Living the dream: Local motocross riders Anson Maloney, Anthony Ferrante gear up for 2021 ISDE in Italy
It was after a poor showing on a desert course in Red Mountain, California, when Anthony Ferrante really started to doubt he would reach his goal.
The talented 18-year-old motocross rider from Penn Valley had set his sights on earning a spot in the upcoming 2021 International Six Day Enduro, but after a rough run in the California desert in March, he wasn’t sure this would be his year.
“There were 100% doubts, especially after the first round of qualifying at Red Mountain,” Ferrante said, noting how difficult the conditions were at the course. “It was wide open desert, and being in fifth gear and tapped out through the desert is really scary when it’s just dust and you can’t see anything.”
Luckily Red Mountain was just the first stop for potential ISDE qualifiers on the West Coast. A month later at a qualifier in Campwood, Arizona, Ferrante quelled his earlier doubts and proved he was among the top riders by winning the first race of the round two qualifying session.
“After Red Mountain I just regrouped,” Ferrante said. “I know where I could be among the (other riders), and then that next round I went out and won it, which was crazy to me because I was just shooting for a top five… Everything was just clicking. With that series you don’t know how you’re doing (compared to other riders), and it was cool in the sense that I just felt good. It felt super smooth and consistent.”
After a second qualifying race in Arizona, and another two-race qualifying round in Colorado in late May, Ferrante was ranked fifth among the West Coast riders, earning him a spot in the ISDE as a member of the USA Club Team. The top seven riders in West Coast qualifiers earn spots on the 21-rider USA Club Team.
“It was surreal to me,” said Ferrante. “It was awesome.”
‘JUST ENJOY IT’
Two spots ahead of Ferrante in the West Coast qualifier standings was his friend and mentor, Anson Maloney, who will be competing in his third ISDE since 2017.
“The biggest thing, and I’ve told (Ferrante) this a little bit, is to just enjoy it,” said Maloney, 27, who has been training Ferrante for the past four years at Maloney Training Facility in Grass Valley. “The first time I went, I was just so stressed and concerned about everything that was going on that I really don’t remember it as well as I would like to.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be doing it a third time, but if you only get to do it once, you want to remember it.”
Maloney’s first trip to the ISDE was in 2017 when he traveled to Brive-la-Gaillarde, France and earned a silver medal. His second ISDE came in 2019 when he traveled to Portimao, Portugal. Maloney earned a gold medal in Portugal and Ferrante was there to witness it.
“It’s been a goal of mine (to compete at the ISDE) since Anson went to France in 2017,” said Ferrante.
Now the two will be competing on the same ISDE courses and representing Team USA together.
“The big thing, of course, is he’s given me a large skillset through the technique that he has taught me,” Ferrante said of Maloney. “But, I would say my biggest takeaways from him, is to not turn down an opportunity. And, to work hard every day.”
Maloney noted that his third ISDE feels a bit different because in past trips he focused mainly on his performance, but this time around he’s just as invested in how Ferrante fares.
“It’s awesome to be able to compete in a sport and be good at it, but to be able to teach other people to do it is a whole other level,” said Maloney, who works with around 300 clients through his riding academy. “I’ve been super fortunate to be able to live the dream and do this, and now it’s awesome to see someone I helped get to do cool stuff like represent your country, ride your dirt bike and have fun doing it.”
‘IT’S ABSOLUTELY BRUTAL’
While both riders are thrilled to be making the trip, they both know they will be embarking on a journey that will test them physically and mentally.
The ISDE is the world’s largest annual off-road motorcycle competition. Since 1913, countries have sent their best off-road racers to different locations around the world to be tested on multiple landscapes. Racers compete for 8-10 hours each day with just 15 minutes at the end of each ride for bike repairs. Racers are the only one allowed to make repairs to their motorcycles. That goes on for six-straight days.
“It’s absolutely brutal,” Maloney said. “Day one and two are OK because you’re running on storage sugars and stored fats and your body can use all that stuff. Once day three hits, you just start to get this wild fatigue. Stuff starts to hurt that never hurt before. In France, my skin hurt…. By day five, you just kind of go numb.”
Both riders said they have been exercising more frequently in preparation for the physical demands of the ISDE. Maloney did note that much needed boosts of energy can be siphoned from the massive crowds that come to see the event
“I remember in Portugal, it was day three, it was pouring rain, I was dealing with a head cold, I was just sick and tired of it, and we had been riding for like 100 miles when we pulled in and all these European guys where chanting ‘USA. USA,’ and it gives you an adrenaline spike,” Maloney said.
Maloney also noted in addition to the fans providing inspiration, representing the USA is also a strong motivator and a source of comfort.
“It makes the suffering easier,” he said with a smile.
This year’s ISDE installment is the 95th and will be held Aug. 30-Sept.4 in Rivanazzano Terme, Italy. It’s the first time the ISDE has been held in Italy since 2013.
As for what would make the trip a success, Ferrante and Maloney both have hopes of earning gold, which would mean finishing within 10% of the finishing time of the top three riders in their respective classes.
The six-day race is still a little more than two months away, but Maloney and Ferrante have already shipped their bikes to Italy and will spend the weeks ahead of the event training and hosting fundraisers. Maloney said the cost per rider can be as much as $40,000 for everything.
Both riders also expressed gratitude to their families, their supporters and their sponsors.
“I feel like I’m super fortunate,” Ferrante said. “I was just put into the right mix of people and right situations, and I’ve taken advantage of that.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email email@example.com
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