NEW ATHENS, Ill. — Tyler Brandenburger knows ups and downs.
As a dirt bike racer, the New Athens native has cleared quite a few obstacles in his days on the dirt.
Brandenburger has had racing in his blood since he was five-years-old.
"It was just an adrenaline rush when I was that young," Brandenburger said. "It was addicting."
But one crash in 2015 in Nashville, Illinois made him adapt like he never had before.
"It was the first lap in and I just got sideways," Brandenburger said. "I launched over a berm and when I came down I knew right away it was broken."
Brandenburger was rushed to the hospital by ambulance, but the next few days would change his life forever.
"They tried to find a pulse in my foot and brought in at least 25-30 nurses and none of them could find a pulse," said Brandenburger. "They started freaking out and told me my vascular systems were failing and needed to get me into surgery."
When they brought Brandenburger out of that first surgery, he heard that dreaded word. "Amputation."
He woke up from that surgery without a right leg but did keep his most important asset; his positive spirit.
"Really the only thing I wanted to go do was ride my dirt bike," said Brandenburger. "That's just who I am. I knew that there was still the chance that if I stayed on my dirt bike and just stayed positive, that I could possibly turn this whole injury around into something way more positive than what it was."
Brandenburger worked his way back onto a bike with the help of a new prosthetic, and soon a new, unexpected door opened when the snow bike came calling.
"I'd never rode anything in the snow," he said. Not a dirt bike. Nothing."
But with the help of some friends in the racing industry, Brandenburger was knee deep in the word of snow bike racing.
"It all just happened so quick," Brandenburger said. "One phone call led to another and all of a sudden I'm in Minnesota qualifying for the XGames."
Brandenburger ran well enough up in Minnesota to get an invite to Aspen for the big show. The 2019 Winter XGames.
"It's obviously a lot of kids dreams to go to the XGames on their dirt bike or snow bike," Tyler said. "People are back in my super small town of New Athens, that's where I'm from that's where I call home, and I'm here at the XGames in Aspen, Colorado... It was just so surreal."
Brandenburger wasn't about to just take his trip to Aspen and be done with it, though. The 23-year-old had medal aspirations.
After finishing second in a practice run before the medal race, Brandenburger knew he was in great shape. All he had to do now was put the cherry on top.
His fist pump after he crossed the finish line in second place in the adaptive snow bike medal race told the rest of the story.
"I was just super pumped because I knew I just got that silver medal at XGames," said Brandenburger.
When asked what his five-year-old self would be doing if he saw his 23-year-old self wearing an Xgames medal around his neck Brandenburger couldn't hold back his excitement.
"5-year-old me would be getting his autograph," Brandenburger said. "He'd probably be freaking out."
Four years ago Tyler Brandenburger was in the ultimate valley after losing his leg doing what he loved most. It didn't take him long to ride back to the top.
His message for anyone going through a struggle of their own?
"Racing is what I love to do," said Brandenburger. "Just find something you love to do and just go for it."