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Racing out of high school.

Byline: Bob Albrecht The Register-Guard

June was too late for Kyle Lemon to wait.

The North Eugene High School graduate had already had his passion stripped away from him for six months last summer when doctors discovered a blood clot in his right arm that cut off all circulation to his throttle hand.

Waiting for graduation would have put his dreams on hold for longer, and he already realized how a misstep could derail his aspirations of flying around the dirt track with the spraying mud, cheering crowds and roaring engines that make up professional motocross.

So Lemon didn't wait. Instead, he loaded up on classes and completed all of his requirements before spring break.

When his classmates returned to school, Lemon took off for the Bay Area, where he trained with former professional rider Jim Gibson for about a month.

He has since returned to the area and is preparing for his school's graduation ceremony while still logging plenty of hours on his motorcycle and working at his dad's store, Mel's Marine Service.

From the middle of May through the end of June, Lemon will compete in the Pac West Championship Series, with races in Albany and throughout Washington, including as far east as Spokane. Along with that comes plenty of practice.

"I have my own track that I ride on almost every day," Lemon says.

Lemon plans to settle in Eugene for the fall, taking classes in business administration at Lane Community College. After the term, he plans to return to California for more training and some major motocross events.

"I'm just going to college so I'll have a backup plan," Lemon says.

That's the kind of backup plan his parents want Kyle to have with a career choice like motocross racing, especially when you consider he already has broken his collar bone and a bone in his leg and has suffered from the blood clot. Lemon says his injury toll is relatively small when compared with other professional and amateur riders.

Lemon's dad, Paul Lemon, says he was proud of his son for graduating because he considers getting an education extremely important.

While the younger Lemon feels young and invincible, his dad tries to remind him that roadblocks are often unforeseen.

"My goal now is to get him into college and get him to do something there," Paul Lemon says. "Like any other sport or things that a kid chooses, things change. Kid gets hurt, and everything changes."

Holding off on pursuing his motocross dreams until the spring and finishing school was a significant accomplishment, Paul Lemon says, adding that his son wanted to return to riding as soon he had recovered from his blood clot near the end of December.

His parents, however, were adamant that he finish school first.

"He wanted to head down there about November, and we held off for a while," Paul Lemon says. "He had that blood clot last summer, and it held him off a little bit."

The Lemons' eldest children, Spencer and Kelli, are in college, Paul Lemon says.

Kyle Lemon has been riding for 10 years. He started out cruising around a public track on Territorial Road, which ended up evolving into the passion for riding that has led him to races in Albany and southern Washington and eventually on to more prominent events in California and Nevada.

During Lemon's first major circuit race in Nevada he got tangled up with several other riders on the first turn and had a disappointing finish, Paul Lemon says.

"When he went down to Vegas he got intimidated," Paul Lemon says. "It just took his attitude, and it went down quick. When he stays local he does really well."

Undeterred, Lemon started practicing more regularly than ever. The Lemons have a track on their property on Barger Road and are building a riding area on five miles of land on Airport Road.

Over the next 10 years,Lemon says he plans to go all out in pursuit of a professional motocross career, but he says he'd like to settle in Eugene down the road to continue the family business and raise a family.

His absolute dream is getting a full-ride from a professional motocross team, which means becoming a full-fledged member.

Though his parents have encouraged education, they also have backed Lemon's attempts to make his dreams a reality.

Says Paul Lemon: "He's got his dreams, and he's got to see what he can make of them."

MEET KYLE LEMON

What's your favorite quote? I don't have one, but I look up to Josh Hill, a professional motocrosser.

Last book you read: "The Glass Castle," by Jeanette Walls

Favorite hobby: Fishing and riding quads at the coast

Where do you see yourself in five, 10, 20 years? In five: Either with my family business or motocross. In 20: Family business, having kids.

What was your greatest discovery about yourself in the past four years? When I found out about my blood clot.

If you could, what would you change about high school? I would have changed, just like not goofing off so much.

What do you think is different about now and way back when your parents were in school? There are more classes you have to do instead of ones that you choose to do.

What advice would you give to incoming freshmen about making the most of their high school experience? Stay up on your work and don't goof off. Just stay up on your work.

What is your dream job? Pro motocross. I want to get a full-ride from motocross, which means riding for a team.

What song helped you get through high school? "Letter to Me," by Brad Paisley
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Title Annotation:City/Region
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:May 31, 2008
Words:952
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