Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Rev Up. The month of October has long been one of my favorites. The Fall season is gorgeous to begin with, but I've grown to discover that this particular month is one of the least stressful of the year. No summer slam, no holiday circus, or tax season Spring. No wonder the Germans like to throw down during this mark on the calendar!
October is also the birth month of some of my all-time favorite motorcycle riders. Danny "Magoo" Chandler, Travis Pastrana, and none other than Evel Knievel were born during these 30 days. Today is, in fact, TP's b-day. Which one of those guys do you think was the bigger mad man? I've been pondering that thought all day myself...
That said, it is in their honor that I chose to dedicate this month's columns to big jumps. It'll all be about big jumps in October!
My day began like so many before it: Drinking a beer at the airport. On this day, it was a Sam Adams Octoberfest, which is quite impressive if I do say so myself. Once I was bellied up to the bar, I cracked open the lappy and the first e-mail I opened was from none other than "Bad" Bill Ursic. Within the e-mail was a YouTube clip of District 5's Brian Shuckhart. Brian is a bit of a legend on the east coast in that he still races a two-stroke. He can still qualify for a Nat on one, too. Although, in this clip, Brian was attempting a gargantuan double at R&D Raceway and was bucked over the handlebars from 30 feet up. I know this double well, as it was the last big leap I have jumped. It’s friggin' HUGE, and it made me remember some of the bigger jumps I've encountered in my days on two wheels.
As I cracked my right knee back and forth and rolled my jaw around, the pain began to roll back into my memory banks like rain.
5. The Ponca City Impaler
Ponca City was always famous for it's massive jumps. In fact, it was at the Ponca hospital where I first heard the phrase "Murdercycles" come from the mouth of a doctor. To their credit, the jump they made in 1994 was a bit of an abomination. It wasn't meant to be a double. It was supposed to be a tabletop followed by a single. A brazen young rider from California named Jonathan Shimp changed all of that. Kevin Windham and I were sitting on the starting line ready to roll out for our practices and our focus was mostly fixed on the double to our left that we were sure we could backside cleanly now that we were on 250s. All of a sudden, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I thought, "What the hell was that?" After all, the 80cc (12-13) riders were on the track, so no way could it have been one of the little guys I saw 40 feet in the air flying over the finish line.
All the same, I tapped Kevin on the shoulder when Jonathan came around for his next lap. That little bastard never shut off the gas and cleared the over-100-foot gap between the tabletop and single jump. He was so high in the air it looked fake. Kevin and I looked at each other, terrified, with both eyebrows up. It remains the craziest thing I have ever seen an 80cc rider do.
It took Kevin all the way to the last lap of his practice to hit it and he was still the only other rider other than Shimp to huck it.
I rolled out for my practice on my brand new KX250 pretty much coasting the whole lap, letting everyone else go by. My left leg was shaking. I had committed. There was a 12-foot roller, then a 40-yard straightaway before the takeoff of the "Shimp Triple" and I wanted to make sure I had enough steam. At the moment of truth (you know, THAT moment), I cracked it wide open and never stopped shifting until I took off.
Bad decision.Ricky Carmichael. "Woooooaaaaaahhh!!!!!!!!" I heard clear as a pin drop as I had killed the engine with the rear brake. I knew I was screwed so I kicked my brand new bike away from me at 40 feet. I had time to "roll up the windows" about five times before I landed, ass-first, at the feet of RC and my little brother.
Once they saw I was alive, they started laughing hysterically at me, so I turned my head away only to see my shiny, new fenders snapping off with each cartwheel. My bike finally came to rest at my Dad's feet, fenderless, with the new special purple Team Green Renthal's wrapped tightly around the gas tank.
Amazingly, I was uninjured. I mean, dude, I fell on my ass going 60 mph from 40 feet up, but I stood right up and could breathe. But something was amiss. You see, when you land on your bum with such ferocity, there is no holding back physics.
My last memory of the day was watching my Pops power-wash the inside of my race pants while Ricky and Casey rolled on the grass crying because they couldn't stop laughing.
Good times. Stay tuned for Volume Two next week.
Enough of that, ahem, crap for now. We do have the US Open taking place inside the MGM Grand Garden arena this weekend in fabulous Las Vegas. It looks like James Stewart will ride Yamaha's new spaceship-esque YZ450F as he vies for another $100,000. Nothing is certain in racing, though. What is certain is the boys will put on a good show and there will be a plethora of hangovers at the airport on Sunday.Before I go, I just want to say Happy Birthday to Travis. Come on, man,