Big Things for Nathan Bles in 2017

By Billy Rainford

We spoke with Bayfield, Ontario, racer, Nathan Bles, not too long ago. In fact, it was just this past February when we grabbed him for a chat. However, since then, he’s won the inaugural CSRA Snow Bike Championship, announced that he’s competing for Team Canada again at the 2017 ISDE in France, and has signed to race all 10 rounds of Rockstar MX Nationals on a new team withTyler Medaglia and possibly Kyle Chisholm. We figured that was worth another call!

Let’s see what the fast, friendly, and likeable rider had to say this time:

Nathan Bles will be back full-time in 2017 | Bigwave photo

Direct Motocross: Hello, Nathan. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us again today. There is a lot going on in your life right now, but for those who missed our interview a couple months ago, let’s first back up to last season. You only raced at the final round at RJ’s in Barrie, Ontario. What kept you from racing last season?
Nathan Bles: Ya, there’s lots happening right now. It’s good, keeps me busy. Last year, I was unable to race due to a broke arm. It happened at the beginning of the season. I had to get surgery on it and took longer to heal than we thought.How did RJ’s go for you? You finished 11th overall with 9-13 motos.
RJ’s was good, considering I was out of shape and only rode a week before the race. My goal was to finish top ten each race, but I crashed [in the] second moto and had to fight my way back to the front. Not ideal when you’re out of shape (Laughs). Over all, I think it was good.You’ve been flirting with the idea of getting a “real job” and moving on, the past couple years. However, we keep seeing you back on the line every chance you get. What keeps bringing you back?
Honestly, I don’t know the answers to that…. It’s an addiction or love for the sport; I can’t really say. I have worked normal jobs since I was 16 and before that I worked on the farm. To this day, I still work a normal job to live my dream. I know what work life is and what it takes. It’s not fun or easy. So, any chance I get to continue my dream, I take it. I can always go back to work or find a job after. You only live once. Might as well enjoy it the way you want for as long as you can. I thinks that’s why I enjoy racing and riding so much. I treat it like it’s my last time doing it.

Before we got to all the new stuff, let’s look way back in time. How did you get into motocross in the first place?
It’s all my dad’s fault, I swear (Laughs). I started riding when I was 3. My mom and dad got me a LEM 50 for Christmas. Pretty much everyday I was out on that LEM ripping around the farm. My dad raced TVR back when it was very small club. We where in Exeter and they had a sweet track. He put me on the big track and scared the crap out of me. I didn’t really ride a track or do it to get fast until I was on a KX60, so about 8 years old.
At that time, I was more into riding, I think, and next thing you know dad got me a new KX65 and brought me to a TVR race. I was far from good but we both loved it. Next thing you know, we are at each event and making friends and getting better.

Nathan won the inaugural CSRA Canadian Snow Bike Championship this winter | Bigwave photo

What is the highlight of your amateur racing career?
That’s a tough one. The first memory that comes to mind is 2010 – my Intermediate year. I raced my first ever Pro National event at Gopher Dunes. I surprised myself and finished top ten in both motos for 6th overall. Before that, I think winning my first TransCan title in Junior MX1 in 2009 was my biggest highlight. I’d never won a title before that.

Who was your biggest rival back then? What other Intermediates did you come up with?
My biggest rival would have been Richard Grey. He was always faster and I would always try to beat him. It only happened a few times but that’s what got me faster. I raced a few fast guys back then, but Cole Thompson and Richard Grey where are the guys to beat though.

I remember you did the entire series back when GDR was on Suzukis and Topher Ingalls was your teammate. How did that full season go for you?
To think that was 6 years ago is crazy. That was my rookie year and I have great memories of that year. Traveling all across Canada with my dad and Topher was fun. As for racing, I struggled a bit but looking back I did OK considering what GDR as a new team and I had to overcome. I came out of that season with 13th overall in the MX2 class and a lot smarter (Laughs). Man, those bikes looked so sick! Dig (Derek Schuster) sure knows how to make bikes look awesome.

OK, two big things happened to you recently. Firstly, you won the CSRA Snow Bike championship last month. How did the decision to race the series come up?
Ya to think, 4 months ago, I didn’t know the Bailey Motorsport team or that I would race snow bikes and win the first championship is kinda crazy, but it all happened and I couldn’t be happier about it. It made the winter go by so fast. I got to meet Stu owner of baileys and Derek owner of Flybyu at the first CSRA event in Quebec. They were both riding/racing them to promote the whole snow bike industry. They Knew I was a moto guy and asked me to race it. They wanted someone to help make them look fun and fast. I took that as a challenge and started riding the snow bike. It was not easy to adjust but we made huge improvements towards the end of the season with setup.

Nathan says the moustache is for “special events only.” We’ll have to see if it makes an appearance this summer | Bigwave photo

We talked about how different the sport is from both motocross and snowmobiling. Can you tell everyone what it’s like to ride one of these snow bikes and what the challenges are?
For sure! It’s odd at first. It’s not a sled or a bike. You have to treat it like it’s own beast/machine. It’s very long feeling compared to a bike and has lots of traction, making it hard to turn. The front ski likes to push and it always wants to go straight. [The] biggest struggle is jumping. It’s such an odd feeling. Imagine jumping a bike with both wheels locked (like hitting your brake in the air but both wheels). I call it dead sailing! Once you get over that feeling and trust it will land OK, you’d be surprised what you can jump. Just make sure you don’t clip the landing with the end of the track. It will send you right to the bars. The best feeling is hitting a deep corner. You can lay it right over and it will pull you out it’s an awesome feeling.

Take us through the series. We struggled with snow in these parts, but you seemed like the rider to beat, for sure. 
Snow is key. The southern races are a much different snow type – mostly man-made.  It’s softer and usually makes it harder to get speed or jump, but sick for corners. Up north snow tends to be harder and icy, making it fast and technical, but also harder to corner.
Ya, I definitely felt like I had the advantage over everyone else. I think that’s from seat time and the team behind me. Derek was also wanting info to make the setup better, and every weekend it got better and better. My Motocross background helped too. Between the two of us, we got it figured out.

You took the first-ever title. How did that feel? Did you hang out at Horseshoe Resort that night and have fun with your team and the other riders?
Felt great ! To win all the races that weekend made it even better. Track was very tricky too. It still hasn’t set in that I won the championship, yet. Next week, I have the CSRA banquet and maybe then it will set in. As for celebrating… I skipped out on the partying but still had a blast in the rig with the crew on Sunday.

“I can always go back to work or find a job after. You only live once. Might as well enjoy it the way you want for as long as you can. I thinks that’s why I enjoy racing and riding so much. I treat it like it’s my last time doing it.” | Bigwave photo

So, now you’re getting the chance to race all 10 rounds of the Rockstar MX nationals in the MX1 class for a new team run by Adam ‘Stu’ Robinson. How did this one come up?
Ya, racing the MX1 class at all 10 rounds. I’m super keen! So happy. I got to hang around Adam and the whole Hubert’s team at the snowcross events and with some rumours I thought I would just ask him about it. Stu was interested about having me aboard and he kept me in the loop. Next thing I know I was apart of the team!

You guys will all be on Honda’s this year. Do you have the rest of your sponsors sorted out yet?
Yup, ripping Hondas. As for the rest of the sponsors, Stu is still adding to the list. I will leave that to him (Laughs).

Your teammates will be Tyler Medaglia and probably Kyle Chisholm. We joked about the fact that Kyle was the one who bumped you off the podium at Ulverton a couple years ago. Will you guys talk about this? Are you looking forward to racing with these guys?
Definitely looking forward to racing them both, but mostly just hanging out and having a good time doing what we love. I am sure it will get brought up. That was a good day and a sad day (Laughs), but that’s racing.

I guess you won’t be heading south to train, since we’re riding around here, but what will you do for training before the nationals start in Kamloops, June 5th?
For me, I will be testing lots and trying to ride as much as I can. I do feel like I am behind a bit, but that will only make it a challenge to get in shape and [up to] race speed. I also spend time in the gym with 141 Fitness (Wayde, my trainer). I have been getting much stronger over the last few months.

What are your goals for the season?
Goals….. hmmm, honestly to be in the top ten each and every race. Consistency is my goal.

And you’ll race snow bikes again in the winter, right?
I would love too and want too! I need to sort that out still.

Nathan will also compete in France as part of the ISDE Club Team for Canada | Bigwave photo

What about an invitation to the Winter X Games in Aspen? I assume you’ll be hoping for that?
That would be the ultimate gaol and dream for the winter! I do feel like I could do well there.

How would you do against seasoned riders like Brock Hoyer and Cody Matechuk?
Solid question. I really don’t know where I would stack up. Those guys are the top riders of snow bikes out west and in the X Games. I would really like to ride against them and see. I feel like I could hang with them, maybe show them a ski (Laughs).

And you’ve also announced you’ll be part of the ISDE in France for Team Canada this year with Tyler Medaglia and Philippe Chaine. You’re busy!
I am excited to be a part of an awesome ISDE club team. Having Phil and Tyler as my teammates is wicked. I am nervous about it. Mostly because I know how hard it is and knowing my last experience was not a success. That makes it tough to forget (Laughs). That being said, my only goal is to complete the whole event and leave France with good memories. I do feel like we could do some damage and get some good finishes, but it’s the ISDE and anything can happen.

What are/were you doing for work in this off season?
I switched up my line of work this year. Last year I was heavy equipment operator but left me no time to race or train. This year I am working at Xtreme Toys in London. John Roney is really good to me and lets me train and race. He understands the motocross industry.

Is your dad excited for you getting this top level chance to race this year? Say hello for me. 
Oh my…you have no idea!! Nothing better than having my dad alongside me throughout my motocross career. He has stepped back from the amateur days, but is always around, ready to help.

Are you keeping the ‘stache?
The Stache is rare, and usually only for special events. You may see the stache this summer (Laughs), but as for now there is no moustache.

OK, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. It will be great to have you back at the races full-time. Good luck, and who would you like to thank?
Thanks, Billy. I have to say thanks to the Royal Distributing, Motovan, Pillers Racing, Hubert Motorsport team, and the great people behind it, as well as my family and friends. Cheers to a fun season!