Ryan Cooley’s dad, Darin, road raced motorcycles with CMRA and WERA, but he got his start on a Yamaha YSR50. So he had a pretty good idea of how to get a youngster started out in motorcycle road racing, when the time came. And for Ryan, the time came when he’d seen his dad race enough times. “Every single time my dad went, I’d ask if I could go, and then one day he asked if I wanted to race, and I said yes,” says Cooley. He’s done well, racking up wins and titles with the Texas Mini Grand Prix Association and–most importantly–having fun while he does it. Cooley started riding on a King Cobra 50, and that was the bike he first raced. He’s spent his formative years riding on the dirt, including cross-country racing. “You have to go through really tight trees, and you have to go through some tricky obstacles. It’s really fun, and it’s really challenging,” Cooley says. That experience helped when it came to his first road race, on the King Cobra at the kart track in Katie, Texas, five years ago, he says. “I remember that it was really difficult–all the other kids were a little bit more experienced than me,” Cooley says. “The dirt (experience) helped me, because when the back tire slides, you know how to maintain it when it’s really slippery.” Since then, Cooley has moved up onto a Kawasaki KLX110 and a Honda NSR50 for road racing, and he continues to ride a KTM in the dirt–“not necessarily motocross, but cross country, just for fun,” he says. The road racing is fun, too, and Ryan Cooley says he enjoys, “The competition, and all the other riders.” Dad Darin doesn’t race big bikes anymore, but he’s still racing minis. He’s built a hybrid combining a Honda XR100-engine and a Kawasaki KX65-chassis that he says “is far and away the most awesome motorcycle out there.” And this season, Ryan and Darin are doing mini endurance races together. “It is the greatest thing that I’ve ever experienced racing, getting to race with him like that,” Darin Cooley says.
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