Rough, no. Tough, definitely. The
riders as well as their bikes. Intense
conditioning, constant practice, and
an unrelenting drive to win keep the
edge hard and polished.
THE CHOICE OF CHAMPIONS
By John Basher
My mind is flooded by a constant
stream of thoughts. Some are
strange, some are philosophical, but
most are mundane. I have no grand
illusion of wisdom that will ever label
me as a genius—as much should be
obvious. I pilot a 240-pound, 58-horse-
power motorcycle across rugged
terrain, and I do so of my own volition.
I might have scored well on an IQ test
when I was younger, but that was
many cans of VP U- 4 ago. It’s fair to
say that the only indelible mark I will
leave on this world is the impression
of my torso on the backside of a jump
after coming up short.
It’s presumptuous for me to make
blanket statements about any
particular genus, subspecies or social
strata. Take motorcyclists, for
example. I haven’t met every single
person who has ever ridden a
motorcycle. And, given the varied ages,
ethnicities, demographics, genders and
interests, there are simply too many
factors at play for me to speak for
them. Melding any group’s collective
thoughts into commonalities is difficult.
I am, however, well aware of what
the motocross racers in my inner
circle think about. Where do I get
my insight? I’ve known these guys for
years. We’ve shared bikes, traded
secrets and swapped knee braces
(that’s a story for another time).
However, do not make the mistake of
thinking that we gush about our innermost secrets with one another. We
don’t sit in a circle at the track and
express our feelings like those cackling
women from “The View.” Nope, we
guard our personal lives with as much
vigor as we do the inside line around
the first turn. We are the men of
motocross—gladiatorial in competition,
not social butterflies.
To the outside world, motocrossers
are odd ducks. I can’t blame people
for thinking as much, given that we
communicate by making engine noises
and hand gestures. When we choose
to speak, we often finish one another’s
sentences like an old married couple
giving their golden anniversary speech.
Our wives and girlfriends think this
phenomenon is scary, but we don’t
find our guttural communication to
be strange. Why waste words when
there’s riding to be done? We have
streamlined every facet of our time
together. All you have to do is watch
the MXA gang work on a bike and you’ll
see what I mean. One person will
tighten the bolts, a second will check
the gas, a third pumps up the tires,
then they rotate in a game of mechanical musical chairs to check each
others’ work. No words, just motion.
Our thought process is devoted to
motocross. When we chat, it’s about
track conditions and line selection.
We strategize and share our learned
secrets with one another—unless we
are signed up for the same class,
then all bets are off. When we are at
the track we are of one mind. True
motocross racers never dwell on the
danger, only the thrill. We are where
we want to be. I may be in a comatose
state when taking out the garbage, but
my receptors are firing on all cylinders
when the gate is about to drop.
All motocross racers live for those
precious minutes when nothing else
matters but the track in front of you.
It’s freedom from thoughts of the
mortgage, doctors’ appointments,
grocery shopping or cutting the grass.
Racing transports us to another
place—a timeless place where we are
all young, fast and vibrant.
Motocross may be an individual
sport—one of its best qualities—but it
also offers companionship. You may be
alone in the saddle, but in the pits, you
are surrounded by friends. Correct me
if I’m wrong, but motocross is nirvana.
Perhaps I’ve figured out the commonality
of one particular genus after all.