Jesse Groemm got his first bike when he was six. Now, at 20 years old, Groemm races professionally, most recently at the International Six Day Enduro in Dresden, Germany.
“My Dad drew my interest to motorcycles because he raced and rode and as a young kid I wanted to ride like him,” Groemm said.
Groemm, a Lacey resident, was recently picked up as a last minute replacement for the U.S. Junior Trophy team for the Enduro race. Steward Baylor, who was on the team, got injured at a national race. Just two weeks before the event, Groemm received a phone call from the off road team manager and that night, he had a plane ticket booked to Germany.
“It has been awesome,” he said of his experience in Germany. “Competing for the USA is an honor! It was a little strange at first when people are coming up asking for my autograph in Germany. I've never really had anyone ask me for it before this year so I was a little nervous at first but the whole thing was exciting.”
The event was challenging, he said.
“Waking up every morning after the first day sore knowing I'm going to be on a bike for eight hours in some of the toughest terrain wasn't easy but it was worth it,” he said.
Groemm explained that the International Six Day Enduro is different from national races with more rules and competition from across the world. A national enduro race is a series of races that are approximately 70 to 100 miles long through the woods and different terrain.
Starting with four riders at the time, each minute, there are usually up to 600 riders of all different skill levels, he said. There is also a special test section in which the riders go on a six to 15 mile trail as fast as they can.
“The race is against the clock,” he said. “A course is arrowed and you only ride it once, no laps, so you have to make good decisions the first time otherwise it’s going to cost valuable time or get you hurt if you misread the ground and hit an unexpected rock, root or any other obstacle.”
He added that the rider is the only one who can work on the bike at the International Six Day Enduro. There is a 10-minute work period in the morning and a 15-minute period in the afternoon. During that 15-minute period, at the end of each day, the front and rear tires also have to be changed. Then the bikes get impounded overnight so they cannot be touched until the riders start again in the morning.
The U.S. Junior Trophy Team finished third in the International Six Day Enduro and was awarded bronze medals. Groemm received an individual class award, a gold medal for finishing in the top 10 percent.
Groemm finished sixth overall in one special test, he said.
“That meant that in that test, I was the sixth fastest rider out of all the top Enduro riders in the world,” he said. “I just need to figure out how to go that fast everywhere else.”
“Competing in Germany was a really cool experience the terrain wasn't much different than racing in the mountains in Pennsylvania but the people there were awesome,” he said.
As Groemm road, fans lined the course cheering, “Enduro!” he said.
“That was really cool to see so many fans of the sport,” he said. “Competing in Germany was a really cool experience the terrain wasn't much different than racing in the mountains in Pennsylvania but the people there were awesome.”
Currently standing fifth overall in the National Enduro series, Groemm raced the local series since the age of 12, moving up through the different classes over the years and winning a youth class championship and adult armature class championship.
He then moved into the local pro class and road in a few select national events in 2011, finishing in the top 15 at one and top 20 at another.
“So this year, I decided to chase the whole national series so I signed up pro and finished in the top ten at every event this year and in the top five at three events,” he said.
His goal is to finish in the top five in the National Enduro Series and to sign onto a factory team for 2013. Groemm has always dreamed of being a factory racer.
“In 2013, my goal is to be a national champion,” he said. “I hope to make a living for a little while doing what I love to do, that’s what I hope to get out of it.”