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Rev-Up: Last Stand

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Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Rev-Up. Well, it all comes down to this. One more race left in what we will, years from now, call the greatest season in the history of our sport. Now, I am aware there are tons of people who may argue this, but I am confident I have enough reasons and ammo to back this claim up.

The summer isn't over yet

photo: Simon Cudby

For starters, Ricky Carmichael and James Stewart are two of the baddest men to ever watch a gate drop. There is really no getting around that. For years we watched these two climb their way to the top while they left a path of domination in their wake. All the while, we were salivating over the inevitability of them meeting on the track on equal machines, especially an outdoor track.

While it wasn’t exactly the perfect summer we were expecting, it’s been pretty damn incredible watching them go. Then, once you throw in the growing rivalry between Ryan Villopoto and Mike Alessi and all of the parity the 250F class produced, I can’t really think of a summer of motocross that measures up to the 2006 season.

Ah, but the summer isn’t over yet! We have one more song to dance to before the final curtain falls on the greatest season ever. On the surface, the writing on the wall allows us to read that the 450F class was wrapped up weeks ago. The next paragraph reads with similar blandness with the fact that Ryan Villopoto is going into the last round with a solid 29-point lead. Not much to get excited about, right?
Wrong, doctor! Think about the fact that it's most likely Ricky Carmichael’s final stand. Read between the lines, look closer, and think a little harder about what this weekend brings. On second thought, allow me to spell it out for you in this, the last Rev-Up of the immaculate outdoor season.

250F Class

Let’s rewind to 2005 really quick, shall we? Ivan Tedesco coasted into Glen Helen with a seemingly insurmountable 35-point lead. One DNF and a kill-switch shoving match later and “Hot Sauce” barely squeaked by with the title. This was before Alessi got in all kinds of trouble, of course. Now the championship is between Alessi and Villopoto, and it’s far from being over. Both of these riders are exceptionally familiar with the Glen Helen track. Remember how fast Ryan was going last year? Remember how fast #800 was going when he almost won the first moto, only to see Grant Langston docked five seconds, then find himself DQ’d? Wait, now I forget how fast he was going!

I do remember seeing Mike Alessi pinning the throttle to the stops trying to hold Grant Langston off. Then when that wasn’t good enough he held it on longer into a sweeper and blocked the 2003 champion into the desert off of one of the berms. Mikey Boy’s a fighter, and he will do whatever it takes to try to win the championship that in the beginning of the season he truly believed belong to him.

 

photo: Simon Cudby

He will need to harness some of the fury he had last year, because he has been devoid of it for the past three rounds. In fact, I haven’t seen that fire since Villopoto put him down back at Budds Creek, save for a fast second-moto win at Red Bud. Whatever Alessi was trying to get back when Ryan dropped motor number two at Washougal went up in smoke when he short-circuited at Broome. Now he has one last chance to make something happen. “RV Park” has been the fastest rider in the class all season (at least until Hepler came back) and, barring monumental disaster, it’s his title belt to lose.

I don’t know, but for some reason I have a very weary feeling about this weekend for these boys. Since their days on minibikes, drama and turmoil has followed them. Is it time for Ryan to rise above the shadow Alessi has cast on him and claim superiority or will Mikey boy find a way? We shall see.

450F Class

I’m not sure about you, but nothing in this world captivates me more than watching someone on a motorcycle spraying a rooster tail of berm around a corner, charging down an impossibly rough downhill, or contorting himself in the air off a huge jump. To me, it is the most beautiful and artful rendition of man and machine in all of motorsports. The juxtaposition of the bike reacting to the terrain and the rider reacting to the bike is simply spellbinding. I believe that is why motocross videos were such an instant hit: The rhythm of a musical beat coupled with a racer flowing around a motocross track meshed magically.

A young RC

photo: Racer X Archives

Well, folks, there has never been a more perfectly balanced combination of man and machine than that Ricky Carmichael or James Stewart. As I type, I have music playing through my headphones, and when I close my eyes I can see these two guys just crushing the Glen Helen track this weekend. I see them riding with a demeanor that teeters back and forth between anger and effortlessness, their march around the track matching the beat in my ears in perfect harmony.

After all of these years, we have this last wonderful chance to see the two craziest, fastest bastards of all time line up and see who is the better man. And the cool thing about it is, it doesn’t really matter who wins. The title is over, and even if RC wins both motos by 30 seconds or James scratches out the victory, the big picture is simple: RC = GOAT.

But we will watch the fastest two motocross racers in history negotiate a motocross track one last time against each other while they are both in their prime. That’s the beauty of it, at least through my eyes.

A young Bubba

photo: Racer X Archives

The future is uncertain for RC. I have heard some noise that he may be back next year; maybe he will come out and see where the competition is and if he is still as far ahead of them as he is this year, maybe he will run for titles 16 and 17? But then again, he has reported that, no matter what, he is finally letting go of the throttle for a while when the checkered flag drops at the Motocross des Nations and then the U.S. Open of Supercross. Be that as it may, this is his last full effort towards a full season.

Glen Helen is arguably the gnarliest track on the tour. Mt. St. Helens is no disco going up, and its downright rude upon descent. For those attending this event, I have but one request: Respect the day of racing you will see for what it is. The final race of 2006 will be one of the most nostalgic events of all time. Every one of you folks lining the fences had better be screaming your lungs out with each passing lap, for you will be watching history. Its time to call down the thunder one last time.

Thanks for reading, see you next week

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