Steamboat Springs Haydn Fenwick used to be a BMX boy. Now he's a GASGAS 250 EC motorcycle man.
But pretty much all that's changed in this Australian's life is his bike. He's always been fueled by adrenaline.
Motorsports might be to Aussies what baseball is to Americans. Since Fenwick was born, Australians have been among the world's top road racers, but pavement just didn't provide the punch Fenwick wanted. Instead, he played Australian Rules Football.
"No, not rugby," he politely corrects. "In Aussie Rules Football you can throw it forward. Basically whoever has the ball is a marked man. There are no pads. You just go at. If you get cut you go to the blood bin and get stitched up."
The thrill he found filtered from football through to freestyle moguls skiing. In fact, his passion for freestyle initially brought him to the United States in 1989, but he didn't start riding motorcycles until 1996 when he began competing in area Rocky Mountain Enduro competitions.
Unlike the popular motocross races ESPN's X Games has helped popularize, Enduro races are off-road races that force riders to navigate rough terrain and grass tracks while trying to maintain high speeds through the special tests. It isn't a short-loop that spectators can sit in the stands and watch.
Actually, Fenwick said Enduro isn't much of a spectator sport at all, which is unfortunate considering the backdrop it's staged before.
Friday, Fenwick went up to Big Red Park and Farwell Trail 1203 near Hahn's Peak to ride before a crowd of moths, bees and flies and a patch of wildflowers that acknowledged his stunts with a slight bow in the breeze.
Fenwick slowed down through the trees, accelerated through short, straight stretches of track and ramped into water, all while maintaining a smile under his oversized helmet.
"People say it's crazy," he said. "That's why people do it. It's an adrenaline rush. Anytime you have speed and you're flying through trees something's going to break."
Friday it was the tree limbs, evidenced by slits to his racing uniform at the elbows. Some days, it's the limbs on Fenwick.
"Oh yeah," he said. "I've had two knee reconstructive surgeries, I don't have an ACL in my right knee. You don't need it. I've broken an ankle, had a couple concussions and some bumps and bruises. Nothing major."
Major might be something like having to get airlifted off the course by a helicopter or an Enduro riders biggest fear paralysis.
"Sometimes you think about it when you see God in the trees," he said.
But usually there isn't much time to think of anything at all except the course and the speed.
Fenwick is training for his first International Six Days Enduro Tour with festivities held from Sept. 17-29 in the Czech Republic. The top off-road riders in the world will be in the European country seeking bragging rights and "a big ol' trophy."
"It's brutal," Fenwick said. "It's the hardest race in the world. Anything could go wrong."
Fenwick's counting on things to go right, expecting to finish his first-ever world event, which doesn't happen to every rider. Many of the top riders go home distraught because one tiny thing went wrong and bumped them out of the top 10 percent of their class.
But Fenwick also heard another thing about the upcoming Enduro Tour.
"It's the funnest race of the year," he said. "It's like the Olympics of off-road motorcycle racing."
In keeping with form, gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded to the riders based on their finish within the division. Gold goes to the top 10 percent. Silver is handed to those in the top 20 percent. Those that finish at all get bronze, Fenwick said.
"Realistically, I'd like a silver medal, but if everything goes really well I might get a gold," he said.
The race itself is broken up into six days with 170-mile rides each day. The riders will start every race in Jablonec nad Nisou located just 100 kilometers or 62.5 miles north of Prague in the scenic valley formed by the Nisa River which runs through the Jizera Mountain region.
"Its like Colorado," Fenwick said with a smile.
On those rides, the racers will navigate a marked course. Sporadically, there will be special tests that run three to eight miles long. A rider will approach a beam marking the start line, and accelerate through to the end. The object is to go as fast as possible, posting the top speed.
"That's what wins the race," Fenwick said.
But failing to maintain optimum speeds between test sites could ultimately cost the rider precious time. Either way, after 170 miles, muscles in the arms, legs, hands and rear are bound to be sore.
The bike is liable to be in just as bad a shape or worse. The riders, however, have just 15 minutes following the race to make improvements like changing the oil, air filters and tires before the bike is impounded and locked up for the night. One trick, there is no pit crew helping out.
"It's totally individual," Fenwick said. "You can't blame anyone else if something goes wrong."
The idea is to keep everything fair. The riders even have to use ecological tires designed to keep damage to the road at a minimum considering there are around 600 riders scheduled to compete, Fenwick said.
It's going to cost Fenwick about $10,000 to make the trip to the Czech Republic. He is renting a bike once he arrives largely because of the conveniences it provides. Should he need parts, the rental truck will be on site saving him time. His support staff consists of his wife Karin Koop and his parents and sister.
To help raise funds for his endeavor, Fenwick is hosting a benefit at the Mountain Sport Center from 4-6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 23. Beverages, food, and prizes will be provided and given away by local sponsors and supporters.
Fenwick isn't sure what will come out of this world competition, but he is certain racing is in his future or at least something else to appease his adrenaline fix.
"We'll see what happens after this one," he said. "I have to have a sport."