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Kimpex Canada Presents Dialed In With Donk

This week’s Dialed In column is brought to you by the fine people at Kimpex Canada. Kimpex is a multi brand distribution company that carries popular motocross and off-road brands such as Leatt, Arai Helmets, Muc-Off, and Ogio. For more information on products and dealers please visit

Do you ever look at people and wonder how in the hell they don’t like motocross?

When I was younger, I played pretty much every generalized team sport in my hometown. Baseball, soccer, lacrosse, and hockey, which I still play to this day. It wasn’t until I was maybe 11 or 12 that I discovered motocross. I can’t recall if the first race I attended was the Listowel (born and raised) Supercross or the final round in Walton the year Doug Dubach was crowned champion. Either way, I look back at those memories and they just make me smile. From some little kid in a small town taking a liking to dirt bikes, to somehow carving a career out of this sport, knowing what I know now, I have no idea how I did it. I know I’m not the only one with a unique story when it comes to this crazy moto world we all live in, but I think it’s pretty cool after all this time, I still eat sleep, and breathe this damn sport more and more every year. 

Donk most certainly has a lot of history in this sport!

As I mentioned, I’ve played hockey all my life. I play in an old guys league now and it’s purely for fun and mid-winter exercise. I enjoy it, to a certain level, and it’s something I’ll probably continue to do until I can’t. But, I’ve never once thought about trying to build a career around the sport of hockey, I just simply don’t love it like I do Motocross. Hell, I even quit playing for the Huron/Perth Lakers AAA hockey club in peewee so we could afford my first dirtbike, a TT-R125L, big wheel, and disc brake! Since then, the sport of motocross has defined my life.

My early days were the standard story, get his first dirt bike, ride over a couple of bumps, think it’s cool, go to Motopark, need a bigger bike. After the TT-R, came a YZ250F, yup, the one with the old decomp lever above the clutch lever. It is positively safe to say I had absolutely zero clue about anything back in those days. Looking back, the early 2000s was a really awesome time for the sport, there was a booming amateur scene, a solid professional series, and the local pros in Southwestern Ontario were in abundance. I grew up in the hotbed of Canadian motocross without even knowing it. We went to as many races around here as we could, and my first Walton Trans-Can was in 2002. It was just two years earlier that I stood in the field and watched ‘some guy’ throw his arms up in the air, sitting atop what I later learned to be the famed “Walton Step Down” and become a champion.

I had no idea how much of an impact this sport of motocross would have on my life. Pretty much everything I’ve done since that time has in some way, shape, or form been influenced by something to do with moto. It’s a crazy thought, how could something consume you so much that your life revolves around it?! I’ve thought about this a lot in my later years, it’s comparable to drug addiction. Just, not a drug, a sport. I have touched on this subject in my earlier columns, as has my watercooler buddy, Gauldy, in the Flood 2.0, but man, I feel like it’s something we can all relate to. Or can we?

Whether you’re a pro or an amateur rider the paddock at a motocross race in Canada is full of passionate people!

Last summer, I was strolling through the pits at a local AMO race, looking around at how packed it was, and thought finally, moto in Ontario is damn near back to those early to mid-2000’s numbers and people have fallen back in love with the sport I hold so dearly to my heart. But it got me thinking, does everyone out here love this shit as much as I do? Are people scrounging every last dollar together to make it to these races to fill their proverbial cup? Are people paying for the dirt bike they just cartwheeled out there on the track every single month for the next 5 years? Are people doing whatever the heck it takes to get their fix? You’re damn right they are. That’s just a sliver of what makes this sport so damn cool. Yeah, there is obviously a fair share of people that are doing just fine in life, and spending what it takes to go racing isn’t that big of a deal for them, but really, does that matter? They are still choosing to spend their hard-earned dollar here, in the sport of motocross. Why? Because they love it. 

There are copious amounts of these types of stories all over the world when it comes to racing dirtbikes. It’s cliché, but everyone has a story, and I believe it’s simply because of the way one can be so overwhelmingly consumed by motocross. I can admit, moto kept me out of a lot of trouble when I was a kid, I didn’t really party, hell I didn’t drink until I was 19, in which one of my first few drinks was some sugar-filled berry something or other on a picnic table in front of the Honda Barn Saturday night at Walton. All the money I made working at McDonald’s in high school went directly to my bike payment and sign-up money for the race that weekend. I steered clear of drug use as a teen, not knowing at the time that I had already found my drug, and as I eased into my 20s I started to form a career that would unknowingly forge the path for my life. 

After realizing I was going to fall into the category that so many racers end up in, by not making it as a pro rider, I naturally took a liking to working on the bike. My dad was a truck mechanic and owned his own truck service shop in my hometown so I knew what a wrench was since before I could walk. I learned to work on my own bike because I simply never even thought it was a “thing” to take your bike somewhere and have someone else work on it. I just grew up with the if it’s broke, YOU fix it mentality, and really, we couldn’t afford to have anyone else work on my bike. So as much as it was a natural thing, it was almost out of necessity to work on my own bike. So, at that point, the focus shifted from trying to be really good at riding dirt bikes, to be really good at working on dirt bikes. 

Last season Donk was back in his happy place while wrenching for Shawn Maffenbeier. Photo by James Lissimore

I worked at a few local shops but I’ve always had a competitive nature. Something about working at a plain old shop just wasn’t fulfilling enough for me. I had lived my life in a way that I was always working towards something, always striving to be better and accomplish things. Working on a bike for little Billy to ride around at the farm did not light my fire. Not even a spark. It was then I learned about Race Team mechanics, and that opened yet another new path for me. There is nothing in this world that I have found, that compares to sitting on the line, with your piece of art underneath an incredible athlete, about to go to battle. The adrenalin rush that provides me is indescribable. It was always like I was living out my dream through my work. I loved it, and I still love it.

Here we are today, and I’ve been riding this wave for over two decades now and the passion for this stuff just keeps getting stronger. I’ve spent quite a few years working full time with professional race teams travelling the world and working with some of the sport’s best athletes. But, after I stepped back from full-time team stuff, it took me a while to find my place again. I have more experience than I know what to do with, but in the grand scheme of things, none of that experience is worth a damn thing. It’s just dirt bike knowledge and in the real world, it’s useless. So, I tried my hardest to leave this sport, force a career change and start life in a new direction. Well, I 100% failed miserably at that and ended up right back where I belong. I dabbled with helping out a few guys here and there for a couple of years, and last summer I went back at it full time, Canada style, with the MX101 team. More importantly, I opened my own shop to provide a unique service to those that can benefit from it. After all, this boatload of experience must be good for something. I am happy to pass down the knowledge I’ve been so fortunate enough to gain through my years to the younger generation. Try and help them navigate their way through amateur racing to perhaps become a professional, whether that is the goal or not. I, myself got back into racing last summer and I’ve never enjoyed riding and racing as much as I did in what I dubbed the ‘summer of fun, 2021’. It was great, a large group of guys I used to race 15 years or so ago, all came back out and we got to race each other again like we were teenagers. Except most of us have families and real jobs, minus me, I’m still playing with dirt bikes. 

I’ve come to accept that you cannot change what, or who you are. No matter how hard you try or attempt to be something else, you are what you are. Turns out, at the end of the day, I’m just a 35-year-old motocross junkie that can’t wait for my next fix.


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