Two years of scrapes, bruises, stitches and sweat have all been worth it for Davis Bay's Taylor Hunt.
The 14-year-old is starting to turn heads in the competitive motocross circuit.
Hunt is currently racing in three series this spring on his new 2004 YZ85 motocross bike.
In the Canadian Motocross Racing Club's (CMRC) B.C. Championship, Hunt is second in the 80cc 13 to 16 year old series. The series takes place all over the province, and so far Hunt has competed in four race days, finishing second overall in Mission and Port Alberni, first in Kamloops and third in Nanaimo.
In the Canadian Motorcycle Association (CMA) series in Agassiz, Hunt is in first place, while in the CMRC Spring Series, Hunt is in first place in the 80cc 13 to 16 year old and second place in the Super Mini after one race day.
The great start to this year's season comes after a year and a half of travelling, bike modifications and lots of bumps and bruises.
Hunt first started riding on his 2000 YZ80 at a local track in Sechelt in the spring of 2002. The track was designed by local realtor and racing enthusiast Brian Anderson and is located beneath the power lines east of St. Mary's Hospital.
"It's a pretty good track," Hunt said.
While he was riding locally, Hunt also started practicing at tracks in Tsawassen and Mission in May 2003 and shortly after that, competed in his first race.
That first race was an eye-opening experience for Hunt and his dad Keith.
"In his first race, he got the holeshot and was hit from behind while in the air on the first 60-foot tabletop jump," Keith said. "Several bruises, 14 stitches, a month recovery and a new helmet later, he was racing again. But for the next four race days, he chose to allow all the other riders to make it past the first turn, then he would race hard to catch them one by one."
This strategy allowed Hunt's confidence level to improve but produced only mediocre results, including four eighth-place finishes in the June 2003 CMA Nationals.
By Sept. 14, 2003, Hunt was again ready to take some risks.
"It was a very muddy day and his engine was loosing power, but he finished that race in third place," Keith recalls. " We chose not to race the second moto to prevent possible injury due to motor seizure while riding and save further engine damage."
After a cylinder re-plating and new top end (piston, ring, pin and bearing) Hunt was back at it again in Agassiz Sept. 28 and had a second-place finish. He followed that up with a first-place showing at another event, which put him in second place for this 80cc A Class Series. Two fourth-place finishes followed at an event later in October in Kamloops.
After suffering a separated shoulder jumping his mountain bike, Hunt couldn't finish both the CMRC and CMA fall series, but he was sitting second in the CMA and CMRC series prior to his injury. He ended up in fifth place in the CMA series and second in the CMRC fall series.
But Hunt's need for speed didn't end there. He was determined to improve and started competing in the indoor arena cross series in November in Chilliwack.
The Chilliwack track is tight and technical and requires different skills than outdoor racing. Over seven races, Hunt ended up fourth overall out of 27 riders with a first and a third-place finish being his best results out of those seven races in the 80cc Beginner Class.
With those promising results and his solid start to this year's season, the sky's the limit.
"I want to win the CMRC," he said. "When I first started I was on a stock bike, but this year, we've gotten pretty serious and I have a much better bike. I'm starting to beat a lot of the top guys and that feels pretty good."
His rise to success is also unique in that he had no previous riding experience when he started two years ago and is competing against guys who have been racing most of their lives.
"MX racing is new to me," Keith said. "I'm the wrench and the transport. Taylor has come a long way and he's doing really well. The success in his riding is attributed to his ability to focus and learn quickly from watching other riders. We are both gaining experience in the sport together with some great help from the other racers and their parents."