Crutcher’s Corner | Zen & The Art Of Midwest Motocross Riding
PHOTO | BRANDON ROLAND
Do you ever catch yourself thinking, “I wonder if the top riders get super impressed with themselves?” When I go riding and rip a rut perfectly, effortlessly grease a hard timing section, or perhaps didn’t hit the deck all day, I’ll recollect the afternoon and think, “Ain’t nobody gonna beat me in that section”. This is a regular thing and in my mind, I’ll picture myself ghost racing Jason Anderson or Benny Bloss, with them behind me eating roost and unable to pass because I’m doing one of the most overused sayings in moto: Hitting my marks.
On Sunday I went to a public prepped practice at Midwest Extreme Park, a chief facility in Missouri Moto since 1996. The course is about as European as you’ll get within a day’s drive of Kansas City. Built on a nice hillside with a total gradual elevation difference of about 100 feet, MEP has a rather rare soil called White Gumbo. It’s very specific to Missouri and if I’m stabbing at an explanation, I’d call it prehistoric greased glue. Seriously, when you ride this course you can feel how old the dirt is. And I do not mean that the layout is beat to death, I mean this stuff has been unearthed from large scale tectonic turnover. I’ve raced everything from a dog-bone purple tank KX60 to a fuel-injected selectable map ignition with air fork KTM 450SX at Midwest.
No weather pattern in Kansas City is unusual. To have a mini-drought in early June like we’re in right now is surprising as planning your own birthday. Bill and crew started putting water down 4 days before the practice to get the soil wet enough to break it, then kept it moist for Sunday’s moto action. For the average individual, practice number one was a muddy slop fest. To anyone that’s tried qualifying at an outdoor National, it was another 450 Group B session. Normally I despise such conditions, but I was having an “on” day. The greased glue I referenced was some of the best live-round testing for base foundation racing techniques. I started strong without struggle, didn’t fear falling down, and came off the course knowing I was going to have an All-Star day at the track.
These are the days we all live for. When you’re on A-game, in the flow state, above all the bullshit and completely zen-locked into a man and machine fusion. Motocross at its finest. Executing the five magics flawlessly without a single hiccup. The best part about finding this headspace is that it has absolutely nothing to do with your lap times. Every rider of every caliber can have these kinds of gold medal performances. It’s called leveling-up.
Every time you find that extra bit of speed or talent, which usually feels completely out of control the first time you execute it, you’re breaking through your old ceiling. The key is to harness the new throttle skill in a manageable and controlled manner. Yeah, if you want to be a racer you’ve got to be able to give it the berries above your actual skill level. Think about all the times you’ve heard pro racers saying they “gave it 110%” which is code for performing out of control while in control. To experience riding or racing when you are hitting those marks is a day where you’ve tapped into that extra speed over each obstacle, through every rut, in all corners. It’s a god-like feeling that may not happen many times a year, but when you go back and look, you can chisel away the self-awe and turn the key into unlocked confidence for the next time of riding. It’s a feeling you could take to the bank if Commerce or Wells cashed “the new me.”
I had one of those days Sunday. Eat my dust Anderson.