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Ryding into the future

Josh VanDyke • Sep 12, 2017 at 4:00 AM

Ryder Bloomquist was born to ride a dirt bike.

His name alone is proof that his passion in life would likely involve the revving of an engine, the adrenaline of the race and the thrill of the ride.

The Norton Shores resident draws his inspiration to the sport from his father, Troy Bloomquist, who started motocross racing at the age of seven. Ryder, now age 7 himself, is following in his father’s footsteps, and is already making a name for himself across the national motocross circuit.

In August, Ryder competed at the 36th annual Rocky Mountain Amateur National Motocross Championship held at the historical Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.

Through his stellar performances at the regional qualifiers, Ryder qualified for the race over 22,000 other competitors. Once he got to the big stage, Bloomquist put on a show, finishing third overall at the nationwide event.

His third-place finish doesn’t even do his performance justice, however, as the young standout collected two first-place finishes out of three races.

“He did really well. He fell a few times during one of the races, but he took first in two of the three,” said his mother, Emily Matthies. “I couldn’t be more proud of him for how hard he raced. He was going up against 30 of the fastest kids in the country, and he finished third. That was beyond our expectations, and I don’t think the experience could have gone much better.”

A successful run at Loretta Lynn’s usually is a good omen for future success, as motocross stars like Ricky Carmichael, Travis Pastrana and Ryan Dungey have all won AMA Amateur National titles at the same event.

“Loretta usually shoots you onto the professional ranks,” added Matthies. “It’s not a guarantee. You still have to work hard and prove yourself at the national level, but it’s usually a big step toward turning into a professional.”

While a professional career appears lucrative on the surface, it often takes more time, money and patience than most can afford.

“It would be pretty cool, but it involves a lot of money and time, so you have to have sponsorships in order to make that a realistic goal,” Matthies continued. “Most amateur riders have to try and find local businesses that are willing to get behind a young rider. After that, you just have to make a name for yourself at big, national events.”

The pressure of becoming a professional athlete of any kind can take its toll on you. Because of that, Ryder and his mother have an out clause in case he ever stops enjoying the process. 

“I’ve always told him that if it stops being fun, then we’ll quit,” she said. “He’s got a bright future ahead of him no matter what he chooses to do, so I don’t want to pressure him into doing something he doesn’t love. I’ll be his biggest fan in whatever he chooses to do in the future.”

Ryder, a student at Ross Park Elementary in Norton Shores, also enjoys playing soccer, basketball and football. When he’s not playing sports, he’s usually playing outdoors with his younger brother, Weston, or playing motocross video games on his Xbox.

The community built around motocross and ATV racing is often friendly and supportive, and is a big reason why Ryder has grown to enjoy the sport so much.

“What he talks about the most is the people he meets and the friends he makes at all these events,” said Matthies. “We’ve met a lot of people along the way, and Ryder has made a lot of friends from out of state. He always looks forward to seeing people he doesn’t get to see all the time.”

Watching her son race isn’t quite as nerve-wracking right now as it will be down the road, but Matthies admits, the bigger races will always be difficult to stomach.

“When they are younger, they don’t go as fast, and there aren’t as many stunt jumps,” she said. “I’m not usually nervous for the smaller fairground races, but when he’s riding on the big tracks in bigger races, I get pretty nervous.”

COMING ATTRACTIONS

Ryder will continue his outdoor race series called District 14 in the next few weeks. The Michigan-based series works a lot like the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, where each race counts as points toward an overall, end-of-the-year finish.

Ryder currently stands atop the standings in this year’s series, leaving him on track to become the champion of his 50-trail class for the state of Michigan.

“We have a few more of the District 14 races to hit, as well as another national race in Ponca City, Oklahoma,” added Matthies. “That is another large race similar to Loretta Lynns. Moto Playground Magazine hosts the event, which is from Oct. 19-22.”

Race results and Ryder’s upcoming events can be found at www.Poncamx.com or www.Motoplayground.com. His Michigan D-14 race info can be found on www.ama-D14.com.

Ryder and his fan club will also be visiting a few indoor events in the local area in the coming months, as well.

“We may hit a few of the indoor arenacross races that spread across the country,” said Matthies. “One has been in Grand Rapids the last few years, and he competed in that last year at the Van Andel Arena. His last outside race will be another big one at Baja Acres located in Birch Run, Michigan on Oct. 27-29, which will count toward his D-14 points.”

The motocross prodigy will have plenty of positive momentum heading into the final stretch of his season, as he recently won a national title at the 2017 Baja Brawl race at Baja Acres.

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