(1) Something new. Racers are always looking for that winning edge. They’re willing to try just about anything. Maybe a rider has been thinking about trying something new for quite some time but just hasn’t found the time or motivation. Maybe it’s a new energy supplement that the Pros have been raving about, or a bike modification that he read about in MXA. Whatever it is, the rider thinks there’s a chance it can give him the winning edge. So, what better day to try it than on race day, right? Wrong! Wearing those new stiff boots or trying a different bar bend might just backfire once the gate drops. Trying new things is great, but not on a big race day.

(2) You forgot. A racer’s thought process on race day always seems to be a bit different from normal. He runs a checklist through his head over and over to ensure nothing is forgotten. Helmet, check. Goggles, check. Socks, check. Fuel, check. But, sometimes the excitement of race day makes him miss something on the mental checklist. He will usually remember the forgotten item at the front gate of the track. His stomach sinks while he’s rummaging through his things looking for that missing knee brace or cash that was left on the kitchen counter. So, what is a rider to do? He has two options: First, pin it home, miss practice, grab what he forgot and maybe make it back for moto one. Second, bum what’s missing from a fellow racer and get made fun of the rest of the day.

(3) Nerves. On a practice day, most riders are calm and collected, but when race day rolls around they are biting their nails. Thoughts flow through their heads about winning, losing, crashing, getting hurt, the competition and checking to make sure the petcock is in the on position—even though fuel-injected bikes don’t have petcocks.

(4) Arm pump. Why do some riders’ arms pump up like Popeye only on race day? It can be a number of things, such as riding tight, a faster pace than normal to keep up with the competition, or forgetting to tighten the steering head nut. In any case, it is the kryptonite that’s keeping them from riding like themselves and stepping on top of the podium.

5) Catastrophe. Race day may seem like the only day when things go drastically wrong, but that’s just because it is the most memorable day of the week. Whether it’s a flat tire, loose brake caliper or engine that’s puffing smoke, you will remember it much longer than when the same thing happens on a Wednesday at the quarry.

(6) Eat healthy. Often, before laying his head on the pillow at night, a racer will vow to eat healthy—starting tomorrow morning. But, the following morning he’s late to work and has to grab a quick bite at the drive-thru. Lunch with his coworkers ends up being pizza. And each day of the week repeats itself—but with different excuses (the only thing to eat in the house was a quart of Rocky Road, or I rode my bicycle around the block and I deserve a treat). But for some reason, on race day, he blends a kale smoothie with a shot of wheatgrass to start the morning, brings bananas to keep from cramping, and puts a protein shake in the cooler to replenish his muscles after a moto. At least he ate well on race day, but it’s what he ate leading up to race day that matters. Try switching it up; eat healthy during the week and pig out on race day.

(7) Excuses. If the first thing your buddies say to you after a moto is, “What happened out there?” it’s time to start making excuses. Have you ever used any of these? “That guy passed me on a yellow flag.” “A lapper got in my way and three guys went by.” “My rear brake burned up and I had to nurse the bike home.” “A bee got inside my goggles.”

(8) Triple check. On race day, riders have a tendency to triple-check everything on the bike. Everything from the bolts and chain tension to the gas is checked over and over. Who knows? Maybe someone siphoned the tank when they weren’t looking.

(9) Prepped. On practice days the bikes in the pits have bald tires, scratched plastic and dirt under the fenders. But on race day, when you walk through the pits, all the bikes have fresh meat on the wheels, the plastic glints in the sun, and the bike looks like it was gone over with a Q-tip. Hard to believe that the same guys have two different approaches to their trusty steeds.

(10) Bipolar disorder. No matter what kind of mood you arrive in at the track, the mood you leave with all depends on how your race went. You are the master of your own ship. Some nice guys lose their tempers when they lose, while the most spiteful riders turn into social butterflies after a win. You gotta worry about the spiteful loser, though.

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