“Before he was learning how to ride a bicycle, he was riding an electric motorbike,” said his father, Bob.


Aidan with the second-place plaque he won Saturday during the season opener at Elizabeth City Motocross in North Carolina. Aidan with the second-place plaque he won Saturday during the season opener at Elizabeth City Motocross in North Carolina. Since then, Aidan has competed in scores of races throughout the region, earning more than 100 trophies. Most of his high-ranking awards came from races ad- ministered by New England Motocross, a league in which Aidan was ranked first during the fall 2016 season and runner-up in 2017. He competes in the 50-cc class for 7- and 8-year-olds.

While his stats on the track speak for themselves, Aidan’s parents had to complete a comprehensive application process for the Atlanta challenge, which meant creating a custom video and submitting action photographs for the resume portion. The Bailey family was notified three weeks ago of the good news.

For Aidan, this race will be a bit different than past competitions. Instead of racing three laps, Saturday’s competition will feature five revolutions of the track.

He also will be given a new bike for the race. The field of 15 riders will use identical bikes, which is similar to the automatic machine he typically uses but with some professional parts added.

“Having all the same bikes will give all the riders an even playing field,” Bob said. “The only thing they have to do when using the bikes is ergonomically change levels.”

Aidan is training at West Craven Motocross in North Carolina, where pro rider Chris Canning will work with him for three days to prepare him for Atlanta.

Because of the seasonal conditions in New England, Bob said training year-round is difficult for Rhode Island riders. Between March and November, Aidan trains at Capeway Rovers and Wareham Motocross, both in Massachusetts. During the winter months, however, Aidan travels south.

“We usually spend a week or two in North Carolina, or wait until days are mild enough to go up to Massachusetts,” Bob said. “If that does not work, we wait until the New England season kicks off in mid-March.”

When not on a certified track, Aidan and John practice in their own backyard. Bob has built a small riding area so the brothers could work on balance and throttle control throughout the week.

The dirt track at Mercedes- Benz will have a layout of sharp turns, ramps and large consecutive jumps. The most common, yet tricky, obstacles are the moguls — or, according to Aidan, “whoops.” Bob said these are a series of 3-foot hills, spaced 6 feet from one another, and the goal is to “skim across the top.”

“There will be a lot of double and triple jumps on the track,” Aidan said.

Because of these obstacles, Aidan’s mother, Julia, said injuries are common. It is mandatory for riders to wear protective gear, including a neck brace, knee pads, boots, goggles, a vest pad and helmet.

“He has to be careful and cautious of his surroundings,” said Julia, who stresses safety.

Because these riders advance together in age groups, Bob said the families develop a competitive camaraderie. He said it’s fun to watch them grow.

“Seeing pictures now of all of them is incredible,” he said.

At this tournament, Aidan hopes to do well enough to advance to the KTM race this spring in Las Vegas.

His biggest aspiration for 2018, however, is to rank among the top 42 riders in the country. If he reaches that goal, he will qualify for the Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn’s ranch this summer in Tennessee.

“It is the most prestigious amateur national competition,” Julia said.

While Aidan is looking forward to collecting autographs from his racing role models, he also is excited to compete against riders from Texas to Saskatchewan. His family, who will be in the crowd cheering him on, share that sentiment.

“We always look forward to these big events,” Bob said.

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