By John Basher
Do yourself a favor and stand in front of a mirror. Look
deep into your soul and say to yourself, “I am a motocross
rider.” Say it again and again, stopping only when you believe
those words. It will be challenging to tap into the very fibers
of your being, but don’t give up the fight. Why? You are
Motocross is a sport that demands assuredness.
Confidence is the bedrock upon which a successful rider
thrives. Without it, a rider is nothing more than a hack with
a death wish. You, sir, are not that person. Whether a
seasoned veteran or aspiring Novice, motocross is not
foreign to you. Hitting shift points is a breeze. Navigating a
corner is second nature. You believe that mastering clutch
engagement is an art form. Yet, doubt creeps into your mind
every time you build up the courage to throw a leg over a
motorcycle. Sadly, fear is an emotion that cannot be ignored.
It is the black cloud that casts a shadow over happiness.
Most riders fear the inevitable crash. It’s a constant threat
of injury that always looms in the distance. Many avid riders
are well aware of the phrase, “It’s not if you crash, but when
you crash.” That’s a daunting proposition. You’ve probably
earned your stripes riding dirt bikes by spending time in the
emergency room. While it seems counterproductive for
me—an advocate of the sport—to discuss the travails of
motocross, I favor honesty over ignorance. Motocross can
be brutal; just ask Trey Canard.
“THROUGH ALL OF THE INJURIES,
I’VE DISCOVERED THAT MOTOCROSS
BRINGS ME JOY. I CAN’T TURN
MY BACK ON IT NO MATTER
THE CONSEQUENCES. HUMANS
WEREN’T MADE TO SPEND THEIR
LIVES INSIDE A BUBBLE.”
Yet, strange as it sounds, motocross might be safer than
crossing a street on an idle Thursday afternoon. Both present
life-threatening situations. However, the general consensus is
that dirt bikes are more dangerous. From an outsider’s
perspective, it makes sense. Merely crossing the street
requires nothing more than looking both ways and using
common sense before stepping foot off the curb. Motocross,
on the other hand, tempts fate. There are too many unforeseen situations that could arise when piloting a 240-pound,
55-horsepower machine at breakneck speeds. Here’s the
thing; you can’t text or blow through a red light when riding
a dirt bike. There is a basic understanding among motocross
riders—pay attention, hold your line and don’t cut the track.
Our sport might seem like the Wild West to an outsider, but
I’d rather take my chances at the track than navigate around
the Five Boroughs on foot.
Motocross is machismo. Ironclad warriors jump and bump
their way across purposely designed craggy terrain for the
glory of winning. It is certainly dangerous, that much I cannot
discount. My daily aches and pains are a reminder of that.
Medical history would suggest that I have survived a terrible
jaywalking accident—twice. That’s not accurate. Motocross
was the culprit. Oddly enough, I wouldn’t change a thing about
my disastrous past. The broken bones gave me pause to
reflect and realize what I missed most about riding. Surviving
from a lacerated spleen made me realize that life is
precious, and that it wasn’t worth living if I didn’t do what
made me happy. I never felt so alive as the day I rode
following the months of pain and healing. Through all of the
injuries, I’ve discovered that motocross brings me joy. I can’t
turn my back on it no matter the consequences. Humans
weren’t made to spend their lives inside a bubble. I’d rather
take my chances launching over a tabletop than sit idly as life
passes me by like some knickknack in a glass menagerie.
Still, fear is a great equalizer. The possibility of disaster
creates boundaries. For some, it might be the discomfort of
racing. Others stress over jumping the big double. The worst
fear, by far, is the fear of failure. Like a cancer that invades
and multiplies, fear of failure quickly envelops the mind.
Fortunately, it can be reversed.
That’s where the mirror comes in. Odds are you are afraid.
I’m here to tell you that it will be all right. Everyone, from Billy
Beginner to Blake Baggett, must overcome mental blocks
from time to time. Perhaps you don’t fear injury. Jumping the
big double is a walk in the park. You understand that failure is
inevitable, because no one is perfect. Yet there is a tinge of
looming fear in the cockles of your heart, because the future
is uncertain. Given that motocross is a delicate dance
predicated on the belief that sooner or later you will crash,
your time will eventually come. Remember that it’s how you
deal with adversity that determines whether you will forge
ahead. When that day comes, grab a mirror and remind
yourself who you are and what you love. You are a motocross
rider. Fear not, because you are not alone.