Hands down, this is my favorite time of the year. I love the heat, the long days, and 95% of all the things
that come with summer. The 5% I don’t enjoy is whatever causes my allergies to explode, and man, I just
do not enjoy cutting the grass, lol perhaps because I am allergic to grass. Ha!
This time of year just fits my lifestyle a lot better than those short, cold, dreary winter days. I like getting
up early before the kids, and if I’m lucky, catching the sunrise from my back deck while drinking a coffee
and then getting to work. Having daylight until 9 PM or later feels like bonus time because my kids go to
bed around 7, and then there’s still time to do things! Lots of things! Like going riding after work!
Last week, my great friend Liam Will’Farrell and I went riding on Tuesday evening after work. Ok, I left a
couple hours earlier than bedtime for the kids, but the point is, we could! Neither of us are able to get
out to ride very much these days, between our work schedules, our families and children, and racing on
the weekends, going out to just ride and hang, is quite the rare occurrence for us. With Liam not
competing in the western portion of the Triple Crown series, I hadn’t seen my Bru since our trip to the
2023 KTM Moto launch at the famed Red Bud track in Buchanan, Michigan. Speaking of which, is the
host to round 5 of the AMA Pro Motocross series for their annual July 4th banner weekend. If you haven’t experienced Red Buuuuuuud, you need to, at least once. They don’t call ‘em the Red Bud Rowdies fornothin’! And, the iconic track is absolutely unreal, if you can, take your bike, make a whole weekend out of it.
In years past, they have an open (organized) practice Thursday, and amateur racing Friday and Sunday. It’s worth it. But don’t you dare think about going to Red Bud if you haven’t experienced the long weekend Canadian version we put on here at home, appropriately dubbed – Walton One!
Loading up to go riding last Tuesday was filled with weird, and mixed emotions… I was very excited to
see my friend, but anxious to ride my dirtbike. I hadn’t rode since the May 22 nd AMO race at Sand Del
Lee up in Ottawa. That day, I had a really weird crash that left me upside down and backwards, in a
relatively flat, simple corner – yeah, I don’t know… lol. The big orange 450 was on top of me, pipe
burning me, and the rear wheel spinning beside my head. It was one of those quick ones, everything was fine and then in a blink of an eye, it happened. And, as it turns out, the +30 class doesn’t have a large group of parents lining the track for instances such as this, weird, I know! So, without getting my fingers chopped off, I threw the bike off myself, got up, and I tried to make sense of what just happened. My front end was tweaked, my BRAND NEW (dammit!) Renthal bars from Matrix Concepts Canada were
bent, and the levers were pointing in opposite directions. I got back on the bike, hit my levers back to a
useable position and finished the moto. I had one more moto that day, so I straightened the bike up as
much as I could and finished that day off.
This was my second relatively bigger type crash this season, I somehow hit a large tractor tire at Auburn
that ejected me off my bike, bloodied up and broke a finger and it too, had me facing the complete
wrong direction when it was all over. Both of these crashes were split second, out of nowhere, caught
me off guard type crashes. Both weekends, I felt like I was riding well, no sketchy moments or as we like
to say, close ones … Knock on ALL the wood, all of it… these days, and at this age, crashing is not
something I do a lot of, and is obviously NOT ideal, for me, or anyone. I tend to focus a lot more on
control rather than just speed, and I do my best to limit my mistakes, but when I have consecutive
mistakes in a row I am (now) able to back it down and ride within my own personal limit. But these two
uncharacteristic crashes left me wondering what the heck is going on.
I was pretty damn sore after both, but the Sand Del Lee crash reminded me that I’m an old (for moto)
dude that doesn’t heal up like I once did. If you happen to see my rider Shawn Maffenbeier under the FXR, Yamaha Canada, MX 101 tent, or anywhere at all this weekend in Walton, corner him, and
repetitively ask him if there’s something going on with my knee. He will be absolutely ecstatic to talk
about it with you! Haha!
After my two odd crashes, I went full moto athlete and over thought the whole situation. Why am I
crashing like this? Why have I had two completely unexpected yard sales? Am I missing something?
Fortunately, the Triple Crown Series started up out in Kamloops (yay for the west!) a couple weeks later,
so I was forced to be off the bike for a while, which was a necessity, not a choice. I was hurtin’. Then,
that weekend Shawn asked for little too much out of the rear tire (as RC would say) and big blue spit him
off and left him with a dislocated shoulder. But, the guy is a damn warrior and got it shoved back in that
night at the hospital, and was on the line the next weekend in Drumheller, geezes! Since then, I’ve
thought about my own, and Shawn’s crashes, enough that it’s slightly messed with my head, I decided to just take some time off, clean and fix my bike up, and hit the restart button for myself. And then, my
friend Brock had a crash. Well, that damn near blew the door off the hinges as some more disturbing
and unwanted thoughts filled my head and just added to my already boiling pot of ‘should I, and why am
I even be doing this’ stew. I took a few extra days, including going back out to the final western round of
the Triple Crown Series before I thought I was clear enough upstairs to swing the leg over the seat.
Loading up last Tuesday was different, man. I did my best to think positively and when I got to the track,
Liam was already out there putting in laps. I unloaded my bike, and by time I was putting on my actual
race winning, Ryan Lockhart Newf Edition, Mobius Knee Braces, Liam had come off the track. It was
great to see him and we just chatted for a bit which cleared the mind. I went out on the track, and
tentatively rode around like a scared puppy. The track was quite hard packed, it hadn’t seen rain in a
while, but they had just watered a bit and that made for a tricky type condition that required a lot of
throttle control and finesse. Once I started focusing more on that instead of what could happen, I
started to enjoy myself and feel a lot better. It had been a while, lots had happened, and I am still not
physically 100%, but that’s just moto, we’re always sore and hurting to some extent. I rode for quite a
while without stopping, it eventually felt good and I think it was just something I needed to get out of
my system. Lap after lap I just kept going until my hands were raw. Stupid? 100%, absolutely, yes. So, as
any stubborn Donk(ey) with a point to prove to himself would do, I taped them up and went back out. I
felt great and rode until I literally could not hold on to the grips. I don’t know why, and really, it doesn’t
matter, but just doing lap after lap seemed good for the body and mind. I realized a while ago that this
dirt bike thing is one hell of a privilege and being able to ride is something we should never take for
granted. I have full belief that my friends who are unable to ride right now, will someday be able to get
back on a bike and ride with me. But, for now, I’ll just keep doing laps for them.
Now, this weekend we’re headed to another famous facility, our very own – Walton. That word still
sends the shivers up my back and gives me goosebumps. Ahhh, the memories. Walton will host round 4
of the Triple Crown Series on Sunday, but they have an ENTIRE weekend of racing. Friday there are two,
count em’, TWO events! Round 1 of the Ontario Off-Road Championship during the day, AND the
athletes from Flat Track Canada will display their talent that evening at 7pm. As moto dudes, we may
not pay much attention to either of these disciplines of motorcycle racing, but trust me, you should.
Both are incredible in their own respect. Off road racers are from a different planet, for sure. The bike
control is one thing, but to be comfortable beside, under, and on top of trees, roots, logs, rocks and whatever else they throw at them is a special talent. As I said, I never used to pay much attention to the
off-road world until I worked for Husqvarna USA in the offroad racing department. WOW, my mind was
blown at what these guys can do on a dirtbike, it’s simply incredible. After racing a couple of events
myself, the respect level went through the roof, and turns out its actually pretty fun!
The same can be said about Flat Track racing. Throwing a bike sideways into a turn with no front brake
3rd gear tapped is one hell of a rush and is yet again, an awesome discipline of dirtbike racing. I hope my kids don’t put up a fight going to bed on Friday because I really want to watch that race! On Saturday we have a day for Amateur moto racing and if all goes smoothly with getting ready for Sunday with the
MX101 team, I am going to try and get out for a couple motos with the old boys and see how that goes.
It’s always a cool feeling to drive through the gates at Walton, at least for me. The history that place
holds, on and off the track, combined with my own personal experiences there from over the years,
always provides a special feeling while pulling in. I haven’t seen it in person, but from the looks of things
on the socials, the Queen of Walton, Melody (yeah Brett may have had something to do with it) has built
a gorgeous new building for us to get dirty and from what I can tell, there is Ice Cream there! So, be a
good human, wipe your shoes, and go in and check it out while grabbing an icey treat!
See ya in Walton