It felt like the VIMX/CMRC Island Championship series just got serious this week. I know it was actually the 3rd round, but the first two were on beautiful sunny days, they were single headers, and we all got a week off to recuperate. At the 3rd and 4th rounds in Port Alberni, it was cold and wet. It was also our first double-header of the season, which I’m finding more and more are less fun and more stressful. And now we have to make the trek up to Port McNiell this weekend. I love being in Port McNiell…but I dread the getting there. This is the part of the schedule where the tough get going, and the rest stay home. By the sounds of it, sign-up was down about forty or fifty entries this weekend, and the gates reflected that. It amazes me that so many don’t want to race in a little rain. To me, it makes it feel like real motocross. As it turns out, the track was mostly good throughout the weekend. It was sunny Saturday morning, then the track got a little dodgy when it poured all afternoon… and night, then it stopped in the morning. By the third or fourth moto on Sunday the track was great. Even with a few less riders we got to see some great racing. Many of the classes are really heating up now, and contenders are starting to put the pressure on. After four rounds I start to look at the standings. We pretty much know who looks fastest on the track, now it’s time to start looking to see if the standings reflect this.
As expected Ty Cyr is winning the younger 50cc class, but one bad moto has Ashton McKay only 5 points back, and Owen Hopewell just another 3 back of that. Of course throw away rounds will start to play into these title chases, but it’s too early to start thinking about that. Ryder Roth has dominated the older 50cc class, and the standings reflect that. The standings are a bit mixed up, but I believe Charley Roberts is actually in 2nd place in the standings, with Austen Dockendorf 1 point back in 3rd. Dockendorf has suffered consistency issues so far this season, or at least he did in Port Alberni. But then, a lot of people suffered ‘consistency issues’ in Port Alberni. It was one of those weekends where if you only crashed once, that’s really good! The big happy surprise for me is seeing little Sebby Sulyok up there in 4th place (if my math is good!) Behind Sebby is Ryan Faubert and Hayden Hart rounding out the top 5. It’s great to see so many little racers out again, and this year we have a great little core of contenders.
65cc Pee Wee
Cameron Bradley and Ryder Roth are starting to stretch out ahead in this amazingly competitive class. We have 13 riders who’ve scored points in at least 2 rounds. Bradley has been pretty dominant when he’s upright, but a couple falls here and there have kept the points chase tight. With Bradley having several racing ‘incidents’ this weekend, Ryder Roth won both days. Roth is only 21 points back, which is but one moto. Behind them Drake Richmond has a small cushion in 3rd, over Robert Wildband and Adam Polichek. Polichek didn’t score any points on Sunday, not sure if they had mechanical issues or just called it due to rain. Jake Trumble and Damien McLaughlin both cracked the top 5 on Sunday, with Polichek and Wildband accomplishing the same on Saturday. There are five or six kids in this class that could win motos this season.
The action in these classes has been fantastic! Harrison Bradley still owns the Supermini class, but we saw the little chink in his armour we’ve been expecting this weekend. As anticipated Steven Macdonald finally held a hard charging Bradley off for a whole moto. True, Bradley threw his goggles early and was having eye issues, but still, he couldn’t get by. That win gave Macdonald the overall on Saturday. Bradley stormed back and won both motos on Sunday. Wyatt Youland put in two solid 3rd place overalls to increase his grip on 2nd in the series over Wyatt Scheres. Scheres had moments where he looked to be the fastest rider on the track, but several falls reduced him to 6th and 9th overall this weekend. Tanner Meyland had a great Supermini weekend on his little 85cc bike, finishing a very respectable 4th on Saturday, and then snagging a somewhat shocking 2nd on Sunday. His impressive weekend, combined with Schere’s misfortune have moved Meyland into 3rd spot in Supermini. Scheres remains 4th, but only a scant few points ahead of David Bradley. With his two DNF motos Macdonald is 6th, but throw away rounds could fix this. There are close to half a dozen riders right behind this fast pack of Supermini riders, among them: Brandon Johnson is looking better every weekend, Ethan Oulette and Jesse Talboys have been very solid in their first full year racing, and Justin Daniels is starting to look comfortable on his 85. In the 85cc 12-16 class the universe looked more normal on Saturday with Wyatt Youland winning both motos fairly handily over Tanner Meyland, but on Sunday Youland had another spill and, despite charging back from last to 3rd, it was enough to giver Meyland another moto and overall win. Youland’s 3 moto victories over Meyland’s 1 closed the points gap by 4 points. Ethan Oulette put himself on the podium on Saturday with his 5/3 results, and Brandon Johnson scored the final podium on Sunday. David Bradley still appears to have things well in hand in the 85cc 7-11 class. Colby Egeland once again beat him in a moto, but David took both overalls to extend his points lead. Egeland was 2nd both days, and Justin Daniels 3rd.
It was brought to my attention that I failed to shine any love on the Beginner class in my last article. Sorry about that boys and girls, I do always try to include a few beginner shots. I don’t necessarily write much about Beginner racing because the intention of the class is just to get your feet wet and try racing without the pressure of the competitive Junior class. Once you’re competitive and winning in Beginner (10 points) the idea is that you’re supposed to move up to Junior, for this reason there are no ‘year end’ awards for Beginner most years. You are not really supposed to stay in Beginner long enough to win a series! Ironically, the guy who wins the series should be the guy still in the class because he never won a race! Which is why I often don’t actually report on it. I do like to post some shots though to encourage new riders to stick with it…we need you in Junior!
The Ageless Classes
The Vet Junior results were the same from 2nd to 5th both days. On Saturday though, Eric Egeland won and Shawn Aigner was absent, then on Sunday Aigner won and Egeland was absent. Behind the 2 winners were David Maloney, Dan Nikirk, Dion Klassen, and Mike Roberts. David Maloney leads the class by a slim margin over Dion Klassen. Vet Master class was down to two competitors on Sunday. We really have to merge this class when Vet Jr. has 5 riders and Master has 2!! C’mon people! Paul Hansen was the fastest of the Plus 40 age set on Saturday going 1/1, and Jeff Stites did the same on Sunday. Tracy Morlok was 2nd on Saturday but ‘wussed out on Sunday. Bryan Whitcomb was 3rd Sunday, and also a wuss on Sunday. David Maloney and Dion Klassen in fact, where the only other ‘non-wusses’ besides Stites who were still around on Sunday! Dan Nikrik once again laid waste to the Plus 50 class. He was only beaten in one moto by Dave Barnes, who, of course, wussed out on Sunday because he might get dirty. Wusses!
I’ve sure been looking forward to this! Ever since I attended several Arenacross races and stayed with the Waddell family I’ve been looking forward to seeing Wyatt go outdoors on his 4-stroke, and wondering how our own Joe Nikirk might stack up against him. We got to see it this weekend! I can’t say I’m completely shocked to report that Waddell did a little better than Nikirk, but I’m happy to report how little that ‘little’ was! If Waddell was pulling away from Nikirk it was by the slimmest of margins. None-the-less, the Cycle North backed rider raced three classes on Sunday and won 5 motos. The only moto Waddell didn’t win he put on a stunning come from behind ride to end up 3rd. Almost as good as a win! Nikirk was right there all the time though, and any mistake by Waddell would have been capitalized on. Alex Haley was just a tad off the pace of the fast two, but he was the only other rider to finish ahead of Waddell on Saturday, and wound up 3rd overall. Alex hurt himself Sunday and went to the hospital instead of racing. Adam Smith was impressive in 4th on Saturday and 2nd in the slightly depleted races on Sunday. Nolan Egeland also had a solid weekend taking 5th on Saturday and going 4/3 for 3rd on Sunday. Harrison Bradley showed sparks of life in the Junior class this weekend, he battled with Adam Smith for a large part of one moto before his engine locked up. Looks like Harrison will be on a different bike next week! Nathan Donohue was more in the mix in Junior GP. His 2/4 was good enough for 4th behind Waddell, Smith, and Egeland. Then on Sunday he went 3/1 for 2nd behind Adam Smith’s 1/2. I think this might be Adam’s first overall win! Well done Adam. Egeland was once again 3rd on Sunday in Junior GP.
The Fast Guys
We got to see something else I’ve been anticipating this weekend. I’ve been saying every week that when Graham Scott and Jason Abernethy get back from California they’ll be right at the front of the Intermediate/Youth pack. This weekend Graham Scott showed up and proved me right. He went 1/2 to narrowly edge out Connor Barnes’ 3/1 on Saturday. He looked really good, and his results are remarkable for a first year Intermediate. This kid is really working at it. Dylan Hansen was 3rd on Saturday in Intermediate, and 2nd on Sunday with Scott absent, but he wasn’t able to find a way around Connor Barnes. Barnes has been the revelation at the start of this season. He has all his old speed and then some, and he’s been mostly good at finishing motos! Barnes now has a pretty solid points lead over Dylan Hansen and Blaine Morrow in Intermediate MX2. There are over twenty names on the Intermediate MX-2 standings, and at least a half a dozen of them have a solid chance of qualifying for a Pro National round. It’s fantastic to see this kind of quantity and quality of riders showing up to race. Speaking of quality, Ryan Lalonde was out on Saturday. It’s a bit weird with him being the lone rider in Pro MX2, but we still get to see him on the track with the Intermediates. Lalonde once again looked a little conservative this weekend. He rode well enough to let us glimpse his potential, but he wasn’t just walking by anybody. I suspect Ryan has another gear he’ll use as he gets healthier and Nationals get closer. Dylan Hansen won Youth on Saturday and leads that class by a handful of points over Connor Barnes. Barnes went 1/1 on Sunday tough, and narrowed the gap to 12 points. Bryce Currie was 2nd on Saturday, with Andrew Madeo 3rd. On Sunday it was Joe Nikirk taking the final podium behind Barnes and Hansen. Well done Joey! The standings are really messed up on CMRC’s sight at the moment, but I believe Carson Campell is in 3rd behind Hansen and Barnes, then maybe Alex Hailey followed by Andrew Madeo, Bryce Currie, and Blaine Morrow, who are all within a couple points of each other. I really have to emphasise again how impressed I am with Dwight Dockendorf, Luke Maedel, and Dwayne Richmond. These ‘seasoned’ racers are out there every weekend giving our fastest Pro’s and Intermediates fits! I can’t believe how fast these guys are…I have to believe they are among the fastest Vets around.
You may have noticed by now that this is an abbreviated version of the Race Reports I usually do. With the short turn around and long drive to Port McNeill there was no time to upload photos individually and caption them, so I’ve included a few more photos in galleries. I hope the galleries work well. Let me know if they are too slow. See you in Port McNeill! Oh, and it would be good to let me know now if you want a photo package this year. The sooner I know, the better the package ends up being.
VI Honda is a beautiful shop, with a big, generous heart.
About once a year I feel compelled to write an article about the motorcycle industry, particularly as it pertains to motocross. Having been a part of the industry for a substantial length of time, I think it’s important that customers as informed as motocrossers are, be aware of the how a bike shop functions. There are dramatic ebbs and flows in the industry, and we have been seriously ebbing for about half a decade. I can assure you most shops have been surviving by the slimmest of margins, and many have not even been able to even do that. According to many in the biz however, including ‘VI Honda’s’ Jana Erickson, the tide may be turning. She, among others, has seen moderate gains last year and still more promise in the first quarter of 2013. Different shops are expressing modest confidence in various ways, but VI Honda has perhaps the best way of expressing their confidence …they are investing in their community. Many bike shops support particular riders as part of a team, but there are inherent pitfalls in this as a promotional tool. You do your best, but for every rider a shop helps out, there are 10 who feel mildly put out that they are not getting the same perks. It’s a very undemocratic means of supporting the sport, and it’s fraught with socio-political dangers! Instead VI Honda has chosen to invest their confidence in the motocross community as a whole. They have instead invested heavily in the Wastelands…Nanaimo’s motocross track. I don’t know if some of the younger riders in the Nanaimo area, indeed all across the island, realize how fortunate we are as motocross racers. I grew up in an area in Southern Ontario that started out having lots of places to ride, but by the time I was in my late teens everything had been shut down due to either development or legal issues. On Vancouver Island we have five ‘official’ race tracks, several other private and ‘ad-hock’ tracks, and miles and miles of trails twisting through the woods everywhere you look. I doubt anyone from Port McNeill down has to drive more than an hour to get to a track. Those who live in Nanaimo only have to drive about 15 minutes to arrive at a National calibre race track. We live in a kind of moto oasis! This is a privilege that should not be taken for granted, and VI Honda certainly doesn’t. They understand that having a facility like the Wastelands is a crucial element to the lively off-road and motocross scene in the area, so now that times are looking a little better, they have stepped up with a very generous sponsorship package for the NMA club.
VI Honda General Manager Frank Carroll believes in supporting the motocross community.
You won’t see riders out racing in VI Honda team gear, but you will see their ads on the fences at the track and over the P.A. System. I wanted to write this little blurb to make sure riders understood that VI Honda is supporting all of us who use the NMA facility. In addition to the big cheque they wrote to the club, they also donate 10% of every purchase an NMA member makes back to the club. This adds up to another sizable donation. I know some riders are confused by this 10% discount, and why it goes to the track instead of their pockets, but again, VI Honda is supporting the sport of motocross first and foremost. Without this kind of support from VI and our other generous sponsors the track would either fail to operate, or just barely operate. It’s expensive to keep even a non-profit race track operating. This year the track purchased a much needed bulldozer…this could never be done without the generosity of the community. That’s the key word here…community. The motocross racers on Vancouver Island are a community, and our community has to think communally if we are to survive and prosper. Don’t for a minute think that the tracks and motorcycle shops at the heart of our community are immune to failure. In fact, many teeter on the brink of it much of the time and as many of us are aware, two mainstays of the island motocross scene have closed their doors in the past few years. Most recently Duncan Motorsports shut down after about 35 years of business and before that it was Harbour City in Nanaimo shutting things down in 2010. Harbour City, in fact, was also owned by Dale and Jana Erickson, and was run by current VI Honda GM, Frank Carroll. The motorcycle industry was humming along pretty well in the early part of the new millennium, right up until the global economic crash in 2008. Unfortunately, right before the crash the Erickson’s made the decision to break Harbour City’s Honda element out into a new ‘Powerhouse’ store, and continue running Harbour City with the remaining brands. It may have all worked out well, except that the crash hit the year after they opened. They managed to keep both stores operating for about three years, but in this economic climate it ultimately proved to be financially impossible to continue. Nanaimo lost a valuable part of the motocross community when Harbour City shut down, and so did Duncan when their shop shut down. It’s not just the economy though that is causing this. The other huge factor affecting bike shops is internet shopping. I won’t even go into the fact that internet shopping can be dicey, except to say that for every person that gets a great deal there is another who is hit with border duty and tariffs they didn’t expect, or who gets the wrong item. Even those who do find substantial savings though, should think seriously about what they are doing. You are, bit by bit, destroying the community you are part of. It is far from an idle threat to say that bike shops can go out of business, this has already been demonstrated, and how would your world look with no ‘brick and mortar’ bike shops around? What about when you need a part to ride this weekend? Can you get that part online by Friday? VI Honda gets Honda parts overnight. And what about when your bike needs a tranny rebuild you aren’t equipped to do? VI Honda and virtually every shop on the island have certified mechanics to get you riding again. And what about the tracks you ride at that depend on the support of the community and bike shops in particular? Without motorcycle shops like VI Honda contributing to your local track, it might not survive. And what about the knowledge you can glean at your local bike shop. VI Honda has about 100 years of motorcycle experience in their main staff members, and most bike shops are similar.
VI Honda owner Dale Erickson has over thirty years experience in the motorcycle industry. He knows a thing or two.
Sure, you can buy tires cheap online, buy what if you aren’t sure what you should buy? Doesn’t a friendly face with a ton of knowledge to share have some value? And all this doesn’t even touch on the shear pleasure of walking into a shop and being able to sit on that new toy you’re dreaming of!
Don't you just love it when your local bike shop gets the new models in and you can go see and touch them?
VI Honda stocks a wide variety of parts and accessories for you moto pleasure.
I’m not sure that many realize the fact that any cheque written by a dealer to the club can equate to tens of thousands of dollars in sales simply to generate these funds in the first place. So within your community, do you not feel compelled to invest a little yourself? After all, it’s your community. You can invest in your local bike shop by purchasing from them instead of an online broker who buys up overstock and then sells it out of a warehouse with no “hands-on” customer support. In making your purchases locally you will be helping your local motocross community keep its head above water. Every online purchase you make gives your local community a little tug downward. If your local bike shop is doing well, it is a shot of adrenaline for the whole motocross community. VI Honda, and virtually every other shop on the island, contribute to our little racing community. How much they contribute is largely dictated by how well they are doing. For many lean years bike shops have struggled to survive, and most have still managed to invest a little in you and your community. With just the slimmest glimmer of hope, VI Honda has stepped up big. Now it’s your turn to do the right thing.
This year’s VIMX/CMRC Island Championship feels special. Ridership appears to be up, the level of competition has increased, and in most classes I’m sure the speed is up too. There were definite favourites in most classes coming into the series, and although most of them remain favourites, many of the challengers seem closer than I expected. This is going to be a long series, as long as the AMA Pro Supercross series in fact. Many of the challengers are close enough that it’s all going to come down to seat time, who wants it most, who rides smartest…and who has lady luck on their side! In the first two rounds we’ve already been treated to some amazing racing. There’s been lots of bar to bar action, a few upsets, and a few favourites being challenged. Some of the favourites have risen to the challenge, and some have stumbled a bit. Remember how Ryan Villopoto’s Supercross season started? He crashed two or three times at the opening round. Many people say it was his bike set-up, and it may well have been, but I also wonder if he just wanted it too much, and put too much pressure on himself. Sometimes you have to be patient and wait for the race to come to you instead of trying to force the issue. I always think of motocross as a sort of philosophy, and believe most things in motocross apply to other life situations as well. This is one of those things. In motocross, as in life, I believe the best attitude is to ‘race your own race’, and never mind what others are doing. As soon as you start comparing yourself to others, or thinking about what others think of you, you’re in trouble. As soon as you start ‘chasing’ you often find the object of your desire becomes as elusive as a greased pig. Sometimes the best way to catch a butterfly is to sit still and wait for it to land on you. I know of several kids who have been less than thrilled with how things are going so far, and I feel for them. All I can say is, “Remember Ryan Villopoto.” When things started off rough, he took a deep breath, took a couple podium finishes while he gathered his confidence back up, then found his zone and started turning things around. Like life, this is going to be a long series with lots of twists and turns, and bumps in the road. Settle in boys and girls, take a deep breath, and race your own race. This is going to get intense!
In Campbell River the two 50cc classes were started together, but in Nanaimo they had separate starts. I’m not sure why this change was made, whether it was the ref’s whim (but it was the same ref) or whether some parents requested it, but as I’ve said before I’m a big advocate of single starts. Here’s why. First, it’s better for the fast kids in the younger class. This year’s example just happens to be Ty Cyr. He’s dominant in the younger 50cc class, and is very competitive against the older kids. His parents pay to race, and in a dual start situation Ty just gets an expensive trail ride. If you are a parent of one of the very new, beginner riders in the younger class though, you may not care. You may think it’s safer for your kid if there is separate starts, and if it was safer I would agree there should be two starts. I don’t think it is though, I think this is a misconception. Here’s why. If your child is that new, and that much slower, the fast kids will be away and gone within 50 feet of the gate drop. If you pick a start gate away from the fast kids, and there are 40 gates and only a dozen or so kids so this should be easy, your child has virtually no chance of a first corner ‘incident’ with one of the faster kids. If there is going to be an incident, experience has shown me that it is much more likely to occur when the faster kids are lapping the slower ones. By doing a split start you give the fast kids a significant head start, and thus they will be lapping earlier when they are still likely to be more bunched up. Doing a single start delays the amount of time it takes for lapping to begin, and allows the riders to spread out more. There, I’ve said it. Feel free to tell me why I’m wrong…this is just my opinion. But I’m right! As mentioned, Ty Cyr walked away with both younger 50cc motos, but Owen Hopewell got a new KTM and moved ahead of Ashton McCay in both motos. Well done Owen! The older 50cc class is one of those significantly more competitive classes this season. Sort of! Ryder Roth has to be a strong favourite in this class and he has risen to the expectations. He’s won every moto in convincing style so far this season. It all heats up right behind him though, and as the season wears on I wouldn’t be surprised if Ryder gets some company up front. Adam Polichek and Austin Dockendorf are coming! They swapped 2/3 finishes this weekend with Dockendorf taking second overall, and both kids are showing signs of real speed. I’m also impressed with apparent newcomer Hayden Hunt who has been consistently running right behind these fast three. I don’t know how much experience he has, but I believe he’s new to the VIMX/CMRC series this year, and he’s been absolutely solid.
Ryder Roth has been killing it so far in the 50cc class. He's won every moto in the 7-8 class.
The 50cc class start was split in Nanaimo. I don't know why this was done, but unless someone can give me a good reason for it, I'm agin' it!
Ty Cyr isn't just winning the younger 50cc class, he's really not even it. He deserves the opportunity to race kids closer to his speed, even if it's not for points.
A slightly 'instagrammed' photo of Adam Polichek. He's 2nd in points, but was beaten for the overall by Austion Dockendorf this weekend.
Hayden Hart locked up another solid 4th overall in the older 50cc class.
Owen Hopewell rode his new KTM to 2/2 finishes in the younger 50cc class. Looking good Owen!
Hopewell working his way past Ray Williams in a battle of the Tykes!
Owen Spooney drops into the bowl on his Carmichael replica Suzuki.
Kale Hunt appears to be having one of those, 'Whoa Nelly!' moments.
Charlie Roberts launches off the Beer Garden table top.
I’m just absolutely thrilled with the turnout for the 65cc class so far this season! It was really getting dodgy there for a bit over the last couple of seasons when we often had barely a legal class. This weekend there were 13 kids signed up to race. Woo-Hoo! Cameron Bradley may not have been picked by everyone to win this class, but he was picked by me. Last year Kolten Pieters and Justin Daniels often seemed to have him covered, but I could see he wasn’t comfortable on the bigger bike yet. He’s comfortable now, and winning pretty comfortably as well. He’s won every 65c moto so far. I know it’s way too early to remind people about his perfect seasons in the 50cc class, but yeah, this kid is capable of that kind of dominance. Again though, competition is up this year. There are several fast kids with less experience who are already starting to make waves in the 65cc class. Ryder Roth is starting to look comfortable and fast on his 65, and if you wonder why I suspect Adam Polichek might eventually give Roth a run in the 50 class, you only have to look at how close they seem to be in the 65 class. Yes, Roth seems to have a bit of an edge, but Polichek and Drake Richmond are right there. In fact, Polichek pulled off a 2nd overall in 65 this weekend on his 3/2 moto scores, narrowly edging out Roth’s 2/4 score. Richmond was 4th and mainland visitor (sort of) Garret Horsman looked great going 4/6 for 5th overall. Kolton Pieters was solid in his first moto, but suffered a mechanical issue and did not line up for the second moto.
Cameron Bradley is the class of the 65 class so far. That's why this photo is in black and white...it's classy.
Which is not to say Bradley isn't a colourful rider.
Adam Polichek was on it in Nanaimo. His 3/2 finishes were good for 2nd overall.
Ryder Roth is looking more comfortable on his 65 every weekend. He was 3rd overall.
Drake Richmond, like Polichek and Roth, is figuring out his 65 in a hurry. He went 5/3 this weekend for 4th overall. This class is going to be amazingly tight this year.
Garret Horsman lives on the Island part time, I think. Great to have a new face out in the 65cc class. He was 5th overall this weekend.
Wyatt Soderstrom had a great weekend. He cracked the top 5 in one moto, and finished 6th overall.
Kyron Ketch is not afraid to pin it. He was mid-pack this weekend, but look for him to improve on that.
Damien Mclaughlin is way too stylish not to get better fast. He was 9th this weekend, but I swear he's better than that! Did you see Villopoto wearing this gear in Utah this weekend?
Grace Haugen is one of a couple girls gracing us with their presence in the 65cc class. This is how you build a solid Ladies class.
This is one of those class groupings where a couple of favourites have looked a little susceptible over the first two rounds. With Joe Nikirk gone from the mini ranks, Harrison Bradley became the heir apparent to small wheel dominance. I didn’t really expect anyone else to even get a whiff of winning Supermini, but two riders have already shown that they aren’t going to accept the runner-up position without a battle. To his credit, Bradley has taken on all comers and won every moto so far this season. He’s shown patience and confidence, having to come from behind a couple of times and weathered a hot pursuit on a couple other occasions. He’s shown racing maturity, raced his own race, and so far they’ve eventually all come to him. The guys looking like they might have something to say about it though, are Steven Macdonald and Wyatt Youland. Macdonald got the jump on everyone in the first Supermini moto while Bradley got off to a pretty mediocre start. It took Bradley about a lap to get into second and then a couple more laps to inch his way up to Macdonald. Bradley eventually got by, but the speed difference between the two was negligible. I was impressed with what I saw from Macdonald, but when I learned he did it without a front brake I was almost dumbstruck. I also think his rear suspension is pretty seriously out of whack. When I take these mechanical shortcomings into consideration I have to believe that Harrison Bradley has his work cut out for him this season if he wants to beat Steven Macdonald consistently. Macdonald’s mechanical issues prevented him from starting the second Supermini moto. In his absence Bradley got out front early but didn’t shake his teammates, Wyatt Scheres, Wyatt Youland, or Tanner Meyland nearly as quickly has I might have thought he would. Eventually Scheres slid out and Meyland, riding an 85cc bike, dropped off the pace, but Wyatt Youland kept him in sight for pretty much the whole moto, virtually matching his lap times. Youland is a year behind Bradley, but getting very close on the track. He finished 2nd overall, with Wyatt Scheres 3rd, Meyland 4th, and Brandon Johnson 5th in the field of 16. With many of the top Supermini riders opting to ride Junior as a second class instead of 85cc 12-16, I fully anticipated this class to be a romp for Youland this season. It hasn’t been going his way so far though. Call it ‘Villopoto Syndrom’ if you will, but so far Tanner Meyland has won 3 out of 4 motos in this class, while Youland has fallen the same number of times. If I dare to suggest what might be going on here, I would suggest one of three things is going on. Either 1) he’s simply ‘pushing the envelope’ more than he has to, or 2) he’s just plain been unlucky. I’m not a big believer in luck when the percentages get this high though. I have to believe if he just took a deep breath and waited for the race to come to him he’d have better results in the long run. It feels to me like he’s trying to ‘take’ the lead instead of waiting for the moment when it is ‘given’ to him. It’s a long season and I have absolutely no doubt Youland will figure it out and rebound with a vengeance…but I’m also not going to take anything away from my stepson, Tanner Meyland. I’ll stick my neck out here and publicly state that I think Tanner is the most improved rider on the circuit this year, or at least tied with Adam Smith. This is the 3rd possible thing that’s going on. Maybe Meyland is simply riding better than Youland. He’s vastly improved his corner speed, jumps everything put in front of him, and does it all riding well within himself. He’s also been getting unbelievable starts and riding smart under the unrelenting pressure Youland has applied. I’m just overwhelmed with pride in what he’s done so far this year, but Wyatt Youland is on the R.E.Cycle/Seehorse Team as well. I want to see both boys living up to their own potential and the expectations they’ve set for themselves. With Youland having an incident in both motos Austin Archer stepped up and snagged a 2nd overall with his solid 2/2 finishes, and Brandon Johnson went 3/3. David Bradley won the younger 85cc class, but not without incident. He crashed twice in the first moto, giving the win to Colby Egeland, but then came back and won the second moto and the overall. Egeland was 2nd overall, and Justin Daniels made it back to racing after missing the first round and was very solid with 3/3 motos. Good to see you back Justin!
Harrison Bradley has lived up to expectations as the heir to mini dominance, but a few riders are closer than I expected. None-the-less, Bradley has won every Supermini moto so far.
Starts like this by Steven Macdonald (59) and Wyatt Youland (88) are making Supermini wins harder for Bradley (behind Scheres - 424) than they should be.
In the first Supermini moto it looked like Steven Macdonald might have Bradley (seen in background) covered, but Bradley made up the time and got by. It didn't help Macdonald that he had no front brake!
The moment of truth, as Bradley squeeks by Macdonald.
In the second Supermini moto it was Wyatt Youland who gave Bradley all he could handle. He never got right up on his wheel, but he never dropped far off the pace either.
A little slide out dropped Wyatt Scheres to 4th in the second Supermini moto, but he still finished 3rd overall.
Starts like this, combined with smooth, solid riding, have made Tanner Meyland (94) tough to beat in the older 85cc class. He was 1/1 this weekend.
Meyland is the only 85cc rider clearing the finish line jump. As I keep telling him, it's his vastly improved corner speed that allows this.
Austin Archer rode very solid this weekend. His 2/2 finishes secured the runner-up spot in 85cc 12-16.
Brandon Johnson is rounding back into form. He looked markedly better this weekend riding to 3rd overall in 85cc 12-16 and 5th in Supermini.
Wyatt Youland struggled through two crashes in 85cc this weekend, but he will rebound. He's too determined not to.
Bradley Nelson once again looked solid, finishing as high as 4th in a moto and securing 6th overall.
David Bradley crashed twice in his first 85cc 7-11 moto, but still finished 2nd and won the overall.
Colby Egeland won the first 85cc 7-11 moto, but he doesn't appear to have anything for an upright David Bradley at the moment. He was 2nd overall.
Justin Daniels was back racing this weekend and looked solid finishing 3rd in the younger 85cc class.
Austin Borzelli (34) was 7th overall in Supermini. David Bradley (555) eventually beat him in both motos for 6th overall.
Kolton Pieters is still just getting his feet wet in the 85cc class, but he actually looks better on the bigger bike than on his 65cc machine.
Ethan Ouellette had a rough day and didn't start his second motos. Hope you're okay buddy.
Jesse Talboys has been consistently right there behind the fastest mini riders, and he's pretty new to racing. Look for him to make a dent in the class this year.
The Ageless Classes
Yaaaaa! Mr. #2, Jay James, finally WON something! Jay won Vet Master on the strength of his 2/1 moto finishes this weekend. After a several year long string of impressive 2nd place finishes Jay finally got the job done. Unfortunately he did it at the expense of fast guy Kevin Armitage, who apparently went down pretty hard. Armitage dominated lasted weekend’s proceedings in the Age classes and looked to be well on the way to doing the same this weekend. I didn’t see his crash, but what I did see was several slightly sketchy moments on Kevin’s part before the crash. I saw him land nose high, nose down, and just short several times on the jump laden Nanaimo course, and I have to say he looked like a man riding a bit closer to the edge than most guys with ‘real jobs’ are prepared to do. His aggressive riding made him fast, but I strongly suspect it also made him miss work this week. I hope you’re okay Kevin, and just between you and me…you don’t need to push so hard to beat these guys! Mike Whyte finished 2nd and ‘Birthday Boy’ Bryan Whitcomb rounded out the podium in the class…which had three competitors once Armitage went to the hospital. Funny thing…Bryan Whitcomb, Eric Egeland and I spent some time around the fire Friday night discussing how Dan Nikirk just keeps getting faster as he ages while the rest of us are just getting….well, not faster! As if to make our point Danny Boy went out and won the Vet Junior class on Sunday. Vet Junior, may I remind you, is open to anyone over 30. I don’t want to say how old Dan is, but I will say that he also won the Plus 50 class this weekend. If Nikirk keeps improving at the rate he has over the past few years, Whitcomb, Egeland, and I all feel confident he’ll be one of the country’s top Pros by the time he’s 70! You just keep working at it Dan, you’re getting there. To be fair Camille Baker did win the first Vet Junior race, but failed to start the second moto. She made an unfortunate ‘dab’ during her Junior start and tore her ACL. She’ll likely be out for the rest of the season. This is especially unfortunate because I know she was really looking forward to racing the Vet Junior class this year. At least she went out a winner and is so far undefeated in her Vet racing career! David Maloney finished 2nd overall, and Dion Klassen was 3rd. I just love the way the Plus 40 class always seems to battle all race long in a clump and then end in a mad dash, humping it’s way to the finish line. I think as we age we all learn to only expend as much energy as is absolutely necessary…which is why men start sitting down to pee once they turn forty. So in the Plus 40 class, or the ‘sitting pee’ class, the abiding rule seems to be, if you’re ahead start saving energy, and if you’re behind, just try to push the guy in front enough so that he expends more energy than you do. The result is that they all ride around in a pack for most of the race trying to save energy for the last lap. Whoever has the most energy left when the white flag flies is likely going to win! Tracy Morlok told me he has a new motto now that he’s back racing. He’s committed to not intentionally running into, or taking other people out. I thought that was very big of him. Except, he clarified, if he had a chance to take out Kevin Armitage’s wheel he might just do that, but seemed dejected when he admitted he’d have to get ahead of him somehow to do it. Having just had that conversation before their race, I’m glad to report Morlok was at least a full straight away behind Armitage when he crashed. Tracy inherited the lead when Armitage went down and won the Plus 40 overall on 3/1 motos, beating Armitage’s 1/3. It would appear Armitage finished his moto after he crashed, before realizing he was too badly hurt to ride. Some guys get tougher as they age, while some of us just get…well, not tougher. Bryan Whitcomb caught Morlok and almost had him beat with a few corners to go, but apparently he didn’t get the memo that Morlok has sworn off bodily contact so he gave him a bit too much room, as has generally been advisable when racing Morlok, and in so doing also gave him the win. Good racing boys! Dave Barnes was 2nd in Plus 50 behind Nikirk , and Terry Anderson was 3rd. The Plus 50 class, by the way, is not a ‘sitting pee’ class. By the time you’re 50 it puts more strain on the body to sit down and get up again than it does to just lean on the wall and stand there for two minutes.
Dan Nikirk won two classes this weekend. If he keeps improving at this rate he'll be faster than his son again someday.
Jay James finally won Vet Master. Kevin Armitage had to crash for it to happen, but as I always say, crashing counts too! Congrats Jay!
Kevin Armitage has been the fastest of the age set so far this year, but he's ridden a little close to the edge. He fell over the edge this weekend.
Tracy Morlok has apparently sworn off bodily contact while racing...unless he really needs to. He didn't need to this weekend, respect born of fear gave him the room he needed to win the Plus 40 class.
Camille Baker won her first ever Vet Junior race, and a knee injury suffered this weekend will ensure her perfect record for the rest of this season at least. Tough one Camille, take care.
Birthday Boy Bryan Whitcomb was 2nd in both Plus 40 motos, but ended up 3rd overall. If he'd been a bit more daring, or a bit less tired, he might have passed Morlok in the last few corners and won it all. He chose to live to race another day instead.
Mike Whyte also benefitted from Amitage's crash and snagged 2nd overall in Vet Master.
Paul Hansen was 4th in both Plus 40 motos.
David Maloney, one of the nicest guys you'll meet, was 2nd in Vet Junior and 5th in Plus 40.
We had as many Ladies this weekend as I’ve seen in a few years. Very good to see! Camille Baker once again led the proceedings from beginning to end. Newcomer Leah Richard was handily the best of the rest and looked very solid going 2/2 on the day. Jessie Jenkins was a solid 3/4 for 3rd overall, while Ana Jellema, just back from training for two months in California, crashed out of the first moto but came back with a solid 3rd in the second.
It was great to see a half decent line-up of Ladies at the gate again.
The Ladies class will be much easier to win after this weekend. Camille Baker is out, probably for the rest of the season. :(
Leah Ricard was impressive in her VIMX/CMRC debut. She beat everyone except Camille. I hope we see her again.
Jessie Jenkins was solid in grabbing the final podium position for the day.
Ana Jellema had issues in the first moto, but stormed back to a solid 3rd in the second.
Acacia Pieters getting some air on her small wheel 85.
After two rounds I think I can safely say we almost have two Junior classes. There is a half a dozen or so guys at the front of the pack racing, and then there is the rest of the class in virtually another race of their own. Then there seems to be a few guys who aren’t quite sure yet which pack they should be racing with. The front guys are jumping everything, while the bottom half of the field rolls the big ones. I could call them ‘this year’s stars’ and ‘next year’s stars’, because I expect the whole front group will be Intermediates next year. Those riders just hovering around the top ten can look forward to being contenders next year. Of the fast guys I’ve already said I expected Joe Nikirk to distinguish himself, and he’s well on his way to doing that, but he’s having to work for it. He started both races this weekend just around the back of the top 5 and had to pick his way up to the front. It took him most of the race to do so, but he was methodical and patient. He’s certainly not blowing by these guys. In particular Alex Haley has raised his game to another level. He was 2nd behind Nikirk in the first moto, but crashed at the start of the second and had to come from dead last through a pack of over twenty riders. He worked his way up to 6th, but by the time he hit that fast pack there was not enough time to get any further. He finished 4th overall. You could throw a blanket over Nathen Donohue, Adam Smith, and Stephen Weme most of the day. Weme got the jump in the second moto and held on for 2nd behind Nikirk, but a rough 1st moto relegated him to 5th overall. Nathan Donohue and Adam Smith swapped 3/4 motos and appeared to have virtually identical lap times. Donohue took 2nd overall, with Smith 3rd. Zack Mix just got back from his ‘far away’ job and raced for the first time this year despite limited seat time. He was solid with 6/5 finishes and will definitely be in that fast group as the season wears on. The last rider really vying to be part of this fast pack is Nolan Egeland. He started out front but didn’t quite have the jam to hold off the fastest of this group, but he’s younger and smaller than most of these guys. I anticipate him making a dent in the fast pack before all is said and done. Harrison Bradley and Wyatt Scheres, like Egeland, are just fresh up from the mini ranks. Unlike Egeland, who’s on a 250F, they are both riding 125′s and are the guys I’d say haven’t quite made their mind up yet which group they should be racing against. They obviously have the skill to run with the front guys, but they are lacking experience at this level and a few ponies, which means they consistently start back in the pack and have to work their way up. Ben Riel is another who seems caught up in this group of interstitials. He appears fast enough to run up front, but hasn’t quit put it altogether come race time yet. To those riders outside this fast pack I can only say ‘Chin Up!’ You’ve hit an unusually fast Junior year. Many of the riders out front actually earned their Intermediate points last year, but have stayed back to try and raise our Island Junior class to National calibre speed and to properly prepare them for the Intermediate/Pro ranks. It was a ‘big picture’ decision that will ultimately help you too someday. If it helps let me tell you this. It took Daniel Vanderbasch three years to get through Junior…and look at him now. You will not be defined by what you do this year, you will be defined by your best Junior year and what you do after that. Junior GP has had only about half the sign-ups as MX2 this year, I think because many Junior riders are racing different second classes. Nikirk and Haley are racing Youth, which I think is a brilliant idea, to get used to racing Intermediates and Pros. Harrison Bradley and Wyatt Scheres race Supermini as a second class, and this weekend Wyatt Youland and Steven Macdonald raced MX2 on their Supermini bikes. So MX2 is a big, healthy class, but Junior GP has suffered a bit. Nathan Donohue won both GP motos this weekend, Adam Smith went 2/2, and Nolan Egeland went 3/3.
It's great to see 20+ riders lined up for the Junior class again!
Nolan Egeland (56) started out front but couldn't hold off fast guys like Joe Nikirk (83) or Alex Haley (30). He ended up 5th in this moto.
Camille Baker (4) gets the jump on the boys, but only lasted one straight. This is the start she tore her ACL on.
Joe Nikirk went 1/1 this weekend, but he had to work for it. There are half a dozen riders who could win Junior most years racing this season.
Nathan Donohue's 4/3 finishes ended up being good for 2nd overall. Consistency is going to be key this year.
Adam Smith swapped 3/4 motos with Donohue and finished 3rd overall. I put him in a tie with Tanner Meyland for most improved rider this year.
If anyone is going to put a dent in Nikirk's armor this year it will likely be Alex Haley. Last year he was solid and quick, this year he's solid and fast!
Stphen Weme had a tough first moto, but led a good chunk of the second and only succumbed to Joe Nikirk. He was 5th overall, but probably faster than that.
Zack Mix is just getting back to riding, but he will be right there with the fast guys once he practices up.
Nolan Egeland was just a shade off the pace of the fastest Junior riders this weekend, but he's younger and smaller on his bike than most of them. He'll only get better.
Harrison Bradley has been getting horrible starts, but consistently working his way up to the back of the 'fast pack'. He's probably a year away from winning this class.
Wyatt Scheres was just behind Bradley throughout their mini careers, and now he's just behind him in Junior. He too is probably a year away from being a top contender in Junior.
Against this field of riders Bryce Kosak should be thrilled with his 10th place finish. He was a beginner last year I think.
Wyatt Youland (88) and Steven Macdonald raced their Supermini bikes in Junior this weekend. Although he looks like a Chihuahua at a Pitbull fight, Youland managed to crack the top 10 in the second moto.
Ben Riel also cracked the top 10 in one moto, but didn't score any points in the other. Hopefully he's not hurt.
Adam Smith (15) works his way by Nolan Egeland through the rhythm section.
The next lap it was Nathan Donohue (44) doing the same. It's sections like this where Egeland's size and strength works against him.
Steven Macdonald rode his CRF150 to 11th in the first moto. This is a tough year to ride a Supermini in Junior. Like bringing a knife to a gun fight.
Chris Kulhawy (19) and Mitchell Nelson (64) had their own battle going on all day. They may be discouraged that it occurred near the back of the field, but racing is racing and it's fun no matter where you are in the pack. Just keep trying to beat the guy in front of you and before you know it you'll be chasing the leader!
The Fast Classes
Ryan Lalonde is back! He’s still on the mend to some extent so he only rode one class and appeared to be riding fairly conservatively, but he still went 1/1 in Youth. That was no surprise. Daniel Vanderbasch, on the other hand, apparently decided he really wasn’t quite ready to be racing and sat out this weekend. Probably smart. There have been some surprises so far in the fast classes though, at least to me, and some absolutely amazing racing. This is the second year running we’ve started the season with a strong Youth/Intermediate contingent. I hope this is a trend that will continue, and I hope attrition doesn’t whittle the class down like it did last year. My favourites coming into this series were Daniel Vanderbasch, Dylan Hansen, and Blaine Morrow based on how things ended last year. I also expect Jason Abernethy and Graham Scott to be in there when they get back from California. I suppose I was kind of overlooking Connor Barnes because he missed so much racing last year, but that was kind of idiotic of me. Barnes has been a front runner for a few seasons now, and I should have known that wouldn’t change. He’s spent most of the start of this season at the front of the pack, and looks more solid than ever. He won MX2 this weekend, and was right at the front of the Youth pack as well, ultimately finishing in 3rd overall. There’s an amazing video floating around of the three way duel he was involved in with Dylan Hansen, and my biggest surprise in Nanaimo, Jesse Ryan. You get a great chance to see in this video what Barnes does best…rub elbows. Probably no one in this class is willing to run it in like Barnes is. He’s a very open and amorous guy, personally I think he just likes to feel close to his competition. He’s like the racing version of the drunk guy at the bar who goes around hugging people and telling them he loves them! Jesse Ryan though! Where did this guy suddenly come from! Maybe the signs were there. He’s always been fast. He’s had moments at the start of motos where he looked as fast as anyone, but he wasn’t able to hold the pace for a whole moto very often last year. I don’t know if he’s on a new training program or what, but he looked like a new rider in Nanaimo this weekend. He ended up 2nd in both Youth and Intermediate. Considering Ryan Lalonde was riding Youth that 2nd is almost like a win. Shuffle this guy up the ‘favourites’ list! Dylan Hansen was solid, but said himself that things just didn’t quite go his way. He was 4th in Youth and Intermediate, but had a podium moto in both classes. He’s still right there. Blaine Morrow, the last of my preseason favourites currently racing, had a rough day in Youth but was a solid 4/3 for 3rd overall in Intermediate. I think these guys are still the favourites, but there are a few guys lurking who could make a dent over the course of 16 races. Bryce Currie has really impressed me so far this season, as has rookie Intermediate Carson Campbell. Both of these guys showed they can do it if the stars align for them…they both had a podium finish moto this weekend, and did it straight up. With just a little dash of confidence these two could start racking up podium finishes. Brandon Cyr, ringleader of the Speed Merchant crew, also looks more serious this year just hovering around the top 5, and returning aces Ryan Bachinski and Tim Aikin are also looking close to cracking that top 5 barrier. It’s unfortunate that another returning speedster, Carter Pugh, only raced MX1 Intermediate and not Youth. To my eye he might have won it all…well, behind Lalonde I expect, but I think he had something for everyone else. Colton Maclean handily won Pro again, but I have to tip my hat again to Dwight Dockendorf and Luke Maedel. These Vet racers really rip. What I want to see as the year goes on is a combined Youth/Plus 25 class that pits Maclean, Lalonde, Pugh, Syrotuck, Dockendorf, Richmond, and Maedel against all the Intermediates and fast Juniors like Nikirk and Haley. Could and should happen! That will be over 20 fast guys…and great prep time for Nationals!
Connor Barnes (128) gets the jump on Dyan Hansen (167), Jesse Ryan (333), and Luke Maedel (966) in the Youth/Pro GP class.
Jesse Ryan (333) and Ryan Bachinski (162) get the jump in Intermediate. Ryan ran with the fastest guys all moto long and took two 2nd place overalls. Very impressed Jesse!
There's a lot of Troy Lee gear and Speed Merchant decals in the Intermediate class. Good to see this kind of support and comradeship!
Ryan Lalonde (98) was methodical working his way to the front of the Youth races. It was as methodical as it was inevitable.
Lalonde looked a bit conservative this week, with very good reason, but he was still the best in Youth.
Connor Barnes (28) and Dylan Hansen (167) jumping in close quarters.
Barnes and Jesse Ryan jumping in close quarters. Barnes definitely doesn't have intimacy issues...he always wants to be close!
Bryce Currie has been one of my pleasant surprises this year. He had another podium moto this weekend, and looks poised to make some waves.
Carson Campbell is another rider who's been shockingly fast. A rookie Intermediate getting a podium against this field seems almost impossible...but he did it this weekend.
Colton Maclean is once again the fastest man racing on the island. I look forward to seeing him and Ryan Lalonde go head to head.
Blaine Morrow has been solid, but not spectacular so far. He was 3rd in Intermediate this weekend, and may be playing it smart. It's going to be a long, intense series.
When you're dicing with Connor Barnes you need to keep an eye on him!
Carter Pugh may have been the fastest Intermediate, but he didn't ride Youth so it's tough to say. He was definitely ripping!
Dwight Dockendorf was 2nd in Pro GP. Kudos to these older guys for stepping up!
Dylan Hansen gets high and sideways off the step-down.
There is an amazing video shot from the top of Dyan Hansen's head of this three way battle that lasted pretty much a full 20 minutes!
Thanks to Dylan Hansen for allowing me to steal this without his permission! Awesome Vid!
Here’s a photo gallery of ‘Fast Guy’ shots. Be a bit patient, sometimes it stalls because my site is a bit overloaded, but it only hesitates a couple seconds. I’ll try to do this for other large classes throughout the season.
Now we get one weekend off before we head into the toughest part of the schedule. Three weekends in a row, with two of them double headers. Catch your breathe now, cuz’ there will be no time to breathe once it starts! See you in Port Alberni next weekend.
There was a lot of enthusiasm at the opening round of the VIMX/CMRC Championship Series in Campbell River last weekend. We generally think of enthusiasm as a good thing, right? Well, I’ve determined that enthusiasm is the sneaky culprit behind almost all the havoc in motocross, both behind the scenes and on the track. Everywhere there is trouble, you’ll find enthusiasm snickering away in the back ground. When volunteers, board members, and track directors are fighting it’s almost always enthusiasm for one idea or another that’s at the root of it, and when we mortgage our homes for the third time to replace a blown up bike enthusiasm always has a great little giggle, and when a rider jumps on top of another rider, it’s a sinister chuckle you hear enthusiasm emit. There’s no doubt in my mind, if we could eliminate enthusiasm from the sport it would solve almost all the problems! If we just ‘kind of liked’ it, or thought it was ‘okay’, we’d all get along easily and make better decisions. If our kids just liked to ride around to get a little exercise, and didn’t care about winning, it would be a much safer sport. We all have to try to love this sport a whole lot less if it’s going to improve. This whole notion hit home for me when I approached a particularly nasty step up corner to snap some shots, and found a flagger woman just standing there with her mouth open. Apparently Campbell River got a volunteer group from outside motocross, I think they were Girl Scouts or a ballet troop or something, to work as flaggers. Anyways, as soon as I walked up to this woman she just turned and started emoting all over me with the pent up thoughts and emotions she had been struggling with all morning. She said, “My God! How can people voluntarily do this to themselves? These people are certified wack-jobs! Whatever possesses a person to do this?” I answered with a shrug, “Enthusiasm.” Then I started thinking about it and had my epiphany. No doubt about it, enthusiasm has to go.
The dumbfounded looking flagger in the background is trying to figure out why anyone would do this to themselves. Dwayne Richmond is obviously one of the riders who's sanity she's questioning...she might have a point.
Indeed, enthusiasm ran amok this weekend. It got the better of many of us. There was the good, the bad, and the ugly enthusiasm. The good enthusiasm was all about the first race of the new VIMX/CMRC Vancouver Island Championship series: the new bikes, new gear, new teams, and new and returning riders. It was very good. There was also some pretty enthusiastic criticism of the track. I’ll call that the bad enthusiasm. Yeah, there were some nasty bits on the track, one corner/step-up in particular seemed to be steaming a lot of people up, but hey, this is motocross…nobody said it was going to be a stroll in the park! Besides, the nasty bits made for some spectacular photos which is clearly what’s most important here. In this day and age life is one big ‘photo op’, don’t you know. Finally, enthusiasm got ugly a couple of times when riders let it take control of their decision making. I’m not going to find fault here though. Racing is racing, and those of us who have done it know how fast things happen. Decisions are made in a fraction of a mille-second, and then we have to live with the consequences…and hopefully learn from them. Yeah, some bones got broken, and we all feel sick about that, but far-be-it from me to criticize riders for possibly getting a little overzealous. It was my trademark when I raced. My buddies called me ‘Miracle Muir’, and it wasn’t because I was so unbelievably fast, it was because they couldn’t believe I hadn’t been killed or killed someone else with some of the crap I pulled! My other nickname was ‘Crash’. And yeah, whether it was the track that some enthusiastic people decided to make changes to, which were enthusiastically criticized, or whether it was riders who let their enthusiasm get the better of them, or just some ‘perfect storm’ of these factors, there were a lot of bumps, bruises, and broken bones this weekend. But what I’ll walk away remembering was nearly having a heart attack watching some of the racing that took place. At times I forgot to breathe, sometimes I felt like I was going to be sick to my stomach, and I often felt mildly dizzy. It’s a miracle my enthusiasm didn’t kill me this weekend. I really have to get something to curb my enthusiasm. We just can’t go on loving this sport like we do…or else someone’s going to get hurt.
Always love the peanut gallery of enthused parents lined up to watch the 50 race...or 'the runners' as I call them.
Three 'runners' close in on a fallen Sebastian Sulyok to help him pick up his bike and put his leg back in the right place.
The first thing I have to say about the 50cc class, is ‘thank God it’s growing again!’ We’ve had a couple of pretty sparse years in the teeny-tiny class, and that always makes me nervous for the future. This weekend we had 15 kids on 50′s, which is about a 200% increase over some races in the past two years! I was also thrilled to see them started all together. This is a little pet peeve of mine, and I’m glad this weekend’s referee, Mark Ellis, apparently sees things my way. More kids on the line and in the race is better all around. I’m absolutely convinced of it. Ryder Roth pretty much stomped this weekend on his home track. The little green Mohawk was out front all day and was never really challenged. If and when the challenge comes, it will most likely come from Adam Polichek, who finished 2nd in the older 50cc class. By his own admission Adam is not particularly fond of the deep Campbell River sand, but he was the 2nd fastest little man on the track none-the-less, and he’ll be even faster on firmer ground. If I was a betting man I’d lay a lot of money on one of these two kids being 50cc Island Champ this year, but then I’m on record as saying no one would win 5 straight Supercross races this year, so don’t wager any money on my account. Then again, I also strongly intimated Villopoto and Dungey would catch Millsaps before it was all over, so go ahead, pull out your wallet. Roth or Polichek will win this series. Unless Austin Dockendorf continues improving at the rate he’s at! Austin was a solid third this weekend and Hayden Hart and Charley Roberts rounded out the top 5 in the older 50cc class. Ty Cyr pretty much ran away with the younger 50cc class, and thanks to the single start, spent his day battling with the older 50cc riders. I don’t have it on record, so I’m kinda guessing, but I feel pretty confident saying Ty runs comfortably in the top 5 of the older class. Ashton Mccay finished second in both of the younger class motos, and Owen Hopewell was 3rd. A final word to all the new 50 rider’s parents, ‘Great to have you out…please get the proper numbers put on your kid’s bikes!” It makes it tough for me to get to know who’s who, and even tougher for the score keepers to score you!
Ryder Roth was top dog this weekend in the 50 class. That Mohawk really seems to help him go fast.
Adam Polichek didn't have anything for Roth this weekend, but I wouldn't count him out in Nanaimo. Adam just likes solid ground under his wheels.
Austin Dockendorf was 3rd this weekend in the older 50cc class, but he could be the dark horse to pull of some wins. He's been improving fast.
Hayden Hart, as far as I know, is one of the new riders we're so happy to see out racing. He was solid in 4th both motos.
Charley Roberts rounded out the top half of the older 50cc class finishing 5th.
This time last year Sebastian 'Seby' Sulyok was struggling to get around the track...this year he's really racing! He's come a long way in a year.
Ryan Fawbert is another rider I don't recall seeing much, if at all, last year. Welcome to racing Ryan! Hope to see you again in Nanaimo.
Ty Cyr (75) handily won the younger 50cc class, but spent most of his day battling with older 50cc riders like Austin Dockendorf (17). This is why I like the single start system so much. Age isn't always an accurate indicator of speed.
This is were it all begins! Where the enthusiasm is born! Owen Hopewell finished 3rd in the younger 50cc class. I swear his helmet is as big as his bike!
Battle of the Pee-Wees! I think this is Maxtin Northey (22) and maybe Ashton Mccay (2, 00, or 200...listed as 0!) We're thrilled to have newbies out, but please get the correct numbers on your bike!
Like the 50cc class, the 65cc class was also much larger than we have seen recently. It has about doubled from last year. Another positive note as we start this season. As anticipated R.E.Cycle/Seehorse rider Cameron Bradley has finally figured out how to work his clutch and shifter and is back to doing what he does best…go fast! After dominating the 50cc class for a couple of seasons Cameron struggled a bit when he moved up to the ‘shifter’ bike last year. I think he just liked to twist the throttle and go. Now that he’s got it figured out I suspect the 65cc class is going to be a tough one to win for anyone else…unless Justin Daniels comes back on his 65! In the battle for ‘best of the rest’ I’m looking to Kolten Pieters, Ryder Roth, Damien Mclaughlin, and newcomer Robert Wildband on his super cool Husky. Kolten Pieters kind of came out of nowhere last year and ran with the fastest of the 65cc riders. He went 3/2 for 2nd overall this weekend. Ryder Roth beat him in the first moto, but had some issues in the second moto and ended up mired back in mid-pack. He still managed 3rd overall. Robert Wildband went 5/3 for 4th overall, and Damien Mclaughlin went 4/7 to round out the top 5. There are several dark horse riders in this class who could make a dent before the year is out. Wyatt Soderstrom is always right there battling with McLaughlin, and newcomers to the class Drake Richmond and Adam Polichek have shown they can go fast on a 5o…once they figure out the bigger bikes they will move up the standings.
Cameron Bradley has apparently figured out how and when to shift. He shifted into high gear and walked away with the 65cc win.
Kolten Pieters started the season off strong with a solid 2nd overall.
Ryder Roth (105) gets the jump on the 65cc class. He held on for 3rd overall. There's going to be some great racing in this class!
Robert Wildband rides a Husquvarna and sports a raccoon tail...it doesn't get any cooler than that! He finished 4th this weekend.
Love the 'new look' Damien Mclaughlin! His best moto was a 4th in the first. Look for Damien to make his presence felt as the season wears on. This kid loves motocross!
Wyatt Soderstrom also scored a 4th in the second moto. He was 6th overall.
Drake Richmond was on a 50 last year, but now that he has a 65 he doesn't want to ride his 50 anymore. This kid will be fast as he figures things out.
Adam Polichek is also brand new to the 65 and the shifting concept, but we know he'll be fast too once he gets used to the bigger bike.
I’m so biased about the 85cc and Supermini classes that I almost feel I should disqualify myself from writing about it…almost. Aside from my step-son racing in the older 85cc class, I also have a connection to seven of the riders who ride for the R.E.Cycle/Seehorse race team that I helped organize. To say the 85cc 12-16 motos were the most exciting of the day for me would be an understatement. These are the races that almost gave me a heart attack. I don’t think I’m entirely out of line, or completely losing touch with reality, in saying these were easily among the best races of the day. With the intensity of the races and the ensuing events that occurred I feel compelled to report on them. Wyatt Youland is the odds on favourite to win this class. He has been a champion all the way up through the classes including last year in the younger 85cc class. He’s just plain fast, and driven to win. About halfway through last season though, my stepson Tanner Meyland started to care. He got enthusiastic all of a sudden, and has been working his butt off ever since. I know a lot of people were shocked by what transpired this weekend, but I wasn’t. Tanner just showed the rest of the moto world what I’ve been watching happen for the past several months. He got the jump on Youland in the first moto and after they both made quick work of the other riders at the front of the pack, Youland hounded Tanner for the whole race…never more than a couple bike lengths back, but never close enough to make the pass. To his credit Tanner rode fast and smart. As each lap went by the battle got more intense, and my heart started stopping and starting sporadically. I was afraid to breathe. By the last lap I was terrified. I know how driven Wyatt is. I knew he wouldn’t want to lose this race. About 3/4′s of the way through the last lap, out of my sight, tragedy struck. I didn’t see it, so I can’t say too much, but everyone told me about it. Apparently Wyatt had just passed, or was in the process of passing Tanner, when they came up on some lappers. There is a little jump right before a banked berm with an inside option. The lappers were going inside and didn’t jump the jump. Wyatt did jump the jump and also went inside. He apparently clipped Michael Master’s wheel and they both went down. Wyatt got back up, but Michael was hurt badly. He has several broken bones in his leg and foot. This is the ugly side of enthusiasm. Did Youland make a mistake in judgement? By the sounds of it, probably…but again, I didn’t see it. I know we all feel sick about what happened to poor Michael Masters, probably no one more so than Wyatt Youland. So my final words on this are not directed at Wyatt, I suspect he is already beating himself up pretty bad. I do want to make a point while this incident is on people’s minds though. When a faster rider is approaching a slower rider from behind he is responsible for making a safe pass. That’s just the unwritten rule. He is the one in control of the situation. The slower rider’s job is to hold their line, and the faster rider’s responsibility is to find a safe way by. If it means not jumping and losing a position, so be it. No individual race win is worth what happened to Michael Masters this weekend. Enough said. The second moto was a repeat of the first, except that Wyatt made a safe pass on the last lap to take the overall win. It was crazy intense racing, even if one of your kid’s wasn’t in the fray! Bradley Nelson was super impressive in his third place finish. His new bike seems to have raised his riding to a new level. Other riders who had top 5 finishes included Austin Archer, Ethan Oulette, Brandon Johnson, and Jesse Talboys. It was a super competitive class. The younger 85cc class was pretty much a walk for David Bradley who’s riding fantastic this year. He also locked up 5th in Supermini, and was the top finishing 85cc bike in the class. Impressive. Colby Egeland was 2nd in 85 7-11, and Jaidon Scott was 3rd. Harrison Bradley dominated the Supermini class as expected, but Steven Macdonald was closer than many might have anticipated. Steven didn’t race a lot last year, but he looks right at home on his new CRF150. Wyatt Youland was 3rd in Supermini, and Wyatt Scheres was 4th. David Bradley finished off the top 5 sweep for the R.E.Cycle/Seehorse team. Jesse Talboys was very impressive finishing 6th in the impressive field of 16 Superminis.
David Bradley was 'the man' in the younger 85cc class. He's made giant strides since missing much of last season.
If anyone is going to have anything for David Bradley in the younger 85cc class this year, it will likely be Colby Egeland. He was 2nd this weekend.
The whole MX community wishes Michael Masters a speedy recovery. This is the toughest part of the sport, and we all feel for you and your family.
The start of the first 85cc moto. Meyland (94) gets a jump on Youland (88) and Ethan Oullette (92). Those new GolenTyres are really hooking up!
The final 50 foot race to the checkered in the 2nd 85cc moto. This was the gap between 1st and 2nd most of the day in this duel! I didn't breathe much.
In the end, the favourite Wyatt Youland, came through and won the older 85cc class. I think notice has been served that it won't be a cake walk for him this season though!
I was just crazy proud of my step-son Tanner Meyland this weekend. Especially through these rollers in the back, he looked like a mini Dean Wilson!
Bradley Nelson has seriously stepped up his game. He beat a lot of guys I didn't expect he would to finish 3rd overall. Great job Bradley!
Austin Archer went 3/8 for 4th overall. If you swapped his digits around he'd look like a mini-Windham!
Ethan Oullette is another new rider to watch. He cracked the top 5 this weekend, and looked great doing it.
Brody Schmidt finished a solid 6th in the 1st 85cc 12-16 moto, but was too bruised up to ride the second.
The start of the Supermini race. Harrison Bradley (777) gets the jump and never really looks back...because he knows looking back is a cardinal sin!
Harrison at speed. It will be interesting to see how Harrison stacks up Provincially in the Supermini class.
Steven Macdonald was a solid 2nd in Supermini, and looks great on his new CRF150. He has joined the R.E.Cycle/Seehorse race team, welcome aboard Steven!
Wyatt Scheres debating not riding Supermini this year, but I'm glad he did. He swapped 3/4 motos with Youland, but finished behind in the second moto and had to settle for 4th overall.
Jesse Talboys was the top 'non R.E.Cycle' rider in Supermini, finishing 6th overall. He's riding great!
The Ageless Classes
As far as I know Kevin Armitage only raced once or twice last year. By the looks of things at the first round of this series though, he means business this year. During every Vet and Plus 40 race I found myself asking, ‘Who is that guy walking away with this race?’ Now I know. Kevin Armitage won all 4 of his motos this weekend and he beat some pretty fast old guys to do it. Jason James was looking faster than ever in Vet master, but Armitage beat him. Tracy Morlok, Paul Hansen, and Bryan Whitcomb all have reputations for being very tough to beat in Plus 40, but Armitage beat them all. He beat them all riding pretty comfortably too. I never saw him pushing the envelope or looking the slightest bit dodgy. He was very impressive. Morlok and Hansen rounded out the podium in Plus 40, with returning hero Brian Whitcomb just getting nudged out to 4th. Jason James and Mike Whyte rounded out the Vet Master podium in a class of four. Once again, where are all our Vet Masters? I was grateful once again to see a single start with Vet Junior and Master, this at least makes it more fun on the track for riders and spectators alike. Shawn Aigner picked up where he left off last year. The reigning Vet Junior Champ swapped motos with David Hill, but took home the Vet Jr. prize by winning the second moto. David Aslop is back at it and he edged out Dan Nikirk for the final podium position after also swapping moto results. Dan Nikirk also swapped motos wins with Dave Barnes in the Plus 50 class, but once again finished behind in the ever important second moto. Barnes was super smooth, but apparently deceptively fast. A sad note in the age classes was a pretty serious crash by Darcy Lalonde. He apparently suffered several broken ribs, shoulder, possibly clavicle, and has punctured his lung. He is currently in stable condition in the hospital waiting for doctors to determine if surgery is required. All the best to you buddy, take care!
The combined starts are a great idea! More bikes on the start means more fun for all!
Darcy Lalonde (98) looked to make short work of the Plus 50 class, but ended up making short work of himself. Get well soon buddy!
Kevin Armitage was the class of the Age classes this weekend. He rode flawlessly to 4 moto wins.
Tracy Morlok rode to 2nd in Plus 40. It's always entertaining to have Tracy around to shoot photos of! This was closer to being a crash shot than it may appear!
Morlok is always on the gas giving it his all!
Paul Hansen was 3rd in Plus 40, looking good on his new KTM.
It was great to see the Whitcomb bus roll into the pits, and even better to see wife Christie jump out with a glass of wine already in hand!
SG Power rider/worker Jay James was 2nd in Vet Master. He wants more Vet Masters to come out and race. So do I.
Shawn Aigner picked up right were he left off last year, winning the Vet Jr. class.
David Hill swapped moto wins with Aigner and looks like he can give him a run for his money this year.
Dave Barnes is tricky. He looks so conservative on his bike it's tough to imagine he's on his way to winning the Plus 50 class!
Dan Nikirk, on the other hand, always looks fast. He rides in a cool, crouched, ready to pounce position. He was second in Plus 50 and 4th in Vet Junior.
See what I mean? Nikirk has cool style...except in corners. He's got some weird road-racing style thing going on in corners...talk to your son Dan!
Aigner (250) working his way past David Maloney (252).
Brian Whitcomb (294) and Paul Hansen (84) had some great battles during the day. I think Hansen won them all, but Whitcomb will get better as he practices up.
Mike Whyte was 3rd in the Vet Master class. It's not his fault there were only 4 riders!
Dion Klassen on his 2013 CRF gets some air.
Last year we had a super competitive Junior class that was pretty fast. It looks like this year we have a super competitive Junior class that is also super fast! With at least three of last year’s best Juniors (Alex Haley, Stephen Weme, and Nathen Donohue) returning for another year, and mini stars like Joe Nikirk, Harrison Bradley, Tyler Wilson and Wyatt Scheres coming in, plus a guy like Adam Smith who’s raised his game about six notches…the top half of the Junior field is pretty stacked with talent! The top half of this field would be competitive on any Junior stage anywhere in the country, I’m sure of it, and that’s ultimately the reason top Juniors are allowed to repeat the class. We had over twenty Juniors at the first round, and with this kind of speed on the track cracking the top ten is going to be an accomplishment this year. Only one person in the top ten scored the same finish in both motos. That’s competitive! Alex Haley, last year’s Champion, and Joe Nikirk, 2012 BC 85cc Champ, swapped moto wins, with Nikirk taking the overall. By all appearances their lap times appeared almost identical, and they also appeared to be a cut above the rest of the class, at least this weekend on this track. In a category clump just below these two I’d place Stephen Weme, Adam Smith, Nathan Donohue, Harrison Bradley, and possibly Tyler Wilson. Weme was 3rd in both motos and looked solid doing so, but all the guys in this clump looked capable of giving him a run if their stars aligned perfectly. Donohue was hot on his tail for most of the first moto, but his stars fell from the sky in the second moto. His 4/10 result relegated him to 6th overall. Adam Smith and Harrison Bradley struggled a bit with starts, but were both able to work their way up to around the top 5 in both motos. Smith in particular has impressed me with his improvement from last year. He was 4th overall. I already knew Bradley was going to be fast, but considering how much bike he’s giving away to his competition (he’s on a 7 year old Kawi 125!) I was also impressed with his ability to cut through the field to wind up 5th overall from way back in the pack. This is shaping up to be a another crazy good year in the Junior class! Sign up for the Junior GP class was a little disappointing. Considering there were 21 riders in MX2 and another 3 in MX1 I don’t know why only 8 riders chose to ride Junior GP. Perhaps many of the new riders don’t know they are eligible, or perhaps many riders just wanted to ride one class to get warmed up. To his credit Alex Haley rode Youth, which is a great way to get used to riding against faster riders, and Harrison Bradley, Wyatt Scheres, and Steven Macdonald rode Supermini as their second class. Anyways, Joe Nikirk won GP as well, and Adam Smith was 2nd. A rider named Ben Riel was 3rd, and I suspect he is the mystery rider on bike number 236 despite being scored as number 11. Another newcomer, Nathan Davidson, was 4th and Darren Jenkins rounded out the top 5.
Chris Kulhawy (19) nails the holeshot in Junior GP. Number 236 beside him was pretty quick, but I can't find that number in my results. Get the right numbers on your bikes guys!!
Synchronized power sliding! Stephen Weme (114) is sandwiched between Nathan Donohue (44) and our mystery rider.
Weme and Donohue battled for much of the first moto, but Weme was solid and more consistent over the course of the day.
Joe Nikirk airs it out. He and Alex Hailey were a cut above this weekend.
I'll admit I didn't think Alex Haley could keep Nikirk behind him for a whole moto, but he did, and I've adjusted my expectations accordingly. I no longer expect Nikirk to run away with this championship!
Adam Smith is definitely the most improved rider in this class. I know he's worked hard in the off season, and it shows. He rode awesome.
Nathan Donohue was 6th overall this weekend. It wouldn't surprise me if that becomes one of his throw away results.
I suspect Harrison Bradley passed more riders than anyone in any class this weekend. He came from way back, never stopped charging, and earned a top 5 overall. My hat's off.
Tyler Wilson is right on the cusp of the fastest riders in the class, and probably has less experience than any of the fast guys I'm comparing him to. He finished 7th, but look for him to move up as the season wears on.
Colton Thompson won Junior MX1 in a field of 3, which is not even a legal class. They should just make these guys run Junior GP, which none of them did.
Nathan Davidson is a newbie as far as I know. He looks like he has promise, scoring a solid 8th overall.
Steven Macdonald rode his little CRF150 into the top 10 in the second moto. His gutsy performance in Jr. and his 2nd overall in Supermini earned him a spot on the R.E.Cycle/Seehorse team this weekend.
Mitchell Nelson looked spanky in his new gear on his new bike. He finished just outside the top half of the class.
Love this shot of Chris 'Flame' Kulhawy!
There were a lot of fast guys in attendance for the first round. In both Pro/Intermediate and Youth/Plus 25 there was right around 20 bikes on the track. Aside from the usual suspects from recent seasons, I was thrilled to see a good handful of riders returning to the fray after several years absence. These guys have fled their family home, gone out and built lives for themselves, and now returned to racing as young men. It’s a very good thing to see these old time regulars getting back at it. Just shows, you can leave motocross, but it never leaves you! Welcome back boys. Top of this list of returning riders would have to be Colton Maclean. Colton went away, got married, became a dad, and now he’s back at it. He handily won the Pro class. Also returning to racing recently are Ryan Bachinski, Sean Poire, Adam Crockhart, Carter Pugh, and Graham Barry. Bachinski rode to a solid 3rd in Youth on his new YZ250 2 stroke, then he rode the same bike in Intermediate MX1. I wonder if he knows he can ride it in MX2 with the new rule changes in CMRC? Intermediate MX1 was another of those ‘barely there’ classes with only 3 sign-ups. I suspect some of these classes were run because this was an Amateur National Qualifier. This, to my mind, is one of those little CMRC quirks that needs a band-aid. There were at least half a dozen classes run this weekend with less than 5 riders. We had exactly 5 riders sign up for the Pro class, which is the most we’ve had in years, but 4 of them could have signed up for age classes as well! Behind Colton was Jeff Banks (+25), Dwayne Richmond (+40), Luke Maedel (Vet), and Dwight Dockendorf (Vet). I have to acknowledge the integrity and guts of these older guys. They could have stomped in the age classes but they chose to ride Pro and take it to the next level. In the Intermediate and Youth class it was once again Daniel Vanderbasch who stepped up. This kid’s got a heart the size of a pumpkin and motor oil in his veins. I’m thrilled to hear SG Power has stepped up to help him out. He just had surgery on his knee and is still months from being officially cleared to ride, but there he was. He told me he was just out to take it easy and collect some points, but in the heat of the action all that seemed to go out the window. He won Youth and Intermediate, in stellar come from behind rides! He did take it a bit easy in the morning with 2nd and 3rd place finishes, but then he came out and won both afternoon motos for the overalls. Also looking great up front was Connor Barnes, who missed much of last season with injuries. Connor got great starts, won a moto, and spent most of the day up near the front. He did come together with Vanderbasch and loose a few positions getting going, but hey, he wouldn’t be Connor Barnes if he didn’t throw it away at least once in a day! Blame it on enthusiasm. Also showing the speed to run at the front of the Intermediate class were Dylan Hansen, Bryce Currie, Blaine Morrow, Carter Pugh, Ryan Bachinski, and a bit surprisingly Carson Campbell, who all had at least one moto on the podium. I’m sure you can add Graham Scott and Jason Abernethy to that list when they return from California, and I know Corey Forrest is out there riding again. I also wouldn’t count out Alex Haley who finished 5th in Youth in his first time racing the faster class in a Championship series. It looks like we could have close to ten guys capable of running at the front of the Intermediate class before the season is over. Pardon my enthusiasm, but this is going to be fun!
Plus 25 and Pro rider Jeff Banks leads the combined +25/Youth class into the first corner. I can't even find eventual Youth winner Daniel Vanderbasch in this shot.
Three of the fastest riders on the day: Connor Barnes (128), Jeff Banks (634), and Daniel Vanderbasch (23). Can you guess who the fastest rider in this photo is? Hint: He's standing behind the fence while he recovers from mononucleosis.
The battle between Barnes and Vanderbasch got intense in the afternoon moto. Eventually someone's enthusiasm got the better of them and I saw bikes cartwheeling in the distance.
In the end SG Power rider Daniel Vanderbasch prevailed and started the season where he ended it last year...winning!
Connor Barnes was on fire. He missed a lot of racing last year, but he didn't miss a beat this weekend.
Bryce Currie wound up 3rd in Intermediate on 4/2 finishes. He looked stellar.
Blaine Morrow started the day off with a 2nd in Intermediate, but stumbled a bit to 5th in the second moto. He wound up 4th overall.
Dylan Hansen won the first Youth moto of the day and made the podium in the second Intermediate moto. He finished 2nd in Youth and 5th in Intermediate. Look for Dylan to improve on that 5th!
Hats off to Dwayne Richmond for riding the Pro class. He's trying to avoid hitting me off the nasty step up here!
The step up was tough, especially for new Intermediate riders like Eli Titus. I didn't get the details, but Eli failed to score points at the opening round.
There was great racing all the way through the Intermediate/Youth pack. Here Morrow (35) and Hansen (167) step up together.
It's always great to see Jeff Banks ride. I wish he'd come out to more races at other tracks. He won Plus 25 and was 2nd in Pro.
Colton MacLean had no problem with the step up or any other part of the track. He won the Pro class pretty handily.
Carson Campbell, recently emigrated Jr. star from the mainland, looked right at home in the Intermediate ranks. He'll be a quick study.
Ryan Bachinski is starting to find his racing legs again. He finished 3rd in Youth on 6/2 motos. I want to see him ride that bike in MX2 Intermediate.
Dylan Hansen heads for the clouds, and the next round in Nanaimo!
So the first one is in the books, and everyone knows where they stand. You can check out the full results on the CMRC website, and watch for more photos on the Seehorse Facebook page. I also have to take this opportunity to congratulate Jacob Picollo and Kasey Keast on their stellar World Mini results. These two BC natives scored 2nd and 5th respectively, which puts them up there in the same air breathed by guys like Dean Wilson and Cole Thompson. Unbelievable! Also want to thank my confirmed new and returning advertisers who help make this Race Report possible: SG Power, VI Honda, Goldstar Auto Sales, R.E.Cycle, MXP Magazine, VI Performance Magazine, and, hopefully, all the tracks and VIMX! Look forward to seeing you all in Nanaimo on April 27th for round 2!
Aaah, the most anticipated day of the year! I suppose for most kids it’s Christmas, for most pre-teens and teens it’s probably the last day of school, but for motocrossers it’s the first race of the season. All the new gear, new bikes, new teams, and this year in particular, new tracks and a new series. All the days leading up to the first race practicing in the cold, rainy spring air, and nights laying awake visualizing stomping the guys who whipped you last year. Then, finally, it all comes to fruition at the first race. For most islanders that was this weekend at Westshore in Victoria. It was the second race for most of the mainlanders who attended, but let’s not be a stickler for details, eh! Let me just quickly shoot the elephant in the room. It’s no secret that I’m a CMRC guy, and I dream of a world where everybody pulls together to make one fantabulous series, but that’s just not the way the world works. There is always somebody out there trying to reinvent the wheel…which is a good thing in general. If nobody reinvented the wheel we’d all still be riding around on wooden wagon-wheels! I admit I take issue to some extent with a series that promotes itself as a ‘BC Championship’ when it has nine races on the mainland and one on the island, but hey, I don’t want to be a stickler for details either. Fact is, Future West and Westhore MX put on a great race, and they managed to drag more mainlanders over to the island than I’ve seen in close to a decade. The track was the best I’ve seen it, attendance was awesome, and the racing was superb. Props all around the folks who pulled this off. Take note, I’ve already sent an email to the president of VIMX suggesting we call our island series the ‘World Championships’. As the bard Shakespeare said though, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet; ” which is just a fancy way of saying, “It is what it is!” This weekend was great racing and a whole lot of fun! It is what it is.
Turn out for the first Island race of the season was spectacular! Especially in the small wheel classes.
The BC mainland has a mini star and a mini mega-star. Both made the trip to the island this weekend. Julien Benek is a mini star. He trounced the field in the 50cc class, and finished a solid second in the 65cc class behind mega-star Jacob Piccolo. Piccolo for his part not only won the 65cc class, but also the younger 85cc class and yes, even Supermini…all on his tiny little 65! He is the fastest mini rider I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. Mainlander Tyson Dubuc and Islander Adam Polichek swapped 2/3 results in the 50cc class with Dubuc taking 2nd overall. Behind Piccolo and Benek in the 65cc class was Cameron Bradley, who fell twice in the second moto and had to pass the same 5 or 6 kids several times to secure his podium finish! Bradley is a multi-time 50cc Champ on the island and should be able to find Benek’s pace this season.
Piccolo (81) and Benek (70) start to check out from the get-go of the 65cc class. Eventual 3rd place finisher, Cameron Bradley (444), probably passed more riders than anyone to earn his trophy!
Julien Benek is a genuine mini star...who unfortunatley races against a mega-star in two of his three classes!
Jacob Piccolo gets some major air on his 65cc KTM!
Adam Polichek is probably the fastest 50cc rider on the island, but he was no match for Benek.
Damien McLaughlin finished mid-pack in the 65cc class, but his enthusiasm is second to none!
Well, okay maybe this guy, Steve Sulyok, is more enthusiastic! You won't meet a more amiable, glad-to-be-here dad at the track.
This little guy's enthusiasm may have been dampened a tad!
I have to say the islanders held their own against the mainlanders in the 85 and Supermini classes. We (yes, I admit I’m an islander!) managed to secure 5 out of 9 podium spots in the three classes we’re talking about here. I could mean something else when I say ‘we’ though. Not to dwell on it, but I’m stoked that this year Seehorse Creative Media has teamed up with R.E.Cycle in Chemainus to form a race team…and ‘we’ filled all the podium finishes islanders scored in these classes! In fact, all our riders scored at least one podium this weekend. None of our riders though, had anything for Jacob Piccolo. Not only did he win the younger 85 class and Supermini, but he managed consistent top 3 starts against all those bigger bikes! I just don’t get it. Harrison Bradley should have at least beat him to the first corner in Supermini with 35cc more motor, but somehow it was not to be. Once rolling Bradley could keep pace, but gain no ground. Piccolo won, Bradley was 2nd, and his R.E.Cycle/Seehorse team-mate Wyatt Youland was 3rd. Youland, in fact, was the star of the team this weekend. To go along with his Supermini podium finish he also won the older 85cc class…which Piccolo is too young to compete in, thank God! He did need his other team-mate, Tanner Meyland, to fall on the last lap while in 2nd place behind Devon Sache to accomplish this though. Meyland’s last minute fall moved Youland from 4th to 2nd (Meyland kinda held up 3rd place rider Darrin Thorring when he fell) and gave him the overall win. There may have been talk that it was team tactics, but trust me, I’m not that smart! Devon Sache went 3/1 to secure second overall, and Meyland hung on for the final podium position. In the younger 85cc class Picollo did his thing out front while the rest of the class battled for the remaining podium positions. Chris Van Meel, David Bradley, and Julien Benek all had podium finish motos, with Van Meel and Bradley finishing 2nd and 3rd overall respectively.
The older 85cc class was hotly contested. It was like a feeding frenzy for the first few laps!
Chris Van Meel (60) and Devon Sache (29) both had successful days in Victoria.
Tanner Meyland was well on his way to a 2/2 day in the older 85cc class before a last lap fall relegated him to 2/4 and 3rd overall.
Wyatt Youland won the older 85cc class and was 3rd in Supermini.
David Bradley had a tough first moto, but battled back to take 2nd in the final 85cc 7-11 moto for 3rd overall.
Steven Macdonald looked to have a podium finish in the bag with his solid 3rd in the first moto, but a wreck in the second moto tore the bag to shreds!
I knew Piccolo was fast enough to win Supermini, but I didn't imagine he could pull top 3 starts on his 65cc bike!
Harrison Bradley was second in both Supermini motos. He could pretty much stay with Piccolo, but he couldn't gain any ground on him.
It's one thing to see Piccolo on the track, it's another thing to see him on the podium between the two Supermini riders he beat .
I’m pretty sure what I want to say about the Junior class, indeed what everyone was saying, is somewhat offensive. What I want to say is, “All the Junior boys got spanked by a girl!” I’m just not sure if it’s more offensive to the boys or to Rachel Springman! What really needs to be said is, “All the Junior boys got spanked by a better rider!” The fact that she is a girl is really a moot point. Women are closing the athletic gap at an accelerating rate in all sports disciplines. My physical anthropology Professor explained it to me once, and predicted men and women would compete ‘even-up’ in most sports within a few generations. Apparently it has to do with women’s wide ‘birthing hips’ getting smaller over generations due to modern medical techniques keeping smaller babies alive (smaller babies come from smaller hips). This has led to an overall decrease in the width of women’s hips, which is what has impeded their athletic prowess for eons. This and social conformity, of course. As usual the west coast is just a little ahead of the curve, and Rachel Springman is at the top of the apex. My stepson Tanner was equally offensive when he said, “She rides like a boy!” I corrected him. “She’s a girl, and that’s how she rides, therefore, ipso facto, that’s how girls ride. Suck it up, buttercup!” None-the-less, regardless of gender, it was impressive. She got the holeshot, then battled hard to hold off hard charging riders like Justin Todoruk and Bryce Vandenbrink, but no-one could crack her armor…eventually she got clear and just hit her marks perfectly, maintaining a safe margin of victory. She was flawless on a slick, rutted track. Vandenbrink and Todoruk had to settle for the remaining wrungs on the podium. Chad Mabberlay was also impressive in his second moto, scoring a third place finish, and the island’s best result was posted by Nolan Egeland on his home-track. Nolan was in the top 5 in both motos for 4th overall. The other riders who managed to crack the top 5 in the field of 20 were Alex Dewar (7/4) and Harrison Bradley (5/13). Harrison got horrendous starts in both motos. He battled up to 5th in the first moto, but bent his shift lever trying to do the same in second moto. He’ll be back with a vengeance at the next race.
Rachel Springman (3) elbows her way ahead of Justin Todoruk (35) and never really looked back!
She's a girl and this is how she rides, therefore, ipso facto, this is how girls ride. Suck it up, buttercup!
Bryce Vandenbrink (2) and Nolan Egeland (56) mix it up near the front of the Junior pack. You can see Rachel in the background, riding off into the sunset a couple straights ahead.
Harrison Bradley had a rough day in Junior. He was fast enough to run with the leaders but couldn't buy a start, then rode most of the second moto in one gear.
Hayden Lachman was out there proving you don't need the latest and greatest equipment to race and have fun. If the vintage class ever gets rolling, Hayden will be 'in 'er like dinner! Kidding, it's not that old.
Ben Riel finished 8th overall, but he was railing berms like a rock star!
Your fastest Junior rider this weekend, Rachel Springman.
What the Victoria race lacked in terms of fast guy quantity, they made up for in quality. It was announced during the award ceremony that Ryan Lockhart posted a new track record of 1:36 and perennial fan favourite Lee Coutes wasn’t far behind. That’s two guys who have cracked the top ten at National events, and Lockhart held a top ten number at one point. That’s impressive, but what’s even more impressive to me was that a first year Intermediate kept them in sight for two whole motos! Graham Scott, admittedly riding his home track, was almost able to keep pace with these two legends, and he bested one of the island’s top Intermediates, Dylan Hansen, in the process! On a sadder note, I learned that Ryan Lalonde, the island’s rising star, has come down with mononucleosis and will be out for most of the season. This is a real bummer. No one works harder than Ryan and deserves this kind of setback less…except maybe Daniel Vanderbasch, who will also miss a good chunk of the season recovering from knee surgery.
Ryan Lockhart graced us with his presence and set a new track record at the Westshore MX track.
Lockhart showed up on a spanky new Honda. He has held a top ten National number, not sure how high, but 9 sounds close.
Lee Coutes is not only a good guy, but damn quick on a bike too. He followed Lockhart around this weekend, but never got too close.
Lockhart was faster, but I recognized Coutes by his style before I read his name...boy's got flash appeal!
Graham Scott impressed the hell out of me this weekend. He wasn't far off the two Pros who led the parade all day.
Isaiah Haylett made the leap from Junior to Intermediate this year. It will be interesting to see if he can find the pace as the season wears on.
Bryce Currie suffered some bad starts, but looked good once he got rolling. He finished 3rd in 250 Intermediate.
Dylan Hansen was 2nd in every Intermediate race. It will be interesting to see how he and Scott stack up on a more neutral track.
A couple of gangsters showed up for the weekend. It was like a drive-by shooting.They annihilated the competition! Ya, that's Lee Coutes (L) and Ryan Lockhart (R).
Aside from the classes I’ve detailed there were decent turnouts for the age classes and the Ladies class. Our Ladies class on the island has kind of been dying a painful death over the past few years…it was good to see even eight women line up to race, and even better to see Rachel Springman provide someone for the Queen of Island ladies, Camille Baker, to actually race with. There was even a ‘Kids’ class and a ‘Beginner’ class, but there was never 3 people riding around on the track all alone. In all it looks like about half the attendees were from the mainland, and that’s a coupe! On top of all this, the series was very well promoted. Anyone with any connection to motocross saw the posters and knew it was happening. They even found a title sponsor, something the CMRC/VIMX series struggles to do. Like I started off saying, I’m an advocate of CMRC and wish we could all play on the same team, but I’ll say this, ‘I hope somebody at CMRC is taking notes!’ This Future West series is very well put together, and can’t be ignored.
To end on the Shakespeare theme I started with, Paul Gallagher asks the age old question, "To B or not to B?" He B'd!
The Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series has become the second biggest motorsport in the world...the future is unfolding as I knew it would!
Sometimes my obsession with motocross concerns me. I mean, I KNOW it isn’t the most important thing in the world, but there are moments when it feels like it is. This weekend in San Deigo was one of those moments. It was my first time covering an AMA Supercross and it felt like I arrived on the scene just as Supercross finally developed the last ingredient that will propel it to become the biggest, most important sport in the world…as I’ve long believed it would eventually become. For decades I’ve known motocross was the greatest sport in the world, and when Mike Goodwin put the show in a stadium for the first time in 1972 I knew it was the first bold step toward world domination. From that moment I began to visualize a future where stadiums were filled to capacity in cities all over North America and beyond, and where every event was covered on National television and viewed by millions of hysterical fans each week.
Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego is one of 15 major league venues where the Supercross show will play to a packed house.
I’ve long imagined Supercross would take over the world like ‘Rollerball’ in that 1975 movie…does anyone remember that movie? Anyway, I knew Supercross was the perfect combination of man and machine merged into a high-flying, berm-crushing singularity, and I knew the world would eventually figure it out. Back then I would fantasize about a world where young moto prodigies were removed from their normal lives and put into intense training regiments, paid millions of dollars, and eventually become household names with TV shows and videos promoting them. These kids would be ‘the chosen ones’, the most gifted ‘over-beings’ in the most demanding and dangerous sport ever devised by humanity…they would be modern day gladiators, risking their lives every weekend for international fame and glory. Hundreds of them would arrive every weekend for a shot, but only a handful would be chosen to enter the stadium, and that handful would lay it all on the line to win. This was my fantasy in the ’70′s…and it was complete fantasy. It could never actually happen. So few people even knew what Supercross was back then that people would laugh if you suggested that someday all this would all come true. So you can imagine how my heart has sailed as Supercross has risen up through the ranks to become the second largest motorsport in the world, behind only Nascar. There has been one thing missing though, something that Nascar has, that is essential for the master plan to become a reality. Remember, my vision is not that Supercross becomes the biggest motorsport…I believe it will be the biggest sport…period. I’ve been aware for several years now what the final missing piece was. It’s been evident almost from the beginning. Each time I read a report back in the day of how Bob Hannah came from last place to win, or got my new Moto mag and read about Jeremy McGrath’s clean sweep of the last 8 rounds, or more recently when Ricky Carmichael completed his second perfect outdoor season, or last year when Ryan Villopoto won three straight motos to collect the Monster Million…the one thing that has been missing has become more and more evident.
Coming into the 2013 season I know I wasn't alone in thinking this guy, Ryan Villopoto, would dominate the series like Hannah, McGrath, and Carmichael have done in the past, but something seems to have changed in the sport of Supercross. Perhaps we are witnessing the emergence of the final piece of the Supercross puzzle?
The thing other sports have that is really kind of essential for a sport to capture the world…is parity. The masses will not flock to a sport where only one or two guys are likely to win. Well folks, what we have witnessed so far this season, and what I saw up close and personal in San Diego this weekend, may be the emergence of the final ingredient. A little bit of parity may be all it takes to capture the rest of the world, and for Supercross to fulfill the destiny I have mapped out for it. Yes, the fact that I talk about motocross and world domination in the same sentence concerns me…almost as much as it excites me! And as a writer I can’t help but feel the importance of this moment in moto history, and I’m compelled to quote my one ‘outside motocross’ idol, Bob Dylan:
Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.
There seems to be more and more riders capable of running near the front of the Supercross pack. I suspect we are witnessing an evolutionary leap in humanity.
Rise of the ‘Over-Beings’
Friedrich Nietzsche was a German philosopher who wrote, among other things, about humanity’s ‘will to power’ and our ultimate ability to become what he called the ‘overman’. Freddy said all kinds of weird and wonderful things, but what interests me in regard to motocross is that he believed humanity’s ‘will to power’, essentially our competitive nature, would lead to the evolution of humans who are superior in all regards: intellectual, moral, and physical. Supercross is the ideal breeding grounds and developmental arena for these over-beings, and we moto fans already understand that the very best motocrossers are indeed ‘freaks’ of some sort. These genetic mutants do things that mere mortals cannot even imagine, and what’s more, their numbers are growing. Much is made of the fact that motocross may be the most physically demanding sport in the world, but it also requires superior intellect, and a refined morality. You don’t get to the top level without thinking things through, both on and off the track. Increasingly it also requires superior moral character to rise and remain at the top of this sport. This is a sport where being a ‘nice guy’ is almost a criteria for success. You have to be able to ‘represent’, and have the moral fortitude to display good sportsmanship when you least want to. Not sure you believe this is that important? Remember Jason Lawrence? Motocross may be the catalyst behind the evolution of a whole new level of humanity. In the early days these over-beings were few and far between, and stood out like giants among men. There was Roger Decoster, who won five World Championships. Maybe he was the first. Then there was Bob Hannah, who learned to ride in the desert and reinvented the way motocross riders trained and raced (he’s often credited with inventing ’clutching’ out of corners for example, and the ‘full on’ training program). Hannah was virtually unbeatable in his prime. As competition developed more and more riders at the highest level, some new super being would inevitably come along and raise the bar, and for decades it has always seemed like there was one or two riders who were simply ‘better than the rest’. This may have been good on some level, superstars attract media, but it also dampened anticipation at the races to some extent. Let’s face it, if Ricky Carmichael got a top ten start in his prime you pretty much knew he was going to win. Now though, this may be changing. Riders don’t just ‘appear’ out of the desert anymore. They are selected and groomed from an early age. They spend their childhood at ‘training facilities’, being home-schooled so they can travel the country, and there seems to be more and more of them in the pipe. The flood gates seem to be opening, and the day is coming when twenty riders will line up for a main event and all twenty will have a realistic chance of winning. By my count we are about half way to that number now, and I see no reason the number won’t continue to climb. Waiting in the wings to join the premiere class already we have Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen, Dean Wilson, and not too far off, Adam Cianciarulo. The Over-beings are coming!
Roger DeCoster may have been the first of the moto 'Over-beings', and now he's coaching two of the new-age stars: Ryan Dungey and Ken Roczen.
James Stewart is all smiles as the night gets ready to roll. Stewart is among the most gifted to ever throw a leg over a bike and has several titles to his credit, but the wins aren't coming as easy as they once did...blame it on the parity. Yeah, that's the original 'Over-being' in the background, which is increasingly where James is finding himself this year.
The Greatest Gift
So what would it be worth to be able to rub shoulders with these giants among men? To be able to walk amongst these Over-beings? It would be the greatest gift ever, and that’s what my new best friend forever, Ryan Gauld, gave me when he signed me up for a media pass for the San Diego Supercross. As quickly as I write this I can’t help but think of the two women who gave me the gift of children, and the one in particular who bestowed upon me the gift of her hand in holy matrimony, or even the one woman who gave me the gift of life itself…and these are all great gifts, but we’re talking about the honour of accidentally stepping on Ryan Villopoto’s toe here! I’m really sorry about that, by the way, Ryan. I was dumbstruck all day as I walked amongst them. As they all walked around the track for the morning track walk I had the brilliant idea to go to the end of the track and walk the track in reverse so I could get good shots of them coming towards me, and because my camera doesn’t have the kind of zoom most of the other photographers have I threw social etiquette out the window and walked up to them and snapped shots from three feet away. It may have annoyed them, but it thrilled the hell out me! These are important documents of humanity, photos of the next level of human achievers; the Over-beings. So what if I had to step on some toes to get their photos?
Ryan Dungey indicates the direction he will take off this particular jump...basically 'up, up, and away'.
Tim Ferry outlines to Trey Canard his plan for 'gingers' to take over the world...Trey's not convinced that's God's plan.
Villopoto points out to his posse which guy he wants them to 'deal with'.
Davi doesn't appear daunted. You have to wonder how big a role Ezra Lusk (beside him) has played in Davi's rise this season.
Millsaps has Lusk, Canard has Ferry, and Ken Roczen had this girl walking the track with him. She must be very good...Ken's leading the Lites class point standings.
New Age Stars
For the past couple of years we’ve been blessed with the opportunity to see racing where maybe five guys could win. This is huge in a sport where one or two guys have dominated at any given point in time for several decades. This year though, it seems that number has about doubled! It’s just crazy exciting for fans like me. Of course the big news is Davi Millsaps. I went to a Supercross party for the opener in Anaheim and we all placed bets on who would win. Only one guy picked Millsaps, and he obviously didn’t have a clue. Millsaps is very good, he won the Lites Championship on his way through, but he clearly hasn’t really been in contention in the big league in the five or so years he’s been there. There was no way he would win A1. But he did. But it was clearly a fluke. But it wasn’t. He’s now been in the top 4 at all of the first six rounds, and he’s won two of them. Suddenly, Davi Millsaps is ‘The Magic Man’. After six rounds he has the ‘magic’ 25 point lead on all but second place rider Ryan Dungey. I could talk about his performance on the track, but you could glean that information from the comfort of your living room. What you couldn’t do without being there is see that Davi appears to be among the most well-liked and amiable of all the riders. While many of the elite riders keep to themselves, and put up a wall when they’re around other riders, Millsaps walks into the tunnel and high fives other riders and laughs easily with them. He is clearly enjoying his new found celebrity, and it doesn’t appear to be going to his head. Perhaps that’s the moral character I mentioned, or perhaps it’s because being ‘the man’ is new to him, and he’s spent so many years just outside the limelight that his joy is just overflowing. In fact, most of the ‘new age’ riders like Barcia, Canard, Tomac, Roczen, and to a lesser extent Dungey seemed far more personable than the established stars like Reed, Stewart, and to a lesser extent Villopoto, who were much more guarded. I suspect these riders are not nearly as thrilled with the rising parity as fans like myself are, and I’m sure they also have a lot more pressure on them.
The younger guys seemed more comfortable with each other than many of the more established riders.
While the big bore class is enjoying this increased parity the Lites class has pretty much been a two man show this year. Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen have won every round and clearly seem to be a little bit better than the rest. Martin Davalos often has the speed to run with them, but hasn’t been able to put it together in a main event yet. He was in the top three on the first lap this weekend in San Diego, but got it all wrong in the rhythm section and went down. It was a very scary moment, what with eighteen charging bikes roaring at him as he lay prone in the middle of the track! Cole Seely had to be a favourite at the start of the series, but he hasn’t quite found the pace of the front two and has struggled with crashes at the last two rounds. The guy who has really impressed me this year, and has really put himself on the map, is Jason Anderson. I just love the way this kid rides! He got the holeshot in San Diego and held of the big guns for quite a few laps before Tomac and then Roczen finally squeaked by him. The other very happy surprise for me was regular Canadian National visitor Austin Politelli finishing just off the podium in fourth! It was his third top ten finish in a row.
Jason Anderson got the early jump and held off the big guns for several laps before finishing 3rd.
Eli Tomac won the Lites class in San Diego, but his one bad night in Oakland has left him 17 points back of Roczen...nearly insurmountable considering how well Roczen is riding, but we all know anything can happen in Supercross.
After a couple years struggling with consistency, Ken Roczen appears to have it all worked out for 2013. He was a solid 2nd in San Diego, and said he considered it a win at this point.
I've been a Jason Anderson fan from the first time I saw him ride. He's so aggressive and stylish. He's just a tad off the pace of Tomac and Roczen, but he's coming fast.
Rookie rider Joey Savatgy has made his mark already this season, he's another new age star to watch.
The Troy Lee guys have struggled a bit in the series, but they always look great! This is Jessy Nelson.
I caught Ken Roczen staring at the prize...don't get ahead of yourself Kenny!
Tomac was pretty pleased with himself after winning San Diego, but he still has a mountain to climb if he wants to retain his #1 plate.
Jason Anderson is fast becoming one of my favourite riders to watch ride.
Parity in Action
James Stewart, Ryan Villopoto, and Chad Reed are still clearly among the fastest riders in Supercross, but they don’t appear to have the kind of ‘over-being’ edge they once enjoyed. Stewart and Villopoto set the fastest qualifying times in San Diego, followed by Barcia and Millsaps, but there were ten guys within a second of each other. What this means is far more intense racing than we have become used to, and it was evident come race time. As the riders rounded the track after the first lap Millsaps had the lead once again. Broc Tickle was 2nd, Reed was in 3rd, Brayton 4th, Barcia 5th, Dungey 6th, Stewart 7th, Villopoto 8th, and Canadian Champ Matt Goerke was 9th. As recently as last year one might have expected Reed, Dungey, Stewart, and Villopoto to take over the top four spots within a few laps (Barcia was busy stomping the Lites class last year), but my how things have changed in a year! Not only did this not happen within a few laps in San Diego, it just never happened at all. Reed got around Tickle in short order and was starting to pressure Millsaps at the halfway point of the race but he lost his front wheel and went down, dropping him to seventh. Barcia got by Brayton and Tickle and inherited second when Reed crashed, but behind him Dungey, Stewart, and Villopoto were having fits trying to get by Justin Brayton who clung to 4th place until past the 15th lap! Brayton is a great rider with a proven track record, but I really don’t think we would have expected him to hold off a superstar freight train like that for 15 laps last year! In fact Villopoto struggled for several laps to get by Matt Goerke cleanly! He passed him once, but Goerke passed him back briefly. This would have seemed impossible a year ago…Villopoto would have passed him like he was a pylon! Matt Goerke, in fact, may be one of the biggest surprises of the 2013 season. Goerke currently sits in 11th place in the points, and has shown on several occasions that he can run the pace of the fastest guys. Way to go Goerke! All that good, clean Canadian air is doing you some good! In the end Millsaps led wire to wire, Barcia rode flawlessly to come home second, and Dungey clawed his way to third by moto’s end, claiming the top finish of the riders who would have been considered the favourites a year ago. Stewart, Reed, and Villipoto finished 4th, 5th, and 6th respectively. For mere mortals these would be considered decent finishes, but for these three multi-time Champions anything short of a win has to be considered a failure, especially when all three were inside the top ten on lap one. I can’t help but think of another verse from that song by my ‘other’ idol, Bob Dylan:
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.
Davi Millsaps has become 'The Magic Man' this year. He has a decent lead in the series, but he's yet to have his 'bad night' that you just know is coming. You can't help but jump on his bandwagon at this point, but this thing is far from over.
Another podium finish keeps Ryan Dungey very much within striking distance. In a season where consistency is so important you have to like Dungey's odds.
You can't help but love 'Bam Bam'. Justin Barcia has been rock solid all season and has been in the hunt for wins every time out in his rookie season. Two bad nights have cost him in the series though.
Ryan Villopoto is still everything he was at the start of the season: fast and aggressive. His aggression has bitten him several times this year, and now he has his work cut out for him. I still wouldn't bet against him.
Up close Villopoto is still perhaps the most impressive rider on the track. He charges like no other.
I suspect Chad Reed thought he had this one in the bag until he slid out at the halfway point. He seemed to be just sizing Millsaps up for the pass. This one had to hurt.
Stewart is looking better each week, but it may be too little too late considering how well others are riding. This ain't the good old days, I don't expect anyone will put together a string of 5 or more wins this year.
How impressive was Justin Brayton in San Diego?! For most of the race it looked like a top 5 finish was in the works, but a late race charge by some of the best in the biz relegated him to 7th.
I'm so impressed with what Canadian MX Champ Matt Goerke is doing this year. The fact that he is now one of the riders introduced before the show starts says it all!
Broc Tickle found himself in 3rd after the first lap, but an excursion off the track dropped him just outside the top ten by race end.
Davi exits the track with another 25 points in his pocket!
Davi is very much at the centre of the action now, and clearly loving every minute of it.
Barcia has enough character for ten riders, and the skill to go with it.
Everyone loves Bam Bam!
Ryan Dungey is a quality character. You don't get hand picked by Roger DeCoster and mentored by Ricky Carmichael unless you're very talented, very dedicated, and an all 'round good guy.
Chad Reed was quiet and reflective after the race...it wasn't the ending he was visualizing.
James was something less than thrilled with his 4th place finish. After passing Millsaps in his heat race, he surely had higher hopes for this night.
Apparently this was the first time ever for a Suzuki to win San Diego. Considering some of the riders they've had over the years this puts Davi in some elite air.
This is clearly shaping up to be the best Supercross season in recent history. I can’t remember a year where I tuned in each week with absolutely no idea who would win. I’m honoured to have been a part of it. My experience at San Diego will stay with me for a long, long time. I know there are more head-shots in this article than people are used to, but I admit it…I was star-struck. These guys are the future of humanity as far as I’m concerned, and the fact that I think that really does concern me.
For those of you like me who just can’t get enough I’ll end with a few shots from the qualifying sessions.
Cole Seely had a tough night in San Diego, but he'll have his moment.
Trey Canard came from 13th to 9th during the race. With the top 10 guys so close in speed it's tough to overcome a bad start this season.
Davi was right up there on the leader board throughout timed qualifying. He'll be looking over his shoulder a lot for the rest of the season!
Cole Seely again. I snapped a lot of shots of him in practice because he looked like a man on a mission. The San Diego Charger helmet was a nice touch!
Malcolm Stewart is a fan favourite and flashy rider. He seems to have inherited his brother's penchant for crashing though, he ate it hard in San Diego.
I don't know if Austin Politelli will be coming back to Canada again, but we'd love to see him!
One last word for Gauldy…I’m thinking I’d like to go to Seattle when the show comes around. This was too good to be a ‘once in a lifetime’ thing! Can you hook me up again?! BFF!
So, we’re batting 500 for the fall series so far! I’ve always felt that God had a pretty sick sense of humour, and he’s really been up to his old tricks of late. First Port Alberni gets cancelled due to overheating and fire hazard, and then just a few weeks later Campbell River is beset with a torrent of rain that had me thinking about pairing up the animals and building an ark. Whenever things don’t go exactly as planned, which is most of the time, I call it an ‘adventure’. All in all, life is one big adventure. You have to choose to either accept it and make the best of what you’re served, or spend your life cursing the fact that life never seems to serve up exactly what you ordered. I choose to flow with the river and see where it takes me, rather than trying to swim against it. I’ve been doing a lot of going with the flow recently. Ya, I know, I’ve been pretty tardy about getting this report done. It’s been over two weeks since our last race in Nanaimo. Fact is, things just haven’t been flowing in regards to getting the reports done. The river’s been dragging me off in another direction of late. I was mildly panicked leading up to this weekend thinking I would be behind by two races, and time still wasn’t availing itself to get them done. In the middle of it all I had a very important date to attend to. My beautiful, thoughtful, and ever considerate new bride purchased tickets to take me to see Bob Dylan. This is far more meaningful than it may appear. First, DJ mostly only tolerates Bob while I verge on being obsessed with him, so it was especially big of her to purchase such expensive tickets and book a hotel at the end of a substantial road trip; it was clearly all ‘for me’. Sort of. I, like so many of his real die-hard fans, have a special, almost spiritual connection to Bob. Weird, almost magic things tend to happen for us Dylanites whenever he enters our life. I think Donna has been trying to get to the bottom of my apparent obsession for a while. After this weekend, I think she is starting to feel the magic. He started the concert with ‘Watching the River Flow’, and the show peaked with his visceral rendition of ‘High Water Rising’. Real romantic magic happened when he played our wedding song, ‘Make You Feel My Love’. It was the one and only time he has played that song on this tour. A truly deluded Dylanite conspiracy theorist like myself will insist this happened specifically for Donna and I…or more precisely, for Donna, to make her feel Bob’s power. I’m not one of those crackpot wack-jobs who believes that Bob Dylan IS God, but I do have reason to believe that he works very closely with him. So, if you’re cursing the fact that the race was cancelled in Campbell River, you can blame me. I was secretly visualizing some scenario that would allow me to catch up with life a bit. Apparently, Bob had a chat with God, invoked a couple of rain dance songs, and got the job done for me. Despite the cancellation of the race, it was a magic weekend for me. It ended with another small confirmation of the magic all around us in life. The same ponds that formed to force the cancellation of the race, also provided a platform for a few members of my moto family to prove that life is what you make of it. Jesse Ryan, Torin Ironside, and Jacey Wissman know how to go with the flow. Given a lake in the middle of the parking lot, they seized the opportunity to do a little water skiing and mud wrestling. Their ability to find laughter in a tough situation warmed my heart. Bob would have been proud of them!
So yeah, I’ve been diverted of late. You could say my workload has been flooded, and I’m just barely keeping my head above water. I’ve taken on a big new project that’s been taking up most of my time over the past couple of weeks. I can’t divulge all the facts yet, but I will say that there will be a new dirt bike shop opening up in the Cowichan area before Christmas! It won’t be big, and it won’t be fancy, but hopefully it will grow to satisfy all your motocross and dirt-biking needs. The final plans are still being finalized, but the first stocking orders have been placed and I’ve been busy painting and laying out the small area I have to work with. My goal is to be ‘the little shop that can!’, and to grow into a vital part of the dirt biking scene on the island. I’m pretty pumped…stay tuned for more details. My enthusiasm for the fall Club Series format remains unabated. Yes, we lost a few riders to the ongoing Victoria series at the second round, and yes, it was unfortunate that the Port Alberni and Campbell River races had to be cancelled, but the Nanaimo track was as good as it gets (thanks again to Paul and Dylan Hansen, Craig and Stephen Weme, and the Nelson family), and the quality of racing was once again fantastic! The track was groomed to ‘Talladega’ perfection; virtually every rider I spoke to raved about how good it was. I suspect most riders set personal best lap times during the weekend, the track was just that good. Although we lost a handful of riders to the Victoria race, we once again had more than enough new riders coming out to compensate for this. We’ve sold 21 new CMRC licenses during the first two races of the fall series! That’s 21 riders, who didn’t race in the Spring, coming out for the shorter, cheaper fall series. Take note VIMX! The end result was that we still had 133 entries, which is fantastic for the fall (by comparison, Victoria had 58 sign-ups of which 24 were on 50cc bikes!). If all the stars align it would be awesome to see 150 entries at one of the remaining fall races! I’m now full swing into putting photo packages together, so I’ve posted fewer photos this week so that those who’ve purchased a photo package will have some pleasant surprises when they get their disc, and those who haven’t ordered one…will!
This weekend we had a brand new, first time winner in the 50cc class! I’ve know Kyron Ketch for the vast majority of his life, and he’s made me laugh since the first time I met him. Yah, he’s a bit of a wild man, but he comes by it honestly…and that’s all I’m gonna say about that! Last year he used to ask me every week if I got any good pictures of him for the ‘blob’. Fact is, I usually did, because Kyron has never been afraid to twist the throttle. This weekend it finally all came together for him and he put together a 1-1 day to win the class. Congratulations little dude! It wasn’t without a battle though, because newcomer Drake Richmond is coming fast! I’m pretty sure the opening round of the fall series was Drake’s first race, but he’s already looking pretty racy out there. It’s evident that he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with as the series progresses. Ty Cyr rounded out the podium, followed by Austin Dockendorf, and Charley Roberts. Special mention must go to Sebastian Sulyok who started the season out on a PW50, and has now moved on to a KTM50. He has gone from ‘negotiating the track’ to ‘getting air’ in the process, and this weekend he passed a couple of riders out on the track. It’s amazing how fast these kids catch on. I especially like Sebastian’s father Steve’s attitude. Steve says, ‘as long as he’s smiling at the end of it, it was a successful day of racing!’
I’m just loving the battles in the newly invigorated 65cc class! At the front of the pack Justin Daniels, Cameron Bradley, and Kolten Pieters battle it out every weekend, with newcomer Kaya Saunders not far off the pace. Just behind them Wyatt Soderstrom and Damien McLaughlin have an ongoing battle, and another newcomer, Garret Horsman, and Kyron Ketch also swapped moto finishes this weekend. It was Justin Daniels’ turn to get back into winning form this weekend after he and Cameron Bradley swapped moto wins. Bradley ended up 2nd on the day. Kolton Pieters failed to finish the first moto, but stormed back to a solid 3rd in the second moto, unfortunately for him though, this wasn’t good enough to knock Kaya Saunders off the podium. Kaya had an impressive 3-4 day, finishing just ahead of Wyatt Soderstrom who went 4-5.
The 85cc and Open Mini classes have really come alive this fall. Harrison Bradley is still the man, but he was unable to overcome a horrific start in the second 85cc moto and handed the overall win to Wyatt Youland, who’s been riding fantastic. With fifteen riders to pass, instead of six or eight, Bradley fell just short and had to settle for 3rd in the moto and 2nd overall. Youland, on the other hand, followed Bradley over the finish line in the first moto and then won the afternoon race, securing the overall. Youland, Wyatt Scheres, and Steven Macdonald had some great battles throughout the day, and just behind them David Bradley, Brandon Johnson, Austin Archer, Mitchell Nelson, and Tanner Meyland all seem capable of beating each other depending how the cards fall. I’m just loving this racing. It’s so refreshing not knowing who is going to beat who at the start of each race, and so much emphasis now falls on the start…just like real motocross! This is the kind of racing that really builds racing character in our kids.
Chris Kulhawy once again won both Beginner motos, followed by Brad Kitzul. Walter Gisborne and Brendon Wilkinson swapped podium finishes, with Gisborne winning the ever important afternoon moto.
Camille Baker won both motos. Jodie Stokes raced for the first time this year (I think), and beat all but the queen. Dana Wacker, who won the first round, battled with Jesse Jenkins and managed to beat her in the second moto to secure the final podium position. Jessie also managed to beat Ana Jellema in both motos. She seemed to have some fire in her eyes this weekend.
The Ageless Classes
Dwight Dockendorf has really put a stamp on the age classes this fall. He won all four of his motos this weekend and seems to be able to come from behind the other two fast guys, Dwayne Richmond and Paul Gallagher, if he has to. Gallagher managed to hold off Richmond in one 35+ moto, but Richmond seems to be able to beat him most of the time. That said, Gallagher hasn’t raced as much as Richmond this year, and seemed a little closer this weekend than 3 weeks ago. It will be interesting to see if Gallagher can find another gear over the last few rounds. Ryan Middleton seemed to struggle in the Spring series with weird mechanical issues (among other things), but it was obvious he was fast. He finally put it all together this weekend and finished right behind the fast three in both the Over 30 and the 35+ class. Paul Hansen rounded out the top 5 in the +35 class, and Camille Baker did the same in the Over 30 race. In the +45 class Tracy Morlok returned to old form and won both motos, followed by Dion Klassen and Stuart Abernethy.
So, it took Joe Nikirk exactly two races to win his first Jr. race. Sure, mainlander Carson Campbell appears to have him covered, but he fell in the second moto…and that counts too! Nikirk is still riding the big bike well within himself, he doesn’t appear to be pushing it at all…just riding smart and safe, and fast. Of course Joe’s success in the Junior class doesn’t surprise me, I said in an earlier report that mini stars like Joe are actually Intermediate riders when they first hit the Junior class. Joe has pretty much proven my point. He had better battles with Intermediate riders like Jason Abernethy and Ryan Bachinski in the Under 30 class than any Juniors except Campbell (who has also pointed into the Intermediate class). The rider who did impress me this weekend was Zack Mix, who rode to two solid 3rd place finishes in the Junior motos. He was up there mixing it up with Nikirk and Campbell early in the motos and just lost touch a little as the race wore on. Zack’s a really likeable kid, I’m glad to see him having some success. After Mix all the usual suspects battled it out, with Stephen Weme nailing down two 4th place finishes on his new bike just ahead of Alex Haley, Isaiah Haylett, and Jacey Wissman. Camille Baker ran with the boys and managed to hold on to a top ten spot, coming home 8th overall. Just up from the mini classes, Tyler Wilson was also impressive in 9th overall, just ahead of newcomer Andre Hall. It’s great having 20+ riders in the Junior class again.
Daniel Vanderbasch was beaten by Dylan Hansen in two motos this weekend, but he still managed to win the Intermediate overall. First, it was amazing riding by Hansen, but I must point out the caveat. Vanderbasch was riding on a leg he can barely walk on, and can not straighten out. Mere mortals would not race on a leg that cannot support their own weight, let alone the rigors of motocross, but Daniel Vanderbasch is no ordinary kid. He just loves to race, and after all the hardship he’s endured, I guess a bum knee is not nearly enough to stop him. Hansen beat him in the first Intermediate moto, but Vanderbasch stormed back to win the second moto and the overall. I just hope he doesn’t do more damage than has already been done, and that he can be back to 100% when the gate drops in the Spring. As mentioned, Dylan Hansen beat Vanderbasch twice this weekend. I don’t know if this would have happened if Vanderbasch was healthy, but none-the-less, Hansen seems to be claiming his spot ahead of the rest of the Intermediates. It’s been an incredible transformation from the Dylan Hansen who raced the spring Championship series! Blaine Morrow was 3rd, but he doesn’t seem to be riding with the kind of panache or intensity that the front two riders have shown of late. Abernethy was his usual solid self in 4th, but he couldn’t seem to buy a start this weekend. Ryan Bachinski appears to be racing himself back into the form I know he’s capable of. He finished 5th overall this weekend. I don’t know if he will be able to pilot his little 125 past the current Intermediate front-runners, but he’s definitely riding well and picking up the pace each weekend. The rider I have to wonder about over the last couple of rounds is Damon Riesach. Riesach was really coming on at the end of the Spring series, he rode fantastic at the National’s Amateur day, but he seems to be struggling the last couple of rounds. I know he’s better than he’s been at the last two rounds. It looks to me like he’s over-riding the bike. I’m going to suggest a training technique that worked for me when I got myself into a similar funk. Ride to the point of exhaustion, then keep riding. Doing this forces you to start riding to conserve energy, and limit excess movement on and by the bike. It makes it readily apparent where you are exerting more effort than you need to, and tends to help smooth out your style. If you usually do twenty minute motos when you practice, ride for thirty minutes or more. When your arms get so pumped up you can’t hold on anymore, start using your legs to grip more and maintain your center of balance to take the strain off your arms. I really think this is what Damon needs to do to get back to the form that was producing such great results a month or two ago. He just needs to smooth things out again, and stop trying so hard!
Dylan Hansen and Daniel Vanderbasch went at it again in the Under 30 class, once again swapping moto wins, but this time Hansen won the second showdown and the overall. I’m so glad Hansen has found his groove. I was pretty vocal about the fact that he should move up to Intermediate this year after dominating the Jr. class last fall, and to be honest, I was beginning to fear that the move might have taken all the wind out of his sails. This can happen. It’s finally evident though, that he made the right choice in moving up, and in fact he’s exceeding all expectations at this point. It’s always a hot topic when you start talking about move ups, especially when you consider not just the island, but the classes nationwide. It’s been great see the Jr. and Intermediate classes mix in the Under 30 races, and also to have Carson Campbell racing on the island for the fall. Campbell was one of the fastest Jr. riders on the mainland all season, so he serves as a good measuring stick for our boys. As it looks right now, our Jr. boys are about an inch and a half short! Given the nature of our Jr. class, being a little smaller than many districts, I feel that, with few exceptions, a rider should ‘dominate’ the class here on the island before they move up. No one, with the possible exception of Joe Nikirk (if you can call two races dominating), has done that this year. Carson Campbell looks like he would have dominated had he been here all season, and he will be an Intermediate next year. He has shown in the Under 30 class that he is a top 5 contender against Intermediates and is ready to make the move. Zack Mix has had his moments this fall, he was 3rd in Jr. and 3rd best Jr. in Under 30 in Nanaimo, and maybe if he’d ridden all season he would be there too, but by National standards our best Juniors are just ‘good’. If I was on VIMX next year, which I likely won’t be, I would support any of our Juniors who wanted to spend another year in the class. I know though, that many of them will jump on the opportunity to move up. It’s only hindsight that makes me aware that Junior is the most fun class to race. Virtually all of my best memories occurred while I was a Junior, and I think most long time racers would say the same thing. I know, it’s a status thing to get rid of those red numbers and get into the black, but if you do it at the expense of ultimately losing the enjoyment of racing is it really worth it? I’ve seen three Jr. riders consistently demonstrate mid-pack Intermediate level riding skills this season: Graham Scott, Carson Campbell, and Joe Nikirk. The rest of the Juniors should be asking themselves, “Do I really think I can compete against Intermediate riders, (bearing in mind that by my logic some of our Intermediates probably shouldn’t be!) or will I just spend all season following them around from half a lap behind? And would that be as much fun as I had this year competing for wins every weekend?” I think all of our title contenders from this year have the potential to be National caliber Juniors, and I’d love to see that happen. I just think they need one more year to get there, but unfortunately the pointing out system is a little bit flawed on the island at the moment. There is a correction process available however. Riders can request VIMX to allow them another year in Junior. I’d say make the request, and if it’s granted to you (which it may or may not be), accept the gift and say thank you very much! Please understand I don’t mean to disparage our Juniors, I only mean to point out what I think Carson Campbell and Joe Nikirk have made obvious this fall; our Juniors are still Juniors. I always like to end brash statements like this by saying, please, by all means, prove me wrong if you think I am. I’d be thrilled to see it!
The Relay Race!
The relay race was, once again, a ton of fun. The teams seemed a little more focused on winning, and there were fewer of them…possibly because of the shift in competitive emphasis. Once again the ‘Over the Shoulder Boulder Holders’ (Tanner Meyland, Joe Nikirk, Blaine Morrow, Paul Gallagher) won in spectacular fashion, taking the lead on the final lap. They will almost certainly be moved up to the Intermediate relay division next season. ‘Weme’s Worms’ (Harrison Bradley, Stephen Weme, Jesse Ryan, Joel Bradbrooke) finished second thanks to a friggin’ awesome final corner move by Joel Bradbrooke to hold off team ‘Friggin’ Awesomeness’ (Brandon Johnson, Alex Haley, Daniel Vanderbasch, Dwayne Richmond) anchor rider Dwayne Richmond. Richmond, who many thought was faster than Bradbrooke, actually passed Bradbrooke in the final straight, but then Bradbrooke (18) took the inside line and executed a perfect pass on Richmond (15) to take the position back (see photo)and establish his superiority. We are all waiting now to see if Bradbrooke can continue the domination he displayed over Richmond at the next race!
Well, I sure hope we all get to race next weekend in Port Alberni! I just got a report that it’s looking good at the moment; about halfway between too hot and too wet. It would be great to get this race series completed before Christmas! Banquet tickets are now for sale so bring a little extra cash to PA to purchase your tickets. The banquet is set for November 17th in Duncan. It should be a great time as usual, as long as we can keep the under-agers out of the booze! Seriously kids, leave the drinking to those of us who’ve developed the skills to do it without making a mess, and we’ll leave the motocross racing to you!
Now is the right time to leverage your company’s brand in the motocross world by contributing sponsorship to burgeoning MX racer Damon Riesach. Although Riesach is only 15 years old, he has been racing on Vancouver Island for over 10 years. Riesach is extremely well known and liked in motocross circles.
Riesach has made a habit of winning races. In the spring of 2010 he won both the 85cc and Supermini Championships on the Island, as well as the Junior MX-2 title. Then in the fall of that same year he moved up to the Intermediate class, one step below Pro, and finished third in the series. He was only 13 years old when he accomplished this. In 2011 Riesach suffered a series of injuries that essentially wiped out his season.
In 2012 Riesach has been riding back into top form. He was the highest finishing Island Intermediate and Youth at the National tour ‘Amateur Day’ and handily qualified for the Pro event. Riesach was recently identified in an independent article as the #5 Top Prospect on the island, but he is at least a year younger than all but one rider above him on the list. Riesach still has a decade or so to establish himself as a top National level Pro, and he’s working hard toward that goal.
Riesach will mount a full on charge to win the Intermediate Championship on the island next year, as well as racing at local rounds of the Pro National series. He has won at every level on his way up and has the skill to do the same at the Intermediate and eventually, the Pro level as well. Winning at this level requires hard work and some financial support. Riesach has demonstrated the work ethic required to win, he just needs some support to make it happen.
You can contribute to Riesach’s career with either free or discounted products, or through cash contributions. In return you will get your name on his graphics, and on his sponsor list, which is read out regularly at events Riesach competes in. Riesach will also hang any banners or other promotional products you provide in his pit area.
If you would like to support Damon please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m gonna tell you a couple things I know about suspension. You may have noticed that my stepson Tanner has suddenly come alive at the races. Well, you may not of noticed, but trust me, he has. Last year he approached racing very casually, coasted down the straights and rolled every jump. Then, all of a sudden, he started to turn the gas on and go. I hadn’t really done much with his suspension when he wasn’t really using it, but as soon as he started hitting jump faces I could see his bike was kicking the back end up off every jump. My experience told me right away this was a suspension thing. I did what I could with the back and sent the forks to be re-sprung and set-up by Ellis Tull at STS Racing Suspension. When I bolted the bike back together Tanner was hitting everything, and clearing it all easily. His bike handled better, tracked better, and wasn’t kicking awkwardly off every jump! He’s gotten progressively faster ever since. When customers used to come into Duncan Motorsports looking to spend hundreds of dollars hopping up their engines, I used to tell most of them flat out, “Your engine already has more power than you’re able to use! Spend your money on suspension, that’s what will help you use what your bike already has!”
There are a few keys to setting up your suspension correctly. The most important thing is understanding how your suspension works, how it should be adjusted, and the primary ways available for you to make the necessary adjustments. First you must be clear on the fact that a shock has two primary modes of operation, and you usually have control over both on a modern motocross bike. A shock (or fork) is either ‘compressing’ or ‘rebounding’. I think we’re all clear on the notion of a spring requiring more or less weight to compress, and the importance of this compression rate, but another important element in a functioning shock is controlling the rate at which the spring rebounds. This is controlled with a combination of oil/gas/air based hydraulics. The hydraulics control the rate at which your spring is allowed to rebound. Without rebound ‘damping’ control your bike would be like a bucking bronco trying to throw you over its head on every bump!
I get myself familiar with all the external adjusters available to me, and see how they affect the handling of the bike. I know though, that no amount of adjusting can compensate for having the wrong spring. I’m prepared to change springs and make external adjustments, but when it comes to internal adjustments I’ve come to let the professionals handle it. Fork and shock internals are not as simple as they once were. There are a lot of moving parts, and leaving one bolt just a little looser than speck can have disastrous results. Trust me, I know this from experience! So for the big stuff I send my suspension to Ellis Tull at STS Suspension, and defer to his knowledge.
I visited Ellis at his shop to get a bit better idea of what he does, and find out more about him and STS Racing Suspension. I learned a lot of interesting stuff I thought I’d share. There’s some really important, great stuff in here that every motocrosser should be clear on.
(Q) Tell me a little about yourself.
(A) I raced all over western Canada until 1983 when I tore my knee up real bad and had to stop riding. I still followed the sport closely and attended lots of races as a spectator, then in 1993 I borrowed a bike and raced a local race in Nanaimo and won by a mile. That kind of gave me the racing bug again. I raced until 2003 when I crashed and broke my neck and back at a race in Agassiz which left me paraplegic. It took a year or so to get healthy and in 2005 I opened up Shock Therapy Suspension.
Ellis raced back when Yamaha's had 'Monoshock' rear suspension, and forks were still 'up-side-right'!
(Q) Where did you get your knowledge of suspension?
(A) I always had a knack for getting the bike to work well, when I raced my bike worked better than most. I wouldn’t be afraid of charging through the rough stuff. Having my bike set up right gave me confidence which Is huge in MX. I also went to a couple of suspension schools in the U.S., one in the Seattle area which helped affirm what I already knew, and in 2008 I spent some time in California at Race Tech technical schools. That was amazing! The owner, Paul Thede, is a brilliant man and to work with other suspension tuners at that time on the same level was hugely beneficial.
(Q) Tell me about STS?
(A) I have a shop in Cedar just outside Nanaimo. Last August I built a 1000 square foot facility just for suspension. I’m a dealer for Race Tech, Moto-Pro Suspension, Suspension Direct, Fox, Progressive Suspension, etc.. I work on all makes and models, street, dirt, off road, side by side, ATV, and snowmobile. Being in a wheelchair I need a different set up for working conditions, I have an area for disassembly and cleaning, and another machining area which is separate from where I do all my valving and rebuilding. I have an area for all my spring inventory and I also have a spring tester. I test every spring that comes through the shop so I can assure that the rider has the correct spring for the bike. I love my shop and job, I’m super lucky to work at something I love!
Ellis in his super cool, super clean shop.
Ellis keeps a good supply of springs in stock, and has a spring tester to make sure each spring is really what it says it is! Very important!
(Q) What is most thing important a rider can do to his suspension?
(A) Have the correct spring rates, when the manufacturer makes the bikes he doesn’t know who is buying the bike; they don’t know if you weigh 150lbs or 225 lbs. I would say 3 in 10 people who buy bikes don’t have to change spring rates.
(Q) How important is setting Race Sag?
(A) Setting the sag is the first thing a rider should do. For a big bike the sag number should be around 100 mm. This measurement is taken by putting the bike on a stand and measuring from your axle to a point slightly ahead of vertical on the fender. This is your ‘unsprung’ measurement. Record the number, then have the rider (with gear on) sit on the bike and take another measurement from the same two points. The difference between the two should be 100 mm. If it is less (say 95mm) then loosen the preload collar and feed in 5 more mm of sag. Once you have the sag number correct it’s time to check the static sag. This determines if the spring rate is correct for your weight. With the bike on the ground under its own weight take another measurement between the two points and record the number, it should be between 30-40 mm less than your original ‘unsprung’ weight. If the number is more than 40mm then the spring is too stiff! Yes, intuition tells you this sounds backwards! The explanation is that because the spring is too stiff you have turned the preload on the shock too far down to get the desired 100 mm of race sag. Now, when the bike is under its own weight, there is not enough preload on the spring to support the bike and it has too much static sag. Nifty, huh?!
A rack of shocks currently being worked on by Ellis.
(Q) Does the sag affect how the bike handles?
(A) Yes for sure, if your bike is unbalanced you will have a bike that won’t corner right or have traction issues. If there is not enough sag the bike will ride high in the back and under acceleration it will spin it’s tire because the rear end won’t squat correctly under power, vise versa, if you run too much rear sag the front won’t have enough weight on it and will deflect and won’t be planted.
(Q) What is the most common mistake people make with the rear shock?
(A) I see a lot of people spend their time adjusting their compression adjuster on the shock, they will make an adjustment go out for a lap come back in make another adjustment and do this a few more times and finally get the compression where they like it. Then they adjust the rebound, what hardly anyone knows is that the rebound adjuster crosses over and affects the compression dramatically. If you slow the rebound down (turning it in) it will make the shock considerably firmer, so the rider spent 45 minutes dialing in the compression then threw it out of wack by adjusting the rebound. Always get your rebound set first, then the compression.
Ellis at work.
(Q) What about the front end, what is the most common mistake people make with it?
(A) Installing the front wheel incorrectly! I had one of the best racers on the islands bike in the shop they were putting the front wheel on after some work on the forks. I watched and they did it totally wrong! I was stunned! I mentioned it and they said they were doing it like that for years. If the wheel is installed wrong you will get a binding issue where one fork is working against the other.
(Q) I hear a lot of people complain about harsh forks, how do you fix that?
(A) If the spring rate is correct and the front wheel is installed correctly, you can start with the clickers. When experiencing harshness, the first thing that most people do is turn their compression clickers softer. Again, counter-intuitively, this make the forks worse most of the time. What this does is allow the fork to blow through the stroke too fast, so when you hit a 8″ bump the forks are compressing down into the area of the stroke that is designed for a 15” bump…so the forks feel harsh. Try stiffening the compression! There are many other issues that can cause harshness, but this is definitely the most common thing I see.
(Q) When you are at the track how many bikes do you see that are set up correctly?
(A) It’s sad to say, but not many! Most riders put a $1000.00 pipe and $300.00 worth of graphics on their bike and run their suspension stock. There is nothing wrong with the pipe and graphics, but if your rear wheel is bouncing all over the place your fancy looking bike is not going forward very fast!
(Q) With the variety of tracks on the island will one set up work for all tracks?
(A) No, with the diverse soil make up of the 5 tracks on the island, it is best to have different set ups for each track. With Port McNeill being sand and Campbell River being ½ sand you need one set up for that, and with Alberni being more gravelly it requires a another set up. Nanaimo is hard pack and what you run everywhere won’t work at Nanaimo, and Victoria has another soil compound which I would have my bike set up differently for as well. The best way to do this is have a different set up for every track in a log book and when you get to the track your bike is already dialed so instead of trying to get your bike set up in practice you learn the track instead of playing with the bike, and as the day goes along and the track gets rougher keep up on the adjustments. Write them down and use them as a reference for later.
(Q) I hear you have developed a new valve body design for suspension?
(A) Yes, so far I have one for just forks. I had an idea for this and had some riders (Bruce Donaldson, Ryan Lalonde, and my wife Shelley) run them in their bikes last year. I used their feedback and spent lots of time at the track with Bruce and Shelley testing. I took a year to finish, but it is an amazing product for forks, for the shock it will take another year till I’m happy with that design.
Ellis designed his own custom fork valves. They have a more controlled flow dynamics and work super progressively.
(Q) What do you do for fun these days?
(A) I spend as much time as I can these days at the Whistler Mountain Bike Park. I have a four wheel downhill mountain bike that rips! It’s the closest thing to moto that I can get. It’s a gravity bike so you have to pick lines and carry speed and hit your marks braking just like moto. Shelley and I go for a week, we take her KTM and mountain bike for 3-4 days, then go to the Pemberton track where I can work with my customers from the mainland while she gets a good day of moto in, then it’s back to the bike park for a few more days before we finish the week off with another day back at Pemberton! I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a week.
Ellis still knows how to have fun! This must be the coolest wheelchair in the world!
(Q) What do you think of the current crop of riders on the island?
(A) I think the island has a few real promising riders, obviously Ryan Lalonde with only a few years of racing experience under his belt earning national points is fantastic! I like Joe Nikirk and Wyatt Youland, they are fast and ride the correct way, and Ryder Roth has style and rides smooth and fast. I can’t forget Graham Scott. He’s fast, smooth and has already had enough bad luck in the last year to last a lifetime. These guys are not only good riders but are also good sports and respect other riders on the track as well. I’m sure there are plenty more riders just like them, but those are the ones that come to mind. I think the tracks are generally getting prepped better, and are safer. I think they are too easy, but the last thing we need is to have people on the sidelines injured. There is a fine line there between difficult and safe.
You can learn more and contact Ellis by clicking on his ad in the sidebar of this website.