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By Mark Simpson


The Instances They Are a-Changin’. These phrases, written and sung by a Nobel Poet Laureate named Bob, are a cautionary story, a warning of what’s coming within the very close to future. This was the theme in my head as I appeared ahead to the Washougal Nationwide of 2017. I’ve a whole lot of questions on the way forward for motocross, and grime bikes usually, simply as you do. With gas injected two-strokes, elevated rules, and electrical bikes coming alongside many adjustments are absolutely coming to the game we love. Though I final raced severely within the ‘70’s, which undoubtedly qualifies me as outdated, I’m not inflexible in my pondering. I do know that change is important, and simply because one thing is outdated doesn’t make it higher. It simply makes it outdated.


I used to be away from the game of motocross, and grime bikes usually for over 30 years, however have come again prior to now 5 years. Washougal is twenty minutes down the highway from me and I’ve been to a couple Nationals there. Since Washougal is the 9th race of a 12-race collection issues usually appear scripted at this level. Not too many surprises this late within the season, as accidents have taken their toll and the front-runner pulls away. But this 12 months hasn’t precisely performed to script. Nobody single racer has stepped as much as dominate, because the inheritor obvious at Kawasaki continues his development of being his personal worst enemy. The latest retirement of previous dominant stars like Dungey, Villapoto and others, and the disappearance of the sensational James Stewart, has opened the doorways for a brand new forged of heroes. So the place precisely is the game at now and what’s taking place with this new class of stars?


As a way to get a gauge on how a lot motocross has modified since I attended Hangtown in 1976, I would wish some form of back-stage entry. That is the place my outdated buddy Ron Lawson would turn out to be useful. Sure, THAT Ron Lawson, editor of this very tremendous web site. Ron and I had been a part of small gang of harmful (solely to ourselves) however well-meaning moto misfits within the mid-’70s. Once we weren’t using or racing we had been normally concerned in all-night Threat (“the sport of world domination”) battles, rafting down the Russian River, hanging out on the native cycle heart, or taking part in pranks on one another. I re-connected with Ron lately on Fb. Betting on the prospect that he has lastly forgiven me for the time I satisfied him that WD-40 was the very best factor to wash the bug-encrusted windshield on his beloved van, I hoped to attend this 12 months’s occasion as a media member for the primary time. This behind the scenes entry would give me the solutions I search. And positive sufficient, Ron got here via and off I went!


As I arrived on Friday, the day earlier than the races, I first headed to the paddock. The staff big-rigs had been arrayed in all their glory. Tomac’s Kawasaki was one of many few bikes on show. It was extraordinarily scorching, however winds of change had been blowing via the pits. The RCH Suzuki staff had introduced they had been shutting down for good. The KTM tent was emblazoned with images of their three riders, two of whom have lately retired. Normally there was a whole lot of speak about subsequent season and what adjustments may lay forward. Amidst all this discuss of change, this expertise taught me another issues as nicely. The MX group continues to be very tight-knit and welcoming. The followers are as loopy as I keep in mind them, evidenced by shotgun blasts at 3am and golf carts laden with younger individuals racing via the campground space at breakneck speeds. And, in fact, the compulsory monster truck burn-outs. I additionally see that it nonetheless rings true that 1st and threerd place are smiling, whereas 2nd is fairly pissed off beneath the campaign-popping façade.


My heroes weren’t there racing on Saturday. Decoster, Howerton, Distefano, and Lackey are all simply recollections now. But as I watched the lengthy strains of individuals queuing up for an autograph and selfie with Tomac, Musquin, and Cianciarulo I noticed new a era of stars worthy of moderated hero worship. I see a whole lot of good issues in right this moment’s MX stars and I’m positive they’re excellent individuals usually, extra so than lots of the flawed heroes of yesterday. The throngs gathered round Trey Canard moved me. Though he has retired, his interplay together with his followers was exemplary and I might see they honestly cherished and appreciated him. And, in fact, the racing was simply implausible. Particularly from my viewpoint on the opposite aspect of the fence.


So, my conclusion? Motocross will proceed to evolve and alter. However whether or not it’s electrical bikes or hovercraft, or again to two-strokes, motocross will survive and thrive nicely into the long run. And we are going to nonetheless go watch and be amazed by some the very best racing occasions on the planet. So long as there are out of doors Nationals at legendary tracks like Washougal, Unadilla, and Hangtown motocross will go on. I look ahead to one other 30 years of Washougal, if I stay that lengthy. Motocross might not be precisely what it was once, however it’s alive and nicely. In summation, to cite one other outdated rocker, “Rock is lifeless, lengthy stay rock!”.


Now what’s going on with flat observe?! I see that’s making a comeback. May need to go examine…


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