What has Ryan Sipes done?
For more than half a century, U.S. teams have gone to the International Six Days Enduro, and while U.S. riders have brought home hundreds of gold medals (awarded for finishing within 10 percent of the fastest time in their class), the two biggest prizes have been elusive. No six-rider team from the United States has won the World Trophy and no U.S. rider has won the overall. Since the original “On Any Sunday” movie chronicled Malcolm Smith in the grueling off-road event, ISDE has best translated into American English as “frustration.”
Ryan Sipes did what no U.S. rider, even the greats of off-road racing, has ever accomplished before. Husqvarna photo by Future7Media.
A dozen years, ago Sipes was a solid amateur motocross racer who won major championships. He had a decent, decade-long professional career and is now writing a second chapter in the woods and trails. But when he went to Kosice, Slovakia, for the 90th running of the ISDE, few people outside Team USA knew much about the Kentucky-born rider whose southern twang stood out from the dozen other languages and nationalities. Certainly, nobody expected to see his accomplishments stand alongside those of off-road greats such as Smith, Randy Hawkins and Kurt Caselli.
After 1,225 kilometers (761 miles) of riding on a Husqvarna FE 350, Sipes did something no American has ever done in the ISDE: win. With 11 of 31 special test victories, and the consistency required to win this six-day-long marathon, Sipes not only won the E2 division, but also the individual overall, coming out on top among 503 riders from more than 30 countries.