Tom Addy has a laundry list of reasons why he shouldn't hop back on a motocross bike.
He's 32 years old. He has family businesses to help run. And his medical history is extensive from many years of competing.
That won't stop Addy from trying to qualify at the Unadilla National motocross event this upcoming weekend in New Berlin. The races, sanctioned by MX Sports, are part of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships, one of the United States' premier motocross series.
To take part in the event, riders are required to have a professional license and then pass a series of qualifying races, which will take place on Saturday prior to the main race. Addy says he will need one of the top 40 qualifying times to earn a bid into the final event.
"If I actually qualified in, that would be like a dream come true," Addy said in a phone interview with The Citizen. "But realistically, if I can come close within the next 10 or 20 guys, it's a really big deal."
It's almost a dream in and of itself that Addy is still involved in the sport. When he was younger and deciding between attending college, joining the military or working in his family business — his parents' stores sell lawn, garden and farm equipment — Addy instead decided to become a motocross pro.
Then Addy suffered a myriad of injuries — torn ACLs, broken wrists, broken ankles, broken fingers, collapsed lungs, and separated shoulders among them — that led to loss of sponsorship, followed by discouragement from motocross entirely.
He put the bike away and joined the family business, which allowed for a fresh start and fresh perspective. Now, after some pressure from some friends, the 32-year-old Addy is riding again and trying to qualify at the highest level.
"When I say I'm 32, everyone's kind of making fun of it because I'm older," Addy said. "The sport is so demanding that usually the ages between 18 and 22 is kind of the limit. After that it's hard for the body to keep up with it."
Addy didn't even have a bike until this past spring, but after his friends convinced him to return he bought a new one. Even so, practice time has been limited as Addy balances motocross with a full-time job.
As time on the track has increased over the last month as Unadilla nears, Addy received last-minute news that he'd be competing in the 250 class, not the 450 class that he had prepared for, which involves a different type of bike.
"It's really putting me under the gun and it's two completely different animals," Addy said. "I'd say 70 to 80% of these guys I race with don't have jobs and that's their only job. They dedicate 100% of their time to racing."
When he's had time, Addy practices at his family track under the watchful eye of his father, Bill, as well as other local tracks like Frozen Ocean in Owasco.
Most of the focus has been on sprints — a fast lap time is the quickest way to get into the main event — while also working on riding consistent laps and being sharp on corners.
"My father's been a really big help all these years. Whenever I'm out there riding he'll be there watching and will stop me if I'm doing something wrong," Addy said. "The Walczak brothers (owners at Frozen Ocean) have been really good about helping me out, getting me ready to go and giving me a place to ride."
Come Saturday, Addy hopes his new lease on motocross and practice time pays off. He knows this isn't a forever endeavor.
"This could be one of my last times out there doing it because my body has really taken a beating," Addy said. "If I can do it, I want to try because one day I'll be sitting there saying, 'Man, I remember when I was able to do that when I was younger.' Gonna try to give it another try and see how we make out."