By Airman 1st Class Cliffton Dolezal
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
When Staff Sgt. Joshua Ayers, a 19th Maintenance Squadron unit security manager, pulls up to the gate at the starting line with his 2008 Yamaha, he takes as many deep breaths as he can to focus and calm down before the gate drops. Instantly he’s full throttle heading into the first turn, where he will rev up his heart rate to anywhere between 170-190 beats per minute for the duration of the race.
But race day at the track is only a fraction of what motocross riders do.
Ayers must find time to wash and maintain his bike throughout the week, before and after every race weekend. While maintaining the condition of his bike is vital, Ayers must also sustain his physical fitness.
Ayers runs and lifts weights three or four times a week to ensure he’s both fit to ride as well as fit to fight.
“Because motocross is one of the gnarliest sports out there, you have to be in great shape,” said Ayers. “There is a lot of cardio and legs involved in the sport, so you have to make sure you’re doing squats and all different types of workouts to constantly keep getting stronger and improving your endurance to be physically and mentally prepared for race day.”
Controlling a dirt bike takes nearly every muscle in the body, soriders do a lot of full-body workouts, often combining two movements that involve different body parts. This gives them strength that’s sustainable through two races, the heat and the final, and makes it easier to survive the inevitable accidents that come with the sport.
Since his races are outdoors, Ayers runs and trains outside, in order to acclimate himself to the hot, muggy Arkansas weather.
Doing this allows Ayers body to believe the environmental stressor the race puts no his body are “normal.” When race day comes around he will be able to perform in the hot, humid environment, but he must remain properly hydrated to avoid other heat related injuries.
All the preparation gives the impression that flying off all those jumps and powering through ruts is easy.
“I grew up watching my dad race,” said Ayers. “Once he got into a real, full-blown race car, I just fell in love with it. My brothers and I decided right then and there that we were going to do that one day, and so we did.”
Ayers raced stock-cars for three years prior to enlisting in the Air Force but had always known that he would eventually come back to racing.
In 2009 Ayers met his brother in St. Louis, Missouri for a super-cross race. He had never seen one before. He loved it. Ayers was so hooked on it that he actually bought a bike on the way home from the race and started racing as soon as he could.
Although Ayers has been around racing his entire life and is very passionate about it, he also knows his limits.
“I try to race within my means,” said Ayers. “I know I have a job to come back to on Monday.”
Some of the competitors that Ayers races against are as young as 18 or 19 years old.
Ayers said that some of the competitors are able to take more chances and ride a little more dangerously than he is because they are in school or don’t have full-time jobs.
Although racing is only a hobby for Ayers, there is no doubt that the sport requires intense focus, determination and attention to detail; characteristics that Ayers said he has learned from the Air Force.
Ayers hopes to add to his trophy collection by winning another championship and one day qualify for the Amateur National’s one day.