This Pro’s POV – A Column by Nathan Bles
By Nathan Bles
Off-Season for Canadian Pros
Race season has come and gone. For many racers it’s back to school, back to work or just continue their job. Ever wonder what the professional motocross riders are up to? It’s different with every pro rider. Some pros are established and have contracts that continue another year that simplifies things a little. They get to relax, take time off knowing when January hits you go down south and train your butt off. They have a lot of expectations on their shoulders and have sponsors wanting results. Most have a plan ready or still continue to race and ride all fall season, getting that extra seat time and edge for when they travel south to train. Unfortunately, many Canadian riders aren’t so lucky. Most are calling and emailing every team and sponsor they know for any sort of deal or ride available. I am one of those pros and I am going to explain a little of what goes on during this time, what we face, and why the fall season is sometimes a struggle.
November 1st rolls around on the calendar and you are a free agent – no team, no sponsors and no bike. Fresh start for a new beginning, that’s what some would think. It’s more like, “Now what?!” It puts a whole new level of stress and anxiety on the pro rider, constantly worrying about next year and trying to find a deal to race.
From Oct 1st to Jan 1st is the ‘silly season.’ If you don’t find a deal in that time frame you are sometimes out of luck. Scraping all the leftover budget from the bike manufacturers to finding gear deals last-minute to only finding out most, if not all, of their budget went to the big teams. It’s a frustrating and crappy situation.
Most pros have gone through this in their career at some point; it’s the struggle to the top. This is the reason for all the stress for us pros working our way up the ladder. We want to find a solid deal or plan for the upcoming season. It’s especially hard because a lot of us are back to work, attending school, or busy catching up from the summer of racing. I can guarantee each pro in this position is checking their phone every day for that one email or phone call, wishing for the dream to come true and be able to prove themselves again and race with the best in Canada.
On a more personal note, it really makes you wonder about the sport we motocross riders love. It makes you think about how much you want it…or is it time to move on? Would people care? Would they notice if I quit? Would they even remember me? These are all solid questions I am sure more pros other than myself have asked.
I have a job to make my racing career work and I know I am not the only one, so don’t go thinking every pro out there is making big amounts of money and can hand out goggles, but as tough as it is we always come back. I always wonder why.
It comes down to the love of the sport and the fact we are good at it. We may not get great deals or a paycheque, but we are a part of Canada’s elite and it’s something we all strive to be a part of. I am proud to be one of Canada’s top pro motocross riders and I will never quit. There are way too many young kids that look up to us that are dreaming of being where we are. Maybe by the time they become pros the industry will have picked up enough for it to be a full-time job and maybe the silly season will be sillier, with more teams and sponsors to choose from?
The problems involved are sometimes frustrating, but one thing is common with all pro racers: the worry. The worry if teams are going to call you? Are sponsors continuing to support you? Will they drop me for a younger, faster rider? Will there be a paycheque? Will I even be racing next season? Will I get injured again?
Each rider has their worries but I think that’s what makes them work that much harder to stay ahead of the curve. I am sure all of the pros will keep training, keep their head up and keep pushing forward to reach their goals because they all know who is watching and dreaming to be in our shoes.
Watch for more POVs from Nathan. If you have any questions for him, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see that he gets them.