BEST OF JODY’S BOX: THE SEVEN MOST PAINFUL WORDS IN MOTOCROSS
I’m often struck by the contradictions in life. People are fallible; that much is obvious, but what we say, what we do and what we said we were going to do are rarely in sync.
Most of the guys I know who say that they “race for the fun of it” are the guys who suck all of the fun out of motocross. They yell at lappers, throw their helmets, and, after a bad moto, plop down in a lawn chair like 175 pounds of compost while stink-eyeing everybody who comes near them. Having fun yet? I am. How so? I stay away from these people on the track and off the track.
How many people can get the holeshot in one gate drop? I know that the correct answer is one person, but after my moto, where I forgot to put the bike in gear when the card went sideways, there are always three riders who claim to have gotten the holeshot. It turns out, to the utter amazement of anyone who ever got a passing grade in an elementary-school math class, that there are three different kinds of holeshots.
The first is the “10-footer.” It’s not uncommon for a guy to tell you that he had the holeshot based on the fact that he got a good jump out of the gate and led until he missed the upshift to third—normally about 10 feet off the line.
The second kind of holeshot is the “back it down.” This is the holeshot definition for a guy who gets a good jump out of the gate, doesn’t miss the third-gear upshift and is at the front of the pack until 50 feet before the actual first turn. At 50 feet, when the charging pack starts to funnel down into a flying V, he silently backs it down and slips quietly into the safety of the back of the pack.
The third kind of holeshot is an actual holeshot. It goes to the guy who gets to the first turn first—and only counts as long as he makes it through the first turn without crashing. Crashing in the first turn negates getting there first, largely because you come out of the turn last.
Injuries are part of the sporting life—everyone from boxers to runners to Tiddlywinks champions suffers debilitating injuries that put them on the sidelines. But, only motocrossers have X-ray vision, just like Superman. Listening to a motocross racer talk about his injuries often leads to a classic conversation:
“HOW MANY PEOPLE WERE IN YOUR CLASS?” IT IS POSSIBLE THAT ELI TOMAC DOESN’T HEAR THESE WORDS AFTER SAYING THAT HE WON A RACE, BUT EVERY OTHER RACER HAS.
“Why aren’t you racing today?” I asked.
“I crashed on Wednesday and broke three ribs,” said Jimmy Mac with a convincing wince.
“Which ones?” I asked with true concern in my voice.
“The ones on this side,” Jimmy replied while lifting his left arm.
“What did the X-ray look like?” I asked.
“I didn’t get an X-ray,” said Jimmy.
“Your doctor didn’t take an X-ray of your broken ribs?” I said in amazement.
“Oh, I didn’t go to my doctor. I could tell that they were broken,” said Jimmy Mac matter-of-factly.
“That’s cool,” I replied. “Can you tell me if I have prostate cancer?”
The seven most painful words in motocross are, “How many people were in your class?” It is possible that Eli Tomac doesn’t hear these words after saying that he won a race, but every racer who ever lived has heard those seven words when they answered the question, “How did you do today?” Although you may have raced two brilliant motos and worked your way up from 20th place to pull off the win in the last corner, when you say those two magic words, “I won,” the next thing out of the mouth of the guy you are talking to will be, “How many people were in your class?”
They might as well be calling you a liar. The insinuation is that you were in a class with only two or three people. The worst thing about winning a class with only three people in it is that you will lie after they utter those seven words. You’ll say, “Five or six.” If there were seven or eight riders in your class, you’ll say “10 or 12.” You can’t help lying; it’s the built-in response to the seven most painful words in motocross.
As for me, I don’t lie. When someone asks me what kind of start I got, I proudly say, “A 3-incher.”