JL's banter on two wheels
By Jimmy Lewis
(No matter what you may think, a guy who has practically lived his life on two wheels has collected a plethora of thoughts over the years about the sport. This is a guy who has made AMA Motocross Nationals, nearly won the Paris to Dakar Rally, has several ISDE Gold Medals, is a former desert champion, has won all sorts of one-off races, raced for Factory KTM and BMW, and was part of the mini four-stroke movement back in the ’90s. Some may love him others may loathe him, yet all should respect his talents and knowledge of two wheels.—SH)
There are much bigger motocross fans out there than me. Sometimes I could care less about what is going on in the motocross world and my riding around on a track isn’t even a blip on the radar. Probably not the best way to start a weekly column about the sport we love, but since you’re in this deep with me, follow along. I love riding dirt bikes. All kinds. Anywhere. Including the MX track. Motocross is just one of the things that I do as a dirt bike rider.
I love riding dirt bikes.
I could care less about most of the drama and tribulations that go on in the motocross world. A very small sport in a world view, yet one that is becoming popular beyond just participants. There are true motocross fans now. People that don’t ride and may never ride a lap around a track. That is great and progressive because our formally little sport is growing. It makes for a whole new level of participation that I, for one, just don’t understand. The sport of racing your dirt bike around a track, natural or manmade, has not changed at its core. But the increased exposure and the thrilling nature of the competition are a natural attraction for an ever-growing fan base that demands stimulation beyond what most stick and ball sports can provide. And that fan base may not be able to easily participate for a number of reasons, largely cost and the current state of the economy. Sorry kids, it was way easier when I was your age because dirt bikes were practically free and I could ride them anywhere I wanted. But remember I had to walk to school, uphill, both directions, in the snow all year long in California while listening to the waves crash up against the beach. But don’t feel bad, I didn’t have a fantasy MX League when I was growing up so we’ll call it even.
I guess it is my nature that I’m not a fan of any sport that I don’t participate in. So being a true “fan” is an odd sensation. If I don’t play, I don’t care. Unless it is that every four year thing called the Olympics where the oddity of all these sports promotes momentary curiosity. Yet if I do the sport, then I can watch with varying levels of interest. Most of the time I’d rather be doing than watching. I watch motocross with baited interest when top level riders are ripping around a track. I record every MX and SX race my TV will pick up and pay pretty close attention to the activity on the track. I watch it after I get back from riding. I’ll go to races when they are close, especially the outdoors and especially at the beginning of the season to see if there is anyone breaking out. I typically ride the amateur day and that is the biggest lure for my attendance. I pray for the media and crossover events that let us race around the true National tracks because that is a field of dreams experience.
Off the track I’m way more interested in the machinery. I’m lucky my press pass allows me (most of the time) close access to the trickest bikes around, something that the Television coverage has not been able to service me with. As a journalist I never got into doing rider interviews, especially at the races. Having been a racer I know the number-one job is to win the race (though that can be debated now, especially from a sponsor’s perspective) and not to be bothered with answering generally goofy questions from a guy you don’t even know about things that may not be on the top of the priority list right at that moment.
The increase in fans has put an increased pressure on the riders to become personalities, to go beyond just being a good dirt bike racer. Now the microphone is thrust into the rider’s face immediately before and always following a moto and the still out of breath rider is contractually obligated to rattle off a sponsor list as well as be entertaining. Fans want to know what is going on behind the scenes. With the popularity of social media and rider’s fan web pages, this is all possible. Television shows, beyond the race coverage have become common. The job description of a professional MX racer has become longer and takes years of practice and preparation. At least on the riding side of things.
So as a participant and an observer, and yes, even a fan, I hope this column will take you to places you may not get to go with other motocross media. I’m just getting kickstarted and have a whole list of topics to run through the column machine. And just because I’m not at the races every weekend nor participating at the sacred grounds of Saturday MX for weekly motocross chapel, I’ve got a unique set of eyes and ears for what is going on. Love it or hate it you can let me know at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Now go get a good start!
Add a Comment
By submitting a comment you grant Motocross.com a perpetual license to reproduce your
words, name and web site in attribution.
Comments may be removed at an administrators discretion. Your email is used for verification purposes only and will never be shared.