Hesperia resident Robert "Bobby" Garrison didn't always have the drive to ride.
What he did have was a brother, Greg Garrison, who wanted a dirt bike. The two got bikes, and then Greg wanted to race. Parents, Tom and Teresa Garrison, urged Bobby to race, too.
"Once I got brought into it, I never wanted to stop," said Bobby, who's originally from Sparks, Nev.
One race became two and two became three. Fifteen years later, Bobby has been a professional off-road racer for 10 years.
He's racked up a number of impressive finishes over that decade, including runner-up in the World Off-Road Championship Series in 2006 and top 10 finishes in that series each year since. He finished second in the Baja 250 last year, and was chosen to represent America in the International Six Days Enduro race in Germany this month. However, Bobby had to recently withdraw his entry for ISDE due to a shoulder injury, handing his spot to teammate Destry Abbott.
"I don't want to be the guy that goes over there and holds the team up from doing the best that we can do," Bobby said.
That professionalism has landed Bobby some good friends in the business, including motorcycle racer Justin Soule. Soule met Bobby as they raced on a team together in 2001, when Soule said the two just aspired to "make a living riding motorcycles."
Today the two race in the WORCS for Monster Energy Kawasaki, on a team managed by Jason Smigel. Teammates include Abbott and Taylor Robert.
Bobby rides a Kawasaki KX450F for WORCS and a Kawasaki KX250F for EnduroCross, an indoor event that involves riders facing obstacles like rocks, walls and water crossings. His favorite type of race is a WORCS race because he has to fight for the win and training comes more into play, leaving him with a "winning feeling."
In 2005, Bobby's interest in WORCS inspired him to borrow his parent's motor home and come to Hesperia to consider signing with Ty Davis' team. After riding in Hesperia, it was clear he would relocate and leave Nevada behind.
He practices locally at Competitive Edge Motocross Park in Hesperia, Racetown 395 Motorcycle Park in Adelanto — where he had a WORCS win — and Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino. With its hills and proximity to racetracks, Garrison said Hesperia and its surrounding cities are prime racing locations for professional riders.
Bobby's planned races for 2012 include nine WORCS events, three EnduroCross events and two or three local races.
He races 10 months each year, making it important to stay healthy all year long. During a race his biggest challenge isn't physical exhaustion, it's the mental struggle of discovering how his opponent is going faster than him and striving to get ahead.
Bobby's not the only one who has a lot on his mind during a race. His wife Lyssa Garrison said she feels tense and eager at the start of each race, as all 40 riders head for the same turn. After the turn, she said she releases "a sigh of relief" and feels a surge of adrenaline as the race continues. If Bobby crashes, Lyssa said she watches how he reacts in the first 30 seconds. Those seconds determine if he's injured or if he gets back in the race — and how Lyssa will react.
Even when the race ends, Bobby said he has to rely on "self-drive" and "self-motivation" to keep him on track. When he does veer off-course his parents' and friends' positive support keeps him "driving forward."
There are races Bobby still wants to win, including the Baja 1000, WORCS and the ISDE event he won't get to face this year. But that forward drive that started with a dirt bike, led to a race and ignited a professional racing career seemingly has no finish line.