It wasn’t easy watching the MX2 class head out for their qualifying session last weekend.
Out there doing it was our “adopted son” Laurent Fath, proceeding to qualify in the top ten despite getting spat off his bike on one particularly soft section. After wiping the blood from his nose and straightening the front end of his bike, he finished the last lap while I looked on jealously.
The pull of riding dirt bikes can be so strong that the racers’ mind usually glosses over any thoughts of injury and would never think about the possible long term effects. Laurent’s crash, and even the bigger one he had later in the day did not deter my feeling that I should be racing that day. What I had to do was break out of that mentality completely, and look logically on the situation. 90% sure that the ACL in my knee was broken still left 10% of doubt, but those are odds that I knew I had to take in order to look after my body for the many years to come.
Out front it was impressive to watch the 250 two strokes come off the start in the lead like a raging pack of wolves, before proceeding to tear up the rough and powdery track. Further back, Laurent was riding like an animal himself, quickly moving from mid pack to within the top ten. The fact that a small mistake cost him four positions which he would never get back again was of small importance. Instead of focusing on the mistake, he just needed to continue riding like he had been, advice that he obviously took on board for race two.
Not getting the jump off the gates he needed, he got boxed out down the start straight and once again had to work his way through the field. It was exciting for me to watch and I got to experience a little of the buzz that a parent can get from watching their kid ride at their potential. By the end of the race he had passed some top riders to finish in tenth place which we were very happy with.
Blaze of Glory
By this time I was feeling happy about not riding, knowing that chances of injury were so high. It was just the wrong time of year to be racing here, and while full credit goes to Tokoroa MCC for their huge watering effort, the conditions were challenging. Which is what made me even more impressed to see the way Laurent came from hitting the gate off the start to getting back into tenth after just four laps, with every prospect of moving further up the field until a big crash before the finish line forced him to call it quits. He was gutted, but we were impressed, and to come away with only some bumps and another blood nose was pretty good in our books. I know that our friend Scott Bar-Smith was happy.