In 2011, Bryce Hudson was your typical weekend warrior. Like most common folk, Hudson worked so he could ride. While riding was his passion, Hudson was better known as a photographer.
The Temecula, Calif., resident used his photography to help pay the bills for a budding freestyle motocross career, which he didn't realize at the time would soon be on the fast track.
When asked back then where he thought he was as a freestyle motocross rider and what kind of goals he had for himself moving forward, he responded, "I still have a ways to go to be a top competitor in this sport. There is an extreme amount of talent out there, but I am ready to work my butt off to try and make it to the top. I know that I have the skill and determination to do it; it's just taking the time.
"I want to be known as a well-rounded rider in all aspects on a bike and as a guy that goes big! I want to make it to all the major contests and be riding next to the best in the world," he said.
Many young riders before and since Hudson have given similar replies. But very few riders are willing make the sacrifices and put in the work required to reach that top level of the sport.
Refusing to be just "another" rider getting by, Hudson began to have success almost immediately. A graduate of the DirtBikeKidz Amateur Contest (formerly the AFMXA), Hudson put his head down and charged.
"I didn't really take my riding all that serious until about 2011. I always had fun with it before that, but never really thought of turning it into a full-time career," Hudson said this week. "Once a few doors opened and a couple of opportunities came my way I knew it was possible to take my riding to the next level. And ever since my riding level and amount of events I'm in has increased tremendously. I got a late start into riding FMX but I don't feel it has hindered me in any way."
Hudson rode as many area shows as he could, made the switch from a two-stroke to a four-stroke and then used Robbie Maddison's foam pit to learn the backflip. With everything going what seemed like 100 miles per hour, Hudson got his big break as a regular tour rider with Marc Burnett's FreestyleMX.com tour, where he rode close to 50 shows in just three short months.
Hudson spent the majority of 2012 on the FreestyleMX.com tour with top level riders such as Rich Kearns, who had nothing but nice things to say about the young rider on the rise.
"Bryce is one of those guys that has a clear vision of what he wants out of this sport. I watched him grow from cameraman and enthusiast of the sport to X Games gold medalist in just a few short years. I think most of his success comes from the heart, from the love of dirtbikes themselves. He just loves riding his bike and he worked hard to get to where he is now," Kearns said.
It was that same love and determination for the sport that brought Hudson big-name sponsors One Industries, FMF, Osiris and Hot Wheels onto his program so soon in his career. He delivered for his sponsors immediately in 2013 when he was invited to X Games Brazil for a chance to compete with the world's best in Step Up and Speed & Style.
For most young riders just getting an invitation would be enough, but Hudson knew he had a shot at a medal. So using that same determination he started out with in 2008, he began training for the Step Up discipline right away. That hard work obviously paid off. After the likes of Josh Hansen and Libor Podmol were eliminated, Hudson shocked the world when he defeated veteran and defending X Games Step Up gold medalist Ronnie Renner in a head-to-head duel to take home gold in his first X Games competition.
Unfortunately for Hudson his celebration would be short-lived. A mistimed section on the Speed & Style course the next day during practice left the newly crowned Step Up champion with a broken left tibia and an eight-week layoff. After missing the past two X Games stops and going through countless months of painful rehabilitation, Hudson is looking to get back on track in Los Angeles for the final stop of this year's X Games, where he will take on Brian Deegan, Hansen, X Games Munich gold medalist Podmol and four-time gold medalists Matt Buyten and Renner. All competitors have medaled in the past and this event is shaping up to be among the most competitive Step Up in X Games history.
In five short years, Hudson has gone from an FMX enthusiast and photographer to full-time FMX pro with an X Games gold medal to his credit. He found something he was passionate about and he decided to go for it. Hudson, 22, chased his dreams and reached his goal with hard work and determination, proving that if you're willing to put in the work, dreams can come true.
"Looking back to when I was a kid, I used to photograph top riders and never imagined being a top competitor myself," Hudson said. "I'm proud of myself and how far I have come in a short amount of time. If you work hard at something you want bad enough, you will get it and be unstoppable."