Wright Out of the Gate – You only get one rookie season!

It’s hard to believe that three weeks have already gone by since my last blog. In that short time, I raced round 10 of the pro motocross nationals, had a blast at the MMRS Madoc Nationals and … I’ve already completed week one of my last year of high school. (Let’s not dwell on this last point too much and focus on the motocross … shall we?)

After the race at Sand Del Lee, I got some last-minute practice time in before I headed out to Walton for the final round of the Rock Star Energy Drink Pro Motocross Nationals. Just like the amateurs who raced during the week, I was a little more nervous than usual for this one. There’s just something about the last official race of a season that adds that little extra dose of pressure which, in turn, triggers the sweet feeling of extra adrenaline running through your veins. Every motocross racer wants to end their season on a high note. Unfortunately, things weren’t shaping up that way for me in moto 1 when I was running about 9th when I suffered a mechanical failure which caused me to DNF. Thanks to my mechanic, Cale Foster, the clutch was replaced and I lined up for moto 2. I managed to finish that moto in 7th, giving me a 13th place overall finish on the day. It may not have been the top 10 I was hoping for and it certainly wasn’t the podium finish I wished I could have achieved again this year, but time has a way of putting things into perspective.

Although it may not have seemed like it at the time, I now realize that I did finish the season on a pretty high note. Now that I’ve had some time to think about it, I realize that I was able to take part in all 10 rounds of the pro nationals and managed to pull off a top 10 finish in my rookie year. I’m really pumped about that! With this year’s 9th place overall in the MX2 class, I will be trading in my #34 plate for Nathan Bles’ #20.

It just seems unreal to me that I’ve already successfully completed my first full season as an MX pro in Canada. It’s wild! I mean … you only get one rookie season. Only one year to learn the ropes. Only one year to prove that you belong in the pro ranks. Only one year to prove that you can hold your own and achieve results alongside some of the veterans in the sport. Only one year when the fans, sponsors and team managers are perhaps a little more forgiving, understanding and encouraging when you make those “rookie mistakes”. However you want to call it, my “rookie year”, my “learning year”, my “break-out year” is essentially over, and what an incredibly challenging and rewarding year it has been.

Don’t get me wrong, I realize that championships are not usually won within the first couple of years of joining the pro ranks. I realize that I still have a lot to learn, but make no mistake … this “learning year” has armed me with many valuable lessons that I plan to put to good use during the off-season. I know what I need to do. I plan to work hard to smooth out my riding so I can make up those couple of seconds per lap I needed to keep pace with the front-runners. I plan to further improve my technique and adopt a more relaxed riding style so that I can perhaps “save my bike” a little more and help reduce the number of DNFs experienced during the season. I’m also going to continue to train hard with Rob Mouland at FitQuest to continue to grow stronger in both mind and body. This season showed me that along with the fierce battles on the track, there are also lots of mind games being played on the line, on the track (during practice, hot laps, and races), and in the pits. Sometimes … it gets a little crazy! The key is to stay calm, focused, and in control, to be strategic and consistent.

 

As my first pro season comes to an end, I also realize that I owe a lot of people a huge dose of gratitude.

  • To Kevin Tyler and Johnny Grant at MX101: Thank you for believing in me, for standing by me through both the good and the bad, and for giving me the chance to experience the pro MX life. You encouraged me when I needed it. You provided me with advice when I asked for it. You even listened to me when I needed to vent. You guys made my rookie year pretty awesome.
  • To Yamaha Canada: It had been quite a few years since manufacturers offered up-and-coming intermediate riders an opportunity to enjoy a factory ride in their rookie year. This fact was not lost on me in the fall of 2013 when I was offered a contract to ride for a pro Yamaha race team in 2014. What a thrill it was! I’ve been riding Yamahas for quite a few years now. It was so nice to be able to stay “true blue” for my first pro season and to get to race the brand new YZ250F.
  • To Cale Foster: Thanks for putting my bikes together, for trying to keep them together and for being there on both practice and race days. People who know me realize that I’m hard on bikes and parts. Even in the pro ranks, I’ve managed to break stuff experienced people like yourself have never seen before. I know I didn’t make your job easy. Thanks for hanging in there.
  • To FOX Head Canada: Thanks for helping me look good from head to toe at every race. I realize I’m not only tough on bikes, I’m also tough on gear. Combine that with the conditions at each of the race tracks we were at, and it’s easy to see why FOX makes some of the best gear and safety equipment on the market. In addition to the boots, jerseys and pants, I really appreciated that helmet when I crashed hard in Kamloops, the chest protector when I was getting pelted with roost in Nanaimo, Deschambault, and a few other tracks.
  • To EKS Brand Goggles and the Northern X Distribution team: Speaking of dealing with roost and muddy conditions, you realize how much you appreciate your goggles when you don’t have any on. In Regina and Deschambault, the mud was crazy! It stuck to everything … including goggles. The lesson learned? Don’t keep racing without goggles … not a good plan! It’s worth the few seconds it takes to pull into the mechanics area to get a fresh pair. I have to say that my goggles were really comfortable and I really appreciated the different lenses for the different conditions we had throughout the series. I also know I used more than my fair share of tear-offs. As for the personalized goggle case … it rocked! It should be on every racer’s Christmas list.
  • To Allan Brown: Even though I was a rookie, you took the time to work with me, to get to know me and to try and build motors that suited my riding style. You were helping out lots of veteran riders, but you always found the time to see me. I learned so much about motors, the testing process, and about racing. I will always be grateful for that.
  • To the track crews at each of the host facilities: I’ve seen the work that goes in at Sand Del Lee before a local or national pro race. I realize the blood, sweat and tears that go into getting things ready before we arrive, while we race and after we go. Without you (the dozer operators, the flaggers, the administrative team, the referees, etc.), we wouldn’t have a series. Because you are behind the scenes, we don’t always get to hear the thanks you deserve.
  • To everyone else who supported me this year: Thanks for being in the bleachers, on the fences and at the pit with your good wishes and encouragement. They mean a lot.

If you’re reading this blog, remember these people, these companies and their products when you’re shopping around. They are the ones that support amateur and professional sport, especially in our region. They share our passion for motocross, they try to lighten the load, and have great products to boot!

I will take my lead from Gauldy, but rather than start with a quote, I’ll end with one: “I could not have done any more. I had pushed myself to a limit that I had never touched before and that’s definitely going to change you.” (Elvis Stojko)

I sincerely believe that I have learned a lot and am changing as a rider (hopefully for the better. LOL) It’s been a great rookie year! Here’s hoping I get to see many of you this weekend for the last Sand Del Lee race of 2014 on September 6th! Let’s go racing!!!!