RAMONA, Calif. — The Summer X Games are returning to San Diego County next week and event host and motocross competitor Axell Hodges is getting ready.

“Dirt bikes are the most fun thing on Earth,” Hodges said. “I go crazy when I’m not able to ride them.”

He first rode a bike at 5 years old, but got off to a rough start after snapping his femur in a crash.

“I went trail riding one day with my dad and I kind of came up on this hill and this other rider hit me head on,” Hodges said.

After he healed up, the Encinitas native turned his love of riding into competition. In 2012, Hodges won the C Class Loretta Lynn’s Amateur Championship, the world’s largest amateur motocross race.

“When I started racing when I was 14, I kind of started at a later age than everyone else,” Hodges said. “By the time I got to the A, which is the expert class, I just kind of started fizzing, not really into it as much I was when I started.”

He then chose to switch events, making a decision that would change his life forever. 

“It’s called free riding for a reason,” Hodges said. “You get to go do what you want. I like to hit big jumps all day, do wheelies.”

In 2016, he got invited to the X Games, where he won nine medals, including three golds. However, Hodges is looking for redemption in this year’s X Games after taking second in the quarter pipe by only an inch-and-a-half.

He’ll have his shot at redemption in his very own backyard at the “Slayground” venue in Encinitas, which also played host to the games last year.

“I like to get medals in everything, so let’s do what we do,” Hodges said.

See a full list of San Diego-area athletes competing in the games by clicking or tapping here.