Do you know that feeling of being well and truly scared before a ride? During my first 6 months on a motorbike at 13 years old I had a sickness in my gut everytime we drove to the farm that we rode at. It was pure fear, an almost irrational dread of the known and unknown dangers involved. I really wanted to ride and fortunately I still did, eventually getting to a point where I didn’t get that feeling any more.
But now it is back. Sitting in front of me is this technical practice track carved freshly out of the soil of the Phillip’s farm near Rotorua. It is a supercross track with its big jumps, difficult timing sections and monster whoops. The thought crosses my mind, “Maybe I should just pull out of the racing this weekend and just stay in one piece. I’m sure everyone would understand.” But there is also this aching for the satisfaction of conquering such a beast as this. And also the dream of doing well come the weekend and eventually the vain but pleasant glory of future success.
So I start the bike and aimed to get a new jump done every lap. Some sections take many attempts, even to the point where I almost run out of gas trying to get three perfect runs. When it is time to go home I am still in one piece. The track doesn’t seem nearly as daunting any more and you wonder what all the fuss was about. But there is also this feeling of elation, an adrenaline buzz that would never have been as great if the fear hadn’t been so real. You might wonder what I am going on about but anyone who has experienced all this will have a quirky little smile on their lips.
The Big Time
Anyone who was at Hamilton last year will know how big a deal the Australasian Super X is. As close as most of us kiwi’s will ever get to being a part of an AMA Supercross it blows you away just to be there and lives up to the hype. This year there were two rounds and this time both classes were full of Aussie contenders.
At Auckland the track was definitely not over the heads of us kiwi’s so long as we accepted that we weren’t going to be doing all the timing sections the likes of Matt Moss and PJ Larsen could do. Every time the stutters loomed closer the thought “not this again” loomed, but it really wasn’t too bad- unless you were too cautious and went too slow or hung off the back of the bike. I actually enjoyed the whoops and made up much of my time there even on the Aussies so I was pretty happy going in to qualifying.
And they’re Racing!
I got a start in the top six and just stayed there most of the race with a decent gap either side of me. All was going well until a lapper came off in the whoops in front and I went down on the following berm but kept the bike running and soon passed back the couple of spots that I lost. That was until my bike started feeling really weird and I realized I had a flat front tyre.
That put me outside of the top ten qualifying positions and although I beat some Aussie riders they obviously got the nod to go through to the final in front of me seeing as they had come so far, which left Craig Smith and I watching the first couple of finals from the sidelines.
Fortunately for me a spot opened up for the last race and I really wanted to ride so lined up on the outside of the gates. My start wasn’t the best but I picked off riders and went around others who were falling off, finishing in 11th place and first kiwi home. That was a good buzz and I got really keen on the next weekend for Dunedin.
That week I got more practice at the Phillips property and then at the Backflips Supercross track in Timaru, Jeremy McKnight pulling out all the stops to give us the best prepared track possible in the conditions they had. If I was ever going to be fresh for a Super X this was my chance.
Unfortunately the misty rain fell on Friday night and set in to stay. The track in Carisbrook looked so cool with its dragons back and tyre tap jumps across the starting line so it was a real shame it couldn’t stay dry. However it did take any possible pressure there was left off us as riders and I just wanted to give it a real good go.
My aim was to ride without fear, going for everything I safely could within reason. It worked really well and my times were in the top 8 out of all the 250’s and while going for 4th place in my qualifier things were looking good until I got caught out on a small double and did the quickest front flip I have ever felt. Fortunately my body did not hit the ground although the violent wrenching gave me a real working over.
Both my starts went well putting me in 5th or 6th and while going for it in race one didn’t pay off with an off that messed up that race I stayed on the bike in race two for 8th place, a position I was very happy with.
“How does it feel?”
So that was it. Up and down but generally a great buzz and hopefully getting some tv coverage for my sponsors while lined up next to the big boys, especially for Botany Honda and their work in getting my bikes ready and Honda NZ for bringing the truck down.
Do I want to go through all that again next year? Definitely!