Nisswa's Thomsen finds success racing snow bikes
Though he has been racing other machines for years, Cody Thomsen is looking to come out on top in his first season as a professional snow bike racer.
The 25-year-old Nisswa native took advantage of an opportunity after an injury saw him transition from standard snocross racing. In a snocross race last season, he crashed his sled, breaking his back in the process.
Now he is back with a new race to run, 17 sponsors and a chance to finish first in two separate leagues.
"I went to get a ride (at the start of) this season and couldn't land anything," Thomsen said. "A last-minute decision came when the team I was racing for said, 'Hey, we have this snow bike. Do you want to race it?' I thought it sounded kind of stupid, but I rode it and thought, 'This is flipping awesome."
Thomsen, the son of Wayne and Peggy Thomsen, has been racing for much of his life - racing dirt bikes as a child before competing on snowmobiles beginning at age 15 and eventually racing them professionally.
"I got an opportunity to race (snowmobiles), and I was already racing dirt bikes during the summer so I said yes. Someone saw something they liked and gave me the opportunity of a lifetime, so I took it," he said.
Now, he is racing snow bikes, which have the body of a dirt bike with a single ski and narrow track attached. Despite appearing to be a hybrid of the vehicles he previously raced, he insists the machine does not behave like either of the two.
"People think it has to be a lot like riding a dirt bike, but it literally is its own animal," Thomsen said. "It does not act like a snowmobile and it does not act like a dirt bike. It has a lot of the characteristics, but there are a lot of things it does differently in terms of balancing and taking certain jumps and corners."
He currently races in both the International Series of Champions (ISOC Series) and the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Series. His racing career has taken him across the nation, from New York to Oregon to the Winter X Games in Colorado.
"It is just an adrenaline rush, and nothing can really replace it," Thomsen said. "It's hard to explain, but people that race know that once you start, you are always a racer. It's hard to get out of your blood. There is just a competitive drive in you that makes you keep pushing and go to the next level and be the next person in the sport."
In his racing career, he has earned three semi-professional snocross championships. He also earned a fifth-place finish at the Federation of International Motorcycling (FIM) World Championships, took sixth at an X Games-qualifying race in December and first in the first round of the AMA Championship a day later.
With both the ISOC and the AMA seasons winding to a close, Thomsen has gold in his sights. He is currently ranked second in points overall in the ISOC Series and first overall in the AMA Series.
"The goal in the beginning of the season was to see where things went, but now the more we went on the more I wanted to win this championship and that championship," Thomsen said. "That's the main goal right now."
Though he committed to finding as much success as he can on the race track, Thomsen ultimately hopes to have fun in his racing career and make the most of an experience he knows few people will ever achieve.
"I just want to enjoy the time I spend (racing) because everyone knows extreme sports is a very short-lived career," Thomsen said. "I want to make sure I don't wake up 20 years from now wishing I would have done this or that. I want to say, 'Man, that was one hell of a ride, and I made the best of it.'"