Riley Dukes: Feel-Good First-Timers
“How ya feeling, Riley?,” Husqvarna Australia’s team manager, Christian Horwood, asked his young charger, Riley Dukes, five minutes before the Transmoto 6-Hour @ Stroud got underway.
“Really nervous,” came the reply from the 17-year-old Husqvarna-backed motocross talent, who the team had thrown in the deep-end as their lead rider. “I’ve never raced an enduro before in my life,” Dukes said. “I’ve got no idea where the track goes or how long it is or what sort of obstacles it’s got or whether my bike’s set up right. Of course I’m nervous, Christian.”
By this time, Horwood is laughing and shaking his head. “Look, Riley, he says, taking on a fatherly tone. “This race is all about fun. Just latch onto one of the quick guys, get into a rhythm and enjoy it. Next year’s contract doesn’t hinge on your performance over the next six hours.”
The kid visibly relaxed in response to Horwood’s reassuring words. He found his rhythm, and by the midway mark, he was smiling and telling anyone who’d listen how much fun this off-road caper was. Another convert, it seems.
Riley Dukes was just one of dozens of Transmoto event first-timers at Stroud, all of whom seem to go through a similar ‘induction’ process. It’s amazing how, when you put fun in front of officialdom and create a team environment, people are reminded of how enjoyable racing a motorcycle can actually be.