Meet Super B rider of the month Tom Ebersole. A 68 year old gyneacologist from Sinking Spring PA who has been racing dirt bikes for the last 38 yeas. He has participated in five ISDE races and won one silver and four bronze medals. Tom has won several GNCC Championships; the Elite Masters Class (once) and the Golden Masters Class (several times).
1. It's not very often that you see a doctor racing dirt bikes at the age of 68, on the highest level! Did you start racing later in life?
I started racing late in life. I was 30 years old when I did my first Enduro and I got on my first Enduro bike, off-road bike, a Yamaha 175DT when I was 28 years old, when I moved to Reading, Pennsylvania. I did my medical training at the University of Miami, so I lived in Miami for 12 years. I did not own a motorcycle as a kid. My parents would not let me ride, so again my first motorcycle was purchased when I moved to Pennsylvania and started private practice in Reading at age 28.
2. When was your first exposure to dirt bikes?
My first exposure to dirt bikes when I moved to Reading. I had a neighbor who lived two houses from me who was racing Motocross. He used to practice behind my house so I used to hang out in his garage, got very interested in dirt bikes, kind of realized that my age starting very late that it was not going to be a Motocross expert, so I looked at alternatives and got interested in off-road with Hare Scrambles and Enduro bike racing.
3. How quickly did it become a serious hobby?
It really became a serious hobby after riding in my backyard and doing some local riding with this gentleman who really taught me. We had a rocky mountain of about 100 acres behind my house and he would take me out there and teach me balance riding, break shifting, everything you needed to know. I did do a little bit of street riding when I lived in Miami for cheap transportation, so I was familiar with shifting the breaks but off-roads is a totally different world.
4. You used to race ECEA enduro's and be a member of the Central Jersey Competition Riders of Bob Agonis. Tell us a bit more about that time?
I raced ECA Enduros for many years. I was with Central Jersey Competition Riders with Bob Agonis and his deceased brother Tony. I actually got to them through two gentlemen that I used to race against in local Hare Scrambles here by the name of Scott Wolfensberger and Hank Stankiewicz. They both lived in Jersey. There were district 6 Hare Scrambles and through them I joined the Jersey Club got into Enduros which I participated in for many years, so it was probably in my early 30’s and late 30s, even in the 40’s.
5. Who got you interested in the ISDE or was that just a natural development?
I became interested in ISDE. It was kind of a natural development. I got bored and burnout with Enduros and Hare Scrambles looking for something different and the United States offered a 40 plus aged three men team. There were a total of 40 people that normally go each year to the six days and back then they were going to make spots for number 38, 39, 40; for three people 40 years and older to compete, so we had to go around the United States (East Coast and West Coast) and do the qualifiers and then they took three people and fortunately I was able to make the team five years in a row. My first ISDE was Australia. Great experience and it really got me hooked and from there I went on and did Oklahoma. Then Poland, Finland and Holland.
6. You did 5? Six days. Looking back at those, it must have been a special time in your racing career?
I did five six days in a row, finished them all, “special time”, met a lot of new people that I am still in contact with. These were my first experiences with the great E-Line racer, Kevin Hines, whom I did meet through Enduro riding and just really had great experiences with a number of people.
7. I spent some time with you in Finland in 1996. I remember your unfortunate bike failure with your rented CRE Honda even before the event started. Tell us a bit more about that?
I had a bike failure in Finland in 1996. I had actually rented a CRE Honda from Kevin Hines. The bike was prepped in California and shipped over to Finland and on the first day before even got started, I started the bike and essentially it crashed, took the head off and what had happened was the gentleman had put the piston in and the rings in incorrectly so it trashed the top end and Kevin Hines was there and he rented (cost me US $500) a top end from the Italians because he was dealing with CRE through Honda in Italy and I went on to finish the race and got a bronze medal.
8. The 6 days always bring good bench racing stories. What is your best one?
The sixth day certainly does bring good bench racing stories to say which is my best one will be impossible. Holland, it rained everyday and it was like unbelievable sand. We changed the front sprocket everyday, brake pads a couple of times everyday. It was just a nightmare. Poland was probably the toughest one because of the terrain, we were up in the ski slopes in Poland near the border and it was mountains and rocks and elevations and mud and just very technical. No question. Oklahoma was fun but it was just all flattened rocks. Finland was fun, but it was dust and sand. The best one was no question Australia because they had all sorts of different terrain. We were in the wine country north of Sydney, Australia where the race was and there were all different elevations and terrains and the people were so nice and again I was 40 I believed and I am 68 now, so this was a long time ago in a different time of the world, and the third week we were there. We went up to the northern part of Australia to Canes, which my current wife thought I was going to propose, we were only dating then and I was so exhausted and tired and just catching up on sleep and food and everything. It never crossed my mind to do it on this day. She still does not let me forget it.
9. You have not slowed down much lately in attending races lately. What is the biggest change you have seen in the last 25 years?
I have not slowed down. I was going to do the National Enduro series this year and have a bike prepped through KR4 with Fred Andrews and at the last minute I got a notice in December that they decided to pull the whole program and just do GNCC. So that all fell through and I got hooked up with Mandi Mastin who is doing the GNCC series and National Enduro and would take my bike around the United States and be treated kind of like a rockstar, fly in and fly out. Unfortunately, my numbers did not work out. The first racer I was on row 109 with five to six people in each number and that rained in South Carolina and my next one I was on row 63 and it rained and it was still another bad deal and then I got number 31. Texas was canceled. I finally ended up on 31 in Tennessee but it rained. I ended up third in the class, so I am racing to 65 plus class and unfortunately Mandi is hurt, so we were not going to Wyoming and I hope to race in Pennsylvania at the end of July for the National Enduro. I also have done three GNCCS, South Carolina, New York and this past weekend I went to West Virginia, won my class and I was also top 5 in the past two races in the 60 plus class. So I am very happy with my conditioning and the bike. I am on a KTM 300. I have been using those for several years. I have Rekluse clutch and motor work done. I have been working with Rich Lafferty Riding School over the past couple of years and am just having fun.
10. Is it still as much fun as is was 25 years ago? What keeps you motivated?
Well! It has been almost 38 years since I started racing at age 30. The juice is still there. I still get nervous on the line. I still love going into the first turn, not knowing where you could be. I love the endurance part of the GNCC because they do last about two plus hours, mostly local Hare Scrambles, now for us at age 60 plus are an hour and a half only. So conditioning for the GNCC is the toughest. The National Enduros are fun. You get a break; you can regroup, fix your bike, and do things like talk to people and just try and have fun wherever you can.
11. I assume you have had some injuries in the past. What kind of injuries have you had?
Did you have multiple injuries over the years? I have broken my legs several times. I had some screws. I got titanium rod in my right tibia. I bent a steel rod, dislocated fingers, broken ribs, dislocated shoulders, torn rotator cuff. The normal bruises may be a concussion or two along the way, but as I have gotten older, I have gone slower and not take my frustrations and anger out on the throttle trying to keep it on two wheels and stay off the ground. Unfortunately, if you are on the ground, you are going to go zero miles an hour and if you are averaging 18 miles an hour, you have to go 36 miles an hour to make out from your little stint on the ground, so much better to keep the bike upright.
12. Do you still work full time or did you cut down on your hours?
I still work fulltime. I am gyneacologist. I do a lot of office gyneacology and I perform a lot of inpatient and outpatient surgeries. Possibly looking into retirement in two years, when I will be 70.
13. Do you ride during the week and workout? How do you make time for that?
I try and ride at least once during the week. I ride in the evening. I have a track at my house. I workout with my wife two days a week at noon, doing Pilates classes, balancing balls, isometrics, different things and I do a lot of mountain bike riding which is close to off-road dirt bike riding as you can get reading terrain. I have a huge lake right near my house, so I can go riding around the lake. I have also been into physical fitness my entire life. I did even lactic acid testing in a coach and utilize a sport psychology coach, his name is Alan Goldberg, great guy who has helped me through my recovery with all my injuries that I have suffered over the years because I can feel a lot of guys becoming head cases once you have been hurt trying to get back up to race speed.
14. Tell us a bit more about your family?
My family. I am very proud. I have three daughters, two step daughters. My daughters are 43, 41, 39, 38, 34 this year. Second marriage, I’ve known her for 28 years, married for 21 out of those, very happy. We have seven grandsons. No granddaughters. Unfortunately, no one is really interested in dirt bikes at this time. Computers, soccer, baseball, basketball and video games take up most of their time. Hopefully, someone will come along, maybe we’ll have that girl and she will get into dirt bike racing.
15. How did you find out about Super B batteries?
It was really I believe through KTM. They had switched from regular batteries to Super B, know the mechanic who is taking care of Jeff Russell and a gentleman by the name of Woody with KTM and kind of introduced me and they are so much lighter. The endurance and life is so much longer holding the charge, everything about it is even better than traditional batteries. I did help support Thad Duvall, who was selling some of the batteries for support for six days and I purchased some more and I have been very happy with them.
16. The last few years you been racing GNCC but this year you raced the first 3 rounds of the National Enduro series. Are you racing both series in 2015?
National Enduros, both series, I am kind of like picking which ever one visits I can get to, to get a bike. I have a 2014 Enduro Bike 300. I have Hare Scramble bike setup KTM 314 and I am also doing some local races. We got local ECEA, East Coast Enduro Association and District 6 Hares Scrambles. I am doing local races this weekend in the 60 plus class. It is competitive, got some good guys around here; some people come down from north of here and there, again we are just having fun.
17. How much longer are you planning to keep racing and if you done what hobby will you do next?
As long as the body stays healthy, I still have the juice. It gives me great conditioning to a total of 180 degrees away from the medical field. I met a lot of new people over the years, association with people from all works of life and I just really enjoy the industry. If I could do anything; unfortunately, I am not a super-super mechanically inclined. I would like to work on bikes, help people out, do some teaching which I done with Rich Lafferty with off-road riding schools. What hobby will you do? My wife has been after me for several years to start playing golf. I used to play tennis, racquetball, handball, unfortunately, the knees were bad. I did some off-road mountain bike racing. I am too big for road biking. I weigh 225 pounds and I will just get killed on the road bike because I am way too big and almost too big for mountain biking, but probably golf is around the corner.