Wright Out of the Gate: California Dreaming

About a week ago, I was packing up and getting ready for my drive home from Riverside, California. It was one thing to talk about making the trip across the continent. It was entirely another to live it and have it actually happen. The last three months were quite literally a California dream.

When last year’s motocross season ended, I didn’t find myself with a number 1 plate. While my results improved over the previous year, the message was clear … I still had work to do.

So I left a snowy Richmond, Ontario with my dad in January, hopped into old Bertha (the name I gave to the MX101 van) and hauled my bikes across the United States to find the legendary sun, heat and tracks of So-Cal. It was to be a 50-hour journey on the road, and a 3-month journey of training and pushing myself to try and reach yet another new level in my racing.

I thought I was spoiled with a national caliber motocross track just minutes from my home in Richmond, but Riverside was epic with 8 to 10 awesome tracks within a 1-hour radius of where I was staying. I even got to do some trail riding in the California hills right behind the house where I was staying. As luck would have it, there was even a gym right around the corner where I signed up for a membership. Almost too good to be true … right? Apparently not. I was going to get to live the California dream.

It’s true what they say about the weather in Cali. It really is hot and sunny most of the time. I think it only rained 2 or 3 days the whole time I was there. I can see why So-Cal is a motocross mecca. It wasn’t unusual to show up at a track for practice and to find myself in the company of some of the great supercross stars we watched every week. It’s not every day you get to pound laps with the likes of Cooper Webb, Joey Savatgy, etc. It gave me a rare opportunity to somewhat gauge where I might fit if I were to line up against these guys one day. I bet you’re asking yourself: So? How was it? Let’s just say that it motivated me to work even harder and helped boost my confidence all at the same time.

I also got the opportunity to take lessons from Billy Laninovich, the guy who coined the phrase: “Jump for show! Corner for dough!” So it won’t come as a huge surprise that I worked on corners and smoothing out the way I ride. It brought back lots of memories for me. While it wasn’t always obvious to me at the time (and I wasn’t always happy about it), my dad had me turning endless laps on our turn track at home. I eventually figured out what a great impact that had on my riding and results. When we were at Sand Del Lee, or many other tracks for that matter, he used to ask me to count how many jumps and turns there were. Inevitably, there were always more corners than jumps.

I also grew up with the philosophy that to be the fastest guy wasn’t about going to races you knew you could win, but about going to find the fast guys you could chase, you could battle with, and who would challenge you. This trip to California was about doing just that!

I always hoped I would get the chance to train alongside champions. How lucky was I this winter to get the opportunity to train with fellow Yamaha rider Matt Goerke! He was such a great guy! As a relatively new kid on the block in the Canadian pro motocross circuit, it was so great to pound laps, practice starts and do a few motos with the reigning Canadian MX1 champion. Other Canadians like Shawn Maffenbeier and Keylan Meston were there training too. It was another California dream coming true for sure! It doesn’t get much better than that.

Add to that, the fact that I had the privilege of living with renowned engine builder Allan Brown and his wife Jennifer. I can’t thank them enough for opening up their home to me for three months. I had met Allan through the MX101 Yamaha race team, but I was a total stranger to Jennifer. Yet they welcomed me and literally gave me a home away from home. I will never be able to repay them for their generosity. Thanks to this amazing couple, I was able to live my California dream.

While I was in California, I received my brand new 2016 Yamaha YZ250Fs. Even though it’s an awesome bike right out of the crate, Allan and I spent some quality time testing, trying to find those extra adjustments that would help me gain those precious fractions of seconds that make the difference between being in the lead pack or not, between being on the podium or not.

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I am pumped about the progress during the winter and hope you’ll all see the results. I learned a lot and hope you will see the difference too when the Canadian pro motocross season starts. Now I move from California dreaming to chasing my dream of winning a Canadian pro championship! Three weeks to go before that journey begins. Until then, maybe I’ll get to see you at the Sand Del Lee (Walton-ANQ)  on May 28th and 29th.