Good day and welcome to Monday Gate Drop presented by the cool hockey loving folks at DeCal Works. It’s been almost 20 years since I first met Ron Joynt, the owner of DeCal Works and of course I met him at a hockey game. These guys love hockey, Canada and of course making graphics, if you ever need an awesome set of custom graphics for your new or used bike then visit www.decalmx.com and in minutes you can design your own set of graphics.
As I sit here to write this week’s Monday Gate Drop, my son is involved in an intense game of mini sticks (with himself) to help pass the time on this cold day in Shelburne, Ont. For some reason, his school district decided that it was too frigid for anyone to attend school today, so they not only cancelled the bus service, they also decided to completely close his school. Now I’m a proponent of cancelling school when the weather is bad and the roads are not safe, but just because it’s cold? I’m not even sure if this is the coldest day of the winter, I swear it was colder just a few weeks ago. I guess this is just another example of how our society is changing these days as I can’t recall this happening when I was in school. Anyway, I guess we can all take solace in the fact that in one week we’ll be into the month of March and hopefully only a few more weeks of this retched winter.
Speaking of my son, this past week we received word that he’s been accepted to the Indianapolis round of the KTMJRSX race on March 14th. This incredible experience should be a lot of fun as the 15 kids that were chosen get completely taken care of for the day. It’s a once in a lifetime deal, and definitely something to look back on in ten years and cherish the memories. Ryan Lockhart has bet me that I’m going to be a nervous wreck on the day of the race and will no doubt be completely stressed out. While I agree that I will be nervous, probably a lot more nervous than Ayrton will be, I think I’ll be able to stay relaxed enough to enjoy the day. Anyway, it all goes down on March 14th in Lucas Oil Stadium, so I hope everyone will tune in and cheer for the big #4!
Last week in my Atlanta SX story, I spoke a little about what I thought might go down on Saturday night in the Georgia Dome. When I mentioned that, for some reason, this race always seems to produce some very special moments, I had no idea that we’d get to see exactly what we saw at round 8 of the 2015 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series. It all started off in practice when, on the slippery Atlanta track (usually Atlanta has very sticky soil), Ken Roczen went for one of the biggest crashes we’ve seen this season. While it could’ve been a lot worse for Kenny if he had gone over the bars, he did end up getting out of control and riding off the track. He ended up hitting the wall very hard with his left foot taking most of the impact. It was definitely a scary sight for those who saw it. Anyone who rides dirt bikes has no doubt been in Roczen’s position before. You know what I mean? The moment when you fully realize that you’re just along for the ride, and you’re preying that when you do make contact with the ground it’s not going to hurt too much. It definitely takes a little of the fun out of riding when that happens, but in Roczen’s case, although he was sore, he did suit up for the night program.
Fast forward to the main event and Roczen was again struggling to find his rhythm on the tough Atlanta track. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for him, the camera cut to the #94 just as he and his RCH Suzuki were flying through the air in perfect formation. Even though we at home only caught the end of his second big crash of the day, it again looked extremely scary. Roczen was lucky to not only get back up but also to get back into the race. While I’m sure most people would question his riding on Saturday night, few could question this kid’s toughness. Even though he kept knocking himself down, he also kept picking himself up.
It was an awful night for Roczen, and one that he might look back on as the race he threw away the 2015 SX title. As he was tasting the red Atlanta soil, his closest competitor in the points standings, Ryan Dungey, was cruising around in second place reaping in the second place points. I guess the biggest question is – just what has happened to Ken Roczen? Since his early success in the first three rounds of this series, he’s quickly gone from totally sheik to totally geek (I’ll give you a prize if you email me the movie that line is from). I know many people, including myself, have speculated that his recent woes are because he’s not training full time with Aldon Baker anymore. While I do think that has something to do with it (ironically Ryan Dungey is now part of Aldon’s team), there must be more to it as Roczen became unraveled in Atlanta. It’s clear that he’s searching and pushing to find the same speed at which Dungey appears so comfortable running right now. Take that and add in a few distractions that a 20-year-old kid may be having, and boom, you see the very uncharacteristic mistakes that Roczen made on Saturday night. Maybe this has been done already but to me this seems like the perfect time for RCH owner Ricky Carmichael to step in and lay down the law before one of these crashes knocks their star rider out of the series.
On the bright side, Roczen definitely picked the best race of the series, so far, to have his crash-fest at, as every SX fan in the world only took notice that Chad Reed led every lap of the main event to take his first win of the season. It was definitely an unexpected win as Reed has had his share of struggles in 2015. However, one of his struggles has been his starts. On Saturday night he nailed the holeshot and never looked back. It was a very impressive and popular win. Had Reed not received that black flag at A2, he wouldn’t be that far behind in the points race. Even with his win, Reed is still a long way back from the leaders so he needs to have a few more rides like he did in Atlanta to get back in the points battle for the 2015 Monster Energy AMA SX Championship. Now, I’m not a physic or anything, but I did mention before the race that I thought Reed would have his best race of 2015 simply because I saw that it was the first race that his wife and kids attended this season. You can never count Chad Reed out of any race or series, and when he has the power of his family present, anything is possible! Something tells me that his family will be at every remaining round of the 2015 series. As fast and as competitive as the 2015 series has been so far, it’s pretty amazing to think that Reed could still pull off a victory against the kids.
Well, that’s it for me this week. I will say farewell by stating that it was really cool to attend the Toronto Motorcycle Show this past weekend and see some of our Canadian motocross family. When it’s cold and snowy outside, there are few things better than going indoors to look at some brand new, shiny motorcycles. It was also good to finally catch up with new GDR Honda Canada rider Jeremy Medaglia as he was on hand to sign autographs and shake some hands. As you can read in my interview with him this morning, Jeremy is very excited to be back on red for 2015. He definitely has to be one of the favourites to win the MX2 Championship this summer.
Speaking of the MX2 class, I also heard this weekend that Jess Pettis crashed while practicing in California and broke his wrist. He’s expected to be out of action for at least six weeks so he’ll still have time to prepare for the opening round in Kamloops. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to Jess for a speedy recovery. I hope everyone has a great week. Let’s hope that with the beginning of March arriving this coming Sunday, spring will come too. Finally, be sure to tune in Wednesday to the Canadian Moto Show with Brent Worrall as I’ll be a guest. As always, Brent and I will talk about everything we can think of that is motocross. Have a great week!!!