We humans have always enjoyed watching people perform tasks with extreme proficiency. This seemingly unique quality has been studied by psychologists and helps explain the advent of spectator events in virtually every society that we know of. Whether it’s the Tokyo Olympics, the gladiators of ancient Rome, or an individual who can masterfully wield an instrument to produce captivating music, we usually gravitate toward and support those who excel at things, regardless of the task. The invention of the internal combustion engine meant that, inevitably, we would be competing in speed and that this competition would draw a crowd.
To see these motorsport gladiators doing battle, you’ll need to make your way to the hills of Tennessee and the Trials Training Center in Sequatchie. The 2021 Red Bull Tennessee Knockout Extreme Enduro is in the same series as the fearsome Erzberg Rodeo and the Red Bull Romaniacs—the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship. Rather than the roar of captive lions, you’ll be met with the distinctive ringing note of two-stroke engines, the weapon of choice for these events, echoing through the beautiful Tennessee valleys.
Motorcycle racing seems to exhibit an interesting trait when compared to other forms of motorsports. More people seem to follow it simply because they ride a motorcycle. The point is, just because you drive a car doesn’t necessarily mean you’re likely to be into car-related sports. Motorcyclists differ in the sense that many people who ride follow, or at least are interested in, some form of motorcycle racing regardless of the type of bike they ride. There were many kinds of motorcycles parked all around that spectators had ridden over to watch the race. You’ll see everything from ADV bikes to Harley-Davidson baggers at the event.
An obvious contributor to the popularity of these Hard Enduro races is the fact that it’s about as close to the ultimate test of human and machine that you’ll find, covering finesse as well as raw fitness. So regardless of the type, if you’ve ever ridden a motorcycle, you can really understand the amount of distilled skill that’s being displayed when these riders navigate a boulder garden in a river bed, or when they dance up nearly vertical loose hill climbs that most would struggle to ascend with mountain climbing gear.
It’s good to see anything that brings the community closer together and enforces solidarity. Analogous with our country today, our differences and how they have the potential to complement each other is part of what makes our community strong as a whole. We converge on this common ground where our differences are not at the forefront of any discussion in order to support those who have worked hard to earn the opportunity to ride this incredibly difficult race. Just like we should cast our differences aside to fight for our rights as motorcyclists in the greater community and to support each other based on our commonalities, instead of being myopically focused on trivial things, such as the brands of motorcycles we ride or the like.