One of the highlights of the pre-race Supercross events was the Kevin Windham transfers. I once was lucky enough to see him launch one of his jumps in my direction and he landed the jump perfectly, as if he practiced the jump several times before. I’m guessing that he sized up the jumps during the track walks and just executed the jumps in front of a huge crowd at each race. Is this correct? Also, I don’t see that any other rider has picked this up since Kevin’s retirement. Are the transfers prohibited now by Feld, are contracts written to prevent current riders from trying this, or are the riders not willing to take this risk before a race?
Actually, Kevin was given a few minutes at the conclusion of practice to hit the transfers once or twice in order to get comfortable with them. You aren’t the only one who misses that part of the show—K-Dub definitely brought some entertainment value to each round with those moves. Since his departure, there hasn’t been another rider willing to step up to the plate and do what Kevin was doing. Windham was a masterful play rider with timing and finesse that was second to none, so those transfers were right in his wheelhouse. I think a guy like Justin Hill or Chad Reed could step into that role, as far as talent goes, but they don’t want the distraction or pressure of hitting a massive jump in the dark after sitting in the tunnel for 30 minutes getting cold. It’s a big ask and, frankly, it doesn’t pay anything. Maybe someday another rider will man-up and fill the very large shoes left by the OG #14. Until then, he holds the title of “man with the largest testicles.”
With title fights on the line, it was a nice side story to see Justin Bogle sling his #19 yellow bee-stinger onto the top step of the podium at Budds Creek last weekend. Though we’ve had glimpses of the 2018 RMZ 450, we’re all quite aware that the yellow bikes are the most outdated of any 450 on the starting line. Even still, we just watched Bogle, a talented though not-in-the-title-hunt rider, take home the first place trophy on this four-year-old machine.If he can do that, does the average beer drinking, full-time job working, local B rider need the latest 2018 bike to stay competitive?
Could manufacturers put out their normal $9,000+ “Pro Level” bike, one to win the shootouts and land on the pro podiums, as well as a $6,000 “Expert Level” bike - something that’s not quite as capable but would appeal to the average consumer? Here, your mid-pack local B rider could snag last year’s “Expert” model for $5300, set the suspension, and throw some sweet PulpMX stickers on there before finishing 4th place again.
Or is this the worst idea ever?
It isn’t the worst idea ever. The worst idea ever was putting nuts in ice cream. And that blunder was followed closely by the guy who gave personal watercraft the name Jet Ski instead of calling them Boatercycles. What a missed opportunity. While I’m careening off on this rant I’ll just say that a better name for a toaster would have been “The Tanning Bread,” but I digress.
Your point is the exact reason we stopped doing shootouts over here at Racer X—they’ve become a huge waste of time. The current offerings are all so close that I doubt your lap times would change regardless of what bike you ride, including a four year-old Suzuki. I know we all want to have the latest and greatest but it certainly isn’t necessary when you aren’t competing at the very highest level. I recently rode a 2006 Honda CRF450 and I was blown away with how well it worked. Honestly, I think I could have gone just as fast on that bike as I could a 2018 model. Take that for what it’s worth. As far as a cheaper offering from the manufacturers, I don’t know how practical that is from a marketing standpoint. They aren’t making price-point race bikes. However, and I know I have a tendency to beat this drum like a meth-addicted monkey after a hit, an entry-level 125 two-stroke could really fill a void.
Cheng Shin tires, steel bars, and the same basic engine package from 12 years ago fitted into a current 250F chassis should knock the price down significantly. This is good for folks on many fronts and it would be good for the sport, long-term. Or we can keep raising the prices of bikes until they cost as much as a car. Oh, wait…
Long-time fan, and love your column. I haven't raced in a long time, and don't plan on it anytime soon. I'm just a couch fan now. However, I do have a question for you. In my younger years I grew up in high altitudes, near Tomac's hometown. Later on (high school) I had to move down south. I noticed I was much faster in many sports because I wasn't "winded" due to the higher density of the air. So, should racers train in the hot and humid dense air of Florida, or should they train at higher altitudes? It seems like they are siding to sweating their balls off, but, correct me if I am wrong, doesn't Eli train at his home in Colorado? I would prefer high altitude training, but that is just my opinion. As a former pro, what would you prefer, or which do you consider as being better?
Thanks and keep up the good work!
That’s a great question and one that would generate good conversation among formally educated trainers. There are certainly benefits to training at elevation the way Eli does. Your body adapts to the reduced amount of oxygen (still approx. 21 percent oxygen, but less barometric pressure so less of everything) and becomes more efficient aerobically. When you drop back down to sea level there is an abundance of oxygen so you feel less winded during exertion. However, the downside is that it is very dry up in the mountains so if you compete in humid conditions, you could have issues with overheating. For me, the heat was the bigger factor. My cardiovascular fitness was fine but when it was 100 degrees and 100 percent humidity I was slowly melting all day long because my body couldn’t cool itself down. So, for me, it was more beneficial to go back east and let my body acclimate to those conditions so I wasn’t so spun out on race day. Some riders aren’t that bothered by the heat so jumping into those conditions isn’t a big deal. I think each rider has to look at what has the biggest impact on their performance and make their own decision. Frankly, I think Eli just likes being at home (who could blame him) and he makes it work from up there. If tomorrow goes as planned, he’ll have a shiny #1 plate to hang in his Cortez home.
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