Good day, and welcome to another edition of the Yamaha Motor Canada Monday Gate Drop. As we’ve seen in the past five months bike sales at both the competition and recreation level have been through the roof in Canada. Not only have most of the 2020 models sold out, but the 2021’s are selling at a dramatic rate also. Will this sales bubble last forever, of course not. However, we’ll take what we can and for as long as we can because usually in uncertain economic times this industry suffers.
To start with this week I’ll head out west and the second weekend of racing in the highly competitive 2020 Future West AX Championships. The racing this past weekend was once again entertaining as the riders had a redesigned Kyle Beaton track to race on. As you read in my Friday interview with FW Race Director Ryan Lockhart, the process that he and Beaton use to fine-tune the track seems to be working out well. Basically, Kyle B builds it and Newf tests it out to make sure that a particular section is both fun and safe. After going with a fairly tame track for the opening rounds last weekend, the riders had a little more of a technical Chilliwack circuit to deal with for Round’s 3 and 4. For those of you who haven’t been able to get out to BC to race any of these events, I can tell you that the arena in Chilliwack is perfect for indoor racing in Canada. Now, before this year, all of the riders and teams were able to pit inside in a heated and spacious paddock. This year, because of Covid-19 everyone has to pit outside in the parking lot. However, as Newf pointed out on Friday, most people have big trailers or campers so pitting outside this year isn’t an issue. Once inside the Heritage Park Arena, the track winds itself through two large buildings so lap times feel more like a Supercross than an AX. The track is always fun, safe, and the sections are just technical enough to keep the riders on their toes. This series has been good for so long that it’s no wonder we’ve seen so many fast western riders over the years.
This past weekend it was the Jacob Piccolo, Casey Keast, and Keylan Meston show as they split wins in the Pro classes. Although Keast and Piccolo are young natural AX riders who have been racing indoors since they were kids, Meston is a late bloomer when it comes to this type of racing. But as we saw in the four rounds of the SXTour at Gopher Dunes, Meston is a quick learner. It’s great to see his confidence growing with each race and I really feel like his best days still could be ahead of him. I was talking to Meston a month ago at Gopher Dunes and I got the impression that he’s in a good place mentally. He’s not only happy with the incredible support that he’s been getting from Carlson Racing, but he also recognizes that he’s still improving each year. As a pro athlete, as you get older one of the things that still drives you is seeing growth in your craft. As long as you’re able to keep learning and you see progress, then that helps to justify the effort and risk. Right now, Meston appears to be in a happy place and I think his results are reflecting that.
As for Jacob Piccolo and Casey Keast, both of these riders had some breakthrough rides this summer in the MXTour Series. The younger of the two, Piccolo, he showed some incredible speed in the 250MX class and found his way onto the podium in multiple motos. He impressed people so much that a few teams have been looking at signing him for the 2021 season. To me, Piccolo’s speed has never been the issue as he’s always been fast and incredibly talented on a dirt bike. What has lacked over the past few years is some fitness and some of his decision making on the track. This summer, Piccolo looked fitter and more determined than ever before and because of this, you could see his confidence sky rocket. At the opening round at Gopher Dunes, he ran near the front of the pack in one moto before fading back. From there, he got stronger and stronger through the Walton rounds of the Series before really shinning at Sand Del Lee. The final 250MX moto at Round 4 was in my opinion Piccolo’s best as he held off a hard-charging Tanner Ward to finish in second. In that moto, he showed all the intangibles of a future champion, speed, fitness, determination, and heart! He still has a long way to go as the next step is consistency, but that comes with work, confidence, and maturity.
Although he’s slightly older, Casey Keast is in the same boat as Piccolo. While not possessing as much raw speed as his fellow young BC counterpart, Keast is extremely talented and capable of winning motos at the national level. I love what we saw from Keast this summer as he battled back from injury and had some solid motos towards the end of the 250 MXTour Series. His third place in Moto 2 at Round 4 was his best without a doubt. In that moto, Keast not only made it an all BC podium, but he also got a look at the speed upfront and what it takes to run up there regularly. Even though he was still fighting some injuries, those late series motos gave him a big boost of confidence heading into the SXTour Series. Unfortunately, an injury kept him off the bike at the opening rounds, but he came back on the final weekend and secure a solid third-place finish at Round 4. Next year is a big one for Keast as he’s now getting to the age where it’s “go time”. This is when you mature and your mental side and physical side start to work in unison. As an athlete, all you have to do is be willing to put in the work and the results begin to speak for themselves. With some smart training over the winter, Keast could be a front runner in 2021. The time is now for these kids in the 250 class. With Jess Pettis moving up to the 450 class, and Marshal Weltin possibly doing the same, the door is wide open for the next generation to step up and seize the moment.
Well, that is it for me this week. I hope everyone has a great week and a very happy Halloween. Tomorrow afternoon I’ve been invited to a Zoom call with Feld Entertainment as they will be releasing the 2021 Monster Energy Supercross Series schedule to the media. My guess is that the series will begin in Dallas with a limited number of fans allowed in. From there, the series will most likely remain in the eastern half of the USA as California is crazy right now with restrictions. Anyway, like everyone, I’m excited to see what the 2021 series looks like and I think it will set the tone for racing all over the world, including right here in Canada. Thank you for reading and if you have any questions or comments please email me at email@example.com.