Muscle Milk TWMX Race Series Profile: Joe Pena

Joe Pena, 56
Glendora, CA
Sponsors:  LifeTale.net, Too Tech Racing, Saddleback Rider Training, DeCal Works
 
The racers at the TWMX Muscle Mile Race Series come in all flavors, from the very young all the way to racers in their 50′s and 60′s.  With such a big variety in riders, it is always interesting to hear the story behind what drives the racers to the sport.  It isn’t often to see a racer in his 50′s that comes out to the races and enters 3 classes and races 6 motos a day, let alone in the Southern California summer heat.  Joe Pena has no hesitation about it and is a regular at all of the races on the schedule.  The #911 Yamaha is like a staple of the series.
 
How long have you been riding?
Seven years since I started riding again.  I rode when I was younger, in my early 20′s I started.  1981 was the last time I rode before, so I was off for about 25 years.
 
Why did you start back up again?
9/11, I worked at World Trade Center 1, and I happened to be jogging that morning and after a couple years I was going through a divorce, and my nephew Syd said “my dad says you used to be pretty fast, you should buy a motorcycle.”   So I did, I didn’t want to start racing or anything or be addicted to it like I am now.  Lo and behold, about 6 months later I did my first Vet X race.  I don’t think I’ve missed more than a couple weekends of racing or riding since.
 
Your speed has gone up drastically in the last 2 years, what have you done to improve?
It is just seat time and I ride with a good bunch of guys, a lot of younger guys, they keep me young but they ride so fast.  These guys were faster and I’ve always wanted to improve, trying to push forward and go ahead.  Riding  is a lot of fun.  I take things to extremes, I was a triathlete and competed every weekend. 
 
A lot of people quit riding when they get into their 40′s, you did the opposite, you picked it back up.  Do you feel they are missing out?
No, not at all.  Everyone has their own niche.  I just like to stay active.  The doctor told me I have arthritis in my knees and to stay active.  A few years later he told me “I didn’t mean motocross.”  I have no friends other than these that ride motorcycles, and I would not encourage them to ride motorcycles.  It’s just something that’s been in my heart ever since I was a little kid.  It’s really hard for someone to just pick a bike up and do it for a long time, especially at this age.  It’s something that you like doing right from the beginning.  I’ve been hurt, down on the ground many times and I can’t wait to get back out there again.
 
What else do you do outside of motocross?
I don’t do much anymore, I still cycle from time to time, I don’t do much mountain biking but I used to do a lot of road biking.  I just get on that every once in a while now because of my work.  When I’m working, I work lots of hours, but when I am playing, I am playing.
 
What do you do for work?
I work in IT. I am a Systems Engineer.
 
Is it out of character for a ‘computer geek’ to be a motorcycle racer?
Yes, it is.  But we find a lot of diverse crowd here, we have a dentist, doctors, paramedics, engineers galore, so there is a vast array and a lot of old guys out here too.
 
You come out and race 3 classes and 6 motos a day.  Do you ever run out of energy?
Well, I have a little bit of a cold today, so I don’t have my normal energy.  I’m very fortunate, I’ve been blessed with a good set of lungs and that’s why I was good at the triathlons, but my knees started going away so I couldn’t keep that up.  I enjoy long distance racing, running and cycling.  There’s just something about it.