As we begin to roll into the month of February, DeCal Works continues their support of Canadian motocross by once again sponsoring this Monday Gate Drop. If you need a set of custom graphics on your brand new bike, or a set to freshen up your used bike. All you have to do is log onto www.decalmx.com and within minutes you can design and order a complete set of the best graphics in the industry.
Well, we’ve made it through the first month of 2016 in one piece. I hope everyone had a great January and let’s all prey that our famous groundhog, Wiarton Willy doesn’t see his shadow tomorrow. That of course will mean that we will all be in store for an early Spring. Considering the late start most of us had to this Winter, an early Spring is exactly what we need. With the way the Canadian dollar currently is versus the US Dollar, heading South this Winter is tougher than it has been in years. I was actually having this conversation with someone this weekend about when is the best time to head South to get some riding in. Obviously March break is a good time if you have kids that don’t want to miss school, and usually by mid March the weather is very good in the Southern States. However, if you go for the March break then when you return home, there’s usually a few weeks of Winter left.
Back in the 1990’s when I used to go to Florida to ride, I would always go during the month of February and stay until just after the Daytona SX in mid March. At the time this worked for me (and a few other Canadian pro riders) because it was easy to head down and not just practice, there was also a chance to race a few Supercross races and the Gatorback Outdoor National in Gainesville, FL. Of course, we were all very unprepared back then for those big races, but at the time it didn’t matter too much as we did them just because we were there. However, the downside of coming home in March was that Spring hadn’t always arrived in Ontario. So I’d come home from a month of riding, and then have to sit on the couch for a few weeks. Looking back now, because of the opportunity to race down there it was great to be there in February and early March, but these days I think that staying South until early April or waiting until late March to travel South might be the best way to go, if you want to get the most out of the trip. Two years ago my family went to South Carolina at the end of March to ride for a week, and then we drove straight to Gopher Dunes for the first race of the season. It worked out great as my son was ready to race after his week of doing nothing but riding in the heat. As I said earlier, I’m not sure what we’re going to do this year? All I know is that I’ve grown to really dislike the early part of April in Ontario. For the last few years it’s been so gloomy and cold and hard to really do anything in. Winter is over but it’s still not warm enough to really ride anywhere but a sand track, ugh it’s just awful.
With the Supercross Series going strong on the West Coast (more on that in a minute) I decided to venture up to Barrie, Ontario on Saturday to watch Iain Hayden race in the third round of the CSRA Snowcross Championships. For those of you who have never been to a Snowcross race, I can tell you that it’s not too much different than a motocross race, it’s just a little colder and everyone is wearing FXR gear instead of Fox gear. A few of the faces are the same also as a few motocross riders have ventured over to race snowcross, infact one young rider Crayden Dillon is just as fast on a sled as he is on his KTM and is never far off the top step of the podium.
Prior to the gate dropping on Saturday I was able to catch up with Rockstar Energy OTSFF Yamaha Team owner and Iain Hayden’s winter boss Andre Laurin. As you can imagine Andre is very excited about the summer ahead, with both Matt Goerke and now Brett Metcalfe under his tent in the MX1 class, the Rockstar Energy OTSFF Yamaha Team will no doubt find success again in 2016. The team has already been testing with Metcalfe and not only is Metty very happy with his Yamaha so far, he’s also excited about having last year’s champ Goerke as his teammate. I guess it’s no surprise that Andre Laurin can’t wait for the opening round of the 2016 Rockstar Energy Drink MX Nationals in Kamloops.
After our chat I headed over to the starting line to watch the Iain Hayden and the rest of the snowcross racers up close. I must say that although riding a snowmobile looks like a lot of fun, racing one looks absolutely miserable. First off, the track is extremely rough and chewed up, and second, from where I was standing it looked as though the racers have to hit ever bump on the track. Don’t get me wrong, a few of the talented riders managed to find a smoother way around the track. Iain Hayden is about as smooth as they come on a sled so it was cool to watch him battle for the lead. When all was said and done, the action was awesome, Hayden ended up second on Saturday, and I left with very little desire to ever become a snowcross racer. However, after watching Saturday’s race live, it’s no wonder the stands were full as it was very exciting. Thank-you to the CSRA and to the Rockstar Energy Polaris Team for having me out to check out their cool sport.
After being out in the cold all day on Saturday it was great to get comfortable on Saturday night and watch the World’s top supercross riders battle in Oakland. It was amazing to see Cole Thompson ride so well on Saturday night, not only did he finish a very strong fourth in his heat race, but he came from behind in the main event to finish tenth. At the beginning of the main event, Cole actually was in a great position heading through the first turn. However, as the riders exited turn one he got shuffled back a bit and forced out of the top ten. From there, he put his head down and rode like a champ and made his way up to tenth. It was a good ride on a track that I thought didn’t look great for passing. Not only does Cole’s speed look great, but his fitness also must strong as he made a few passes late in the 15 lap main event. As the riders head to what looks like the coolest track of the series this weekend in Glendale, AZ, hopefully Cole can get a top five start and battled hard to stay there.
Other than the great rides by Cole, Ryan Dungey and also Jason Anderson, one thing that jumped out at me on Saturday night was what happen with James Stewart. I mean, I know I’m not the only person in the SX World wondering what is going on with Stewart, but after Oakland, his issues appear to be even more serious than first thought. After a reported great week of practice and a very good heat race, James got off to a great start in the main event before fading back to 6th, and then pulling off and calling it a night. In a press release his team stated that James began to suffer from blurred vision and had to pull off. It seems to me that we’re not just dealing with what could be James missing the rest of the SX season, but this could be even more serious. We could be looking at James’s career here if he’s not able to get healthy soon? Anyone who has had a serious concussion knows exactly what James’s is going through right now, but for him and his racing career, I believe we’re at a crossroad. When you’re able to exercise and ride during the week under controlled conditions and feel fine, but then as soon as your heart rate and stress level max out and your vision blurs, I’m not a doctor, but his condition sounds very serious. By the sounds of it James needs time off the bike to heal up, but considering what he’s been doing for the past year and a half, time off the bike is the last thing he needs. With his career and the rest of his life hanging in the balance, the next decisions James make certainly are the most ones he’s ever had to make. Hopefully he can heal up and get back out there as soon as possible, especially for his fans in Toronto.
Well that is it for me this week. I hope everyone has a great week and let’s all hope that this groundhog doesn’t see his shadow tomorrow. In closing, don’t forget that the host of the Canadian Moto Show Brent Worrall will be on the PulpMX show tonight. Worrall has been patiently waiting for a few days at the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas and he sent this video of him meeting the former heavy weight boxing champion of the World Mike Tyson. Good luck tonight Brent, and good luck on the show. That’s it for me this week, be safe and enjoy the first week of February.