Porter Pushes for the Top

Over the Hill: Vader 6 Year Old Overcomes Broken Bike to Make AMA Nationals

By Jordan Nailon

jnailon@chronline.com

Six year olds typically have plenty of ideas about what they might want to be when they grow up. There’s classic choices like police officer, fireman, farmer and teacher to ponder. Perhaps even a gig as a superhero, depending on the day.

At this juncture, it’s a safe bet that Ryden Porter would like to ride dirt bikes for as long as possible. But whenever his final race is run, perhaps he’ll begin moonlighting as an inspirational speaker. He’s certainly got the chops.

Porter, a first-grader-to-be at Castle Rock Elementary, hails from Vader where he lives with his mammy and pappy (Whitney and Travis) and baby sister (Emersyn). This week, he and his family are camping out in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, so that the rad racer can test his mettle at the 37th Annual Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship. It’s purported to be the largest amateur motocross race in the world and it just so happens to be hosted on the ranch of country music star Loretta Lynn.

The race is a well established springboard for lengthy and accomplished careers in the sport. Noted big timers in the world of motocross like Travis Pastrana, Ricky Carmichael, James Stewart and Ryan Dungey have all captured championships on the Loretta Lynn track.

“The Amateur National at Loretta Lynn’s is the best of the best motocrossers in America and around the world,” Tim Cotter, Director of MX Sports explained. “Just being here makes you an elite racer and a top athlete. A solid finish at Loretta’s would you give you instant National recognition and a possible professional career.”

All that said, it’s the way that Porter managed to punch his ticket to Tennessee that captured the imagination of racing fans and already catapulted his name onto the national stage.

Porter, who has been riding dirt bikes since he was two and racing since he was four, placed second at the area qualifier in order to qualify for the Lorretta Lynn Regional in Washougal that was held back on June 15. That’s where Ryden made a name for himself in circles far beyond the common haunts of the regional racing community.

Porter needed at least a fourth place finish in Washougal in order to qualify for Nationals and found himself sitting pretty as he entered the home stretch. That’s when the motor on his bike blew up and left him stranded with a set of triple whoopty-whoops standing between himself and an invitation to Loretta Lynn’s ranch.

With his support crew looking on but restricted by event rules from helping, the outcome looked bleak as the young rider weighed his options. That’s when the youngster decided to start pushing. With his 50cc bike lifeless and cumbersome in his Happy Meal hands, Ryden kept on pushing until he’d cleared the triple jumps. As he crossed the finish line the crowd already swelling with an uproar of approval as he snagged that all-important fourth place spot.

Video of the inspirational finish quickly made the rounds on social media and found an audience with top tier professional racers like Carmiche and Adam Cianciarulo. Both racers posted the video on their own pages and curried millions of views, thousands of marks of approval, and hundreds of adoring comments.

All told some 22,000 racers attempted to qualify for the AMA Nationals. The races include 35 different classifications that accommodate male and female racers age 4-50 with either stock or modified bikes. Porter will race against 42 other riders in the 4-6 age group of 50 cc riders. The competition will include three different races lasting between 15-20 minutes each.

Ryden comes across his talents on the track naturally as his father, Travis, has spent the better part of two decades as a serious rider himself. That course took him from local supercross tracks to the Canadaian Nationals and back again, but these days he’s given up his competitive streak for a turn as a mentor.

“He learned how to ride a dirt bike without training wheels before he learned how to ride a bike,” Travis Porter said while picking up campout supplies on Monday. “He just gets on the bike and rides.”

Over the last few weeks, the Porters have been busy putting in time training on their home track in addition to first-rate camps in locales like Kentucky. This week, Ryden is slated to race on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Like those heats, the elder Porter’s confidence seems to come in fits and spurts.

“He’s a top 10 rider,” stated Porter as a matter of fact on moment.

“This is our first big national so I’m not sure how he’s going to do but we’ll find out this weekend,” he added a moment later.

The racing world can be sure that, at least as it relates to the racing Porters, another one’s on the way. No matter how things shake out for Ryden on the Loretta Lynn track this weekend, his father hopes there’s at least one lesson his son will be able to confirm.

“Hard work pays off,” said the elder Porter.

The races will be broadcast live each day until Aug. 4 on www.RacerTV.com. Additional updates and information can be found online at mxsports.com.

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