What a month! Thousands of miles to Spain and back plus much, much more on a return trip to California.
I’ve certainly been a busy camper. The trip to Spain with Knighter was well worth the (red) diesel as testing and training in some decent weather has helped us both to finalise our bike set-up and also get us used to hard-pack conditions again. Practising down in Spain is a must and not only for me – I feel most riders would benefit from spending time in this environment. It’s a great place to go when the weather in the UK isn’t good enough to get out riding.
We have to find somewhere to ride on a daily basis and on the kind of terrain we’ll find ourselves racing on more than once this year. With the first three rounds of the FIM world enduro championships being held in this area, anyone who is serious about winning is staying in Malaga for pre-season testing.
After four days of solid riding things were progressing pretty well with all of us posting similar times in the special test training tracks, although the four-strokes had the advantage due to the difficult conditions of the blue groove circuit. The only downside to the trip was an ankle injury sustained by stepping out of the team Sprinter a little enthusiastically and twisting it on a rock. I felt a bit of a plonker as the other riders had skinned their elbows from crashing and I was out of action for a day with an injury sustained not even riding my bike!
After two more days of practising it was time to pack up the Sprinter and head towards Le Havre and good old Blighty! After arriving home and having two nights in Eddy Towers, it was time once again to bid farewell to Mand and the boys and head off to Heathrow for a non-stop flight to LA.
The reason for the 12-hour flight wasn’t because I was missing the aeroplane food I’ve got so used to over the last few years but to spend some serious time on the YZ125 which I’m now getting much more familiar with. It was also chance to catch up with some sponsors and genuine friends I haven’t seen since I was last there two years ago. We all know in this sport that sometimes out of sight is out of mind!
This time of year is always busy in Corona as there are plenty of English riders out here getting time on their new bikes in the winter sun. Jamie Dobb and the Doc had been out there since the New Year so everything was in place for me to get down to it as soon as I arrived. I landed on the Wednesday and rode at Glen Helen the next day – see how easy it is to get quality riding done in just a short period of time!
The Doc and Andy headed off to the San Francisco supercross and I stayed put with JD and Dirk Van De Lower. The riding at Glen Helen on Thursday was good and running the new bike in is always a bit boring so after 10 minutes I was flat out, figuring that if I should seize her then I’m sure the swagmeister (Wob) could find the parts to have it back on track!
The next day Jamie had organised a trip with my old boss Mike Webb to see the filming of TV show Friends. I’m not one for all that Hollywood stuff so Dobby had some work convincing me to take the time out from my riding to go. However, as guests of Matt Le Blanc it was well worth the trip. Spending time with someone famous who is interested in talking about dirt bikes more than anything else – plus his laid-back attitude – meant we felt right at home.
With the boys back from the supercross and JD headed off home it was time to get my head back around to the reason for my trip and get out on the Ride MX bike and put in some serious seat time. After another full week of riding I was due a day off, so with some complimentary passes from Smith goggles we went to watch the supercross at Anaheim. As everyone knows, I have a soft spot for race transporters and seeing the sights of the supercross circus is an eye opener to say the least. To think that even goggle companies have big transporters with hospitality is an indication of how much the sport is progressing.
Soon enough it was time to strip the bike, bin the plastics and tyres and get the delicate job of putting the rest of the bike into gear bags – which are within the weight and size limit for the airlines – done.
So with pre-season preparations now complete I feel ready to spend a little time with the family and come out swinging when the first race starts in February. See you then… Fast Eddy