Modern Day Motocross Daredevil
In some variances, Cael Bagby is your 21st century version of a daredevil. The 16-year old from Madison puts his life and limb on the line each time he dwells into his passion- Motocross.
His flair for the sport began as a four year old following in the bike tracks of his father who was a prominent racer in his own right. Bagby was given his first motocross 500cc minibike and he soon conjoined with the fierce and competitive world of motocross, and, matching his personality, racing in motocross events is just an extension of how the teenager is in everyday life.
“I’m competitive in everything I do, even off the race course,” said Bagby. “During the summer I cut grass for others and I always take the attitude of wanting the lawns to look the best I can make them. I have four lawns I cut weekly and one of those is very large and it takes me four hours to complete. I always make my work the best it can be. With my bikes, I clean them a lot and make those look their best.”
Bagby is the son of Steve and Kris Barnes and has two sisters, Rylie, who is a cheerleader, and Kenley, who has a love for horses. The treks to practice sessions and races is more of a family event than just a day on the tracks for the Bob Jones High sophomore. He is a multi-race winner, has won the Alabama State Championships and qualified for the prestigious Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships. His success is not only supported by his entire family, but by numerous big-name motocross sponsors, which see the great potential in the teenage daredevil.
“I have the need to know what I have to do to compete and will do whatever it takes to compete and be successful,” said Bagby, who has aspirations to become a full-fledge motocross professional.
He’s well aware of the history of 1970’s superstar daredevil Evel Knievel and what he did during his heyday. Knievel had over 75 ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps as a stunt performer and was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. He died in 2007.
Bagby is not trying to be the next Knievel, although his sport requires racers to put everything they have on the line just to be able to compete. The riders encounter physical and mental challenges that each racer has to face up close and personal. Quick turns and hellacious jumps are incorporated in the races that challenge even the most experienced racing athletes.
For Bagby, the sport has been nothing short of spectacular, but also humbling. He has suffered numerous serious injuries and undergoing several surgeries, including knee reconstruction and insertion of a steel rod in his leg after breaking his left femur during crashes on the race course. He was forced to stay off his bikes from his leg injury and underwent extensive physical therapy sessions, which assisted him in healing properly where he could not only ride again, but to walk again. He said he remembered the crash that broke his leg. “I went with my feet in the air while my hands were on the bike, but I became unbalanced and both of my legs were on the right side of the bike. After I hit the ground I looked at my leg and it was bent sideways and you could see my bones just below the surface of my skin.”
“Getting back on my bike for the first time after that injury made me super happy as I went through some wild emotions,” said Bagby. “I wasn’t scared. You can’t be scared and race.”
While at the start line of any race, which can feature the top competitors in his division of racing, Bagby settles into his emotional mode of concentration. His thoughts quickly turn to make sure the bike is running properly, his mental images of getting a good start and the race course up ahead are clear and his competitive edge is sharp and ready to face the physical pounding his mind and body will endure.
“Once the gate drops at the start, all of that goes away and I try and obtain a great start to the race and quickly focus on racing and not being afraid,” said Bagby, who stands 5-foot-10 and weighs 140 pounds.
Now with a driver’s license of his own, Bagby is certainly not forceful in his driving habits. He knows his limits and is very cautious once behind the wheel. He said his parents trust him and he trusts himself.
The A-B student at Madison’s oldest high school, Bagby said he feels fine now and understands his injuries will affect him when he grows into an adult as he’ll feel the past injuries and surgeries in ways only you experience in age. He added, “I’ll look back and know I’ve done my best in my daredevil type sport…and in my life.”