Collins races through dirt biking world

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Tannor Collins (11) never rides the same trail twice.

While most kids receive ordinary bikes with training wheels as their first bikes, Collins was gifted with a dirt bike when he was 8 years old, and he’s been riding ever since. And after nine years of riding, he still hasn’t ever ridden a single road more than once.

That’s because in dirt biking, the roads are always changing.

Sometimes the grounds are muddy from a night’s rain or sometimes they’re rocky and dry from the summer’s heat. Or sometimes, when he’s really lucky, the dirt has just the right level of moisture and he’s able to ride with traction.

He lives for those days.

“The right-in-between conditions are perfect,” he said.

But for him, rides during less than optimal conditions are rewarding, too. In fact, it’s those rides with muddy roads that create for miserable, wet conditions that truly test him, and reap the most satisfaction. Tough conditions and obstacles force him to stay focused in order to ensure that he doesn’t veer off the track, bump into a rock or tree, or get injured.

“My mind is blank when I ride, especially during races, because I’m so focused on what’s in front of me,” he said. “But after I ride it’s such a cool feeling because I look back on what I’ve completed and relive certain parts.”

He competed in dozens of competitions over the years, including Prairie City GP, Picacho Creek HS and MMX. The most recent competition he participated in was sponsored by the Los Ancianos Club and is called Tecate Enduro. It is the biggest competition he’s ever been to and has the highest-level competitors he has ever encountered. Although he didn’t do as well as he hoped at the competition, he said he is still grateful for the learning experience.

“Dirt biking is brutal on your arms and legs because you are almost standing the entire time so finishing any race but especially after tough conditions is just such a rewarding feeling,” he said. “I always get this kind of runner’s high after.”

Dirt biking provides him with other feelings, too.

The sport has given him a sense of family within the dirt-biking community.

“I like the environment of dirt biking in general, because it’s not always about the sport itself, it’s about being around people with the same hobby as you,” he said. “It’s a community, it’s a lifestyle.”

Every year he looks forward to his family’s annual New Year’s trip with the same dozen families or so to the Mojave Desert.

There, Collins, along with all the dads and older kids, go on what they call “big kid rides” down all the scattered and diverging trails spread throughout the desert, exploring every inch of the open terrain they can. The desert has much to offer, numerous riding tracks featuring sand dunes, tight trees, and giant rocks to climb.

“It’s an endless playground,” he said.

The desert provides a platform for him and his friends to experience their favorite kind of riding: the technical, difficult kind.

“For my friends and me personally, we don’t particularly like the wide open stuff where you can go fast as you can,” he said. “We like the harder, more technical type of riding where it’s not always about how far you can go or how fast you can do it, it’s more about what you can accomplish.”

Because he enjoys the technical type of riding the most, he’s spent most of his life doing it.

In Stonyford, California, Collins has spent countless weekends riding all the various trails in the recreational area.

Out of all the trails up there, his favorite trail to ride is Trail 22.

He’s ridden the track dozens of times, but the combination of the trail’s fluidness, towering pine trees and comforting forestry never gets old for him.

Because in dirt biking, the conditions are always changing. All the external factors ensure that each time on the track will be a unique experience.

“Sometimes I’ll turn the same corner of a familiar track and bump off a rock differently than usual, or I’ll come back months later and there are ruts and roots from trees that weren’t there before,” Collins said.

And it’s the necessity of acknowledging his surroundings and the unpredictability of the sport that he loves. Because he knows that every time he straps up his helmet and twists back his throttle, he will experience something new.