Hamburg resident Caleb Pierson was named an Indiana Cross Country Racing Fan Favorite in the adult bike division after supporters voted online in May.
The 15-year-old learned of the honor in early June on its Facebook page. He recalls, “I was actually really surprised because there are over 500 who could have been chosen ... I was shocked.” Fan favorites also were named in four other groups: youth bike, youth quad, adult quad and side by side.
Usually owners select the favorites. This was the first time fans could vote. A racing photo of Pierson along with the favorite youth biker appeared on all plaques that were given to youth and adult bike winners at the June 22-23 Medora competition.
Denean Williams, the mom of a Batesville racing family, reports, “He is truly a great kid. He always helps people out, cheers on the younger kids and places in the top of his class at about every race. He definitely deserves the recognition.” His dad, Ben, describes his son as funny, talkative and “a pretty good kid.” He observes Caleb is “popular at the track and he talks to a lot of people there. He’s nice to the kids and the parents like that.”
The Batesville High School sophomore began racing at 12 in October 2010, so this is his third full season. He will compete in about 10 races between February and November, which are “all spread out” geographically. The farthest he’s traveled has been to Rockville, about three hours west. Closer weekends are in Holton and Rising Sun.
When Pierson competes in the youth division, he rides off-road for 45 minutes, with a computerized bar code in his helmet recording laps. The same method of determining winners is used in the adult division, when he bikes for an hour and a half. After the fastest racer crosses the line, the contest continues for one more lap to determine the top competitors.
“We race through the woods” on bikes without speedometers, so the teen has no clue how fast he’s traveling. “The only time you’re going as fast as you can go is through the pits .... The higher the gear, the faster you’re going.” He usually sticks to the middle of six gears.
The athlete has convinced one other family member to participate. His dad “used to race before I was born, but got out of it. He’s always had a couple of four-wheelers.” Once the Batesville Middle School math teacher took a quad for a spin last year, he realized “it’s just really fun and he wanted to do it again.” The pair took part in a goofy father-son contest June 22, coming in second out of 46 teams. They alternated laps for an hour while fulfilling the requirement of displaying “some form of underwear.” So they switched off wearing a pair of lady’s panties.
Thanks to loads of safety gear, Pierson has never been injured seriously. He explains, “I’ll kind of wreck, but I’ve never broken any bones. There are some people who push past their limits, … but I ride within mine.”
The young man is on a winning streak. “This year I’ve gotten a plaque at every race. I’ve probably gotten 20-30” overall. His most memorable award came at 2011’s last race. Instead of just his father cheering Pierson on, all family members (mom Molly, sister Maddie, 13; and brothers Eli, 10; and Noah, 7) were there. “It was pretty cool” for them to witness his first win ever.
Pierson races a green Kawasaki KX100 in the youth division and a new red Honda CR250 in the adult category. He admits, “We put a lot of money into them. They’re really good running bikes .... I always know I’ve got a dependable bike to go out on.”
When he’s not racing, the teen loves to go mountain biking at Brum Woods and Versailles State Park, play baseball with his siblings and run. The summer construction worker for his uncle, Luke Pierson, is looking forward to a family camping trip to VSP around the Fourth of July.
With Indiana Cross Country Racing (www.ixcr.com), Caleb Pierson has learned he prefers an individual sport over being part of a team. “In most other sports, you’ve got a coach telling you what you have to do. With this, it’s more you’re kind of like doing your own thing.” During the weekends, “You don’t talk bad about other people. Everyone’s just friends.” At the starting line, he wishes good luck to others and afterwards asks them how they did. “Everyone’s just nice. It’s a competitive sport, but, at the same time, no one acts competitive.”
Debbie Blank can be contacted at email@example.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.