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Ripon teen competing in Australia
Aiden Tijero, a 16-year-old amateur from Ripon, will represent Team USA at the 2018 FIM Junior World Motocross Championship in Australia next month. - photo by Photo Contributed

When Aiden Tijaro heads to Australia next month to compete as part of Team USA at the 2018 FIM Junior Motocross World Championship, he’ll have something a little bit unusual packed in his luggage. 

A motorcycle motor. 

The Ripon product, who put himself firmly on the motocross map back in 2013 when won the 2013 Junior World Championship in the Czech Republic, will essentially be packing every part of his competition bike except for the frame in his luggage to make sure that it ends up halfway across the world in time for him and the rest of Team USA – comprised of the six best amateur riders in the country – to represent their county on the sport’s biggest stage. 

According to Sunshine Tijero, Aiden – who is only 16-years-old and has been racing competitively since he was 8 – is one six amateur riders, two from each engine class, that will make the trek down under to a city outside of Melbourne to wear the American colors against riders from 42 other countries. 

And it’s a lot of work just to get there. 

Tijero, who is currently traveling to Tennessee to compete in the Loretta Lynn Amateur National Motocross Championship, will have just a week once he returns to Ripon to hold a fundraiser to help offset the costs of traveling to Australia, taking care of all of the race-related costs once he gets there, and covering the accommodations that go along with international travel – something his mother believes will cost between $12,000 and $15,000. 

While he has sponsors that take care of nearly everything he needs when he races stateside – Tijero rides KTM motorcycles, uses Haeseker Racing engines built by Jim Haeseker of Sutter Creek, wears Alpine Star boots, Answer gear, Scott goggles and tear-offs, rides on Dunlop tires and counts himself as part of the Monster Army – things work a little bit differently when he can’t throw all of his gear into a trailer and take it with him. 

Sunshine Tijero, who is serving as the unofficial Team USA “team mom” for the trip, says that the logistics of lining everything up in advance of the trip is essentially a full-time job, let alone handling all of the sponsorship requirements and the routine travel to Southern California to make sure that her son gets training in with some of the best motocross riders on the planet. 

But in the fast-paced world of amateur motocross, all of that hard work and tireless planning has started to pay off. 

Earlier this year Tijero grabbed the attention of the entire motocross world at the Hangtown Motocross Classic when he beat four-time supercross and three-time motocross world champion Ryan Villopoto even though he’s not even yet a professional rider. His performance garnered him a spread in Racer X Illustrated – one of the preeminent motocross publications in the country – and served as yet another awe-inspiring performance by the up-and-coming rider that until last year was just a regular Ripon High School student (he has since switched to homeschool to keep up with his busy travel lifestyle). 

In order to help cover the costs associated with the travel, Tijero is selling t-shirts to raise money that are designed especially for the Team USA trip. Those t-shirts can be found by visiting Tijero will also be hosting a fundraiser dinner on Aug. 9 at Umigo in Livermore – an event that will also feature go cart racing for those seeking a little bit an adrenaline rush. Tickets are $35 for dinner, or $70 for dinner and racing. Raffle tickets for more than $4,000 in donated prizes – including a Monster wakeboard, a Monster snowboard, a Monster guitar, a Monster Cup ticket for the upcoming event in Las Vegas, an Arai helmet, an FMF pipe, and cases of wine – are also available at the website. 

To follow Tijero’s progress or the upcoming trip, search for @aiden587 on Instagram, or search for Aiden Tijero on Facebook. 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.