THE BEST OF JODY’S BOX: “YOU CAN’T CLEAR A FOURTH GEAR DOUBLE BY GOING WIDE OPEN IN SECOND”
BY JODY WEISEL
To be perfectly honest, if I never saw another double, it wouldn’t bother me. To me, doubles are motocross’ version of solving a Rubik’s Cube. Easy to do once you do it, frustrating until you master it and subject to incredible peer pressure during the learning process. The problem with my analogy is that I never had my spine driven through the top of my helmet when coming up short on the Cube.
If you think I mean learning how to clear doubles, I don’t. I mean learning how to convince everybody that you did jump the big double (when the idea never even crossed your mind). On the stopwatch, I could save a second a lap by jumping the big double. On the calendar, I could lose six months in plaster if I failed to clear it. The way I figure it, I save five months, 29 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds every time I chicken out. That’s a fast lap time.
7:30 a.m.: “Jody, did you see the new double on the back straight?”
“Yeah, it’s cool. It looks like a fourth-gear wide-open affair. The face is good and the second jump has a rounded- off top. It will be easy.” In reality, it was the scariest jump I’d ever seen. The first jump went straight up. You could park a circus train between the two jumps, and the landing ramp was only 5 feet long and banked like a Boeing 747 escape chute.
8:30 a.m.: “Jody, did you jump the double in practice?”
“No, the track was all muddy, and I never got a clean shot at it. There was always somebody in front of me. I’m gonna do it in the second practice.” The truth was, I tried as hard as I could to jump that big fourth-gear double by going at it wide open in second gear. Somewhere in the course of this exercise, I came to the understanding that wide open in second will never get you over a fourth-gear double. I never realized that before.
9:00 a.m.: “Jody, what gear were you in at the big double?”
“I was totally tapped in fourth gear.” Luckily, he didn’t ask me whether or not I had jumped it, because the best I could do was jump the first jump in third and then shift up to fourth on the way up the face of the second one. Even though I didn’t jump the big double in the second practice session, I had managed to launch far enough off it in third gear to hit the face of the second jump and hurt both of my wrists. My strategy was all wrong. I either had to shift up to fourth, or stay in second and live to celebrate another Arbor Day. I love trees.
11:15 a.m.: “Jody, did you jump the big double in the first moto?”
“Yeah, I jumped it, but I never cleared it clean. I just jumped far enough to get my front wheel over it. That’s just as fast as clearing it.” Okay, I admit that I was lying, but it wasn’t a big lie, because my front wheel did clear it once. It was on the third lap of the first moto. I cased the face of the second jump and my front wheel cleared the lip when my bike endo’ed over the second jump. I should have crashed, but luckily I saved it when my chest protector caught on my crossbar pad. If it weren’t for that crossbar pad, I’d spend half my life sliding face first down racetracks.
12:45 p.m.: “Jody, in the first moto I had trouble getting over the double. Were you taking off on the right side or in the center?”
“I tried to stay in the center.” I’m sure that my answer was interpreted to mean that I had left the ground from the middle of the first jump, but what I really meant was that I landed midway between the first and second jumps. My actual take-off point was way over to the left, because whenever I took off on the right side, I felt like I was standing at the end of LaGuardia Airport watching the jets fly over me. Now I know how a rabbit feels when it sees the shadow of a hawk circling overhead.
2:50 pm: “Jody, how did you do in the second moto?”
“I got a massive holeshot and led the first lap, but I faded, and five guys got me before the finish.” If he’d been paying closer attention to the race, he would have known that the reason I got passed by five guys was because the race was only five laps long. Every time I came to the big jump, somebody would double over me.
4:15 pm: “Jody, where are you racing next weekend?”
“I’m thinking of going up to Chicken Licks Raceway. It’s a long drive, but I haven’t been there in months, and I’m getting tired of racing at the same old track week in and week out.” A quick translation of that answer would reveal that I won’t be coming back to this track until enough guys are transported to “Our Sister of Perpetual Payment Hospital ” for missing the big double that the promoter mows it down. In case you haven’t guessed already, Chicken Licks doesn’t have any doubles.
6:05 pm: “Jody, how were the races?” asked Lovely Louella when I got home.
“It was so cool. They had this fourth-gear wide-open double jump that you had to be totally pegged to clear. It was wild.”
“Was it dangerous?” she asked.
“Not the way I did it,” I replied.