With all of the turkey and pain meds I’ve digested this weekend, this will no doubt be one of the hardest Gate Drops to pen as I’m sitting in my office with one eye closed and the other only half open. The reason for the turkey consumption is obvious as I’d like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! The reason for my dependence on Tylenol 2s is another story.
I guess when you look at some of the retired or semi retired motocross racers around, I’ve actually been lucky. I see and hear horror stories of blown out knees, bad hips and other long lasting injuries. For me, the only injury I’ve carried with me from my years of riding is a degenerating lower back. It started with a high speed, first turn crash at Mono Centre in 2000 and it progressed from there.
As with most people who have a bad back know, you can be fine for months and then you do one little small thing and boom!!, your back goes into spasms and you’re laid out for a few days. This is what happened to me this past week while I was playing mini sticks with my son (I don’t mind if you burst into laughter now) and I felt my back start to tighten up. Here we are five days later and I’m just able to move around without looking like a walking question mark. Since it’s Thanksgiving, and since I’ve been laid up for a few days with a lot of time to think, I’ve come up with a list of a few things I’m thankful for in my life. Hopefully you’ve quit laughing at my mini sticks story because here they are.
Now I am biased on this simply because I have lived in Ontario all of my life but the tracks we have here are awesome. On any given weekend I can drive two hours at the most and be at either Walton Raceway, RJ’s, Gopher Dunes or Moto Park. If I really feel like driving then I can go to Sand Del Lee or even Panic Rev or the Thompson Family facility. Not only are all of these tracks really good but they all differ in their conditions, whether it be the sand of Gopher Dunes or the rutted soil of Walton Raceway. I hope every rider feels the same way I do about their local area.
2. MXP Magazine:
Now this is another one that I’m biased of but hey it’s my column. I’m very thankful to MXP Magazine as it has been a great summer of writing, creating and being at the track. I’ve been at the track more times this year than I have been in fifteen years, and I’ve enjoyed every second of it. My son is also a reason for my increase race attendance this year as I’ve been at the track with him quite a bit, but I’m definitely thankful to MXP and I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store.
I think one is universal for everyone as family is always the most important thing. I am very thankful to my family as they’re extremely supportive in the choices I make. As with almost everyone who works in this industry, travel is a way of life and most times you’re on the road without your family. My family knows that I love to travel and they know that I am one of the very few people that love hanging out at airports. When I was standing on the podium at the Walton TransCan this year, I got to look out into the crowd to see my entire family standing there cheering. That was a very special feeling.
4. Riviere Du Loup:
Back in 1990 I was in my first year as a Pro rider and I was looking to get some more experience racing against the big boys. One day Dave Gowland told me that I should go to race this arenacross. Even though it was a 12 hour drive away Dave said that everyone would be there: Ross Pederson, Carl Vaillancourt and Jeff Surwall. I think I can speak for everyone who has ever attended this race that this is one of the most entertaining races on the planet. I also think that it should be made mandatory that you have to race it at least once if you want to get a Pro license.
If you haven’t been to Riviere Du Loup then I would best describe the race as a mix between an arenacross and a trip to Las Vegas. The town has a European feel to it, as a lot of towns do in Quebec, the promoter Paul Thibeault is an awesome guy and the riders get treated very well. If you are a Pro and you’re looking for a race to do in May, make sure you go and check this one out at least once. You’ll be thankful that you did.
5. My Motocross Family:
Over the years I have made many lifelong friends in this sport, friends that share the same passion for motocross that I do. Through the good times and the bad times we’ve stuck together to try to make this sport as good as it can possibly be. My closet friends have always been people that I find myself learning from and that is one of the things that I cherish about the sport of motocross; I never stopped learning new things from the people in this industry. I think I can I can speak for everyone in this sport when I say that just when you think you have it all figured out, someone comes along and shows you something different. This is why I’m very thankful to all of my motocross family.
6. My Dad
I wanted to add this one in because I don’t think you can ever thank your Dad or your Mom enough times. Growing up, my Dad spent 35 years as an airline pilot. This meant that sometimes he would be working during the week and sometimes on the weekend. Airline pilots have an open bid based on their seniority to determine when they work, so as you can imagine everyone wants weekends off. To get as many weekends off as possible my Dad would have to fly some really weird hours, sometimes getting in from a flight on a Saturday night and then having to wake up early so we could go racing on Sunday.
I know that this happens all over the country, parents doing whatever it takes to get their child to the races. I have found in the six years that I’ve been a parent that it’s one thing to be a parent when you’re well rested and feeling fresh, but when you’re fatigued it’s an entirely different kind of project. My Dad spent many a days at the track and many a drive to and from the track with his body and mind in a different time zone and I’m truly thankful for that. Let’s have a Thanksgiving toast to all the parents who do their very best to get their kids to the track every weekend.
This is not all I’m thankful for but it’s a pretty good start. Last week I asked you to email me your best moment from 2013. I did receive a few emails so thank you. I picked one and I’d like to share it with you. It’s from Adrienne Ness.
As a moto wife & mum (so much better than hockey or soccer mum but no disrespect meant!), I was really interested to read your article this week (Oct 7th) about how you felt in the run up to your decision to stop racing full time. My husband had a serious crash last year on his Honda 500 at Rocky Ridge where he broke 7 ribs & his shoulder, got a punctured lung and had a chest tube while in hospital for 11 days. He seriously thought about making the decision to stop but I told him that big decisions should not be made from a hospital bed when you’re looped on pain meds. This was a busy season mechanicing on a 50cc with but a few practices squeezed in wherever possible. He finally went out for the last race of the season at Muttco Mountain. His final position didn’t matter. It was just a hurdle he had to get over before the snow flies in Ontario. How excited was I to see him race in sand again!!
Our son Leith started racing when he was 3. He won his first race amongst 7 & 8 year olds when he was only 4 and has been a champ ever since. He’s still only 8 so we know we have a very long and unpredictable road ahead should he have the opportunity to continue on to pro racing. That’s a tall quest from Canada. We always tell him that the race is his, to make of it what he will. We remind him he can’t win the race by crashing but if he never crashes, he’s not trying. This year was the first year that he actually did his fair share of crashing and he still proved us right by coming out with both titles for 50 GP & 50 7-8 at our club – Maguires Motocross Racing series. My husband and I both work full time but never miss a weekend’s racing with our 3 kids (Leith has 4 year-old twin siblings, Tavea & Fyfe), we only wish we had the time to be able to try out a couple of U.S. tracks but there just aren’t enough hours in a week. Your question put to your readers was to tell you about our highlight of 2013 and I guess that’s where I’m going with this.
We’re a proud Canadian racing family and we invest our love (and money!) into the sport but we get so much in return. The families we’ve met trackside have become firm friends that we all like to refer to as Track Family. The MMRS organization supports us and the sport within our country might not be quite as formidable or as well supported by the big names but Canadians aim big. Our children and in fact, all our riders, shoot for the stars when they sit on the start line, wherever that may be. So, my highlight for 2013 is just being part of Canadian Motocross. Thanks for your magazine and your article. Adrienne Ness Mother of Leith Ness, #18 KTM 50cc & KTM 65cc Wife of Drew Ness, #18 Honda 500CR & Yamaha 125’
Thank you Adrienne for you response and best of luck in 2014. In closing, I’d like to make mention of the brand new series sponsor for the 2014 Canadian MX Nationals. As you will read today, the new title sponsor will be Rockstar Energy Drink. Even though it’s not always necessary, sometimes change is a good thing and Rockstar will no doubt bring a boatload of energy into the series in 2014. It’s going to be weird next year not seeing the big M on everything at the Nationals, but like I said, sometimes change is a good thing and I‘m sure Monster will still be supporting its teams. Thank you Monster Energy for your support of the Canadian Nationals. I guess we’ll all be partying like Rockstars now. I hope everyone has had a very good and safe Thanksgiving weekend.