Catching Up with…Nathan Bles
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but there are an awful lot of Canadian Snow Bike racers doing well and racing a lot these days. Ontario Pro motocrosser, Nathan Bles, has thrown his hat int he ring and has been racing snow bikes and sleds this winter. And he’s doing very well! We thought we’d grab him for a chat to find out how things have been going with the likeable lad:
Direct Motocross: Hey, Nathan. We haven’t spoken to you in a little while. Let’s back up for a second and talk about your 2016 summer. What were you doing for the early part of it, before RJ’s?
Nathan Bles: Hey! Ya, it’s been a while. Well, I worked full-time for Hayter Excavating, running all sorts of heavy equipment. I really enjoyed it actually, made me realize I can enjoy work. I raced a few local events and unfortunately at BAJA MX in the spring I got hit by another rider and broke my wrist. Bad enough it required surgery. That set me back a lot with fitness and self-esteem with racing. On the bright side, I had another summer in a row to enjoy at home with family.
You showed up in Barrie and finished 9-13 for 11th overall in MX1 that day. Can you take us through how that went?
Yes, Barrie was a surprise. Getting a phone call from Derek (Schuster) out of the blue felt so good. It also relit the fire in me to race. Also, it gave me much more appreciation for the help. Only riding the bike 2 times before racing was hard, yet I felt right at home on it. It sucked I wasn’t in shape to race to my potential, but it showed I can still come off the couch and run with the top riders.
It was more of a survival race (Laughs)…just finish and have fun doing it. I hadn’t done a start or raced in over 2 months at that point so I was real rusty but still did all right.
Unfortunately, in the second race I got hung up in a crash on the start and went down. I was able to fight back to 13th. With no preparation or fitness I felt like 9th and 13th was fairly good.
What were you hoping to accomplish there?
My goals where to enjoy the moment. Not often you get to sit under a factory tent with factory equipment. The ultimate goal was to finish top 10.
What did you do after that final round in Barrie?
Back to work and waited for Walton to start.
What did you think of that event?
Honestly, I feel like they have a great idea and can work real well in Canada. We need an event like that. That being said, we the riders and teams need to step up and work with them. But I also think there’s room for improvement on their end. As for the racing, I had fun and raced at a fast pace. So fast I ended on the ground….. Part of learning I guess.
What did you get up to after the Walton race?
After Walton I went back to the real world. Work and riding on the weekends.
OK, so let’s get to this whole winter racing thing. You’ve been lining up on Snow Bikes and Sleds lately. How did all this come about?
Yes, all new for me and loving it! My buddy, Justin Roney, got me hooked on the idea and next thing I know we got sleds and we are racing (Laughs). The snow bike deal came about at the first CSRA snow cross event. I got to meet Stu and Derek from Bailey Motorsports team and they had a Yeti snow bike for show.
Next thing I know, Dave Bell is announcing my name over the PA system to get out on the track with the snow bikes. No lie! I was shocked! So there I was running over and hopped on it for the first time and rode it. It was so different from anything I have ridden before.
Which races have you done?
I have only raced this past weekend at Sault Ste. Marie. So both Saturday and Sunday. I have had a few practice days before hand.
Can you take us through those?
Saturday I won the first race and had to fight through the riders as I got a bad start. Made for a tense few laps. Second race I struggle again with my starts and was fighting my way to the front until I had a bike malfunction. I went 1st-DNF for 3rd overall.
Sunday I was on a mission to take both moto wins. That’s actually what I did. Felt comfortable and started hitting some bigger jumps and flowing with the snow and corners. Felt good and went 1-1 for the overall.
Which is tougher, sleds or snow bikes? Differences?
Both are extremely tough. Sled are heavy…real heavy! And fast. You can get out of hand real quick. Racing them is scary at times, mostly over the jumps. It’s like bumper cars out there (Laughs).
Snow bikes are tough in their own way. They are awkward to jump. You have to really muscle your way around the bike. It doesn’t like to turn on hard snow and likes to slide out. It’s awesome when you have a berm or deep snow to bank against. Toughest thing to understand is one small mistake can lead to hitting the ground. Sleds can balance themselves.
Which races are you doing next? And the winter?
I will be doing the rest of the CSRA events this winter. Barrie is next on the calendar.
Is this something you see yourself doing more of in the future?
For sure! It’s so new and we are just starting to get the hang of things and I think we are going to see some huge improvements on the snow bikes kits.
OK, how about your 2017 summer plans? Things are tough out there, even for a top 10 guy like you!
2017 summer is going to be fun! I will be out there racing, riding and involved in the sport. As for finding a bike brand or deal or team? I haven’t sorted that out just yet. I will sort something out, to what extent we will just have to wait and see.
What do you see yourself doing in life after motocross?
Honestly, doing something I love. I feel like I will be involved in the Motorsports industry. Or just doing my own thing with family. Either way, I am sure it will be good.
If we have to push you for your best racing memory, what would it be?
There are so many. The more I think about it. I start to realize how many amazing moments I have had racing. The best racing memory is also my best result in my career as a Pro. 2014 racing in Ulverton in the first MX1 moto of the day. I got a top 10 start and raced my way to third with not a clue I was in third. I was just having so much fun and just in the zone. I did get passed on the last lap and finished fourth but I felt good about myself as a rookie in that class and full privateer.
Yep, we were there and it WAS awesome, but you’re probably still angry with Kyle Chisholm for passing you. OK, thanks for the chat, Nathan. Who would you like to thank?
Ya, thanks! I want to thank my whole family and close friends for being behind me from the start, Xtreme Toys, Bailey Motorsports, Flybyu Motorsports, TCD Canada, and Team LTD for making the snowcross and snowbike dream a reality.