This year is basically a soap opera. Now I know why so many housewives sit around watching it on TV, and they even buy the nonsense about people coming back from the dead and whatever. They’re just IN IT. It’s their life through a TV screen.
That’s right, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Mike Alessi is actually thinking about coming back at the Colorado round of the series only eight days from now. Assuming he doesn’t ride before the race, this will be a total down time of 19 days with a broken patella!
It’s just like a soap opera, folks, except it’s in the dirt and the soap comes in when you’re done racing. And the opera part? That’s where it’s not over until the fat lady sings, and that’s exactly what Alessi’s hoping for as he returns to the fray amazingly still second in points after missing High Point.
Then again, if there’s one thing you can count on with the Alessis, it’s drama. Hopefully, they know what they’re doing, and he won’t risk making the injury worse.
As for his teammate (and new points leader) Chad Reed, he certainly found his stride at High Point. He even got a holeshot! But after going 1-1, if Alessi shows up healthy enough to ride full speed, Reed is going to have to keep his foot on Alessi’s throat if he wants to keep Alessi behind him in points. As we saw between Hangtown and Texas, Alessi’s win at Hangtown propelled him to be even faster at Texas. Alessi is all about confidence, and Texas was as confident and as fast as he’s ever been.
Of course, he might have been overconfident leading to the knee injury at High Point, although that I can’t say for sure. It is a danger, though, when someone lets his confidence get out of hand in this sport, or any sport for that matter. Sometimes, too much confidence causes athletes to let their guard down, and that’s when bad things can happen. There is a value to remaining humble in victory beyond just not making enemies among your competition.
There are plenty of other stories, too, such as the weekend the GEICO Powersports Honda team had. All year long, Dan Reardon has been impressing people in the 450cc class, and for the first three rounds (six motos!) all four of the team’s 250 riders – Trey Canard, Justin Barcia, Brett Metcalfe and Blake Wharton – had finished outside the top 10 in a moto a total of three times, and all three came from rookie Barcia after pretty major crashes. That’s 24 motos with 21 finishes inside the top 10, and taking Barcia out of the equation, it’s 18 motos with all 18 in the top 10.
High Point. First, in the week prior to the race, Metcalfe stayed on the road in his motor home with his wife, Sheena Schaefer, and her brother, track builder Shane Schaefer. Metty was out riding one day during the week when he had some sort of malfunction and went down big over a very, very large tabletop and landed directly on his head. Amazingly, Metcalfe was sore but able to race at High Point. Then, to add insult to injury, he went down in the first turn in the first moto and was run over by Ewok impressionist Alex Martin. He got up dead last, had trouble getting his bike started, then bump-started it down the next hill. He was at least a quarter-lap behind 39th place when he got going.
Typical for Metcalfe (and really, if you think about it, nearly every Aussie on the circuit), though, he could’ve pulled in but stayed out anyway, busting his ass on his way to 19th place and two points. It might be the hardest-earned two points of the year when all is said and done.
So that was one finish outside the top 10 among the 250 guys. Then there’s Trey Canard. Canard came from outside the top 10 in the first moto to charge all the way up to second, even gaining quite a bit on Christophe Pourcel out front. It might have been Canard’s strongest ride of the year, except there was still a moto to run. He got the holeshot in moto two and led Pourcel around all the way past the two-lap board, only to switch lines with two to go and get kicked over the bars, badly breaking his right wrist.
And in motocross, that’s the thing that makes it such an incredible sport: In a split second, Canard went from his first overall win and becoming a real contender for the title, to being out for the season. Just in the snap of a finger.
That was the second finish outside the top 10 for the 250cc side of the team on the weekend, although it was the only other one as well.
I talked to Canard on Tuesday, and to be honest, it’s always hard to talk to a rider after something bad happens like that, because you empathize with what they are going through and how bad things must look for them at the moment. But the funny thing is that Canard is probably the most well-adjusted, mature 18-year-old around. While he’s bummed about the injury and its ramifications, he seemed genuinely upbeat about how fast he was going this year compared to last, what he learned, and with the fact that he believes challenges like this make you stronger. Basically, he has his head exactly where it needs to be in order to come out of this as strong as, if not stronger than, before.
But that does leave essentially a two-horse race at the front of the 250cc pack, with Pourcel and Ryan Dungey only two points apart but 40 ahead of the next healthy rider in Tyla Rattray.
And the final bum deal for the GEICO Powersports Honda team at High Point came in the form of Dan Reardon, who started nearly 20th in the first moto but methodically worked his way up into sixth spot after Josh Grant crashed out of second with barely two laps to go. However, Reardon moved his line “two or three inches” to avoid a lapper and hit a kicker that he couldn’t see on the jump heading back up toward the pit area near the end of the lap. He went down extremely hard and says he thought he broke both of his legs because he couldn’t move them at first.
However, it turned out to be a couple of really, really painful charley horses, and the real damage was to his already-injured shoulder. Because this shoulder has been bothering him for some time, Reardon was forced to get it operated on last Tuesday, and he’s been given a window of six to eight weeks before he can return to action. It’s not impossible that we’ll see him back on the bike before the Nationals are over, but the rumors are circulating about who may replace Reardon for the series, or even just in the meantime. I wonder if the team knows any really fast riders who are maybe sitting out the championship right now but would like to come out and play? Nah, I Dub it. Err... Doubt it.
High Point. We actually felt kind of bad after the Saturday they had making the guys hang out an extra day and wrench for a bunch of amateurs like us, but they didn’t seem to mind at all. It’s a class organization over there, and they seemed to be just as enthusiastic as ever to wrench for us, which means they’re good actors, too. In addition to us racing their bikes, Matt “The Stalker” Walker came out to give us some schooling for the day as well. “It’s the first-ever motocross school exclusively on factory bikes!” Walker said. It was a good time all around, and you can look for it in an upcoming issue of Racer X.
Now I’ll turn it over to Ping for a bit...
Attention, California recreationists! As many of you already know, California is in fiscal meltdown. One victim of the current budgetary crisis is the CA OHV program. It is one of the very few self-funded “user-pay/user-benefit” government programs in the state. The California legislature has already “borrowed” and diverted $90 million from the OHV Trust Fund to other non-OHV-related programs.
Now the folks under the dome in Sacramento are considering any number of untenable options, including the borrowing of any remaining funds, gutting the program and moving into “regular” state parks, or cutting the basic operating budget of Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) that funds state OHV parks and provides grants to other land agencies.
If there is one time you send a letter to Sacramento, make it TODAY. Send your letter and get as many of your friends to do the same. BRC has provided a sample letter that you can cut and paste and fax to the following legislators, including the chairperson of each committee. You may also look up your own state representative using BRC’s Rapid Response Center. Just type in your zip code here and click GO.
2009 Budget Conference Committee Members
Noreen Evans – Fax 916-319-2107 (phone 916-319-2007) (Chair)
Roger Niello – Fax 916-319-2105 (phone 916-319-2005)
Bob Blumenfield – fax 916-319-2140 (phone 916-319-2040)
Kevin de Leon – Fax 916-319-2145 (phone 916-319-2045)
Jim Nielsen – Fax916- 319-2102 (phone 916-319-2002)
Denise Ducheny – Fax 916-327-3522 (phone 916-651-4040) (Chair)
Bob Dutton – Fax 916-327-2272 (phone 916-651-4031)
Mark Leno – Fax 916-445-4722 (phone 916-651-4003)
Alan Lowenthal – Fax 916-327-9113 (phone 916-651-4027)
Mimi Walters – Fax 916-445-9754 (phone 916-651-4033)
Cut and Paste Sample Letter:
Dear (insert name of Legislator):
As a resident of California and a member of the off-highway vehicle (OHV) community, I am asking that you oppose any effort by the legislature to divert OHV trust fund monies to manage state parks that do not allow OHV recreation.
The California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division of California State Parks is nationally recognized as a model “user-pay/user-benefit” department that effectively blends the following core tenets of OHV recreation: 1) trail/facility maintenance; 2) restoration of legally-closed lands; 3) law enforcement of OHV regulations; and 4) safety/education outreach into an ecologically-balanced OHV program.
I understand the serious nature of California’s budget crisis. However, the state has already borrowed $90 million dollars from the OHV Trust Fund. I again urge your office to oppose any effort by the legislature to divert additional OHV Trust Fund dollars to non-OHV-related projects or programs.
[Your Name and Address]
The racing in the WORCS series out west is tightening up. Bobby Bonds came from 21st place to win the race in Washington this past weekend. The victory marked the biggest comeback in WORCS history deficit, according to the PR folks from that series. The championship battle tightens up now with Mike Brown ahead of Bonds by one point going into the summer break.
I got a note from the crew at Accelerade letting me know that they will be at the Mammoth Mountain Motocross with product samples for people to try for all 11 days of racing and practice. If you haven’t given their products a try, you should. They are legit and they make all the products that a motocross racer needs for before, during, and after exercise. Ask for Kevin at their booth.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be at the front of the pack at a national? Check out this footage from Chris Blose’s Epic Action Sports Cam in the second 450 moto in Texas. It gives you a pretty good idea of the action and intensity at the start of a moto as Alessi, Reardon, Moss, Short, and Reed all scrap for positions. It’s pretty interesting to see how quickly the pack spreads out too. Go to www.troyleedesigns.com and click the video tab or click this link to go right to the video on You Tube.
Thanks, Ping. Now a couple notes from Billy:
We received this note from Maryland privateer Stephen Stella this week:
Just writing you to see if there was any way I could get some help for the rest of the nationals. I raced the 250 class at High Point, which was my first national of the year. Things started out good as I was the fastest qualifier in group B and had the 23rd gate pick going into the mains. I had some bad luck in the motos though with crashes and bike problems resulting in two DNFs. To make the weekend worse on the drive home Sunday I received a call from the owner of the shop I ride for stating he was going out of business and needs his bike back! Being a professional athlete and funding my racing on my own, this will put a sudden stop to my racing efforts for the 2009 outdoor season. I simply can’t afford another bike and I was really looking forward to racing this year and getting some points. If there’s something we can post online that would be awesome and a great help! Thanks a lot and hope to hear from you soon!
If anyone can help Stephen, email him at email@example.com.
Also, happy birthday to DNA Energy/BTOSports.com/BBMX Honda’s Jason Thomas, who turns the big 3-0 today! So, what is JT$ up to on his birthday? Riding, of course!
The votes are in and this week’s Toyota/Racer X Power Rankings are updated, with Chad Reed leading the way. For the complete rankings, click here.
You know who no one’s talking about? Broc Tickle. If you take Ryan Dungey, Tommy Searle, and the GEICO Powersports Honda and the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasakis out of the mix, he’s first in points! I know that sounds ridiculous, but Tickle is ahead of Justin Barcia, Jake Weimer, Matt Lemoine, Wil Hahn, Kyle Cunningham… He’s really doing well, and it’s not without some obstacles. He’s the top Yamaha in the series and has been up front quite a bit already, despite a so-so first round. Over the last three rounds, his moto finishes are: 6-6-9-8-9-8. People are talking about Searle, Rattray, Wharton, Metcalfe, Canard, Dungey and Pourcel, but not really about him, and those are the only riders in front of him in points. Pay attention to the #43 Division 7/Star Racing Yamaha. I have a feeling he’s on the verge of a breakthrough.
Speaking of Tommy Searle a minute ago, he got his first podium finish at High Point, and it happened on his 20th birthday. That’s pretty good. He said he won the GP on his birthday last year, so it’s not quite that good, but Searle is starting to pick it up, and he has beaten his GP rival Tyla Rattray in the last three consecutive motos, and always by one position.
In the press conference after the race at High Point, we all interviewed Rattray as the third-place finisher because Searle jumped on one of the no-jump flags (for the second time this year) and was penalized, but the penalty was rescinded after video evidence showed the flagger wasn’t in a good position to display the flag properly and had it turned sideways, making it even tougher to see. Searle got his position back, which landed him third overall – where he actually finished on the track.
Interesting fact: Searle is exactly 18 points behind Rattray right now, and Searle has one DNF, from the first moto at Hangtown. In that moto, Rattray finished fourth, which gave him 18 points. Take out Searle’s DNF moto, and Rattray and Searle have been so even all year that they’re tied in points! Of course, you don’t take his DNF away in this championship, so he’s not actually tied with Rattray, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
And what’s going on with Jake Weimer? It’s entirely obvious that he has the speed, as he was second in the early going of the first moto at High Point and was pulling away from third place just fine before he pushed his front wheel through a berm and fell. He fell again later, then repeated the performance in moto two – starting up front, then crashing and falling out. Despite being up front two motos in a row, Weimer scored no points on the day. It’s been almost a disastrous outdoor season for Weimer, yet somehow he’s still 10th in points. Go figure.
Ivan Tedesco only scoring points in one moto between their four. However, since then, Short and Tedesco have been on fire! Short finished sixth in one moto since, but every other finish has been on the podium! It’s actually four motos in a row on the podium, and five out of six since Glen Helen for Short. And Tedesco? He led a bunch at High Point and has only finished worse than fourth one time since Glen Helen. These guys are on it.
However, Millsaps has been sitting out because he’s just plain beat up. After crashing at Hangtown, he tried to ride in Texas but couldn’t stomach it. He sat out High Point and is hoping to return to action in Colorado.
How about Michael Byrne? Byrne started the season having not ridden a single 30-minute-plus-two-lap moto, as he was recovering from his shoulder surgery after the injury incurred in the famous first turn at Daytona. However, he said before the season started that he was just going to try and race back into shape, and it’s obviously happening. His results have slowly and consistently gotten better from round one at Glen Helen (15-14) to Hangtown (18-14), Freestone (8-7), and High Point (4-5). Pretty soon, he’s going to be threatening for podiums again, just as he did last year after racing himself into shape from a bum knee.
Tomorrow, I’ll be heading out to the James Stewart (JS7) ride day out at Milestone MX Park in Riverside, California. Stewart will be out there spending time with the fans, so you should head on out if you want to hang out with the guy who is currently the undisputed MX/SX champ. Gates open at 8 a.m. For more information, go to www.milestonemx.com.
Geoff Meyer (or Jiff Maya, as he often refers to himself) has put a full redesign together for his website, MXLarge.com, and it’s all coming together this weekend. Make sure you check it out for the latest in GP news, including updates on our own Zach Osborne as he chases all of those fast Frenchmen around Germany. The site design was done by Stanley Leroux.
And congratulations to Mark Holka of Ravenna, OH for winning this week's TGI Freeday contest. Mark won a set of James Stewart's custom Tag Metals handlebars. Click here to put your name in the hat for a chance to win a MOTOREX Factory Hook Up kit worth over $360!
That’s it for Racerhead, and we’ll see you again next week, just before we hit the lights in Colorado for round five of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship.