Some of Tyler Vore’s more coordinated friends and future classmates received their first bicycles and tricycles in 1998.
Tyler got a dirt bike — a real one.
He was 2 years old.
“My child, boy or girl, was going on a bike,” Tyler’s mother, Leslie, said. “There were really no ifs, ands or buts about it. That child was going on a bike.”
The Vore family — mom Leslie, father Greg and son Tyler — are a dirt bike family. The Porter residents journeyed from dusty track to dustier track throughout the state, Midwest and even the country so Tyler Vore could turn laps. He entered his first real race when he was 4 years old and hasn’t slowed down since.
But none of Tyler Vore’s hundreds of races or thousands of rides compare to what he’s up against this November. Tyler Vore will represent the United States against more than 1,000 riders in the International Six Days Enduro, or ISDE, which will be held Nov. 12-17 on some of Chile’s most unpredictable beaches, forests and mountains.
The race dates to 1913 and is sometimes referred to as the "Olympics of Motorcycling."
“To say I’m excited would be a massive understatement,” Tyler Vore said. “I’ve been lucky enough to race around the country since I was a little kid, and I’ve seen so many things. But the fact that I get to travel out of the country to race and do something I love is just awesome.”
Tyler Vore advanced to the ISDE as the top qualifier from the U.S. East Region with a pair of wins in qualifying races in Michigan and strong finishes in the Virginia and Florida rounds. Racers in endures accumulate scores based on the time it takes them to get from one checkpoint to another in single-bike runs.
He broke the news to his family that he needed a passport and plane tickets to Chile over the phone.
“You could just hear the excitement in his mouth and in his voice,” Leslie Vore said. “As a mom, I just started balling.”
Tyler Vore’s rise to international competition isn’t by accident, but it hasn’t exactly been planned either.
The 2014 Chesterton graduate raced dirt bikes as a hobby in high school and spent most of his competitive time running cross country and track. He was a member of Indiana-Purdue-Indianapolis’ cross country team as a freshman while beginning his studies in geology, a degree he's scheduled to wrap up in the fall.
But after deciding collegiate running wasn’t making him happy like he thought it would, Tyler Vore turned in his Jaguars uniform to focus on working, recreational running and riding his dirt bikes. He raced as often as he could and began to stand out as one of the fastest riders in the state.
Even while working about 30 hours a week and finishing his schooling, Tyler Vore managed to sneak in 30 races each year and multiple riding sessions each week near Indianapolis. He stored his bike at a friend’s home in Martinsville and would make time to practice with the Enduro on his mind.
Days became a balancing act.
“It was extremely hard for me to be going to school as a full-time student, working and trying to be a good rider,” Tyler Vore said. “Plus, I still run a lot. So as my friends can attest to, I don’t have much free time, which is definitely a struggle in its own way. It’s a grind to get the results.”
Consider the sacrifice worth it.
Tyler Vore, who rides for the Spanish-based Gas Gas team and has sponsorship backing from a number of other companies, worked his way into the world field.
Gas Gas supplies the bike in Chile, but Tyler Vore and his family have worked sponsorship deals with the likes of Wagner’s Ribs — Tyler Vore sells racks of ribs — Illinois-based Hall’s Cycle and Moose Racing, among others.
Jay Hall, the owner of Hall’s Cycle who also serves as the team manager of Team USA’s ISDE efforts, competed in the event once as a rider and spent the last decade and a half as a supporter one way or another.
He said Tyler Vore has what it takes to do well in the race and that he looks forward to supporting him and the other 30 riders from the U.S.
“He’s a talented, talented rider,” Hall said. “And he’s a great kid who comes from a great family. That combination really attracted us to Tyler to represent our company. He’s well-spoken and does everything you could ask for.”
Tyler Vore also is accepting donations through a Facebook page to cover the estimated $20,000 cost of plane tickets, hotels and entry fees.
Once all of the funding comes together, the more physical challenge begins. Tyler Vore’s six days of racing will start around 9 a.m. each day and last through the remainder of the day. The total mileage is well over 1,000 miles. His competition will include regional qualifiers like himself and riders who make a living on their bikes.
“The biggest challenge of the format is you never know what’s coming around the corner,” said Tyler Vore, who is also responsible for maintaining his bike without a crew. “The physical part is tough alone, but then it’s the mental side that drains you while you have to react to rocks and other terrain.”
Tyler Vore doesn’t intend to just finish the race, either. He has hopes of being named a world champion.
While he knows he’ll be an underdog, the fact that he qualified first among his peers has given Tyler Vore a quiet swagger going into the race.
“As a mother, to see your son achieve a dream of his is just special,” Leslie Vore said. “The way he talks about this race shows just how much it means to him. It’s a really remarkable accomplishment.”
And Tyler Vore hopes it’s just the beginning. A professional career may soon follow.
“Yeah, I’ve thought about that,” he said. “Guys can make a living off of it, and why not? If you’re good enough to do it, you can do it. And this might be my chance to see what I’m made of in a really cool race.”