Monday Morning Coffee
By Billy Rainford
Well, we’re now only 4 days away from Christmas and it feels more like April in my neck of the woods – Southwestern Ontario. It’s drizzling like it’s April out there and it’s supposed to be 14 degrees Celsius here in a couple days! It’s almost time for our annual trip north to Kirkland Lake for the big day. We’ll leave my city that sits just 30 minutes from the hometown of Justin Bieber and head north and make a right before the town Shania Twain is from and continue to the childhood stomping grounds of Alan Thicke. Wow, how was that for a parade of Canadian luminaries?! I don’t think we’ve apologized to the rest of the world for any one of those three, so I’ll make it official…we’re sorry.
There wasn’t a whole lot of moto going on in my world this past weekend. That is, until Saturday night’s Supercross Preview Show on Fox Sports 1. Every time we post an update on the site that mentions FS1, someone inevitably feels the need to mention that most don’t get the channel up here in Canada. I don’t even have basic cable at my house, but I watched the program from beginning to end!
These days, you have to get a little creative and use your Googling device skills for good instead of evil. I was able to find a live stream of the channel and enjoyed it in decent definition. No, it wasn’t a perfect video stream, but I didn’t miss a thing. I’m a ‘choosey beggar’ (T-shirts in the works…) but was in no position to complain since I don’t even pay for 13 basic channels on our TV.
What I noticed:
As soon as the program started, it became obvious how things have changed over the years. Motocross used to be sold as crazy kids who are not much more than daredevils. The draw to watch our sport was to see what these crazy fools would do next. It usually involved a lot of partying the night before and then just holding on to the throttle and trying to get over the obstacles put in front of them. It didn’t come across as very professional or organized. It was sold as a bit of a freak show. Times have changed.
What I notice these days is the emphasis on training. The entire promotion of the sport now focuses on off-season preparation and training. It’s no longer good enough to be naturally talented like back in the days of Ron Lechien and Jean-Michel Bayle. Those two famously hated to train off the bike and relied on their innate skills to get them wins. Such is no longer the case.
Sure, some riders still try to get by that way but they are pretty soon shuffled to the back of the pack and then out of the sport altogether. It’s not the same sport it used to be back in the 70’s and 80’s, or even the 90’s.
It wasn’t that long ago when the top-level riders appeared in wild party videos like the Crusty series. Causing problems in fast-food restaurants, chugging booze and wearing outlandish clothes were the norm for our top guys. Fast-forward a decade and try to picture Ryan Dungey, Trey Canard, or Eli Tomac doing half of the ridiculous things Pro racers appeared on screen doing back then. It would just never happen. Now, that’s not a slag on those racers. Not at all. It was a different time.
Equal air time is given to showing today’s superstars in the gym or ‘dry land training’ as it is on the Supercross practice tracks. Baby’s all grows up! (Google it, Bowker!) Supercross and motocross have finally been legitimized as true professional sports. We’ve struggled with the stigma of being a side show for a long time and I, for one, am happy to see it get the respect it deserves as the most physically demanding sport on the planet and not the daredevil freak show it used to be portrayed as.
I think the preview did a great job of keeping the hard core fans of the sport interested while also explaining the sport to those who may have stumbled onto the program and stayed to see what it was a ll about.
So, who is your pick for the 450 title this year? Can you bet against Dungey? Will James Stewart bring his magic back? Will Eli Tomac‘s no nonsense approach get him to the final step on the championship podium? Can Trey Canard stay injury-free and win some races? What about new 450 guys, Marvin Musquin and Justin Bogle? Or is Justin Barcia more comfortable on his bike and going for the win? We say it every year, but just making the main events in the 450 class will be a victory in 2016!
If you feel like arguing your point, head over to our Facebook page and let your opinion be heard. It would be fun to see a great debate happen there for all to read.
Fly Racing and Dragon Optics Sign with Rockstar Energy OTSFF Yamaha for 2016
If you missed the Frid’Eh Update last week, here is Week #51 honoree Brock Leitner‘s intro interview for you to read after re-filling your coffee cup and trying to look busy at your desk:
Direct Motocross: Hey, Brock. We’ve seen you more often than usual this fall, but let’s back up to last summer. How did your racing season go this past summer?
Hi, thanks a lot. I am very happy to do this. My summer, for sure, had its ups and downs. To start things off, at round 1 in Kamloops, BC in qualifying I ended up catching my foot and tore a bunch of ligaments in my foot/ankle. I tried everything I could do to hobble up to the start line and I did the hot lap and after the first jump I knew things weren’t good. I came back, loaded in the gate and said to dad, “Well, I guess we can try for a holeshot!” (Laughs). But that didn’t happen. I was very disappointed with all the work I put in to be sidelined for the first 2 rounds.
Come time for round 3 in Calgary, we were hoping my ankle would hold up. Obviously, riding knowing in the back of your mind that if that ankle catches you’re done is not easy! It holds you back from actually doing what you can. That weekend I had top 20 finishes and wasn’t happy about it.
After that weekend I put my head down and charged to a 13th overall in Regina that I was very happy about. Crazy how things turn around (Laughs). Going into the break, I continued doing physio and of course riding and training. Gopher was not the highlight to the start off the east. Catching my ankle again and re-stretching and tearing things was the start to a very long east coast. I just put my head down and put up with what I had to do.
Come time to Moncton, while I was having my best moto all year sitting 12th hunting down to get my first top 10, I cross-rutted coming down the straight before the uphill triple, resulting in a broken collarbone, scapula and one rib. That was very heart-breaking for me. One thing led to the next.
Needless to say, I had a rough summer but am feeling good for next year and going to put a lot of work in like always to get some good finishes and hope to show what Brock Leitner can do!
What was the highlight of your summer?
The highlight of my summer was, by far like every year, traveling across Canada with the two people that brought me into this world. I wouldn’t pass up traveling with my mom and dad racing dirt bikes on the weekends for anything!
What made you guys decide to get so into the AX scene this year?
We haven’t done it since I was 11 years old, so me, mom and dad thought, “Well, why sit around when we can be racing?!” We are having a blast and it is a great experience for me.
How did the Canadian AX Tour go for you?
The Canadian AX Tour was a lot of fun. It was a great learning experience for me and I was even able to get my first podium. Placing 3rd at Calgary was an amazing feeling for me and I want more feelings like that!
What would you say is the #1 difference between motocross and arenacross at this level?
The biggest difference I feel is arenacross is very aggressive and if you don’t have a lot of experience you struggle. Another huge thing is starts. If you don’t get a start in arenacross it is very hard to make your way through the pack.
What did you learn?
I learned that starts are key and you have to be aggressive to get your passes done. Of course, you don’t wanna hit people, but if you touch a bit, rubbing is racing!
And now you are doing the US AX Tour. How is that going?
It is going great. I am having a lot of fun and learning a lot. There are some big names in that series and just to be able to race with them is a great learning experience and I feel it will better me in the long run. We didn’t go down with high expectations to finish well. We went down for the experience which I think will help me out with aggression and intensity for outdoors.
Tell us what your weeks have been looking like?
It’s been a blast traveling with mom and dad. We are creating great family memories. Me and dad made the trek down to get everything set up and race round 1. It was a lot of fun traveling through the States. Switching on and off driving we got ‘er done in 30 hours.
What does the rest of your winter look like?
The rest of my winter will be the USA AX tour and then down to Southern California in February for 3 months of training.
Will you head home for the holidays?
Yes, I am home right now for the holiday season and I will fly back to Memphis New Years Day to then race on the 2nd.
What are your plans for next summer?
My plans for next summer are just to focus on the Canadian Pro motocross nationals and hold that throttle wide (Laughs).
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself racing the Canadian pro nationals, AMA pro nationals and Supercross.
OK, thanks for taking the time today. Good luck in the rest of your races. Who would yo like to thank?
Thanks a lot, Billy. I really appreciate it! I would like to give a big thanks to all my sponsors. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. See you soon:
Redline Powercraft Kawasaki Canada
ROQ power tongs
Regulators oilfield hauling
Virus action sport performance
T Ram Canada
Graeme Brough Suspension
And most of all my mom and dad.
OK, I really have to get over to the mall one last time today before the 8-hour drive north, so we’ll keep the coffee break short this week. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone. Thanks for making 2015 such an amazing year. I’ll leave you with this Christmas video from the 2011 Red Bull Royal Distributing Fox KTM Christmas party. I miss these things! I love how they actually make Jeff McConkey speechless in the outtake at the end of the video. That’s not easy to do!