Catching Up with...Dusty Klatt
Our pre-Kamloops coverage continues with a quick call to one of the biggest question marks of the season: Dusty Klatt. With Klatt back on the Blackfoot team, and reunited with the squad that helped him earn a pair of MX2 titles and his 2006 MX1 championship, everyone is still wondering which Dusty will show up at the Loops? After a five-month break this winter, Dusty has had plenty of time to try and find the recipe for success that worked for him back then…but has he? We’ll see when the gate drops but one thing is for sure: this is definitely a more relaxed, happier Dusty Klatt than we’ve seen in a while.
Hey Dusty. How are things?
Just been training—road bike, dirt bike—trying to get ready for this opening round. That’s the main goal right now. Weather is warming up a bit, it’s been pretty cold since I got home, but that’s Canada I guess.
|Blackfoot Yamaha's Dusty Klatt. James Lissimore Photo
When did you get back to Campbell River?
I’ve been back for about three weeks. I had to drive to Calgary and do some testing. I just rode my race bike and that was good, I got to try that out and I had to drop off a couple of bikes. I just hung around with the team a bit, talked to them about some stuff and got to ride my bike and then headed home. I’ve just been trying to get ready here.
And how was your race bike?
My race bike is excellent, yep. I am looking forward to the season. The bike is good so I’ve just got to put myself in the best position I can and be as ready as possible and come out swinging. I’ve got a good strong team behind me and I am pretty pumped to have Andrew McLean as my mechanic so it should be a pretty cool year.
Wow, that’s great that you’re working with Andrew. He obviously knows what he’s doing. (laughs)
Yeah, exactly, he’s pretty much the head honcho so maybe I’ll have some extra goodies on my bike. (laughs) He’s been around the sport and I was almost nervous when I heard, but it’s definitely motivating to work with him since he’s won all those championships with JSR. Hopefully we can make things work.
|Dusty powering through a berm in Georgia. Lissimore photo.|
Were there any of the other riders at the test?
No, it was just me. I think Colt did his stuff a long time ago, even before I went to Cali, and I think Beaton did his stuff a little while ago but the weather was lousy. I think he’s headed there again this weekend; we are all flying in for the X-Fighters Show in Calgary. Blackfoot is involved with that so.
So how does it feel to be back working with Blackfoot again? I know you guys have a long history together and it must be nice to be back in your comfort zone?
Yeah, exactly. Really it’s just like coming home again. We all get along really well and I am excited. I definitely think this winter was exactly what I needed, the time off and stuff. Five months is the longest I’ve been off my bike, ever. I didn’t touch my bike once in that time. But right now I feel awesome. I haven’t felt this good in a while. I am just hoping I can take that out on the track. I’m enjoying riding a lot more than I was and I am excited to be back with the Blackfoot boys and hopefully we can come out with a good solid season and move things forward.
When you say you were off the bike for five months, explain to us what you did after Walton?
I rode the Nations race, I came home and packed all my bikes up and dropped those back off at Cernic’s when I went down to California. I hung out with my Uncle Mike, and Lissimore was with me that week, and then I came home and I think I got my Blackfoot bike a month and a half after that and I rode it once. Then I didn’t ride until mid-February when I got back down to California.
What did you do with all that time off?
Honestly (laughs) not a lot. I thought about a lot, about what I wanted to do, I thought about everything and anything, it gives you a lot of time to think on what went wrong, or think about what you could have done better. And it gives you time to think about things outside racing too. It was definitely exactly what I needed, to take a break from the sport and everything and just think about it all. It was a pretty rough last two years for me.
What did you decide after all that thinking?
I enjoyed racing down south. Obviously I can look back and wonder. I kind of wish I had hopped on a 450 right away, when I came off that 2006 season, I think that would have been a stronger route for me, I could have just sucked it up for a lot less dollars, but at the same time, you live and learn. You never know, a 250F could have been a better thing for me. It was just kind of a bummer how everything turned out when I first went down there… and then I guess last season I had my chance to prove myself on a 450 too but I think even then, I was just coming off injuries non-stop and it just wasn’t working. I figured out too that I did 16 supercrosses, I didn’t race all of them but I went to the majority of them, and that’s just a lot of racing. It’s too much for me, personally. I am not saying I don’t have a love for the sport, but it was the supercross where I kept getting hurt and it just wasn’t worth it for me. I enjoy my time being here in Canada. I love racing here and I don’t have a problem with that, and I’m fine with that. I will probably just continue on with what I’ve done here, racing in the summer and taking the winters off to train. It was really nice; I got to go snowboarding. I haven’t done that for five years now. It was a real treat to get out and just enjoy life. It was some long-awaited, much-needed time, it was fun, and I was excited when I got back on my bike. It took a while to build my endurance back up after all that time, but I think it was all worth it in the end, it has just made riding that much more fun.
|Klatt- Version 1 at Blackfoot. Photo By AK|
If you think back to ’06 when you won the MX1 title and all the things that were happening with you leading up to that, your had your own recipe for success then, and it’s a lot like what you are doing.
Yes, and I think part of it too is that I’ve always done stuff by myself. I’ve always practiced by myself, I’ve always gone to the track by myself, I’ve always gone to the gym by myself. I always just went with how much riding I felt I needed to do, I just went with it. I can tell you a lot of times during the 2006 season, I’d do the gym and road bike tons and tons but there would be days during the week where I barely rode at all but I felt more than comfortable when it came to the weekends. I ride BMX a lot so maybe that helps too. But down in California this winter, I didn’t have a mechanic to come to the track with me, so I always went at my own pace. I’m had a lot of ground to make up too, coming back from doing nothing. But I made sure I had my homework done.
So how did it feel, packing up and going to the track on your own, and being on your own schedule again?
I loved having Glenn as my mechanic, and I know it’s my job, but it’s not every day that I feel like just going out and pounding moto after moto after moto. It’s never been me I guess you could say. I think maybe that was part of why I started getting hurt so much; I was riding way more than I was before. This time I just went with the pace that was right for me, and did as much as I could do.
Is that why you decided not to go to GPF with Colt and Kyle and JSR?
Honestly, that had nothing to do with it. I just went to California because my family is there and it’s closer and more convenient for me. I could take my dogs to look after, so it was just more convenient. I just had to convince the team that I was going to get my crap done and they had to have some faith in me that I was going to put my effort in.
|Klatt was quietly pretty good last year, he was the only guy to beat Facciotti straight up. Photo by Lissimore|
Just saying that, do you think that’s part of why this year might work better for you? Because they kind of ‘get’ what works for you?
Honestly, people can doubt my work ethic all they want, but I know what worked for me in 2006, and the pace could have sure stepped up since then, I don’t really know. I know what worked for me then, and I am just going with what made me go so good that year. Whatever those tools and keys were, that’s what I’m going with now, and that’s what I did this winter. I think it’s been working well. A lot of people have just looked back on my last two years and they think that is me. I can tell you right now, I didn’t ride as well as I thought I would last year. I don’t even think I rode like myself last year. I had some good races; the race where things finally came together was Nanaimo. We finally got the bike working to where it should have been, which was honestly too friggin’ late. It’s a bummer. We tested down in California and I thought it was ready, but as soon as we got on a rough track, it just did not work the way I needed it too. That was what really killed me right off the bat or I think things could have been a lot different for sure. Finally when we actually got the bike working, I broke my foot at Nanaimo. I wasn’t able to ride during the week after that. The funny thing is, if people looked at it closely, I was riding one day a week after that and I had the most consistent results of the year. I just sit back and laugh at that, it was just a sign right there, that maybe you need to step back from the bike for a while. It’s worked for me; I am happier than ever right now.
You did finish second last year, and obviously Colt had an amazing season, and I think Tyler really surprised some people, but it seemed like your achievements kind of got overlooked. People were asking where the Dusty of 2006 was and not giving you much credit for being consistent and finishing second. Was that hard on you?
It was definitely that way for sure. It’s a bummer, I didn’t deserve every page of every mag or anything but I think I had two interviews all year long, not kidding. I can see why I guess, Colt was having my 06 season, and Tyler has stepped it up a lot, but I sure didn’t get much press. I am fine with that. Whatever, if people don’t believe in me, that’s cool. It’s kind of like hockey, you root for your favourite team, and all of a sudden they do crappy, and well, then they suck. I will bring my game to Kamloops and go from there. Obviously my true fans will be there, whoever they are. I am out there doing it for my team and myself and my future. Obviously, I will do it for all my true fans out there.
How do you feel about the fact that Blackfoot is giving you another chance? You did a lot for them, winning three championships, but does it feel good to know that they still believe in you?
Definitely, they are a really good solid professional team. Honestly, I still haven’t been on a team that has worked quite like them, that’s for sure. Even Damon Huffman said that when he was riding for them. That Blackfoot was on par with some of the top teams down in the U.S. They are just really professional. If I ever need something it’s there. This winter, if I needed suspension help, I just called Joe and he hooked me up. I’ve got my bike set up really good right now, I know it works on rough tracks, I think I’ve got it setup to where it’s going to work great on the Canadian stuff. I am enjoying my bike right now a lot. Yamaha has a really good bike so I am really pumped on the season coming up.
So, basically you are feeling ready?
Yep, pretty much. We’ve only got another week and a bit to go. It will be interesting. I am not saying I am going to come out and kill everyone or anything, but I am going to go there as ready as I can be, and if it works, it works. If not, I’ve got some work to do right? But I feel really good on the bike right now and as long as I can push for two good motos, that’s all I care about. It would be nice to do well at the first round, it’s a good round to set the pace and see where everyone is. As long as I’m on the podium and I can try to be consistent, I’ll be happy. You can’t win the championship in one race, so I will just take it race by race. That’s the way you have to take it.
Were you riding with Aron Harvey quite a bit this winter?
Yeah, basically I was heading to Cali on my own and Aron mentioned he was heading there. I talked to Uncle Mike and asked if he could stay for a bit with me. He ended up staying for a month and a half or so. We hung out and trained. I honestly didn’t know him at all. I’d met him once at Calgary. I’ll be rooming with him all summer; he’s a good kid.
How was he looking on the bike?
He’s looking good, I haven’t really seen him for a month or so now, but he can ride the long motos, I am sure of that. He’s just got to keep plugging away just like everyone else. I’m sure our team will be ready by the time we hit the gate. I am looking forward to it. It should be an interesting year, with Paul (Carpenter) coming up and Bobby Kiniry. I’m sure Colt will be strong like last year. It’s funny the opening round really shows what people have been up to. I know our team was training steady all winter long. I’m sure Colt and Kyle will be ready too.
What about Kamloops? Have you ridden there much?
(Laughs) I haven’t been there since 2003. I did a provincial with Holeshot Racing.
Oh wow, that seems like a lifetime ago (laughs)
It’s actually pretty funny. I was thinking about it. Next year will be a decade in pro racing for Dusty Klatt (laughs) I just crapped my pants when I thought about that. With all my spare time off, I was thinking about it, a decade—it’s hard to believe.
And when you think that, what’s the first thing that comes in to your head?
I’m an old fart! (Laughs) No, my body sure feels like it. It’s definitely been a lot of fun so far. I don’t regret any choices I’ve made, you live and learn, some of it could have been better and some have been real high points, but I couldn’t ask for much more I don’t think…
What would you like to achieve in the next decade?
The next decade eh? (Laughs) It depends; we’ll see where it all goes. The industry is pretty sketchy, we’ll keep our fingers crossed and hopefully things will go back up, but there are some pretty scary things that I’ve heard about in the U.S, with AMA racing down there for next year, it’s pretty scary when you hear that stuff. But right now, I am just going to take it year by year. I’ve signed with Blackfoot for 2009/2010 and I am just going to do the best I can for these two years and see where it takes me. I love racing, but I want to live a happy life after that too. I am ready to go to the opening round and put Blackfoot as high up on the charts as we can. It should be a fun season. I’m looking forward to it.
Thanks Dusty and good luck at Kamloops.
Thanks a lot. Talk to you soon.