A 20-year-old Geneseo man is revving his engine to compete for a gold medal in Europe.
Tanner Whipple will head to Italy this month for the International Enduro Olympics for off-road motorcycling. He’s been riding a dirt bike since he was 4 years old, and now competes professionally.
Whipple will head out on a six-day ride covering 200 miles a day.
Whipple won a gold medal in the International Six Days Enduro in Portugal back in 2019. Now he’s more experienced, and he says he knows the expectation is to come back with another gold this year.
“I never really necessarily thought that I would get this opportunity. To get it two times is amazing,” he said. “And I just hope I make you guys proud.”
Whipple has been riding his dirt bike since he was 4 years old. His whole family loves to go out riding. By the time tanner was 18, he won a gold medal in the Six Day Enduro competition in Portugal. That became the highlight of his life.
It’s a “very cool feeling, because my dad because my dad has always wanted to go,” Whipple said. “There’s a lot of people who wanted to compete in this and were never able to so fortunately I was able to. And I got a gold medal for them and I get to share that with them.”
Whipple and his dad have traveled throughout the country every weekend this year to race to prepare to try for another gold. He says this race is a test of man versus machine. Once they are out on the trail, it is just the rider and the dirt bike.
“The big thing about Six Days is keeping you and the bike both healthy and to keep them running,” Whipple said. “So there’s no mechanics, no one to help you out. Basically you are the only one who’s allowed to work on your dirt bikes.”
“You definitely gotta know how to change tires pretty fast and how to work on a motorcycle in case anything goes wrong.”
At the end of each day there are 15 minutes to perform maintenance on the bike. But if anyone else touches your bike during that time, you get disqualified, he said.
“You have to be pretty efficient at doing it fast,” Whipple said.
Whipple says this is the pinnacle of the sport, and he’s excited to represent the country:
“Being able to race for Team USA is an awesome achievement, and I just hope I can make everyone proud and come home with the gold medal.”