The journey to being a Supercross Privateer for Tyler Bowers is long and in many ways unusual. For most, the Privateer journey ends with being selected for a factory team ride, for Bowers, he’s been there done that and now to make his career continue, he turns to the Privateer program.
Bowers is not an everyday Privateer. He is a racing champion. From 2011-2014 he took the Arenacross title every year. If you’re doing the math thats four straight titles. Bowers moved back into Supercross Racing in 2015 where Bowers was in the mix battling Cooper Webb for the 250SX West Region Championship before a back injury prematurely ended his season. in 2017, a early season femur injury ended any chance of competing that year.
With 2018 fast approaching and the desire to keep racing, Bowers choose to pursue his career on his own.
“It’s been crazy,” Bowers said as he spoke about the roller coaster of career changes experienced over the past few years as he moved from Arenacross to Supercross and the changing of a factory rider to a Privateer. “I look back now at the time when I started in Arenacross and they were similar situations, there was just a lack of factory rides. Budgets were tight in Supercross and I was young and still trying to make a name for myself, so I went to race in Arenacross and I found a way to make a stable living. From being there for so long and to have the success I had allowed me to have a recognized name and I earned a Supercross ride on the Pro Circuit Kawasaki Lites team. It was an privilege to ride for one of the best programs and teams out there. So I have been in this situation before where I needed to build and fight for my career on my own. I just never thought I would be here again. But thats a race career. Injuries and bad finishes and other things have led me to being a Privateer and have allowed me to build my path to success. I may not as much money on my own, but I know that the decisions I am in charge of as a Privateer will set me up for future opportunities.”
Along with all of the changes to his racing career, becoming a first time father has also changed Bowers in his career goals.
“Trying to figure out how to be a father has been a challenge. Athletes can be selfish. To get to the highest level, a lot of times we focus only on ourselves pushing to get to that level. Now, it’s a complete shift of focus and my main focus is my wife and my child. The priorities change to being husband and father first, then; team rider, manager, CMO, trainer, nutritionist and sometimes part time mechanic. I am basically running a small business out of my garage. It has been stressful to be honest but the pay off is worth it. I am so happy with both aspects of my life.”
One of those challenges has been the learning curve of how to be the “everything” for his career and at home in his personal life.
“It’s so hard. In some ways when I was racing Arenacross, the team was based in Michigan but I was training in Southern California so there were several things that I needed to take care of logistically. I’m grateful for that small amount of experience that I could lean on and grow from as I have to make all the stars line up in a perfect row now. If everything doesn’t line up just right, it doesn’t work and you aren’t racing. The timing can be stressful. The learning curve, while steep, was quick because at the end of the day there was no other option. My only decision was to do this or not race. Just like being a father. You have no other option. You step up and you take care of what needs to happen.”
Yes, there are some major differences from a factory rider to a Privateer but simply, according to Bowers the biggest difference and biggest need of a Privateer is the need for more time.
“As a factory rider, you train and then you can go home and relax and have time to do other things. As a Privateer, once training is done you change from rider to team owner, or team secretary and also being a father. I thought I was busy before as a factory rider, but it has been eye opening for me learning how to balance everything now. I wish there was 48 hours in a day for me to accomplish everything I need to get done and I am not entirely sure that this is the worst yet in how busy I may be.”
For Bowers though, in a lot of ways he is happier with his training program than ever before.
“I don’t know what it is but something about being a Privateer, that I feel like my training just comes easier. It could be that I have so much invested and every day of training I get to see the dividends of my investment pay off. I have no choice but to rise up and it gives you a strength that you just don’t have when you are a factory rider. It is such a fulfilling experience.”
After being a factory rider and a champion, is it easier to be a Privateer?
“Honestly no,” said Bowers. “I think its far easier to be a Privateer when you don’t know any better. In a lot of ways the phrase ‘Ignorance is bliss’ carries a lot of weight. I have a standard for me in racing. I am good at it. I can make a good living doing it and so to now be the person solely responsible for my standard can make things more difficult. Yes, in some ways having the connections in the industry to get parts and sponsors is a benefit of being a veteran rider on the circuit but sometimes I long for that ignorance. Sometimes you feel like you have the best equipment but you’re too stupid to know it. There were times that I felt like my program was so tight but looking back today I wonder how I survived that season.”
Last week in Oakland, Bowers experienced one of the worst crashes of his career but you wont see that stopping him from racing this weekend in San Diego.