Team GasGas / First American to Win International Six Days Enduro Overall / Former Supercross Racer
In an age of specialists, Ryan Sipes bucks that trend and instead has gained more fame by being a jack of all trades.
To say he started on a two-wheeled path early is putting it mildly. He got his first dirt bike when he was two and began racing when he was about three and a half, he recalls.
His professional racing career began with motocross, getting his AMA Pro license in 2004. While he did notch one win each in the AMA SX Lites West and 125cc All Star categories with a best series finish of third in the 2011 AMA SX Lites East series, he gained more recognition when he stepped into the off-road arena.
Of course, he didn’t just sneak in the door. He blew it open like a SWAT team breach! Here was this motocross pro with a solid though not extraordinary résumé and in 2015, his first trip to the International Six Days Enduro (ISDE), he’s trusted to be a member of the U.S. World Trophy team—the most prestigious category in the oldest FIM-sanctioned off-road competition.
Not only did he have to sprint through the half-dozen or so “special tests” each day (that was the easy part for him), the rules mandated he also had to maintain his own bike at each pit stop and in the 15-minute work period at the end of each day. No outside assistance allowed except for filling the fuel tank. Change both tires, air filter, oil and maybe another chore or two all in 15 minutes after riding hard for six or seven hours.
At the end of that week, he’d made history by becoming the first American to earn top overall individual.
That was just the start. In 2017 he won his first GNCC cross-country race as well as the 125cc All-Star MX and that did it for him—he decided to do as many different types of motorcycle racing as he could starting in 2018.
At first, his sponsors balked at the prospect of him not chasing a single championship, but as the year went on, the amount of press he attracted won them over. It didn’t hurt that he also won a fair amount despite being unable to prepare for each type as well as he would’ve liked.
Still, he racked up wins in American Flat Track Singles, Full Gas Sprint Enduro, a Supercross-style race in Hawaii and more. About the only thing that eluded him was a finish in the insanely difficult Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble extreme enduro which “boasts” a finishing rate usually under five percent. (For example, the 25th anniversary event n 2019 saw just 16 of the 500 starters count as official finishers, while 2015 found just four riders finish.) Going back and getting a finish remains a goal.