Broc Tickle lines up behind the gate. On each side of him, other riders prepare for the grueling thirty minutes plus two laps ahead. Mechanics make last-minute adjustments to bikes. Riders try to stay cool. Though the temperature sits below 100 degrees, the sun heats bodies quickly.
This week, Broc knows that he has to ride his best. With only 18 points separating him from Andrew Short and third overall, and only four motos left in the season, every place counts. “I try not to think about it too much,” he says. “I know it’s there and I know I can do it if I can just get four really good moto finishes.” Every rider who hasn’t stood on the box at the end of a season dreams of that moment, when all the hard work, sacrifice, and pain is forgotten.
Most of the riders on the line today have raced against each other for at least two years now. Guys like him rarely see the top five, but right now third overall isn’t life or death for him.
Tickle has two rounds to make up 18 points on Andrew Short for third in the 450 Class.
Simon Cudby photo
“The main thing I’m looking for is progress,” he says, “and it seems like that’s what my year’s all about. It’s just cool to see progress. It’s something you feed off of, and it makes you hungry to get better than even what you are now.”
Though Tickle had earned a handful of moto podiums on smaller bikes, he finally captured his first overall outdoor top-three at Budds Creek. He knows people have started talking about him again. Fans watch him with a certain expectation—that’s what happens when a rider proves something about himself.
Tickle has never experienced this before. Though he claimed the West Region Lites Supercross Championship in 2011, the outdoors is different. As a 250 rider, he struggled through the first few months in the summer. In each of his last three seasons, he finished seventh overall, no matter what he did. Now he’s on the verge of his first outdoor championship podium.
There’s something about the 450 that suits his style better. “The intensity of the Lites class ... like, everyone’s been seeing it,” he says. “It’s gnarly and everybody seems like they’re going for it. When you watch the 450s, it’ll look like everybody’s just riding. They’ll pass somebody and then they’re just riding again. Honestly, it’s different. The  guys are all riding at the same pace.”
Broc looks up the starting straight ahead. He knows his starts make him work, but they’ve never seemed to be his friend in the outdoors. He thinks his size took him down on the starts with the 250 Class. Now that he’s moved up, he sits a little more comfortably—as comfortably as possible considering the competition. Jake Weimer sits neck-and-neck with him in the points, tied for the same position. Broc has to battle two others for his spot on the podium.
Tickle is on the verge of his first career outdoor championship podium.
Simon Cudby photo
“The guys race a lot smarter,” Tickle says. “They know when to race fast, they get good starts, and they just know how to race. They know when to push it.”
Tickle wants that podium. More than anything, though, he wants to grow. He knows his first year on a 450s won’t be his best.
“I just want to be happy with my results,” he says. “The main thing that my focus is on is going out there and having fun riding my dirt bike.”