Making adjustments: Kohnke still gunning full throttle in his 4th year on pro circuit

Published 9:21 pm Friday, July 14, 2017

Nate Kohnke, who lives near Oakland, Minnesota, has been on the pro motocross circuit for four years now, but he still has to stop and pinch himself every once in awhile. Whenever Kohnke sees a young motocross rider, he can’t help but look back and think where he was when he started riding as a youth.

“I definitely like to see kids coming up,” Kohnke said. “I was that kid one day, and never in a million years did I think I would be at this level.”

Three years ago, Kohnke had the highest finish of his racing career when he took 32nd at the Ironman National in Indiana on a 450 bike, and after two years of racing on a 250 Yamaha, Kohnke is back on a 450 Honda this summer. Kohnke is hoping the change pays off for him as he has his sights set on competing in the Spring Creek National in Millville on July 22 and he will race in the Ironman again in Indiana on Aug. 26.

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Kohnke said he’s had to make some adjustments, but he’s glad to be racing in the 450s again.

“That’s a big change and I’m glad. It’s a good change,” Kohnke said. “Last year wasn’t so good, it just wasn’t where I wanted to be and it wasn’t good for me to be on a 250. I changed some stuff over the winter and I’m back on the 450 hoping to make something of that again this year and I’ve got a couple of big races coming up.”

While Kohnke is now a veteran on the pro circuit, he’s certainly not relaxing. He said the competition continues to grow every summer and the races are as tough as ever.

“Everybody out there is very, very capable of what they’re doing,” Kohnke said. “It’s not easy by any means and the competition is definitely up there.”

Kohnke still gets a kick out of competition days on the race track and he also likes the camaraderie that motocross provides. Since there aren’t a lot of riders in Southeast Minnesota, those who do compete in motocross have formed a pretty tight-knit group.

“[Racing] doesn’t get any easier, but it doesn’t get any harder either. I love this sport and everything about it,” Kohnke said. “You make great connections throughout the years. Right around here, we’re kind of in a dead spot and there’s not a lot of people doing it. But you know everybody within 50 miles here that’s doing it and you’re pretty good friends with all of them.”

Kohnke thanked his parents and Trimble’s Cycle Center for the support he has received over the years, and he said he’s going to stay on the bike as long as he possibly can.

“I think I’m going to keep doing it until life tells me I can’t do it anymore,” Kohnke said.

Kohnke also said he’ll likely race in the Motokazie at the Mower County Fair in Austin this summer.