THANKSGIVING: A MOTOCROSS PERSPECTIVE–NOV 27
By John Basher
While there are many things to be thankful for this holiday season, whether it is visiting family, to eating a sumptuous repass, or even catching a NFL game on the tube, there are many things to be thankful for in the realm of motocross. No, I?m not talking about the blessed creation of motocross bikes for the simple fact that your prized steed makes a more than stealthy getaway vehicle when your in-laws arrive two hours early for Thanksgiving dinner. Take a step into the past for a moment and remember how motocross used to be (or if you?re like me, remember how people told you motocross used to be in the glory days). Glory days? To many young motocross enthusiasts, they would certainly disagree. Back then there weren?t any super-trick, easy to jump, or light as a feather motocross bikes. In fact, I thought I was one of those kids, who would opt to ride Ricky Carmichael?s 2002 CR250 over a dusty old 1968 Maico.
Ok, before you toss me aside as cannon fodder, I know there were great manly man type bikes back then and that the ?70?s was a booming era of motocross in the United States. Call me unoriginal, call me boring, heck you could even call me crazy for liking new bikes, but I?ve been through the ringer. Unlike other motocross riders, such as those who jumped right into the sport and purchased the latest bike and gear, I found my love for motocross another way. I didn?t have a shiny new RM80; instead I had a liquid-cooled steel tank Yamaha GT80 that I would tear through the woods on day after day in the summer. My brother, who was on a right side, kick starting classic steed by the name of an Ossa 6-Days Replica, would ride with me (more like monitor me so I didn?t run into trees). To admit, those were the times when motocross didn?t mean trying to post the fastest lap times on a track or worrying about image, it was simply about fun without any pressure. Elbows could be down, standing wasn?t required, and riding in the proper gear didn?t matter as long as my arms, legs, and head were protected.
So what happened to my sudden change from finding joy in riding old bikes to craving the latest technology? That?s an easy answer, I begged my Dad for a newer bike and I went racing. Don?t get me wrong, I truly enjoy racing and riding the latest equipment in order to push myself to become a better rider. It?s a crime how different motocross bikes change your outlook on the sport. Luckily, my father has kept several bikes from the past in order for me to stay true to the original roots of motocross, where I can go out and tool around on older bikes. Call it a throw back to my younger years (heck, I?m only 21, so the younger years would be around age 12). It makes me realize that as long as I?m on any motocross bike, regardless of age or bike brand or how many doo-dads come on the bike, I can truly find joy in the sport of motocross.
I salute all the motocross enthusiasts who still enjoy riding, collecting, or researching older bikes, as well as those who look forward to the future growth of technology on motocross bikes. To me, it?s just about motocross, that?s what I?m thankful for.
With that said, there are plenty of inventions and happenings to be thankful for in the motocross world. Here is my top eight list of things to be thankful for this turkey season.
Close Points Battles ? This last racing season certainly doesn?t come to mind, but travel back to the late 1970?s and 1980?s when several championships were determined within a matter of points. Perhaps one of the most memorable series finishes would be between Broc Glover and Danny LaPorte, who were tied for the 1977 125 National championship when the series ended. It was that series where a tie was brought about because of the controversial ‘Let Broc Bye’ race in San Antonio. Glover?s Yamaha teammate Bob Hannah pulled over on the last lap of the last National of the year and let Broc by (after Hannah received orders via a pit board). Glover was awarded the championship because he had won two races to LaPorte’s one (Hannah won all the other races).
Ice Studs ? While western state riders really don?t need to worry about ice and snow in the winter, except on snow cones and in ice cream, eastern motocross riders have two choices when the winter months (and the snow and ice) come. Either pack away the bike or face Mother Nature?s elements by battling through all the white. Ice and rubber knobbies certainly don?t mix, but drill in several hundred-ice studs in your tires and it?s a whole new ball game. Hit the frozen lakes with a vengeance against the cold and learn how to REALLY slide the back end of your mx?er.
The Big Five ? Once considered the Big Four, KTM has made a huge effort to catapult motocross bike sales. How have they fared? Ask Jeremy McGrath, Grant Langston, and the designers who built the all-new KTM450 four-stroke. I?ll give you my word though, they?ve come a long way and it shows. Sure, back in the glory days of motocross there were many different brands to choose from, but we all should be thankful that five different bike manufacturers are fighting to create the best bike for you. Otherwise, imagine if there was only one or two manufacturers remaining. How much choice would we get?
Tear-Offs ? If you missed out on Mount Morris in 2000, consider yourself lucky. It was in that race that Travis Pastrana went mud bogging through the last portion of the track and got stuck. The track was mired down, the rain wouldn?t stop, and the racing went on through it all. Now imagine what would have happened if tear-offs (or the alternative roll-offs) hadn?t been invented? I had enough trouble watching what was happening during each moto, and I was only spectating! It used to be that you couldn?t buy clear vision, well now you can.
Motocross Gear ? Many thanks should go to the motocross gear manufacturers with their utilization of cordura, nylon, kevlar, spandex, and rubber. When riders used to say ?wearing their leathers? they weren?t kidding, snugging themselves into tight outfits before heading for battle on the track. Today, riders can actually move around comfortably in their gear and the material lets your skin breath. Not only that, today?s gear has safety features while having a flashy cool look to it.
Arenacross ? Racing outdoors in the winter months on the East Coast is nearly impossible without the use of ice studs. Enter Arenacross, where the racing is tight, lap times are short, but the fun factor goes through the roof. It?s possibly that one chance when racers can sneak out of the house and hit the dirt one last time before spring comes. Or, if you would rather spectate, go watch the pro?s and the local talent on a track that is smaller than supercross, but is probably just as fun.
Suspension ? Imagine jumping an 80-foot double on suspension that had a little more give than a taught rubber band? That?s how it was jumping with classic iron. Granted, it was possible and was done, but if I had my druthers I?d grab a cush new bike if I were to go out and try to be the next Evel Knievel. I give plenty of thanks to the invention of long-travel suspension (and my body does too).
Family and Friends ? Look back on how you got into motocross, why you enjoy it, and who you like to ride with. If you were like me, your Dad or a family member introduced you to racing or helped you get into the sport. Is it the people that you are around, such as your family and friends who make motocross that much better? Who do you call when you want someone to go riding with you? Think about how much different motocross would be to you if your family and friends weren?t involved in the sport? And for that, we should all give thanks to those who support us.
Have a great holiday weekend from us here at Dirt Bike!