City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

The Road Less Traveled

Skyler Howes blazes his own path to victory

Local legend, Skyler Howes, did not become one of the best all-time American riders in motorcycle rally raid by accident; he knows what he wants and is not afraid to fight for it.

The struggles were plenty: During his first professional desert race in 2013—on his 21st birthday—Skyler crashed and broke his back. In Peru, at his first Dakar rally—an epic 15-day, 500-mile-a-day race considered one of the biggest, most difficult and dangerous global events in motorsports, and one of the world’s most-watched sporting events—Skyler narrowly missed colliding with a child who pulled out in front of him on a scooter; he crashed and dislocated his shoulder. He has seen competitors who were lucky to walk away with their lives after crashes and others not so lucky. In Greece, he broke his neck. After three months on bed rest and only one month of training, Skyler entered the 2020 Dakar.

“I went in there with a new mentality,” he says. “There were no expectations: I literally just had to finish.”

Skyler placed ninth, a first for an American privateer—a rider not sponsored by a major manufacturer of off-road vehicles. Despite success, Skyler soon found himself without the money and support needed to continue racing professionally when his sponsor, Garrett Poucher, of the Garrett Off-Road Racing team, retired after sustaining serious injuries.

Determined to raise the roughly $100,000 required to enter the 2021 Dakar, Skyler sold most everything he owned except the bicycle he rode to work. He sold t-shirts, held riding schools and worked 14 hours a day. Yet he still found himself short. And that’s when a Swiss company reached out to him, seeing his potential and covering his remaining expenses.

“I got super lucky,” he says, placing fifth in that year’s Dakar—the highest an American privateer had ever finished. But he knew that his road would end there without major backing. After approaching Husqvarna with a sincere commitment to do even better, he was signed on to their team.

With the backing of a factory team, Skyler’s lifestyle and training approach has changed, but his work ethic has not.

“Being able to put my full focus into riding, training, reading roadbooks and going to the gym has played a huge part in relieving stress. But I’m still doing everything I can to honor the team and be the best rider I can be.”

Skyler continues to triumph in the sport, placing well and winning high-profile races like the 2022 Rallye du Maroc in Morocco, which he won, the 2021 Silk Way Rally in Russia, in which he placed second, and the Vegas to Reno desert race where he earned the distinction of being the only person in history to race the course in its entirety by himself and win it two times in a row. In 2022’s Dakar, Skyler suffered a concussion and had to exit the race early, but in January of this year, Skyler placed third in the 2023 Dakar, becoming the fifth American in history to finish on the podium.

Perhaps the early days of struggle were not so bad. After all, they got him where he is today, smack in the middle of a life he had always dreamed about.

“People want to avoid hardships and tough times,” Skyler says, “but going through all of those moments—depression, the struggle, the grind—it’s really necessary to grow as a person. Others who didn’t make it decided not to sacrifice everything for it. I’ve been able to get to this point because I didn’t give up. I push until I reach the goals I set for myself. Success comes from that.”