THE BEST OF JODY’S BOX: MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE WITHOUT TRYING

BY JODY WEISEL

At no point in my life was it my goal to change the world. I never said to myself, “I want to make the world a better place.” Conversely, I never wanted to make it a worse place—beyond taking up valuable space in the Bass Pro Shop parking lot.

At some point I decided that I wanted to observe the world and learn everything there was to know about everything. That might sound like an impossible task, but I think that for one moment, a few years after finishing my post-graduate work (after nine years of university life), I actually had a handle on all there was to know. I felt content in my wisdom.

However, I was deluded. In the time it took me to tell myself that I knew it all, it all changed. And, it kept on changing at a pace that seemed to double, triple and quadruple at a rate that was unimaginable to previous generations of scholars. There was an information explosion, and I was in the blast zone.

So, I did what would have been unacceptable to me five minutes earlier; I decided to stop trying to be a know-it-all. In a stroke of genius, I decided to practice “tabula rasa.” Tabula rasa is Latin for “blank slate” and was put forth by English theorist John Locke in 1689. Essentially, it argues that you should keep your mind empty of all previous experiences and see the world without the prejudice of what you think you know. I liked this idea; it meant that I would know everything by knowing nothing.

Paradoxically, by following John Locke’s advice, John Locke had to go, along with all the other 17th century philosophers I was forced to memorize at the University. From that moment on, I planned to turn all my cerebral attention to motocross. My blank slate would be filled with tidbits about Roger DeCoster, Unadilla, Tony D, Lake Whitney, Kent Howerton, Ossa Phantoms, Hiiesalu air shocks and Jikov carbs. I would become a vast reservoir of worthless motocross facts.

If you asked me how to fix the jetting on your 2006 Yamaha YZ250, I would say, “Get rid of the stock N3EJ needle and switch to a N3EW needle on your 38mm Keihin PWK carburetor.”

If you asked me why Donnie Hansen never won again after 1982, I would say, “Donnie suffered a major head injury while riding at Rolf Diffensbach’s track in Germany one week before the 1982 Motocross des Nations. He recovered but never returned to his former prowess. Today, he teaches motocross schools and can be reached at www.dhma.com.”

If you asked me for the proper jetting for a 2008 Honda CRF250’s Keihin FCR carb, I would say, “Run a 188 main, 42 pilot, 65 leak jet and an NMUU needle instead of the stock NMGU needle. Oh yeah, if you are fast, go to a 190 main and 55 leak jet.”

If you asked me if Marvin Musquin’s pass on Eli Tomac for the win at Foxborough  a few years ago was dirty riding, I would say, “Always protect the inside line on the last lap. If you don’t, expect the worst. I don’t know what Eli would have done if the positions were reversed, but I know what I would have done.”

I was in the perfect position to become the Sage of Supercross and Mentor of Motocross. I had been born early enough to be in the first wave of American motocrossers and was fortunate to have a job that allowed me to focus totally on meaningless motocross facts—without any distractions from the periodic table of elements or memorizing state capitals.

Last weekend I was sitting in a lawn chair after my first moto at Glen Helen when a guy walked up and said, “You rammed me. I thought we were both going to go down in that hairpin. Your handlebars were stuck in my ribs, and I went off the track. What were you thinking. It was close.”

I stared at him with a blank look on my face. “I don’t remember that,” I said. “I got a fifth-place start and never caught anybody and nobody caught me. Are you sure it was me?” He turned and walked away muttering to himself.

That’s when Jimmy Mac sat down next to me and said, “I’m surprised that guy didn’t punch you. You cleaned him out in the hairpin on the third lap. In fact, a piece of his jersey is still stuck on your brake lever.”

“I don’t remember that,” I said while looking over at the strip of Fasthouse jersey hanging from my bars. It was then that I realized I had achieved total tabula rasa. I couldn’t have been happier.

 

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