Cycle News

Cycle News 2019 Issue 07 February 20

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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Page 112 of 115

P112 CN III EMPIRE OF DIRT BY STEVE COX C hampions aren't always the outright fastest guys. Look at the Damon Bradshaw years, for example; he was almost always the fastest guy, but he never won a national title. James Stewart was almost always the fastest guy, but how many titles did he take from Ricky Carmi- chael? Obviously, speed helps, and is neces- sary to a degree, but champions are usually determined by two things: belief and will. Anybody who has had any level of racing success, even at the local level, likely un- derstands nerves, but for those who don't, here's what it's like: You've been working for months, or even years, to win whatever class at whatever track, and you're on the track, in the lead. Maybe you've led before, and maybe you haven't, but as the laps count down, all of that time you've spent striving toward your goal all of a sudden starts flooding back into you. It's not necessarily cognitive thought, but more a rush of emotion, and it only gets worse as more laps go by. You become acutely aware of every sound your motorcycle is making, and every sound from your competitors behind you, and you start getting more and more nervous, to the point that as you get the white flag, you can feel your hands start to tremble, and you just hope that you can hold it together for another lap. If you manage to do it, and you take the check- ered flag, there's an adrenaline rush of elation as you celebrate, and you realize the reason for all your hard work, followed by an adrenaline dump, leaving you completely emotionally spent. Now, try to imagine this at the very top of our sport, in the 450cc Supercross Series, after spending the better part of two decades hoping to achieve exactly that goal of winning a 450cc supercross main event, and add in the crowd, the money, the pressure of riding for a factory team, and all the rest. What separates elite-level cham- pions from one-time champions, and one-time champions from winners, and winners from factory racers, and factory racers from privateers, and privateers from local racers, etc., is mostly how well they handle their nerves. Most racers, even at the factory level at the top of the sport, can become overwhelmed under these circumstances, and they end up getting CHANGING OF THE GUARD? Cooper Webb is for real.

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