By Billy Rainford
Well, this Monday Morning Coffee finds me in a Starbucks in Battle Creek, Michigan. It feels appropriate, since this weekend at the 2022 MXON was definitely a battle!
Every year, we head into these things with the same thought: “We have the strongest team every assembled this time!” And to be honest, the team usually is great and we’ve got the best riders possible to represent the red and white on the world stage. Unfortunately, we have one hell of a time putting it all together and getting the results we all know we’re capable of. So what’s the problem?
Our riders this year were: MXGP – Dylan Wright (3-time Canadian 450 MX champion), MX2 – Ryder McNabb (2022 Canadian 250 MX champion), and Open – Tyler Medaglia (2nd 2022 Canadian 450 MX championship and multi-time Team Canada rider). Perfect, right? Well, yes, but…
I’m not here to talk trash about our riders and/or the team. Not at all. Everyone involved did their best and rode their asses off. At an event like the Motocross of Nations, everything has to click and gel to finish where you expect to. Unfortunately, it’s just not that easy.
It’s like we always say about heading south to race an AMA Pro MX National or an AMA Supercross – you can’t just show up and race, you need to immerse yourself in the culture and competition to get comfortable to race the best in the world. The same goes for this race.
But hold on a minute…
Nobody has more confidence in their speed and ability than Dylan. Ryder has come up through the ranks under the moto microscope as an Orange Brigade rider for KTM Canada. And Tyler has been everywhere and done everything, and keeps getting faster. So, can someone explain 15th overall to us? I can try.
First off, I don’t think it has anything to do with the last-minute fundraiser for the team, as a lot of people like to criticize. Carl Bastedo has been the Team Manager many times. He simply writes a cheque for the expenses and goes on with his life. The Go Fund Me account meant nothing to what the riders or team got; it simply helped reimburse Carl for the expenses he put out for the event. That’s it.
Secondly, with this race being at Red Bud, our guys had the luxury of racing the same bikes they’ve raced all season long. There were no surprises or adjustments needed to make. The same cannot be said for many riders from around the world who were on borrowed equipment under rented awnings or EZ-Ups.
Our guys should have been comfortable right from Free Practice to Qualifying to the motos. Of course, but this is MX and things can and will go wrong.
In qualifying, we went MXGP – 10th, MX2 – 16th, and OPEN – 26th. Tyler actually finished 20th but got docked for failing the random sound test after the checkered flag. The insert came out of the pipe. Tyler’s score got dropped so that put us 17th, tied with Finland in 16th. In the case of a tie, you go to the score thrown away and Finland threw away a 22nd compared to our 26th, so they got the spot.
As we sat in the media center waiting for results to get posted and the stack of papers to be printed for us to take, Carl said he was going to wait until they were printed and then they’d head back to South Bend, IN to go for the team meal.
I was still working away and Carl got the results and headed out. All good, right? Apparently not.
A bit later, I headed to the desk and asked the guy for a printout of the results and posted them up on our Facebook page. Looking at those results, it shows us in 17th place and heading to Group 1 for practice on Sunday. Carl left with what he thought were the correct results but it turns out they didn’t include the 3rd motos with Tyler’s docking. His sheet showed 16th and heading to Group 2. Dammit!
It was quite the scene in staging as we tried to head out with the rest of the riders in Group 2. I shot a ton of video of it all and will post them up when I make it home.
Carl showed the officials the sheet but they were having none of it. What a mess. Arms were waving around and anyone with “FIM” on their shirts or jackets were involved.
Dylan squirted by after Tyler was called back to staging after starting to head back to the pits. Tyler was then lined up at the caution tape and about to go for it when the official looked at him and just said, “Don’t do it!“
Dylan did one lap and was immediately pulled off the track. Fortunately, they didn’t do anything to us, penalty-wise, as a result. Derek Schuster had no problem with the lap because, as he put it, “What were they going to do, give us an even worse gate pick?” It couldn’t have gotten much worse, so it was worth the lap and Dylan was at least able to tell the other riders what he saw.
Obviously, heart rates went up and it was a morning stress nobody needed, but I saw smiles as it happened and everyone seemed to get over it pretty quickly back in the Team Canada pits.
Once it became clear why they had gone to the wrong practice, everyone showed some disappointment but knew it wasn’t going to be what determined the team’s results and got to work.
Only Justin Petker had a bunch of pre-race work to do, since only Dylan was out on the track.
Moto 1 – MXGP/MX2
Oh, let me first point out the Qualifying race had by Dylan. He and #16 Jago Geerts (racing for the first time on a 450) came together right off the start when Geert veered to his right and took out Dylan’s front wheel and putting him to the ground. The rest of the pack was already around the first corner when Dylan got going again. He was wayyy last.
No, it’s not the way you want things to go, but in hindsight, it was one of the most memorable moments of the entire weekend. Dylan went from dead last to 10th place, tight on the rear wheel of #1 Antonio Cairoli and #7 Dean Wilson. It was arguably the ride of the weekend…by anyone!
Also, this is, by far, my favourite photo from the event:
Dylan lined up in a decent position on the gate while Ryder was around 5th from the outside with little chance against the 450’s. It was decided he’d try to get himself to the inside and bank on riders going wide in turn 1. It worked a bit and he was able to make a few passes but was still mired pretty far back.
Dylan got himself up in to the top 10 and things were looking good until he went over the bars over the big, sandy booter in the lower section, got run over by a few bikes, and was stuck under another rider’s bike for a while. Once again, he found himself at the back of the pack and chasing. He pulled in at the end of lap 1 for goggles and then found the ground again, with some damage to his bike and in a lot of pain from the first crash.
Ryder would wash out the front end and go down. Both riders found themselves in unfamiliar territory at the flag in 30th and 31st. It was a rough start for the team.
We sat 17th after moto 1.
Moto 2 – MX2/OPEN
Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse for McNabb. On the sight lap, his bike was cutting out on him when he let off the gas. It quit on him at the top of the huge, uphill triple. He rolled the bike back down the hill towards the start, up the hill and then pushed the bike back behind the line on the crowd side of the fence.
Derek took it up and down the dirt in the pits and it ran fine under those circumstances. He told Ryder to race it until it happened again and then to pull off. They had some trouble getting back through the gate to the line but he made it in and sat by the start waiting to get a spot.
Behind them, the rider from Guam also tried to get to the line, but he hadn’t done the sight lap, so it was a different situation altogether.
Anyway, Derek told me that Ryder told him they wouldn’t let him line up, so the gate dropped without Team Canada’s MX2 rider. I had gone to the 2nd turn for this start because, after recording the situation behind the line, there was no time for me to get to the first turn.
Tyler was out on the track in the Open (MX3) class and was having troubles of his own. He just didn’t look like he was able to push like we’re so used to. What was up?
He crossed the line in 29th position, not what he was hoping for. More on that in a minute.
We were sitting back in 18th after 2 motos.
Moto 3 – MXGP/OPEN
As our guys were lined up and getting ready for their sight lap, Tyler ushered me over. I walked to him and he told me what the scoop was. It turns out, when he crashed in his qualifier on Saturday, he caught a handlebar on his right hand, re-breaking the bone and making a pretty good mess.
He actually went over to see Doc Bodner at the Alpinestars Medical Unit where it was found that he had, indeed, broken it again. Actually, you could see it trying to poke out the top of his hand and he said he could feel it moving when he pulled in the front brake. Shit.
When the gate dropped, Tyler didn’t get a good start but Dylan was up inside the top 10, sitting around 8th.
Halfway through the moto, Cairoli had gotten around Dylan but Dylan didn’t want to let him go and they had a really nice battle in what is likely the final time we’ll see the Italian racing one of these events. He’s an Italian superhero.
Dylan had a huge gap back to 11th place and crossed the line in an impressive 10th place.
Tyler crossed the line again in 29th spot. Not the result he would have liked but a good effort considering the pain he was feeling.
In the end, Team Canada finished 15th place, 5 points behind Finland and 1 ahead of Chile. It was definitely not what we were hoping for or expecting, but that’s where we ended up on a tough day.
Like I always tell riders after a bad event, “Bad results just help you appreciate the good ones more.”
So, what went wrong, you ask? I don’t really know. Like many have already commented, we need our guys to do more international races if we expect to compete on this stage. Most other riders are regulars on the MXGP circuit, and the Americans are just super-fast.
The mistake before practice was an unnecessary stress, but I don’t think it hampered our results. I think Carl should begin to mentor a younger, eager person to fill the role moving forward. And there’s nothing wrong with that! He’s in a great position to help someone new get up to speed and ready to take the reins. We just need to find that person.
Also, in hindsight, Tyler should have sat this one out. He’s going be pissed at me for saying that, but that’s the reality. But like someone else said, a rider is always going to say they’re good to go, so the decision rests on the Team Manager’s shoulders. Of course, without the crash Tyler likely wouldn’t have had an issue, but Tanner Ward and Jess Pettis were both champing at the bit to go.
Again, I’m not trying to disrespect or slag anyone, it’s just time to dissect what happened at the race this year and I think these are things that need to be looked at.
And until you’ve been to one of these events, you can’t sit back and say it’s unimportant because it is. I just want to see Canada do the best it can in the future.
We’ll head to France for the event in 2023, so let’s get all our ducks in a row and make it a great showing.
Let me be clear, I have nothing but respect for everyone involved in Team Canada and appreciate everyone’s effort. It all makes for some great bench-racing material. Let’s just get behind this race as an industry and make the best decisions possible, moving forward.
I’m still sitting at this Starbucks and have now seen a shift change. I had to leave for a few minutes to go to Walgreens for some pain medication. It turns out I’ve got the worst knot behind my left shoulder blade that is making my left arm go numb. I’m sweating and feel like throwing up! Cool.
Thank you to Natalie Wright for the onsite massage in the Team Canada pits. Where are you today??!!
The Ibuprofen and Tylenol are starting to take affect, so I ‘m going to hop back in the van and finish the drive home.
There were some other things that happened over the weekend that I”m glancing over and shouldn’t be:
2022 Corduroy Enduro Mens Podium
Shelby Turner Wins in Oregon
Full results HERE.
Have a great week. Next on the calendar is Round 2 of the Canadian Triple Crown Series SX/AX in Sarnia this coming weekend. See everyone there!
We have to give the last word to Mitch Cooke after making lemonade out of the lemon the storm left on the east coast over the weekend: