I think it is safe to say, this past weekend was a pretty big one or off road and motocross. The third and fourth rounds of the Royal Distributing National Off Road series took place in Race Horse Creek, near Blairmore, Alberta. In the moto world the Monster Energy Nationals came to Gopher Dunes, in Courtland, Ontario on Saturday and on Sunday the first round of the Eastern Women’s series hit the sand.
A lot of pressure has been put on our national series, not the least of which comes from the reflected glow of the AMA to the south of us. We see the success of their motocross national series, or the GNCCs, and automatically say “Well, why aren’t our series like that?”
There are a few reasons, but the one I’m going to focus on is age. The Monster Energy National Motocross is celebrating its 20th year; by contrast the AMA national mx series has been around since 1972. Our national off road series, the Royal Distributing Canadian Off Road Championships, are a mere 4 years old; the GNCCs have been running since 1975, the World Enduros (under that name) since 1990 (fun fact: the World Enduro Championship replaced the European Enduro Championship in 1990; the EEC has been run since 1968!).
I feel, in many ways, our motocross series has found its stride. We’re clearly producing champions who can run in the states, whether or not they choose to do so is of little consequence (a rider’s personal choice really shouldn’t reflect on the race organizers anyways). We’re also attracting riders from the US who are no longer “also ran with”s, but rather riders who consistently perform well. Tyler Medaglia, Colton Facciotti, Kyle Keast and others have all ventured south of the border, with better than expected results. Cole Thompson, the Canuck who’s lighting it up in the AMA, will be racing for us at the MXoN this year. I’d say we’re getting there, how about you?
While our enduro/off road series is considerably younger, it can be argued that with a top 5 finish at the Snowshoe GNCC and a Bronze Medal from X Games, our Pro and Women’s points leader, Bobby Prochnau and Chantelle Bykerk, are already world class athletes. It wouldn’t surprise me if they both migrated south next season; the opportunities in the US far out weight what can be offered here, and one of the reasons why is a lack of support for the national series.
We cannot expect our riders to live privateer lives and then perform like the Pros in the US, whose whole life, day in and day out, revolves around riding and training, with family time sparsely sprinkled in. In speaking to Cory Graffunder, one of our more famous exports, he said this: “It is not easy. There is a lot of hard work. I ride. I train. All the time.” It is nearly impossible for riders who have to contend with a regular 9-5 job on top of a rigorous training schedule, and for those who manage to do so, it can only last so long before burnout sets in.
The bottom line is: If you want a top level athlete, participating in a top level event, it takes time. In the age of instant gratification and self aggrandisement (look that one up and use it with your friends, guaranteed stunner of a word!) people want don’t just want to “have it all,” they want the best and they want it yesterday, but I’m still of the mind that good things come to those who wait (and work hard).