Ask Ping!Friday, December 7, 2012 | 9:00 AM
Having taught a motocross school or two, what would you have to say about James Stewarts' mx technique?
From my side of the fence, he has lost some of the most fundamental techniques, which I think is part of the reason why he is crashing so much. For example, when he is entering a rutted section, he doesn't keep his body in a neutral position, and he doesn't use the footpegs to counter balance. At Thunder Valley, he was leaning into a rut too much and ended up going down, on the low side. Don't blame it on the photographer, even though he made a stupid move. Also, just recently at Unadilla, he was entering a rut and he was leaning too far to the inside and ended up crashing, on the low side. He looks more like a road racer leaning in to the corners! I think he is as fast as he has always been, but he is not paying attention to the fundamentals. Is he too famous to take a mx school? Does he have a riding coach to point these things out?
Thanks for your input,
It’s funny how nobody had any riding tips for James when he was winning races and championships. Weird how that works, isn’t it? And then when he stops winning as much all of a sudden his technique is dog crap. James rides very, very aggressively. He leads the bike with his body and as long as the bike follows he’s fine. But when ruts or mud or something else prevent the bike from keeping up with James he goes down. He could change to a more conservative riding style and stop pushing as hard. The only problem with that is he won’t win doing that. I don’t think anybody, especially James, likes that idea.
The only constructive criticism I would give James is that he needs to leave his house once in a while. The dirt on his supercross track is soft and nothing like the majority of the tracks he will race on during the supercross season. I know he likes to stay tucked away from the world until the opening round but I think it hurts him on raceday. The other option is to truck in some harder soil for his track. That way he could stay inside his compound forever, leaving only to go to the races and see the occasional movie.
I recently watched The Inside the Outdoors Episode that showed a few riders talking about how hard it can be to make a living in motocross, and wondered what you thought about the episode. The episode seemed to try and tell the story of how financially hard it can be on motocrossers, but I thought where do I sign up for the life of a 3000 sq ft house in California, fancy cars, and motor homes that cost double the price of the average American home. The riders continually talked about how they do not have an education or skills for jobs after motocross, but do they not understand how the average college graduate has $25,000 in student loans and the only job they can find is serving coffee at Starbucks. They also spoke about how expensive the sport is for the rider, but I am not sure how many more podiums a tour bus gets you over a Minne Winne. As a former racer who is transitioning into the regular workforce, should us ham and eggers feel sorry for these riders.
Should you feel sorry for them? Meh? I guess that depends on your sympathy level for humanity in general. Sure, some of these guys are making good money and living it up right now. But when the gravy train runs out it typically turns into a trailer park disaster. Like most pro football players or lottery winners many of them will be out of money and looking for work in a short amount of time. And what do you put on that resume? Fanatastic Whoop Skimmer? Chief Officer of Triple Jumping? Handy with a Sharpie? Most of these guys will have to try to find a job in the industry because it’s all they know. I’m not saying you have to send them a charity check or anything but just understand that racing is hard work and it’s very dangerous and it leaves riders beat up and poorly equipped for the fifty years that come after their career has ended. A least a college student has a degree and knows how to make an excellent latte.
I was just glancing over the silly season updates when I noticed something that struck my curiosity and I'm hoping you can shed a little light on the matter. I remember when I first got into this sport about 14 years ago it was common to see about 3-4 guys under each factory tent throughout the season. (i.e.- I remember Carmichael, Fonseca, Tortelli, and Ramsey were all on factory Honda.) With the economy taking a hit on the sport the common factory team is now looking more like a 1-2 man deal. My question is, how do the teams that specialize in the 250 class (not "Lites" anymore, thank God) manage to continue providing rides for the same amount of riders (if not more) as they did 14 years ago unlike the factory teams? The two teams that really caught my eye were the Geico Honda team and the Monster PC Kawi team, as they both are housing 6 riders each this coming season. How is it that these teams can continue to afford to house 6 riders while the factory 450 teams are only housing about 1-2? (Granted, Reed is the exception as he's also getting factory support from Honda on top of Canard and Barcia). How much less are guys like Tomac, Baggett, Durham, and Wilson getting paid in comparison to Barcia, Weimer, Stewart, Reed, Villopoto, Dungey and Canard? Is it because our top 450 guys are demanding more money than ever? How is it that these teams like Geico Honda and Monster PC Kawi can continue to maintain fully loaded semi trucks at each race while the factory teams blame the economy for their 1-2 man teams? I know there's a lot that goes into answering this question and each team has their own reasons, but it just made me curious.
PS- Hopefully you answer this even though I didn't add in a stereotypical brown-nosing compliment in the beginning.
No brown-nosing required, Trent. Obviously our economy isn’t what it used to be. Simple economics dictate that teams have to cut back. The reason some of the 250 teams are able to field more riders is because they either pay less salary than the top 450 riders or the manufacturers step in and pay the salary for them. That leaves cash available to buy more parts and staff. I think another reason 450 teams don’t have multiple riders is because our sport doesn’t place enough of an emphasis on riders who finish fourth through tenth. For whatever reason, motocross fans, media and sponsors only care about who is winning, who has potential to win and who is standing on the podium. Winning is awesome but the sport is shriveling because there are great riders finishing off the podium who aren’t getting any publicity. It’s a multi-faceted issue but maybe that helps you sleep better tonight. If not, try Ambien.
Have a question for Ping? Send him an email at [email protected]
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Jean-Michel Bayle, the iconic superstar of yesteryear, raced motocross for the first time in twenty-one years at the Vets MXdN in England. Page 126.