There’s nothing quite the same as standing near a line of Pro riders as they wait for the gate to drop. Everyone is mostly silent – you can’t hear much over the revving of engines. A few riders exchange last words with family, pit crew, or each other. Bikes are firing, people are clearing out from behind the quads and riders are adjusting themselves and their gear as the 30 second girl makes her way out across the dirt. As the board goes up, the riders’ heads go down. They are focusing in on her. When she turns the board sideways you can see all their helmets drop to look at the gate, and you can feel the tension as everyone expectantly waits to see thirty quads head for a turn wide enough for four. It seems like an eternity to wait – the motors are screaming to be unleashed – the whole crowd seems to be holding their breath and every rider remains still, perfectly poised and ready to take the holeshot, focused and determined. Only one rider can get the holeshot, and each of those 30 guys wants it. Badly.
As the gate drops the bikes are seemingly slingshotted off the concrete pad, and rocket towards that turn as if there was no turn at all; as if it was just a drag race where they could slow down after crossing a line. They are going so fast, inches from each others’ tires, that anything can happen and often does. It’s not uncommon for bikes to get severely tangled leaving 2, 3, 4, or even more riders stranded and stuck together. This often requires one rider to help another get their bike unstuck so they can get to their own bike, as precious seconds are ticking away and the rest of the field of racers are gaining ground ahead. It’s also not uncommon for crashes to happen. From the time the gate drops to the time the riders make that first turn, only 5 to 10 seconds have passed in most cases. In a blink of an eye another rider could connect with your tires by mistake and send you cartwheeling across the track with 20 guys behind you going at full speed. There are several riders of all levels that have first-hand accounts of being run over, and even if they weren’t seriously hurt there is the matter of “Is my bike ok?” The race could be ended within 10 seconds of starting. 10 seconds.
The start is really the icing on the cake. Amateur riders who aspire to ride at that level, kids, parents, friends, and fans all like to get behind their favorite riders to cheer them on, watching their struggle unfold like an unpredictable epic. Their hearts lift when their rider makes a pass, their gasps and sighs are audible if a rider gets into trouble on the track, you can hear endless “Come on!” cheers both out loud, and barely heard under the breath of spectators. Some people watch in silence, as if focusing, wishing and hoping with all their might will somehow bring luck to their favorite racer. The clock ticks away lap after lap as each racer gives his best and pours everything he has into this one race. Some will fail, some will win, some will earn points and try to be as consistent as possible, happy they made it it to the finish. Riders battle back and forth, contend with obstacles and tricky turns or jumps, or maybe focus on having the perfect timing for that one out of rhythm whoop. It’s not just a rider to rider battle. It’s transforming your quad into an extension of yourself and battling the track as well. Pro riders don’t have to think while riding. Their decision-making as they approach a section and ride through it is instinctual – it comes after many hours and years on a bike. Watching a rider of pro caliber skill use his bike intuitively and almost effortlessly assault a track is a sight to behold. When you get more than one rider of that skill level racing together it’s an incredible testament to human ability – physical and mental – and the will to not just survive, but win.
The passion for this sport is unrivaled. It’s through this passion that we identify a love of living and of feeling alive. It’s a labor of love, and even on the most disappointing days it’s still sweeter than not being involved at all. Watching people give their all for this sport, bind together in face of adversity, such as injury, and strive to be the best is inspiring. Benedict Spinoza, a 16th century philosopher, said, “All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.” When the checkers go up there can only be one winner. When the series ends there is only one champion. We are fortunate to participate in a sport where each rider can also be a hero, and that’s pretty rare.
1 thought on “A Short Summary”
Very well said!