I’m happy. Why? Well, Monster Energy AMA Supercross’ return is not ideal. The races will not have fans. We won’t visit different venues with different dirt. The riders will race twice a week and won’t have time for their normal testing and training between the races. In all, everyone’s routine will be compromised.
I’m happy because the racing industry accepted this. They will adapt and do whatever it takes to get the racing going, because this is their job, and they’re likely going nuts without it. Hey, almost everyone else with a job has seen COVID-19 jack up their normal routine, anyway.
It’s at this point, if you’re stressed out, burnt out, pushed out or just generally over this whole lockdown deal, that you can even rely on sage guidance from racers to get through it. See, they’ve been living by a playbook for years, and they read chapters of it on the podium. You’ll hear the same cliché answers all the time. Well, right now, those cliché answers mean something. For you. Let’s use ‘em here and apply it to everyday life.
1. “Just try to have fun with it and enjoy it.”
We hear this one non-stop. It can frustrate fans, because you want to hear racers giving it their all to WIN, not to have fun. Winning is serious. You’re really getting paid to have fun?
See, riders say they want to have fun with it because they ride better when they’re having fun. There’s perhaps no feeling in sports more nerve-wracking than going to the starting gate for a race. Anything you can do to mitigate that can help you perform better. So, the quest for fun. Fun is just window dressing. Fun is just a tool. Having fun makes them ride better, which actually is the job.
How do you apply it? In this current environment, you’re not going to get the ideal. We’re all going to lose money, miss a hobby or in some ways deal with change. In most quantifiable ways, this deal is bad. But, you can choose how you want to think. You can throw up your hands, give up on the data and focus on still trying to enjoy life. You can get to those projects you never get to finish. You can call your darned parents which you don’t do often enough. You can indulge in binge watching, you can retell the same old stories and relive the same old memories. Because right now, if you’re not a front line worker, you don’t have to feel as responsible for work output every second of every day. It’s all a darned compromise. You can get mad over it or you can de-stress and just try to find fun wherever you can. That’s what racers do when they can’t get the results they want.
2. “I don’t focus on the results, I just do my best.”
Riders actually do focus on their results, but they also know if they focus too much, they’ll focus themselves to death. If a rider says his goal is to finish on the podium, and he finishes fourth, he’s going to ruin himself for the rest of the week until the next race. What are you going to do? Put a fist through the wall because you finished fourth? Change every single thing on your bike (even though the bike might be fine) because you got a fourth? Be a complete jerk to everyone around you because you got a fourth?
That’s not going to produce a better result the next weekend. It will probably make it worse. Better to measure the performance in other ways. Did you try your hardest? Did you do your best? If so, it’s possible to leave the track satisfied even if the results sheet isn’t ideal. And that means you will enjoy it more, do a better job, and get a better result, at the next race.
How do you apply it? As said before, there’s very little quantifiable good to come out of this pandemic. It’s crunching us from both a health and economic standpoint. The only thing you can do is adjust your standards. It’s not going to be the best year ever. All you can do is….do your best. Did you check every box this year? Heck no. Did you live up to your New Year’s resolutions? Absolutely not. You can’t this year! But you can try your hardest in whatever you’re doing. Take satisfaction in the things you can control. Do them as best as you can. Right now that’s the only realistic yardstick.
“As you get older, you realize it’s detrimental to yourself to carry that through the week,” said Adam Cianciarulo to us recently. “I’ve learned to let things go and brush it aside if I get a seventh or an eighth. You’ve got to leave it there. I think, if had kept the same mentality I had when I was younger, I think I would be retired by the time I was 25.”
Normally, I’d say we should be all about the achievements. Right now, we have to settle for treading water.
By the way, the social distancing thing has now become a polarized topic like every other in this world. If, however, you are in the group that does actually fear getting coronavirus, you can feel free to use the “I just do my best” strategy here. When you really think of how easy it is for the virus to transmit, it becomes almost impossible to build a 100 percent impenetrable wall of social distancing. You can get really worried about that, or, you can just…do your best.
3. “I’ve just got to thank the team.”
Well there’s only one team you’re allowed to hang out with now, and that’s your family. Booming house parties are probably on hold for a bit, and we don’t know if summer pool parties will happen at all. We know a lot of people are still going to the tracks, trails, and desert with their friends, but that is (supposed to be) under the guide of social distancing.
While nothing quantifiably good has come out of the pandemic, we know there are gains that can be qualified, like family time. These days, you’re going to spend more time with your immediately family than ever. That’s a heck of a silver lining to all this. So focus on them, give it up to them, enjoy them. And just have fun with it.
4. “We’re just going to put in the hard work and try to get better.”
Yet another vague response designed to reduce how mad you would get over results. Hey, today sucked, but if we work hard, tomorrow will be better!
That’s a pretty obvious one you can apply right now. Stay safe, stay sane, and eventually we’ll see better days.
5. “My bike/the track/my start/my injury etc.”
Look man, it’s hard for a racer to go racing, which he knows he has poured his life into, and just look right in the mirror if he doesn’t get a good result. For an athlete, so much of the judgement on their life comes from the result. For most of us? People will remember you first for being “a good guy” or a “good husband” or “a good father.” Etc. They will not write stories and produce documentaries based on your work performance.
It’s different for an athlete, and that’s a harsh reality. Unless you’re Ricky Carmichael or Jeremy McGrath threatening perfect seasons, it’s gonna go wrong here and there. So you can get angry at yourself, lose confidence, get depressed and kill the numbers on those fun/enjoyment meters, or….you can find a way out.
Sorry not sorry. We all hate hearing excuses but riders can use them as tools, as well. In a game where confidence is king, leaving the track convinced you suck and everyone else is better ain’t gonna help. Hmmmm, maybe it was the bike? Maybe you were not 100 percent? Hey, that feels better.
How do you apply it? Look, COVID-19 has given us the ultimate excuse. Everything is screwed up, and it’s not even our fault, and it’s not really in our power to fix it. That sounds depressing, but, man, it does take the pressure off. All you can do is do what you do. And if you want to eat more ice cream, drink another beer, watch more TV or skip another workout, go ahead! You’ve got a built-in excuse. Drink up!
6. “It could be worse.”
My God does this term apply to motocross, a sport were you can get hurt REALLY badly. Like, in this sport being banged up is still good because it’s better than a broken leg, and a broken leg is still better than…you know. Even a sucky result is better than getting hurt.
Go watch the movie Contagion, a 2011 flick that somehow portends so much of this COVID-19 deal that it’s scary. Like, they literally use the term social distancing in this damned nine-year-old movie.
But, in that movie, the virus has a 20 percent death rate and people soon take to the streets to steal food, money and medicine. We’ve got an angry, scared, pent up world right now, and that’s tough to handle.
But it could always be worse.
Racers live under intense pressure each day to get better, solve problems, and beat someone else who is really good in order to get paid and get judged. That’s a heck of a load on the mind. Hence, they’ve produced a whole bunch of pressure relief valves to help them stay sane. Right now, we should do whatever we can to do the same.