SAME OLD SAME OLD
Words Scott Bishop
Recently, I’ve been trying to ride a bit more again just for the sake of enjoyment and decided to go to one of my old riding spots I hadn’t been to in years. I knew it was still there and still in use by the local bush bandits but, when I revisited the place nearly 10 years on, it made for an interesting step back in time.
I rocked up mid-morning to see about 15 riders going in 15 directions and never doing the same lap twice. It was utter chaos and exactly how I remembered it. There were dudes coming out of the trees, dudes going backwards up the track, another bunch of guys who thought it was a good idea to make the track cross itself when there are a heap of riders on it — just insane stuff.
So I joined right in and, after about five or six near misses and a couple of life-threatening experiences, I decided to call a halt to this unofficial demolition derby and herd these clowns up. I got them all going in the same direction, on a track that didn’t cross itself, and we were all away.
It didn’t last long and the insanity returned as soon as I headed back to the car. Apparently, head-ons are still fun out there in bandit land.
But the guys I met are still the same guys who were there 10 years. Well, not the same guys but the same sort of guys. You know the type: the guy with a three-year-old bike, with an aftermarket exhaust, $500 hubs, bald tyres and broken levers. He runs three different brands of gear, some goggles I’ve never heard of and does some wicked power slides.
Imagine being in a riding session with 15 of these characters. I feared for my life, laughed uncontrollably and nearly pooped myself several times a lap. Pretty soon I was at their level, riding dirtbikes just for the sake of riding dirtbikes with your mates. But I still draw a line at a figure-eight track; I don’t care how I look but that’s just stupid in my book.
THE-OFF SEASON WRAP FROM AROUND THE GLOBE
It’s a boring time in racing right now. Things are slow all over and even the internet forums are struggling to make up rumours, so you know things are tough. But fear not: I have the complete rundown of what’s going on.
Next to no races are happening in the US as teams are all about testing and developing race bikes for the new season. The Monster Cup was run and won with the usual Vegas glitz but no one took home the million bucks up for grabs. No one really takes it that seriously apart from the rider who wins the opening race, as he’s the only dude in with a show at the greenbacks.
There was also very little rider movement in this off-season apart from Chad Reed in the US. Reed takes it upon himself to keep the www on edge with his tweets, Instagrams and general Chading. He’s all but announced he’ll be riding a Kawasaki again with his Two-Two Motorsport team, although every Instagram post he pumps out has the punters guessing everything from Sherco to Maico.
In Europe, the FIM continues to change tack on an hourly basis. Everything from racing format to class structure is up for debate but none of it’s discussed with common sense and long-term security. All you really need to know is Cairoli is back and will go for title number 204 while Herlings will again smash the MX2 class after threatening to take his bat and ball somewhere else if they didn’t change the rules to suit him and his team’s needs.
In Australia, our racing is in a similar mess with both state and national events in limbo and still no clear direction on supercross. Rider movement is also slow as teams can’t finalise budgets until they know where they’re racing and what costs are involved before they settle on a rider. At the time of writing, most of the major teams still have rides up for grabs with at least one seat available for most teams.
It was pretty cool to see a few of our international boys return home for a break before embarking on season 2014. Brett Metcalfe raced at home for the first time in 2006 and even took the time to join his brother Shane at some riding schools. Brett looks likely to return to Canada to defend his 2013 championship, only this time his team will be Yamaha mounted.
Michael Byrne also made a whirlwind visit to help with some Y-AIM riding schools in Queensland and New South Wales. Byrne doesn’t have anything locked away for 2014 yet as far as racing goes, but it would be silly to think he doesn’t have a lot to offer a team or manufacturer on and off the track. I’m sure Burner would like to have an injury-free year if for no other reason than to see where he really sits when 100 per cent healthy.
Dean Ferris dropped in at his Kyogle base for some R&R. For a guy like Ferris, R&R means climbing a mountain the day after you land from a 24-hour flight, then doing some warm-down motos on a 125. Rumours still swirl about Dean’s 2014 plans but I don’t think you’ll see him with the same team as in 2013.