On a week without races, some of our staff put in some seat time of their own. Check out this recap from some of our Racer X riders.
Jason Thomas and Steve Matthes | Track: Western Raceway in White Hills, Arizona
jason Thomas: After a very lengthy break, I went riding on Tuesday! I was in Vegas for the PulpMX Show on Monday night, promoting the release of FLY Racing’s Kinetic Mesh line this weekend. To make the most of the trip, Kris Keefer was nice enough to bring up my loaner Honda CRF450WE. Kris has been absolutely hammering me about getting back on the proverbial horse and after lengthy negotiations over which brand he was steering me towards, we landed on the all-new Honda Works Edition. Unfortunately, Kris had testing duties with none other than American Honda so he was unable to join Steve and I, but I was still very excited to turn a few laps.
Tuesday morning, Steve and I made the hour drive to Western Raceway which is just across the Arizona border. They were nice enough to water and groom the track and for those who haven’t ridden in the desert very often, water is almost mandatory. The windy conditions weren’t helping much (gusts to 40) but we were still able to put in a few motos. I was more interested in trying out the 2021 Honda than I was worried about going fast. I wasn’t the biggest fan of recent Honda models as they felt unstable and a little twitchy for my liking. I am a fan of predictability and stability and am willing to compromise on cornering capability to accomplish that. Thankfully, this 2021 450WE is a change towards my liking and will make for a very fun summer of riding in Idaho. I felt fairly comfortable right away and turned my attention towards working some of the rust off my skill set (or lack thereof).
Since my flight was on Tuesday afternoon, we were up against the clock and had to head back to Vegas before too long. In all honesty, though, I was approaching a point where I wouldn’t be able to move on Wednesday if I rode too much more, anyway. I know from experience that it’s best to slowly wade back into the riding waters and Tuesday was a great first step! It’s easy to forget how much fun riding is. Thanks to Kris, Jason at Western Raceway, and Steve for getting me back out there. I can’t wait to get that bike to Boise and get back into the flow! Life is better on motorcycles.
Steve Matthes: I really hope Keefer isn't reading this, but I'll let you guys in on a little secret. I haven't ridden my YZ450F in a while. Well, more than a while really. The last time I rode was a month and a half ago, maybe two months. I don't have a reason why, just wasn't into it all that much to be honest and I've been enjoying riding the Tazer e-bike.
But when Keefer and JT were hashing out a plan for JT to get back on a bike from Kris, well I had to be involved. Thanks to Jason at Western Raceway for prepping and watering the track for us. Our own little private ride day! Keefer bailed on us but heading out with JT to go riding is not something I've done in a long time. I remember us going out together way back in the early 2000's in Florida but yeah, we haven't done that. So we head out to the track and honestly, I didn't ride a ton but I felt pretty good. Better than I thought I would feel. Some of it having to do with the fact that I knew the track well and the jumps, etc. and I'm sure some of it also was due to the fact that the Yamaha is so awesome.
JT looked like, well, a former professional who knows how to ride a dirt bike still. New bike for him, we checked the sag and he adjusted the levers and that was about it. He was out there riding for the first time in a long time. Now, as I mentioned in my social post about this moment, I have my doubts that JT will use this bike enough to make Keefer happy and I'm really looking forward to him and Keefer arguing about why he's not been riding more. But that's between those two guys, me I was just enjoying getting out and riding some.
Kris Keefer | Track/location: “High Dez”
I have been trying to get JT into riding more! Shocking I know! I mean I was up Steve's ass about riding for a long time before he caved in and got a bike, but now it seems to be working out decent, even though he has taken a hiatus lately. Getting JT on a bike proved to be trickier than I would have thought as JT is a little more bougee than Steve is with his timing and requirements to actually get on a bike. I baited JT with a 2021 Honda CRF450RWE just like any good fisherman would bait a bass with a Rapala Rattlin fishing lure and I landed that 5'6 155 pounder!
I brought up the Ride Red machine up to the Pulp Show in Vegas Monday just so JT could get a taste of what he has been missing for the past couple years, but of course I had previously scheduled testing duties for that Tuesday and I couldn't be there to see the smile on JT's face when he tried it (if there was one). From the report that I got from Matthes was that he seemed to enjoy himself and that he rode a decent amount of time so that tells me he may have actually enjoyed riding again. Yes, I am going to be bugging JT for “Instabangers” and content on the Honda, but most of all I just want my buddy to maybe go riding after work and enjoy the reason why we started all of this mess back when we were little kids. The feeling of hitting a rut perfect, the feeling of nervousness of hitting that double for the first time or maybe just maybe it's putting on a fresh set of gear and smelling that new goggle silicone smell as you put your goggles on. Whatever it is, I hope JT finds some of that this summer when he's shredding up near Boise!
Oh and JT better ride more than once... Did I say that? Hope he doesn't block me on social media... Peck. Peck. Peck. Peck!!!!
Check out the recent Racer X Films: Keefer Vs. Keefer video where Kris and Aden battle one another on equal 2021 kTM 250 SX-F models.
Ryan McLeod and Mitch Kendra | Track: High Point Raceway in Mt. Morris, Pennsylvania
Ryan McLeod: When I heard about the Wake Up! Ride Day at High Point, I knew I didn’t want to miss it. I heard the track was covered in grass again and the forecast was calling for a cool, but sunny day so I knew the conditions would be epic. There was the moto track, a woods loop, an MTB loop, and even a Stacyc course for the little ones. I slapped an air filter in my Lojaks YZ125 and shipped it up the windy road to High Point. The course looked prime and everyone there was excited to be back at the track again after a long winter off. I was able to catch up and bench race with co-workers that I hadn’t seen in a while since we’re all still working remotely. That includes Mitch who is looking like some sort of mountain man as he hasn’t cut his hair since the start of the pandemic.
The High Point track is no joke. There were 10-20 ruts across 80 percent of the track which meant you had to be on your toes at all times (literally and figuratively). It gives me an all-new appreciation for how fast the pros go on that track and how easy they make it look. I started to figure it out during my second and third sessions on the track. Hop into this rut here, bounce off that bump, cruise around the outside here, dodge the downed riders there! MX Sports’ Derek Garcia let me try out his new Insta360 camera for one of the sessions. It captures a full 360 degree view of your riding which creates some really cool footage as it pans around.
By the fourth session I was completely beat but was still having a great time riding my dirt bike.
Mitch Kendra: Like Ryan said, this ride day at the pro-level track was something I was not going to miss! We have a small loop around our house we ride as much as we can but unlike our West-Coast-based colleagues, we don’t get to ride in Pennsylvania from November through February. It is a bummer yes, as I pulled out my bike two times in January when it was randomly 50 degrees two days in a row but other than that I have not been able to ride regularly since October. So needless to say, I was pumped on the first day at the track of 2021. Last year the event was in May and when we left Washington, Pennsylvania, there was snow on the ground. The 2020 event was fun—super muddy—but fun. This year it was about 10 degrees colder in the morning but it didn’t snow and ended up warming up fairly quickly, so we lucked out. My dad, brother, and I loaded up and made the drive out to High Point excited for a day of riding and bench-racing about supercross, the upcoming Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, who the fastest rider of the group was, and more.
The day ended up being beautiful: the weather stayed nice and sunny until the last checkered flag waived. I recently purchased a 2021 Yamaha YZ250F, which I had been chasing since Thanksgiving but due to COVID-19 I just got my hands on one (shout-out to Ryan Lojak at Lojaks Cycle Sales for getting me dialed in!). After doing my break-in riding and maintenance I was excited to see how it performed on the track (Thank goodness it wasn’t as muddy this year as it was last May!). Well compared to the bike I was riding—a 2009 Kawasaki KX250F—this bike made me feel like a factory rider! I do not perform tests like Keefer does but I do enjoy riding several times a week during the summer. Kris helped me figured out which bike would suit me best and we landed on a Yamaha YZ250F. There is so much upgraded technology on that bike and I'm continuing to learn about it each day. So far in the approximately two and a half hours I have put in on this bike, I was shocked about how well it handles and turns. I am far from an expert rider and my days at the track are solely for fun but I noticed specific differences in the upgrade. I feel faster on this bike (I know, typical “new team, new bike” talk) but I genuinely feel more comfortable all-around, which I do believe is causing me to go faster. Again, when I say faster, I am still slow, I’m just not as slow as I was before. Although the track ended up a little too beat for my liking (again, slow, intermediate rider who does not perform well in ruts) it was still a blast to get out and ride. Every time I came off the track I was chit-chatting with someone I knew and everyone was enjoying being there.
We also had some of our other Racer X/MX Sports staff in attendance, including Jared Bolton, Dereck Garcia, Dustin Williamson, intern Garrett Holliday—who all rode throughout the day—Andrew Fredrickson, who always gets our best and worst moments, and more co-workers. Like Ryan mentioned, it was good to catch up with them face-to-face. Upon packing up and heading home, my dad and I couldn’t stop smiling after such a fun day at the track. It does not always matter where you ride but if you surround yourself with good people and dirt bikes, it’s bound to be a fun day. Doing it at High Point is a bonus!
Check out the woods loop via a ride on Bolton’s 2010 Husaberg!
Oh, and on the topic of who the fastest rider of our group was...it was easily Ryan as he railed the outside of every turn spinning lap after lap as he let his new YZ125 two-smoker scream.
Jason Weigandt (and son, Lane) | Track: Private motocross track in North Carolina
I debated waking up at 4:30 a.m. on Saturday and ripping my son out of bed so we could get to a Mid-East Hare Scramble race two hours from our house, but I was lazy and decided not to do it. So then I turned from lazy to guilty, until I got a text from Risk Racing’s James Burry, who asked if we wanted to come ride his private motocross track nearby. Plus, they would even do an Easter Egg hunt for the kids! Candy and riding? My little guy was beyond pumped—James Burry was better than the Easter Bunny this year. His track is designed for his own kids so it doesn’t have any huge jumps, but I had not ridden a proper motocross track in a long, long time (I tend to stick to the woods because for me, jumps have resulted in broken bones and that doesn’t help with my regular job). Anyway, after spending many laps cruising in first gear behind my son, I decided to shift up and do some solo laps, clearing some of the small doubles. It has been a long time since I had done that, and man, was it fun. We rode for hours and hours, hung out with some great friends (Jeremy Albrecht and his sons were riding, too, and J-Bone did the triples where I did the doubles. Good job, J-Bone) and had a great time. Yup, Easter Saturday was better than Easter Sunday, because any day where you get to ride is going to be better than any other day.
Main Image: Mitch Kendra, photo by Andrew Fredrickson