This week’s Monday Gate Drop is once again brought to you by the awesome people at DeCal Works. With the 2016 racing season now underway, now is the perfect time to reward yourself with a set of custom graphics. All you have to do is log onto www.decalmx.com and within minutes you can design and order your very own set. Just remember, it’s never a bad idea to support the companies that support our sport.
Even though the weather is sometimes hit or miss during the month April in Canada, this is always an exciting time to be part of the sport which we all love. With the added moisture in the ground from our long winter, the tracks always seem to be in great condition, and even if most riders aren’t in great shape yet, riding in April is always fun. Another exciting part of this time of year is seeing people that you haven’t seen in months. Questions like ‘How was your winter?’ or ‘How was your off-season?’ are frequent inquires whenever you run into members of your motocross family. For most of us who don’t spend too much time riding during the winter months, things like arm pump and constant soreness are just a fact of life in April, Thankfully, our muscle memory kicks in, our skin toughens up and with each ride we begin to feel more comfortable on our trusty steeds. Yes, these are just some of the joys and sorrows of riding in April, and let’s face it, we couldn’t be happier. You know the saying, April pains bring May gains! Yes, I think I just made that up!
This is the feeling that has come over me a few times in the last few weeks as I’ve been lucky enough to watch hundreds of riders begin their 2016 seasons. Whether it be in the 50cc class or the pro class, watching our fine racers hit the track for the first time in 2016 is truly awesome. Now I can only speak for Southwestern Ontario, but if you take in these last two weekends and the CMRC race at Moto Park, the TVR at Gopher Dunes and yesterday’s AMO race at Moto Park, as well as the numerous practice days that have taken place at both of these fine tracks, it’s very obvious to me that this sport is very healthy and extremely competitive in the amateur ranks.
A perfect example of this was yesterday at Moto Park where I witnessed a real throwback to yester-year. You see back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Schoolboy 100cc class was one of the biggest and most competitive of the day at the Ontario races. I was only a really young kid back then and I wasn’t racing yet, however, my Dad used to take me to the odd event at Walton Raceway, Hully Gully and ironically Moto Park to watch my cousin compete in the Junior class. Riders like Jeff Sutherland and Doug Hoover used to battle every weekend on those screaming 100cc bikes and I remember everyone in attendance used to run to the fences to watch. As I said, I noticed the same thing happen yesterday as the Schoolboy class was just as exciting, if not more exciting than the pro class. To watch the trio of Austin Watling, Tanner Ward and Marco Cannella freight train around the track was amazing. I looked at the lap times from their first motos and these kids (although they were on 250F machines now) were turning lap times that were equal with Zeb Dennis’s and Kyle Keast’s in the pro class. I don’t know about you but I find that very impressive that some of these kids are demonstrating that much speed at their young age. As I said, it was very reminiscent of the old Schoolboy 100cc class from back in the day.
During one of the School boy motos while Watling, Ward and Cannella were wide open and only a few bike lengths apart, I was standing with Iain Hayden and we were both in awe of the speed these kids were going. Being old Ontario pro riders, both Iain and I have experienced what it’s like to race around the Moto Park track at mach speeds with nothing on our minds except trying to go faster. However, that was not only many years ago but it was also on 125cc and 250cc two-stroke machines where raw speed and momentum were harder to come by. Iain and I also spoke about one of the biggest differences with today’s top amateur riders, which is how hard these kids work now and the direction they all seem to have now with their training. Back when Iain and I were amateurs, and I dare say even as little as five years ago, there definitely weren’t as many tools available to amateur riders as there are now. But having tools available is one thing, using them is another thing, and our young riders seem to be taking full advantage of as many things as possible as they gain speed and seek great results. And it wasn’t just the three riders that I mentioned above that have impressed me in the last few weeks. Right from the 50cc to the 65cc, the 85cc, the Ladies class and the Junior and Intermediate classes, I’ve witnessed riders that are absolutely flying. I think 2016 is going to be an extremely exciting year to watch in Canadian amateur motocross and I can’t wait to see what happens in the next few weeks.
Is it just me or are these mid-afternoon Supercross races hard to watch? By hard I mean that for the last two weeks I’ve completely forgotten that they’re on television since we‘re accustomed to the usual 7:00pm start time. This week I was able to catch the last few laps of the 450SX main event, and wow, did the Gillette Stadium track ever look nasty! I guess with the morning rain and the the cool temperatures, the track took a beating. By the time the main events came around there were deep ruts everywhere. It was great to see Ken Roczen take the win as he’s been trying so hard to get another one since Toronto. It appears that he’s finally happy with his RCH Suzuki, which is very good news for the upcoming outdoor series but not great news for his current team as by all reports, Roczen is headed to factory Honda in 2017. Roczen’s win on Saturday in front of a sold out crowd also put off Ryan Dungey’s championship celebration as Dungey’s third place finish didn’t give him enough points to clinch the 450SX title. That will probably happen this weekend as the 2016 Monster Energy SX Series heads to the Big Apple for the next to final round. It’s awesome to see this series visiting the East Coast of the USA for two rounds now in two of the country’s most popular venues. Even if the weather is a concern this time of year, it’s well worth the exposure that it gives the sport. It’s hard to believe that in less than two weeks the SX series will be history for yet another year. Where does the time go?
That’s it for me this week. I hope everyone has a safe week riding and a fun weekend of racing. I will be conducting a riding school at my home track this coming Saturday if anyone is interested. It’s for kids who ride 85s, 65s or 50cc bikes and I have a few spots remaining. If you’re interested please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading this and thank you to DeCal Works for all of their support!