Hayden graduate revs up

Motorcycling race at Pikes Peak not for the faint of heart

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Tuesday at the tech inspection for the 2008 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Travis Newbold talked about how confident he is on his motorcycle and how he rarely feels unsafe.

By Thursday - the second day of on-course training - Newbold had scared himself on a motorcycle for the first time in years.

"It's scary. The first part is all asphalt," said Newbold, who is preparing to do today's race on his 450cc dirt bike. "The first five corners you can go as fast as you want. Honestly, I'm surprised how : scared I was."

But that's the allure of Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Newbold said. The race is in its 86th year and is an adrenaline junkie's paradise. It's the world's highest auto race and one of the most grueling events in all motor sports racing. Racers start at 9,400 feet and ride 12.4 uphill miles, making 156 turns with no guardrails while navigating paved and gravel roads.

The race finishes at the summit of Pikes Peak, more than 14,000 feet above sea level.

Last year, Nobuhiro Tajima set a course record in his Suzuki XL7, finishing in 10 minutes, 1 second.

Newbold just hopes to finish.

"I'd like to make it into the top 10, but that's being a little greedy," said Newbold, who will reach speeds upwards of 100 mph on the course. "I'd be pretty stoked if I just finished this thing. I want to make it to the top in one piece and not get hauled off in an ambulance."

Newbold, a 2001 Hayden High School graduate, competes in the World Off Road Championship Series and has finished the Baja 1000 with teammate Jeff Crochiere.

The WORCS races range from 30 to 60 miles, combining laps around motocross tracks and off-road trails typical of endurance races. The Baja is a 1,048-mile trek down Mexico's Baja Peninsula. Newbold and Crochiere finished that race in 2006.

But after a disastrous Baja trip in 2007 - "that would put it lightly," Newbold said - the motorcycle mechanic was looking for something new.

So in December, he searched the Web. He came across the Pikes Peak race and thought it looked fun. The race only allows three rookies in each of the nine different divisions. He applied, sent in his resume and was accepted.

While his bike isn't dialed in quite the way he wants for the race - he's been doing enduro-cross races all summer on dirt - Newbold said he feels confident about today's event. He admits the paved part has been a little intimidating, but after two days of testing, he was feeling more and more confident.

"I like an adrenaline fix just as much as the next guy," Newbold said. "And this is the ultimate fix for adrenaline junkies. It's as intense as it gets on a motorcycle. : I could see myself doing this race the rest of my life."

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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