By Billy Rainford

I’m sitting here in -8C drinking my first cup of Monday Morning Coffee of 2022. It’s a pretty big Monday because it means I’m supposed to be loading up the DMX Van for another trip south and west for some Monster Energy AMA Supercross! And I will be, but it’s been a really strange lead up to this departure.

It seems I managed to pick up a nice bout of COVID on Christmas Day and have been living in our basement for the past week. Good times, for sure. As many of us have done our best to follow the guidelines and try to avoid contracting this bloody thing, it seems it may all be pointless now because I still got it.

I thought I’d give you a little rundown on what it meant for me.

I woke up Christmas morning in a bit of a panic because I definitely felt like I had a fever with the chills and sweats in bed. Emily was heading in to start her work shifts at the hospital, so I followed her in the van and headed into Emerg at University Hospital here in London.

I was in nice and early so they were able to see me right away. The doctor came by and listened to my lungs. I didn’t think I was wheezing but he said he heard some and wanted to send me for a chest x-ray. As any of you riders and racer can attest to, I’ve had so many damn x-rays over the years that I really don’t think I should have any more unless there’s good reason. Doc thought there was.

I changed into the little gown and headed in for my blast of radiation. No biggie, I just stood there in two different positions and headed back to my little curtained-off area in the main emergency area and awaited the inevitable swab.

They asked if I wanted Emily or someone else to do it. What do you think?! We don’t need that, let’s get someone else, please.

I was given a prescription for what he thought was likely developing pneumonia and headed home, leaving Emily to her job there in the every-busying department.

I didn’t get the prescription filled and just went back to bed for a while longer.

I felt like I had a pretty bad cold or a flu but the numbers didn’t say I had a fever, so that was good.

I waited for Emily to get in touch with me about the results and, sure enough, it was COVID. Dammit.

Emily works in health care, she has 3 shots and I have 2. I wondered how bad this thing was going to get. It turns out, it was two days of feeling like I had one of my yearly colds or flus, but how long was this thing going to last and how bad was it going to get?

Well, I felt pretty bad for two days and then woke up on the 3rd feeling much better. However, now I didn’t have any sense of taste or smell! Great.

You wouldn’t think that’s a very big deal but it really sucks. I was starting to feel a ton better already, so I figured I could deal with this little side affect.

Two days of no smell or taste and then I was feeling like my old self again. So, for me, the whole ordeal lasted about 5 days.

With the numbers the way they are right now, I asked all my buddies if they wanted to come over and simply Chicken Pox this thing. You know, get it on purpose, deal with it, and then move on with life. If you’re healthy without any underlying complications or vulnerabilities, it almost seems like the best thing, no?

Now, I’m no expert and yes, you’re reading this on the internet, so please take this with a grain of salt and for what it’s worth. I didn’t want to get it, but I did. We took all the precautions and still ended up in quarantine.

The timing of all of it is what really scared me because I really need to be in California for Supercross this coming weekend and month! Fortunately, I’m good to go and will be loading up and shoving off as soon as I can this morning.

Stay healthy out there, everyone. And I’m not downplaying the actual sickness because I know there can be a lot of underlying factors for certain people. I just thought I’d pass along my experience with it as I’m now a statistic.

Like I said, I’m off to California for Supercross! We’ve got Jess Pettis* and Cole Thompson racing 250 West and they are our two best SX riders right now, so this could and should be good. My biggest concern is that I haven’t been cycling lately so when we meet up for rides out there I’m going to be “that guy” for a while. Hey Jess, no, we’re not doing that hilly ride to start things off! A nice, easy loop of Lake Elsinore is what I’ll be going for when I get there to shake out the old legs.

*We’re now hearing that Jess’ will be racing 250 East which will be more beneficial for his team and give him a chance to race some different stadiums and Daytona!

I also spoke with Tanner Ward briefly last week and we’re going to do an interview this week to talk about his plans to race some 250 East Supercross this year. He said he’d have a few more details about his plans, so we wanted to wait until he can tell us a little more. I can pull over anywhere to do the interview, so who knows where I’ll be when we make this happen, but we will.

I’ve been a little separated from the sport the past few days and haven’t really done my homework, so I apologize for that. I’m back at full strength and ready to dive into this new season of racing, so get ready.

As I was walking the dog around the block in the snow the other night, we went past a house on the far side of our crescent and I remembered back to the summer.

A dad over there had his 12 or 13-year-old son out in his football shoulder pads and helmet and was throwing passes to him across the lawn. I got talking with them and he asked me if I played any football when I was younger and it really got me thinking…

The choices we make along the way are really interesting to look back on. I’m sure you’ve all heard of The Butterfly Effect, right?

So, I threw his son a few passes and went along on my walk. As I walked away, I heard a yell and then a pained scream. It seems he’d run his kid right into the side of the house with an errant pass.

Anyway, when I look back, I used to really like playing sports…ALL sports. In fact, I played everything except hockey and soccer as a kid. I didn’t like to run (believe it or not) but did it enough to do OK in gym class.

Whenever we’d play touch football out in the field for gym class, I’d play quarterback for my side and really liked it. I was a skinny kid but was lucky enough to have a good arm. The coach recognized this and would always ask me if I planned on coming out for the team. You know the answer: “Sorry Coach, I race motocross and head to the track after school.”

In fact, I was often that kid from The Bad News Bears who rode their bike across the football field on the way to the practice track. My high school was on the way out to one of the gravel pits we had a track at and I’d side-saddle my way through the mall parking lot and through the school and out to the concession road and to the pits.

Of course, I was wearing my name on the back of my jersey and sort of forgot about that part as I wheelied my way across the school and out the other end through the small gate.

Nothing ever really happened to me for riding through the school, but a buddy on the team said that everyone knew who it was and my name and number were easily readable. Oops, sorry Coach.

I’m sure we’ve all got stories that are similar to this in certain ways. I mention it because it makes me wonder what I’d be doing with my life right now if I had played football instead of raced moto. Do you ever look back at choices you’ve made and wonder where you’d be today if you’d made one small change way back in the beginning?

The deep thoughts in my head stayed there for the rest of my walk around the block. I went everywhere from playing Pro Football (as if) and loving it to having a boring office job and “working for the weekend.” One small change in course many years ago and you’d be living a completely different life. Maybe it was my lingering sickness, but I really went down the rabbit hole with this one the other night.

Anyway, because of the decisions I made over the years, I now work ON the weekend, but I love every minute of it.

I hope that got you through a cup and you’re ready fo the first work week of the New Year. Happy New Year, everyone. I hope you can all stay healthy and we can get back to normal as soon as possible.

It’s time for me to hit the road. I think I’ll go south first and head across the bottom to avoid the snow in the mountains as best I can. I’ll post up some updates from along the way. Have a great week.

I hope that got you through a cup of coffee, at least.