Motocross

Individual

Individual

this for the loud minority that probably won’t ever grasp what’s truly important in life. I’M WRITING this for the loud minority that probably won’t ever grasp what’s truly important in life. The people who spend every waking moment at work, earn a six-figure salary, have a nice car or two and a big house, only to come home to a family they hardly know. This is for all of the people who think happiness comes from what you achieve instead of how you achieve it.
Ricky Carmichael is the epitome of dedication. He eats, sleeps and breathes racing. Ricky has won more races than any other motocross rider in history and has a bank account that is probably past eight digits now. He is what everyone seems to want me to become and still you booed him – why? Maybe it’s because he doesn’t look like he’s having fun. Or maybe it’s because he didn’t wave to you in the midst of 10,000 other people he passed by that day. Either way, he’s accomplished everything any motocross racer has ever dreamed of and yet, even if it were possible to trade places, I would much rather be me.
This year I tried a slightly different approach to racing and learned a great lesson – I don’t ride as well when I’m not having fun. From January through the first outdoor national this year I hired a trainer, put in my motos, ate well, didn’t touch a freestyle ramp and worked my butt off. I signed fewer autographs and hid in my bus reviewing practice tapes with Gary Bailey and going over game plans for the race instead of watching the newest release of Crusty Demons of Dirt for the 10,000th time. I was riding the worst race of my life this year at Glen Helen and still managed to blow out my knee without even crashing!
Looking back on this year I realised that the only difference in my routine was taking out the stuff I truly enjoy. I lost some of the skills I have gained by free-riding and made the race even more stressful by staying away from the fans who always seem to put a smile on my face – even in the worst conditions.
When I got back from the Gravity Games there were two types of messages on my phone. Those who truly know my personality all left the same message, starting with a quote from the movie Friday. "You got knocked the ***k out," then sincerely stating that I’d be truly happy with how I rode when I saw the replay. The other messages were from people trying to console me for losing and nicely enquired as to why I would try such an impossible trick over a gap that clearly wasn’t the best set-up for such a manoeuvre.
To be honest the 360 that everyone was so pumped about at the X Games was more dangerous and more difficult than the Superman seat-grab back-flip. I have pulled more than two dozen fully extended seat-grab flips over dirt and they were actually easier for me to pull off than a heel-clicker back-flip (which didn’t even place Kenny Bartram in the top three in the New York X Games qualifier). And the fact that I lost my first ever freestyle competition? Well if I lost because I didn’t try – because I chickened out and settled for second best when I could have done more – I would have been disappointed in myself. The fact that I put together the best run of my life makes it irrelevant to me if I got first or 21st. Nate Adams put together two solid runs and to be honest he probably deserved to win the X Games as well. I went for the seat-grab flip after time but like Deegan said when a reporter asked him whether he thought his 360 should have counted in the X Games, "Does it look like I care? I just landed a 360!"
People come up to me about every month and say it’s my father’s fault that I’m like I am but is that necessarily a bad thing? My family has their priorities straighter than any other family I’ve ever seen. All of my uncles work together in a family-run construction company, they work hard but never travel so far that they can’t eat a home-cooked lunch at Grandma’s house. My dad and uncles get off work between 1:30 and 3pm every day (noon on Friday) so when their kids get home from school they can spend the afternoon together riding motorcycles or coaching their soccer and lacrosse games. They make less than $50,000 a year and don’t come home to BMWs and Mercedes but that’s just not as important to them.
I guess my point is that sometimes one person’s priorities aren’t necessarily someone else’s. I will be back to racing because I enjoy it but not for anything else. I will work hard because that’s what I’ve always done. I will not care when people criticise me for what they do not know or when everything I say gets taken out of context and over dramatised for the benefit of a good article or to make our sport out to be more dangerous than it is.
When someone compares me to Muhammad Ali I’ll thank them for the honour and when someone tells me I need to do something with my life I will laugh knowing that every day in my life I have more fun than the single greatest day of theirs.
Travis Pastrana