01/22/2013 by Jimmy Shoe
Thirty-one-year old Mitch Sheets has been racing since 2005, with increasingly impressive results. Mitch grabbed first in the 2012 Iowa Enduro Riders Association Open A Enduro Series, his best finish to date.
A native Iowan, Mitch started riding at age 17 in the small town of Laurens in the northwest part of the state. “My first bike was an ’81 Honda XR250,” he says. “Not the greatest bike in the world, but I was hooked.”
Not long after he discovered his love of riding, Mitch moved to Panora, Ia., and upgraded to an ’05 Yamaha WR250F, the first bike he ever raced. He began testing the racing waters when he met others who rode and they encouraged him to give it a try. A fan of Enduro and hare scrambles, he started out in the C class, with good success.
Mitch didn’t get heavily into racing until 2009, when he entered A class events. “It took a little to get rolling, but last season was definitely my best,” Mitch says. His success was especially impressive since he was coming off a knee injury suffered at the Winterset, Ia., OMA Nationals in 2011. “I crashed and tore my ACL, but I had one of the best doctors in the state do the surgery, and now I’m fully recovered.”
Moving ahead, Mitch hopes to keep his leader position in Enduro while improving his performance in hare scrambles. “I love the adrenaline and the competition of racing,” he says. “I haven’t tried motocross because there’s just something about riding in the woods. I’m drawn to it.”
He often rides with groups, who share tips and advice to help each other improve. He does as much of his own mechanical work on his current 2009 KTM XCF 450 as possible, teaching himself or asking others questions along the way. “I got a Race Tech’s Motorcycle Suspension Bible for Christmas,” he says laughing. “There’s A LOT I can learn in that!”
Chances are good that Mitch will pass along that hard-earned knowledge to another rider, one who might have Mitch looking over his shoulder in the next few years. “My son, Gavin, is eight and he loves riding,” says Mitch. “He’s on a Honda CRF 50 right now, but is ready for a bigger bike. He’s really fast— not quite ready to race yet, but it won’t be long.”
Though she doesn’t ride, Mitch’s 11-year-old daughter, Autumn, also comes out to watch her dad race.
A fan of the outdoors all around, when Mitch isn’t racing he likes to wake surf and snow ski. For the foreseeable future, Mitch plans to keep racing near home. “I’m an Iowa boy,” he says. “This is where I’ll be.”
Mitch would like to thank his sponsors for their support, including Pivot Works, Hot Cams, Hot Rods, Vertext Pistons, Cylinder Works, FMF, Twin Air, Factory Backing, AXO, Fasst Company, EVS, Sunstar, Engine ICE, SYP Optics, Seal Savers, Inc., Scar Racing, Duro Tire, ODI Grips, Slick Products, Acerbis, Leatt Brace, Coulters Panorama Marine and Flack Farms.