In a recent issue of MXP Magazine, we not only featured 2014 Canadian MX1 Motocross Champion Colton Facciotti on the cover, but we also looked back to Mike Harden’s unbelievable 1984 500cc Canadian MX Championship. These two championships for Honda Canada are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Honda and winning titles in Canadian motocross. In the 1990’s it was Carl Vaillancourt and Marco Dube who rode a Honda to their Championships. From 2001 to 2006, it was Blackfoot Honda’s Jean Sebastien Roy and Dusty Klatt who reaped the rewards of riding red. Fast forward to 2016 and it’s the Honda Canada Fox GDR Racing Team of Colton Facciotti and Jeremy Medaglia looking to add to Honda’s rich history of success on the track. We would like to welcome Honda Canada as a proud new supporter of this Monday Gate Drop column. If you want to see all of Honda’s line up for 2016, just log onto www.motorcycle.honda.ca.
Hello and Happy Monday to everyone across this great country of ours. As we enjoy this final Monday of one of the best months of the year, I also want to send out a big Happy Memorial Day to our friends in the USA. Anytime you have a day where you honour the military and the men and women who protect us, it’s a very special occasion and we should all take a moment to simply say ‘thank you’.
For those of you that were able to watch Round 2 of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships from Glen Helen on Saturday, you definitely got to witness some pretty exciting racing on a crazy technical track. Between the steep hills, the high speeds and the massive jumps, many riders seemed to agree that this year’s Glen Helen track was a little over the top. Maybe it was the combination of everything that made the riders feel uncomfortable on Saturday, but for whatever reason, I’m sure that 35 minutes on that track was stressful enough to add years to the riders’ lives. I’m always okay with a few fun jumps on a National track; take the National track in Calgary for instance, it’s filled with jumps both big and small, however they’re fun and not too dangerous. On Saturday in Glen Helen, the riders were clocked at almost 75mph on their approach to the huge triple step-up; that is absolutely crazy in my mind. Thankfully, almost all of the riders made it through the day unscathed and now they move on to the mile high altitude of the Colorado National this weekend.
So from the great USA, we now head north and west to Kamloops, BC to one of the most anticipated weekends in Canadian motocross history. Yes, after countless months of waiting, the opening round of the 2016 Rockstar Energy Drink Motocross Nationals presented by Motovan is now upon us. In the next few days the team trucks and riders will begin arriving at the picturesque Whispering Pines Raceway. The city, the CMRC staff, the teams, the riders, and of course the host club are all excited to kick off the 2016 series. With temperatures expected to hit at least 30c on Sunday, this opening round will be both exciting and grueling at the same time. With the tough track conditions and the impending heat, there will be zero room for error for the riders when it comes to this week’s preparation for their races on Sunday. Let’s take a look at what a typical pro rider might go through this week as they prepare for Round 1 in Kamloops.
Like me, I’m sure every single rider who will strap a helmet on this coming Sunday has checked the weather forecast to see what conditions they might have to face. If they haven’t, well they should. As I mentioned earlier, the forecast for Sunday in Kamloops is calling for sunny skies and a high of 33c. Now I don’t live in Kamloops, but I’m assuming with their desert-like climate, the temperature should be a true 33c with very little humidity. This will make the heat tolerable, but it still may be a shock to some of the riders if they haven’t been living in the heat in recent weeks. As we all know, riding when it’s hot outside really adds the body’s workload as it fights to regulate its internal temperature. All you can do to help this is first do some training in the heat so your body and mind are accustom to it, and of course hydrate yourself accordingly in the days leading up to the race. I’m sure that hydration will be a top priority for the riders beginning early this week. However, regardless of how well prepared these riders are for a day of racing at the National level, when it’s 33c outside and the track is rough, at some point during the second set of motos it will become a game of survival for everyone out there. As we saw last year in Kamloops when it was just as hot as it’s going to be on Sunday, all of the riders looked exhausted at the end of the day. This wasn’t because they were out of shape, this is just the reality of being a pro motocross racer and racing the Nationals. They all empty the tank on Sunday then spend the rest of the week recovering and refueling before going into battle seven days later. Race, recover and regroup, that is the name of the game this summer and whichever rider can do it better will be a champion.
So whether you’re flying into Kamloops this weekend or making the long drive, as a rider, this week is all about staying loose and storing energy. The hard work is done and now they must prepare for even harder work ahead. When I was racing in the pro class many years ago, I absolutely hated the week before the first National as I just wanted to get it over with. All week you want to ride, but at the same time you want to conserve as much energy as possible, and also, you don’t want to risk a crash. As Sunday approaches and you’re focus begins to narrow even more, you’re at the point where the only time you’re not thinking about that first gate drop is when you’re making the numerous stops to the bathroom to remove the water your body hasn’t absorbed. Then on Saturday you arrive at the track and see some of the faces that you haven’t seen in months and get reacquainted quickly. Although everyone is very friendly, there is always a certain apprehensiveness at the opening round. After a so-so sleep on Saturday night, you wake up on Sunday morning and all of a sudden you feel a certain calm come over you. After months of preparation, you have arrived at Round 1 and it’s time to go racing! This moment is what all racers, both young and old, wait for – the opportunity to line up behind a starting gate and compete against your fellow riders. This is what will be happening this weekend in Kamloops and I’m positive that everyone is very excited.
Yes, we definitely have a very exciting week ahead in Canadian motocross as all of us look forward to Kamloops and the rest of the 2016 Rockstar Energy Drink Motocross Nationals. Also this weekend is the opening rounds of the KTM Western Canadian Super Mini Nationals as well as the CMRC Western Canadian Women’s Nationals. These races will take place on Saturday to kick off the awesome weekend of racing. In closing, I’d like to send a big get well to Nathan Bles who unfortunately broke his wrist this past weekend in Michigan. Hopefully Nathan can heal quickly and be on the starting line when the Nationals move east in early July. Also, I want to honour east coast hero Johnny Montes who is getting inducted into the Maritime Motorsports Hall of Fame later this summer. Congratulations Johnny, we hope you have a great night! Finally, I hope everyone has a safe week riding and thank you for all the kind birthday wishes on Saturday.