No one ever became a motocross champion by accident. In fact, no one ever won a race by accident. It takes planning, strategy and goals to get there. The emphasis is on goals. 

“That’s easy,” someone is thinking right now. “My goal is to be the best motocrosser in the world.” That’s a big first step. You might want to break that down a little. 


Okay, for now let’s say the goal is to be a successful motocrosser. Once we get there, you can work on being the best rider in the world, and I won’t argue. The next order of business is to set goals to help you reach your dream-or at least come as close to it as you possibly can. In order for a goal to be effective, you have to put it on a schedule. You have to commit to each level in a certain time period. Write it down on the calendar. 

What I would suggest is to break down your immediate goals into categories. For example, set a goal in training. If you are a runner, then decide that you are going to break a six-minute mile by fall. Set a goal for diet–commit to keeping fat to less than, say, 20% of your intake. Set simultaneous goals for your performances on the track-decide that you are going to get starts that are consistently in the top five within six months. Think about your starts and what it will take. Even set your sights on other riders. I remember when David Bailey and Johnny O’Mara were extremely competitive with each other, on and off the track. If one ran up ten flights of stairs, the other would run up 11 flights. They pushed each other to greater heights than either could achieve alone. See who is within your reach and go after them. Here are suggestions for goals. If you think a bit, you will come up with ten more of your own: Running time; running distance; weight training; diet; riding laps; starts; passing; jumps; corners; results. 


Upon reaching your goal’s deadline, there are only three possible results: you achieved the goal early, on-schedule or not at all. If the goal was easy, then pat yourself on the back and make a new goal. If you see that you are closing in on that six-minute mile in half the time you expected, then adjust the goal: say you will run a five-minute, 45-second mile by the same date. If you aren’t getting the starts, analyze the problem. Is it in your reaction? Are you going straight? Are you losing positions in the first turn? If you blank out and can’t remember the details after the gate drops, then have someone videotape you, or at least watch and report back. If you failed at the original goal, then break down the start (or whatever) into different subcomponents and set more specific goals. 


I remember when I first started riding sand tracks in northern Belgium back in ’65. Before that, I had ridden mostly in the southern part of the country, where the tracks are hard. I got into the sand and basically buried myself alive. There were riders from Holland and Sweden who were incredible in the sand, and I just couldn’t keep up. 

Instead of deciding I hated sand and that I would avoid it whenever possible, I set a goal for myself. I wanted to be as good as anyone in sand. I worked at it whenever I practiced. By the following year I started doing well in sand races. When I started doing well, I started enjoying myself. Success feeds on itself that way. Before long, I was as fast as anyone in the sand. 

Today, the best riders do the same thing. The year before last, Jeremy McGrath was considered strictly a supercross specialist. There were even rumors that he would be given a supercross-only contract. Jeremy obviously wanted more than that. He worked on his training and outdoor skills until finally he became an outdoor champion as well. Recently, Jeremy won the Daytona Supercross for the first time–another example of goals set and achieved. 


It’s inescapable that you will have to make sacrifices along the way to achieving any worthwhile goal. You have to set priorities in your life–if you want to be a good motocrosser, then motocross has to be high on the list. You will have to give up some things you really enjoy. Does it sound hard? Sure it is, or everyone would do it. That’s okay. It just means there will be fewer people on top when you get there.

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