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UC Joe on ATV is above average

UC Joe on ATV is above average
UC Joe on ATV is above average

Union City resident Joe Byrd flies through the air at a recent race. Photo credit: Joe Byrd.
He’s certainly not your “Average Joe.”
That easily sums up Union City resident and professional all-terrain vehicle rider Joe Byrd.
In his illustrious career, the 17-year veteran of the professional ATV circuit and Obion County Central High School product has prevailed 25 times in national circuit races, claiming a pair of All-Terrain Vehicle Association titles (2006 and ’07) and one American Motorcycle Association championship (’06) along the way.
And he doesn’t have plans to slow down anytime in the near future.
“I hope to race professionally for at least five more years,” said Byrd, who rides a Honda and owns his seven-racer team. “I know I can’t do this until I’m 60 because it’s very demanding from a physical standpoint and having a team of riders gives me something to do when I retire from competition.”
Byrd went on to say that most riders retire in their late 30s and early 40s because of the wear and tear on the body due to the aforementioned physical strain
“We race as hard as we can,” Byrd bragged. “We’re fully suited up and there’s no subs. You get a water break in football or baseball. We don’t.”
That said, Byrd does take a few breaks for a good cause.
On numerous occasions each year, Byrd either hosts youngsters from the Make-A-Wish Foundation at his personal track in rural Obion County or he meets up with youths battling the dreaded disease at locales throughout the country.
Each time, it is a thrill for not only the youngster, but Byrd as well.
“I get a real enjoyment out of working with them. People take their health for granted,” Byrd said. “They worry about their girlfriend, bills and so on, but they never stop to think about their health and it’s the most important thing we have.”
The process normally begins with a letter, email or phone call to Byrd. According to Byrd, it almost always ends with a hopeful youngster beaming with joy.
“Make-A-Wish usually contacts me a few times a year about kids that aren’t doing very well with cancer,” Byrd explained. “They ask them what’s on their ‘bucket list’ in case they pay the ultimate price and lose the battle they’re fighting. A lot of times, they either have seen ATV racing in magazines or on TV and they ask to do this.
“They just want to ride and enjoy themselves. It’s a real honor for me to get to put a smile on their face and see a sparkle in their eye when we’re riding. It helps them to forget about what they’re going through.”
Though some of the M-A-W children unfortunately succumb to the disease, Byrd told of many friends who have beaten cancer over the years.
One such survivor from just east of Louisville is planning a return trip to meet up with Byrd as a healthy quad rider in the near future.
Aside from the outings with Make-A-Wish children, Byrd also offers a riding school to those interested in learning a thing or two about handling a quad.
The local gives riding lessons at tracks throughout the country and world annually.
“We do most of our schools away from Union City,” said Byrd, whose school schedule can be found at www.joebyrd.com. “We find a local track and one that suits what we’re going to do and we go to them.
“I’m only here (at his home in rural Obion County) a couple months out of the year, so we usually just focus on practicing and training when I am in town.”
The national touring season for Byrd starts in February and it ends in September.
When the current season concludes, Byrd, who was bitten by the ATV riding bug as a youngster on a three-wheeler, has riding schools lined up in Australia, Argentina and France.
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at kcoker@ucmessenger.com.

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