(Note: Some questions have been lightly edited for clarity.)
First, at the risk of blatantly kissing your bahookie, I greatly appreciate your take on all things moto. As a lifelong fan of motorcycle riding and racing, I find it refreshing that you are willing to use your brain as you analyze this great sport. And, as a long-time middle school history teacher, I appreciate your diverse vocabulary and your solid writing skills in bringing that insight to light. In short, it's okay to be smart. Keep up the good work.
I've been watching the Tour de France the last week or so. There have been many opportunities for various riders to divulge what they eat and how they recover from each day's stage. The diet is quite diverse and often includes coffee, beer, and many of the kinds of foods that many moto athletes avoid like a Porterhouse at a vegan convention. I know that moderation is the watchword, but I've heard so many moto athletes who are strictly forbidden by trainers to eat or drink any of this stuff.
I understand the philosophy that dietary purity is essential for top performance and recovery over the course of a long SX/MX season. But it seems that cyclists in the grand tours are enduring far more mental and physical strain on a daily basis than the top moto athletes without living like a monk on a mountaintop. Think about the tour, you just raced your bike over a 110-mile course with 13,000 feet of climbing in five hours and you have to recover. Oh yeah, and you're going to do it again tomorrow, and every day for the next three weeks. Sure, you'll have rest days, during which you will join your team for a mere 50-mile ride in order to rest up. Maybe a little culinary freedom is in order?
Is the ban on pizza, beer, and morning coffee a form of gastronomic Fascism or is it necessary?
Our sport has swung to a pretty extreme end of the pendulum. If you look back at racing in the 1970s, you’ll see the sport’s best sitting at the starting line with a cigarette dangling from their lips; These guys ate almost as clean as a group of frat boys on spring break. The 1980s saw an effort to improve fitness without much science behind it. These guys were training their asses off, probably to a fault. The buzzword in that era was carbo-loading… remember that? Head over to The Olive Garden and destroy a Tour of Italy on Saturday night if you want to smash the competition on Sunday. The 1990s went off the rails even further… those were the days when a clean diet meant you were pouring Bud Light into your beer bong at Havasu instead of Budweiser. And vegetables were dried, packed into a hollowed-out apple or beer can, and inhaled. And then Johnny O’Mara connected with Ricky Carmichael and the tides began to turn. The training bar was raised to a level not seen since the RJ/Wardy/”O’Show”/Bailey/Glover/Hannah era, but with a vastly improved understanding of nutrition. When Johnny O’ passed the torch to his protégé, Aldon Baker, the nutrition craze hit critical mass. Aldon notes every single calorie that passes his rider’s lips and, by the looks of his guys, they are running of the verge of a caloric deficit all year long. RC and RV are barley recognizable in their prime at the Baker’s Factory. Despite their supermodel-thin appearance and sickly, pale skin, there is no arguing the number of titles coming out of that place. I think the simple answer is that confidence is more critical in motocross than cycling. Yes, there is strategy and prep, but on a bicycle, you just have to be willing/able to suffer more than others. In motocross, confidence is the difference-maker, and that is built in the preparation. Simply knowing that you’ve eaten cleaner than the Dalai Lama himself adds a layer of confidence when you roll up to the start gate. Yes, it has performance benefits, but the bigger piece of the puzzle is knowing you’ve done more than the other riders lined up next to you.
With the season winding down, I hope all the riders take a few weeks off and eat like a pot-head at 5:20… you’ve earned it.
I was born in the 1990s and started riding motocross in the late ‘90s and started racing mini bikes in the early 2000s. Maybe my view is biased from my early moto days. To me everything in the 90s/early 2000s moto related was way more fun and everything had more personality. The two stroke bikes, graphics, riding gear, custom helmets, and even the rider’s attitudes seemed so much cooler than they are today. Even the moto videos and music were better than they are today. I have much respect for the current pro athletes but it seems as if everything has turned pretty vanilla and it seems as if motocross is becoming " NASCARISH," and we all see how NASCAR is doing. The tracks were better when I started riding. Most local tracks near me are building massive jumps and less natural terrain which is not only more dangerous but only a select few of local pros can jump everything. This is inevitably thinning out track crowds and hurting the sport overall. Also, since you have been on both sides of the fence, being a pro racer and now a working-class man, which is easier? Grinding out motos and training or going to a job and trying to fit in riding when you have time or can afford it? Thanks for your time and opinion.
Some riders are still fun. For example, Hunter Lawrence keeping it real when talking about his day at Southwick.
Things have definitely gotten more serious over the years. The 1990s were probably a little too loose, but that’s part of what made it so fun to watch. While the presentation of the sport has improved immensely since then, the personalities today make vanilla seem spicy. That isn’t to say we don’t have great guys on the gate, because we do. But between the avalanche of social media exposure and riders trying to keep it “professional,” we are lacking some flavor.
Tracks, to me, are the one of the biggest problems facing us if we want to keep the sport healthy. We need affordable, entry-level bikes and we need tracks that keep riders coming back. When every single section of every track looks like its part of the Red Bull Straight Rhythm, something is wrong. How can little Johnny keep coming to the track and buying bikes when he’s got broken wrists and ankles? He can’t.
Which is easier: Racing professionally or working and trying to ride? They are different. Being a professional racer is amazing; traveling the world, setting your own schedule and doing something you love every day is a dream. But it is also incredibly stressful, dangerous, and tiring. Unless you’ve been on that schedule of flying, training, and racing for months and years on end, it’s difficult to describe how much it runs you down.
Working a job that you love, like I do, is awesome but I definitely don’t have the freedom that I did as a self-employed athlete. My schedule is what it is, and you have to show up for work. However, I never have to get on a plane again if I don’t want to, I’m not worried about finding a ride every year, and when I’m off-duty, I’m completely off-duty. Bottom line: I wouldn’t trade the experiences I had as a racer, but I wouldn’t trade what I have now either.
Wanted to let you know your RedBud 125 All-Stars race full moto video was pure gold. I am also interested to hear your opinion on moving the 2020 supercross final to Utah? I think it’s a huge mistake for a few reasons. For one thing, Vegas has history and has made for some legendary races. My main reason is for the champs…There cannot be a better place then Vegas for a championship night out. Would love to hear any stories.
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts
B-rad from Malibu
It was fun getting back out there and pumping myself full of adrenaline again at RedBud. It’s tough rounding up a bike and pitting out of a rental car, but man was it fun once the gate dropped. I was also the top finishing 40-plus rider and the top finishing firefighter; hey, you have to take the small victories when you can get them.
I honestly thought it was a typo when I saw the new schedule. How are you going to have the finals in Salt Lake City?? No disrespect; SLC is great and all, but I don’t think you can even buy alcohol there on the weekends. That’s going to make for the world’s most boring championship party ever. It’s just going to be weird for the riders to go to Vegas and have to be mellow because there is still one round left. Maybe we should give it a chance before we say too much? Vegas stories? Hmmm… there was that time I went so hard at the afterparty that I lost hearing in my left eye… But every other trip was a blur.
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