All little boys like to play in the dirt and ride fast bikes and Elkins High School sophomore Cody Pingley is no exception. He began riding dirt bikes when he was 4 years old and was competing by age 8.
“I just love to race,” Cody, now 15, said. “It seems to come natural to me. I really enjoy the adrenaline rush. I race against kids from all over the United States and I enjoy traveling the East Coast for the competitions.”
On Sunday, Cody will compete in the Grand National Cross County race at Snowshoe. He enters this race in first place in the East Coast Series with five straight wins.
“The Snowshoe GNCC is the roughest, toughest race on the circuit,” Cody said. “It was originally the Blackwater 100.”
Cody said he began racing mostly because his father, Todd Pingley, raced dirt bikes.
“I have been around the sport since I was born,” Cody said. “My very first bike was a Kawasaki KX 50. I was so young I don’t remember much about it.
Once Cody began competing, he moved up to a KTM 65. He was 8 years old at the time and mostly competed in local races in the East Coast Off Road Series.
Through the years, Cody has competed up and down the East Coast, from Florida to New York. His family packs up their camper and travels to the races to cheer him on. His father and family friend John Ross work on his bikes.
“When we arrive at the race sight, the bike is ready to go,” Cody said. “I have a reserve bike, but it is used for parts.”
Once the family arrives at the race, Cody’s bike goes through a tech inspection.
“During this, they check the transponders to make sure they are in good working order,” Cody said. “This is important because they rely on the transponders for scoring.”
Cody said the races are based on laps completed during a specific time frame – usually from 2 hours and 40 minutes to 3 hours and a half.
In order to prepare for these races, Cody rides a mountain bike for exercise. He said the week before a race, he makes sure he is well-hydrated.
“You cannot stop and eat or drink during the race,” Cody said. “I carry a hydration pack on my back for water. When I do stop, it is usually for 10 to 20 seconds to refuel.”
When racing, obstacles vary from track to track.
“Rocks, roots, mud, hills and fields all present different kinds of challenges,” Cody said. “Sometimes we are diverted through culverts and under bridges. There is always something different to keep racing interesting.”
Cody said he works hard to stay calm and focus on the track – this is how he is mentally ready for each race. He also has some goals for his future in dirt bike racing.
“In the next three years, I would like to be racing in the XC2 pro lites class,” Cody said. “With my wins this year, I will be able to move to the ‘A’ class next year.”
Following the race in Snowshoe, there are four more rounds in the GNCC Series – New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana.
“Through the racing, I have made lots of friends, and I have a huge racing family,” Cody said. “I am fortunate to have a great family that supports me and I am lucky to have Mufflers, Brakes and More; Shenandoah Honda; USWE Sports; Troy Lee Designs; Brenda Lambert at Revelle’s Campground; Stuck MX Graphics; FMF Exhausts; and DSA Suspensions as my sponsors.
“When it all comes down to it, I race for one reason,” Cody said. “I race because it is fun.”