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Putting the pedal to the metal

Local motocross rider to compete in amateur championships

Local motocross rider to compete in amateur championships

July 21, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

SHARPSBURG - A motor home is parked in Patrick Wastler's driveway.

His family bought it to travel to his motocross races, as they will in August for the amateur championships at Loretta Lynn's ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn.

For Patrick, 16, this race is his Rose Bowl.

"Loretta Lynn's is a start to a pro career," he said. "You get recognized and people help you go further."

Patrick, a senior at Boonsboro High School, said he started riding motocross when he was 6, and he got serious about it when he started racing at age 10.

Patrick's mother, Jan Wastler, called the upcoming championships a "primo national race," and said that Patrick struggled to qualify for it because of injuries.

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"Last July, he had ACL surgery on his knee because he overextended his leg when trying to qualify for Loretta Lynn's last year," she said.

Patrick qualified for the championships in early June at a race in Mount Morris, Pa.

Now that he has qualified for this year's race, officially known as the Air Nautiques/AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) Amateur National Motocross Championships, Patrick isn't racing before the championships to avoid another injury.

He also has broken a small bone in his elbow, Jan Wastler said.

The injuries occur despite head-to-toe safety equipment. Patrick suits up in a helmet, goggles, chest protector, leg braces and specially designed boots before he rides.

The Wastlers have built a motocross track in their backyard. Even though it's smaller than racetracks, it's a good place for Patrick to practice curves, his mother said.

There is more to motocross racing than sitting on a bike and making it go, Patrick said.

"Some people think, 'Why would you have to do anything special?'" he said. "You have to shift your body weight ... it's a really physical sport."

Most of a motocross race is spent standing on the pedals of the bike to maintain control, Patrick said. Going around curves, however, riders have to keep a foot down, off the bike, to maintain balance, he said.

"You can't shift weight on a corner if your foot is on a bike," he said.

To keep in shape, Patrick runs and practices on his backyard motocross track every day. He used to run on his school's indoor track team, but it got in the way of racing, he said.

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