I may be in the middle of a real life identity crisis here and I’m not sure I’m ready to come to grips with that.
Have no fear, my identity-crisis has nothing to do with gender, sex or any of the other latest trigger-issues we are bombarded with in this era of outrage, any identity crisis is more due to my reaction when looking down the results sheets of the races lately. Am I really turning into that grumpy MXA guy who looks at the results sheets and thinks “who are these punk kids?!” Like most of you, I’ve still not come to grips with the departure of James Stewart, Ryan Villopoto and more recently even Ryan Dungey. These guys all walked away prematurely and yet here I am, WE ARE; watching the races on the weekends with blue balls! Don’t get me wrong, Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen, Marvin Musquin and Justin Barcia are all laying it down every weekend and to watch them pound laps is still as exciting and awe-inspiring as ever but the drop off from there is as precipitous as I can remember since more than a decade ago.
Injuries are of course a major player in the absentee list from the results sheets and whether those stem from mechanical failures or rider error, they all equate to the same disappointing sum, a depleted race field with incredibly large gaps between the elite and the dreamers. You know it’s bad when the RacerX Injury Report includes more top Factory rider names than the top 10 results from the weekends most recent race. I don’t mean to disparage these second tier and privateer HERO’S but there’s got to be a common sense way to bring speeds down if we are going to stick with these thundering 4 strokes. Take away the fact that the bikes are heavy and chase you down, there is one thing that we CAN change about them. Something that all the manufacturers can handle. There don’t even need to re-tool, pay for new engineering or honestly do a damn thing… make them slower so that when shit does go sideways, guys hit the deck and get back up to continue their charge forward. Yes the sport is dangerous, we’ve been over this six ways to Sunday. That is never going to change, no one wants that to change, it’s part of the allure to us as MX fans. MX is gnarly and that threat of danger and risk of it is one of the main things that keep us tuning in week to week year after year.
Slowing these bikes down is the easiest damn thing to do, so why not? Is watching racing nowadays all that much more exciting than when they were circulating tracks on 125cc bikes for the previous 3 decades? Not a chance. Hell, I’d even argue that at those lower speeds the racing was better because your brain as a viewer could actually process what was going on more completely where today, like most things in the World, shit is just happening so quickly we can barely make mention of what we’re seeing before it’s already a historical fact.
Put a super-dense air filter element in that chokes down the air, create a non-optimal ECU map that detune’s the bikes… we’ve been over ALL this stuff before MANY times and yet here we are still having discussions with each other about how to make such a high stakes dangerous sport, just a little bit safer. As a textbook pragmatist and a father of 4 wild animals ( I mean sons), who is constantly trying to spot disaster before it happens and avoid it, it enrages me to see all these easily tenable safety shortcomings put under a microscope for years at a time and essentially ignored, scrubbed aside and revisited (solely for discussions sake of course) every few months or at minimum each season.
Just like the FIM WADA debacle, the safety concerns in our sport will continue to go unaddressed and scrubbed aside as they always are because nobody really gives a shit until it affects the bottomline or a life is forever altered or ceases to continue… and even then there will be debate and resistance to action.