3 on 3: Big Questions From Toronto

3 on 3: Big Questions From Toronto

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After a crazy weekend in Canada, we gathered up supercross race winners David Vuillemin, David Pingree and Denny Stephenson to get their take on the news. Be sure to add your thoughts below.

1. RV had to try racing without knowing how it would go. Do you have a similar story of showing up hurt or sick and just winging it when it counted? How hard is that?

David Vuillemin: I've raced hurt and sick a bunch of times but never the way RV raced this weekend. I've always rode practice! When I broke my shoulder blade in ‘02, I missed Daytona but raced New Orleans in the most pain I've ever had to race with. But I rode practice going around the whoops. I only went through the whoops in the heat race. I can't imagine going to the heat race without knowing the track like RV did. We really have to give RV a lot of credit for his Toronto performance. Even on top of my game, I don't know if I would have made the main in RV's situation. Ryan took "winning a championship on your bad days" to a whole new level and deserves our respect.

You can check out additional thoughts from Vuillemin on Toronto in his DV934 column at PulpMX.com

David Pingree: I never sat out until the night show but there were plenty of times that I hadn't jumped a section heading into the main event. Just one obstacle can consume your thoughts knowing that you have to jump it for the first time in a race that counts. I remember being so tense the first time I would jump that section that my rear end sucked a large crease into the back of my riding pants. I can't imagine be forced to learn the whole course in race conditions. I'm sure they studied video of different riders and mentally made multiple laps around the track before the heat, but this was a very tough situation for Ryan and he made it work. How hard is it to just hop on a supercross track and go fast? Very hard.

Denny Stephenson: Damn that was an exciting day to be a fan, following back home through social media with the, "Will he or won’t he race?" question all day. I guess deep down we all knew the only thing that would keep the champ out would have been flying on Malaysian Airlines. Too soon?

The only experience I have even close to this crazy day would be a night at the Rockford Arenacross. Racing in 17 cities, 34 nights and 72 main events in the dead of winter during an arenacross season can take its toll on the body and mind. One year in Rockford, IL I woke up with those same stomach cramps. I wasn’t able to keep anything down and spent most of the morning and day close to a toilet or a bucket.

I rode a couple laps of practice on each bike and waited for the dreadful night program to start. I actually felt better as the races kicked off and have no idea where I finished, but I do remember coming out of the rut in the final corner where they ran over the starting gate. Lets just say that square edge thump may have caused me to need new shorts for the next main.

There’s also a story I often tell of Ronnie Lechien one year at the Geneva SX. It was the mid ‘90s and Dogger's flight was delayed coming in. Or he missed it. By the time he got to the stadium that winter night, practice was done and neither his suspension of gear bag showed up. So the legend borrowed gear, jumped on a bike he'd never ridden before and went through the exact same Villopoto program. Used his heat race as practice. Qualified thru the semi. And went out and won the main event! He kicked all of our asses that night! In the process he won a huge bottle of champagne from the promoter. They hung an inflatable version of the bottle from the rafters and the promoter said whoever jumped higher would win the real deal. He seat bounced the finish line jump so high he was able to touch the inflatable bottle hanging from the rafters! They gave him the real bottle and the inflatable version. There's only one Dogger.

A championship performance from RV in Toronto.  Photo: Simon Cudby
A championship performance from RV in Toronto.  Photo: Simon Cudby

2. We learned this weekend that it is legal to race SX after getting an IV, as long as a doctor deems it medically necessary. Is that really a big deal for supercross, anyway? Does it give an advantage?

Vuillemin: I actually never got an IV and raced the same day. I really don't think an IV could replace missing three practices and showing up on the gate in the heat race at less than 100 percent. If he decided to miss practices, he had to be in a really bad shape. Food poisoning can be really bad. It happened to me when I went to the Canary Islands for the Race of Champions (car race with celebrities from the car and moto world). I really thought I was going to die! I felt so bad until the promoter found a doctor who gave me a shot in my butt cheek. Two hours later I felt like nothing happened. I still don't know what was in that shot! Seriously, I don’t even know if RV got an IV, but even if he did, it doesn't take anything away from his performance. Getting sixth without riding practice was like a win in my eyes.

Pingree: IV's were addressed back when Doug Henry was working through physical issues at the Nationals and getting IV fluids between motos. While the best way to hydrate a conscious person is orally, you sometimes cannot get enough fluid into a rider between motos if he or she has been very depleted. In that case an IV was a huge advantage as Doug would likely not have been able to race without severely dehydrating himself. Just like sweating profusely in hot weather, prolonged vomiting and diarrhea is extremely dehydrating. I don't know how long Ryan was symptomatic but if it were really bad, a doctor would definitely deem IV fluids “necessary.” While supercross is a shorter race and the temperatures are much lower than outdoor racing, Ryan would have been much worse off trying to race in a dehydrated state. 

Stephenson: I’ve got to admit, I didn’t realize there were different rules for MX and SX when it came to getting an IV on race day. I remember when Doug Henry was fighting an illness on Hondas one year and was getting an IV between motos. The other teams called bullshit after awhile because in the heat of summer, being able to replenish and rehydrate quickly with a saline bag is definitely a huge advantage. So eventually they ruled no more race day IVs.

Obviously dehydration is nothing to mess around with. The body can go seriously wrong under extreme conditions. I had a seizure at the ‘97 Minneapolis SX after hitting my head, and docs say it was due to dehydration. Blood vessels in the brain popped and lights out, I was told. So again, not only was RV battling a new track but a seriously weakened body.

Was it fair to the other riders if he was able to receive the IV and come back and race? I’d say when it comes to an illness, you have do everything you can to stay safe. And I don’t see any other riders complaining about it, they’ve got nothing but respect.

Lastly, I still wouldn’t doubt there are some IVs going down between outdoor motos in a few of those personal buses and haulers. But that's an entirely different subject for another day.

Should AC continue to race? Photo: Simon Cudby
Should AC continue to race? Photo: Simon Cudby

3. What would you do with Cianciarulo? Let him race through injury to try to get the title or sit him to heal up?

Update: The team has announced that Cianciarulo will undergo surgery to repair his shoulder.

Vuillemin: Shoulders popping out is a big deal and could ruin a career. We've seen it in the past with a lot of riders. Once a shoulder pops a few times, it will continue to be a problem. If I were him, I'd try to get therapy and do some reinforcement to finish the SX championship since he can still win it. There is St. Louis this weekend then the East Coast guys have a month off until the next round in New Jersey. After that I would get surgery ASAP, even if it means missing the outdoor season. Adam is young. He has to think long term and not only 2014. He has a bright future. At this point, the goal should be to his shoulder fixed and get 100 percent healthy for 2015.

Pingree: He has to try to tough it out. Adam will have all week to rehab the shoulder and find a brace to help support the weak joint. It isn't much time but he has a three-week break coming after this weekend. I'm sure Adam's crew is encouraging him to try to gut it out this weekend but be safe. If he can pull off a top five he can stay in the chase and hope to be in a better place physically by the time the next East Region event comes around. This is a heart breaker for the rookie as things were really going his way. Regardless of how things pan out in supercross he'll have another decision to make in regards to racing the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship or getting his shoulder fixed. It could be a very long, painful summer if it keeps popping out of joint. 

Stephenson: Man, what heartbreak for the young rider. As many of us felt, I was not overly impressed with him last summer. He seemed undersized and over matched. But what a difference a solid off-season of hard work and simply growing has done. The kid has seemingly grown six inches in last six months! I have been blown away and thoroughly impressed with his rookie season of SX so far. Just add water, I’m an instant fan.

With that said, I can say, please park the #46 and get that shoulder corrected immediately. It’s been pretty well documented; I broke my navicular at the season ending East 125 SX in Oklahoma City after wrapping up my 1990 title run. At the time no one really thought it was a big deal. I could still race despite the pain and dwindling grip strength. So I just kept hammering away each week in fear of going under the knife and losing the six months as I was told the small bone would need to properly heal. I was scared of being off the bike that long, especially considering I would miss the remainder of the 1990 season and the beginning of 1991 on the 250—and I only had a two-year deal with the factory yellow squad.

In the end it was a career changer for me. I developed so many bad habits compensating for the weakness and pain during that 18 months that when I was finally healthy, I don’t think I ever rode the same. In addition, it began one injury after another from year to year (remember though, I was living off talent more than a solid Aldon Baker program). Shoulder injuries, if not treated correctly, can clearly have the same affect on a young rider. I’m pretty sure it ruined the end of George Holland's career. Once that thing is loose, it becomes a chronic problem.

My honest opinion is I will be surprised if Adam and the people around him don’t shut him down for the season. He has far too many smart people in his corner to risk his career over a silly regional 250 SX crown when he's just 17. He obviously has a lot of winning left ahead of him. And I look forward to watching the him come back even stronger in 2015, if that’s the case...

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