TOLLESBORO Jonathan Ruggles is not part of any organized crime family.
Ruggles and a bunch of others are, however, part of a MOB.
Most spring and summer weekends, the 28-year-old Tollesboro man and others ride their motorcycles, dirt bikes and four-wheelers at Motosports On a Budget — thus the acronym — the four-year-old layout on the nearly 68-acre farm Ruggles and his family own on May Hollow Road. Ruggles said the season may last “until the snow flies” for the most serious riders.
Six-year-old Zane VanFleet of Peebles, Ohio, rode his 50-cc bike during the second of the track’s three Blud Lubricants Triple Crown Race Series events on June 22. His reason for riding is as basic as moist dirt pies.
“Because you’re gonna get in the mud and all that,” he said.
During the week, Ruggles, a 2009 Lewis County High School alumnus, works for BP Pipeline of Quincy. He was the parts manager at the now-closed Heritage Honda dealership in Maysville before that.
“I just had a lot of people always asking about a motocross track and stuff, and that kinda stuck with me after I left (Heritage),” he said. “I guess upgrading to a little bit better job led me into financially (being) able to buy it.”
Ruggles has been a co-owner since 2014, but his love of speed has been a longer journey. He and four Lewis County friends — Darrell Flack, Dustin Kirk, Corey Fite and Wade Adams — started traversing the backwoods on two or four wheels since at least 2011.
“We made it a thing for us, but everybody else wanted to join in,” Flack said.
MOB is now the only regularly used motocross track in northeastern Kentucky. Earlywine Racing, an indoor track on the AA Highway near the Mason/Bracken county line closed June 15 after nearly 15 years.
“I raced a lot there in the wintertime,” Ruggles said. “I won a couple championships there.”
Pleasure and pain
Motocross can also be fun — with fractures.
Ask Ruggles. With all the chromium screws in his body to help fix broken bones, he might have trouble clearing airport security.
“From bottom to top, I’ve got three screws in my ankle, my right ankle,” he said. “I broke both my feet one time. I’ve broken both collarbones twice. … My elbow is prosthetic, the joint in it is prosthetic.
“(Both collarbones) have plates and screws. That’s it.”
The younger riders and their parents likewise have injury stories to tell.
Vanceburg resident Matthew Cooley, 13, has been riding for some eight years. He loves when he’s 15 feet in the air on the jumps.
“It feels good if the landing’s smooth,” he said.
Sometimes, it isn’t.
Matthew’s dad, Raymond Cooley, recalls a mishap on his son’s 85-cc bike a little more than four weeks ago in front of their home. The injury report: hand and knee lacerations, a sprained wrist and burns from striking the muffler.
“He was doing a wheelie on the blacktop, and the back tire went off the blacktop,” the elder Cooley said. “He ended up hitting face first … knees, elbows. If he didn’t have a helmet on, it’d have really got him.”
At 75, Bart Wilber of May’s Lick is likely the oldest regular rider, though he doesn’t ride his machine every weekend. His injury list is nevertheless lengthy.
“I had a few … broken ribs, broken breastplate, collarbone a couple times, a few concussions, a broken toe, basal joints in both thumbs,” Wilber said. “It gets a little worse later on. You get a little older, it kinda catches up with you.”
Ruts and hills
The three tracks include a 1.2-mile setup for grand prix races, a 1.4-miler through the woods and a 0.2-mile wooded section for the youngest riders. Ruggles touts the “lots of ruts” and nearly 200 feet of elevation change.
“All of our jumps are safe, all filled in,” Ruggles said. “Everything is beginner-friendly, but professionals can have some fun out there. ... Most people build tracks in flat fields, but we used our hills to build our course.”
Participants must also sign a waiver absolving Ruggles and the others of any liability arising from racing.
Ruggles would like to see at least 300 riders at the MOB’s May Hollow Jam Aug. 10-11. It’s not certain if Wilber will be there, but he doesn’t think any of the others would dare ask him if he’d motorize a rocking chair.
“They all say they hope they’re riding when they’re as old as I am,” Wilber said.
The track is located at 161 May Hollow Road. Tickets for MOB’s May Hollow Jam are $10, but riders pay entry fees from $20-$50, depending on the category. For more information, call Ruggles at (606) 541-4025 or visit the MOBMotosports Facebook page.