Have always appreciated the work you do and the twist of sarcasm you provide!
I was wondering how you have mentally dealt with the harsh reality of the risk of injury in our sport? As I now near 30 years of age, I find myself thinking more about the risks of moto and miss the days of being young and carefree!
Austin from Wisconsin
Well, for starters, you can't be a complete pansy. I would have used a different word there but it would just get edited back to "pansy," so we'll just go with that. Still, getting older brings with it a certain wisdom and understanding that you have to be able to work on Monday to pay the bills on Sunday. That has a tendency to slow guys down a bit, and that's okay. Fear is what keeps us alive. The best thing you can do is figure out where your limits are, gear up like you expect to crash and then clear your mind and just have some fun. There is one thing I'd really like to suggest in lieu of the World Cup down in Brazil. If you crash and you aren't hurt badly just get up, dust yourself off and go back to your truck. Please spare all of us the Emmy-winning drama show that these douche bag soccer players give us every time they get slide tackled and suffer a grass stain on their shorts. I want to puke all over my living room every time I see a basketball player put on a show like this and soccer players are a whole other level of dramatic bitches. I watched MMA fighter Anderson Silva snap his leg so badly during a fight that his foot came up and almost hit him in the stomach and he handled that with more dignity than 99.9 percent of the players in this World Cup. Spare us the drama, please.
What makes a rider great? It seems to become more and more obvious that talent alone is not making champions if we look at the likes of Pourcel, Windham and other smooth and reportedly gifted riders. It appears as if some guys have a little too much gray matter under their lid to just pin it and hold it to the bitter end no matter what the consequences are and they end up a superb second too many times. I admire these riders to the fullest extent but can’t help myself wondering... what does it take to gap the last fraction of an inch, to be there at all costs and sum up a career with a stacked record book rather than being admired for style, conduct and ability but have no awe inspiring records on paper?
So what do you think is the “most likely to win a lot” package for a rider, on and off the bike? Does it matter how he conducts himself around the team, the shop, the practice track, the fans and media? Does it take a guy who knows what he wants from a bike and goes out to get it worked out with the team in unison rather than signing up with, let’s say Pro Circuit, and waiting for someone better to serve up the bike he might like?
In other words, I believe the news that that prime physical fitness is of the essence has made its way deep into the Winnebago homeschooling curriculum. We can see that by the young studs that are pumped out by the amateur efforts and are fine-tuned by the Lites teams to hit the ground running in the pro ranks. But at the end of the day it seems as if people like Carmichael and Villopoto seem to have even more than Stewart, for example. We know it’s not talent in this case, so what makes the great ones great and the certain newcomer the next big thing?
There isn't one single ingredient that makes one rider a champion and another a consummate bridesmaid. But if you had to narrow it down to a couple things that makes the biggest difference it has to be self confidence and heart--a drive to do whatever it takes to win and risk absolutely everything to make that happen coupled with the belief that you can and will win. Of course those things still don't add up to championships without all the other pieces. Ryan Hughes had as much heart and self-confidence as anyone I've ever seen and he has no titles. Talent, coordination, reflexes, balance, work ethic, mental toughness and the ability to process things quickly are all required, along with many other attributes, to be a champion. The record books will be all that most people know of the past and that is a shame. There are a lot of amazing riders, from the start of the sport up to now, that will never get the credit they deserve for what they've accomplished. It is a very small number of riders that win championships and a true fan of the sport appreciates more than just the number one plate holder. For instance, I have always been a fan of the Seahawks, the Spurs and whoever wins the World Cup in Brazil later this month. Seriously. I don't just hop on the bandwagon and start loving a team or a rider because they are winning. By the way, be sure to join the Jeremy Martin fan club I just started, err, I mean that I started a long time ago, before he won anything and stuff.
You may remember some years back, NASCAR used to hold the IROC series. Equal race cars prepared for a couple dozen drivers from various forms of auto racing. I would like to see something like this for motocross. Let’s say they held four rounds and put up some decent cash for the winner. They could hold a race on the same weekend as a national. Make it one moto, like 20 minutes long. Nothing too crazy. What I like about this idea is some of the good privateers could get a chance to race the factory guys on the same motorcycle. We could truly see who the best rider is, for at least these races anyway. I know what the reasons are going to be for this not ever happening; The riders don’t want to risk injury or they can’t ride another manufacturer……blah, blah blah. If they can come up with a big enough cash prize it would entice some guys, I think. Plus, it would only be a short moto. The NASCAR guys had no problem risking injury in a non-points paying race as well as driving a different manufacturers car. I’d like to see it.
I'm sure you would like to see it. I'm sure every team in the pro pits would like to see Ken Roczen on their bikes this weekend in Tennessee but it isn't going to happen. NASCAR is different because the manufacturers don't fund the race teams like they do in motocross. As long as the manufacturers are coughing up the lion's share of the dough to support these teams you aren't going to see contracted riders on competing brands. The only time this ever happened was back in the 1980s when Kawasaki had an event called the Race of Champions for the best minicycle riders in the world. As the coup de grace of the World Mini Grand Prix, Pomona Valley Kawasaki would provide a dozen identical, stock, KX80's and the sport's best would go head-to-head in a three moto shootout for the title of best mini rider. It was always a great event to watch but I still have no idea how a guy like Buddy Antunez, who was Suzuki's golden boy, was allowed to ride a green bike for that race. It was a different time for sure. You'll have to stick to car racing if you want to see drivers in identical machines. It won't happen here.
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