by The "Professor" Gary Bailey
A very important thing to learn as a racer is how to control a bad day at the track. We all know that not every day at the track is going to be good. Sometimes you just have a bad day whether it is a practice or a race day. There will be days when either you or your bike are not 100% but what separates winners from losers is what you do when the inevitable bad day happens. You can either allow the circumstances to control the situation and make a bad situation worse or you can recognize the circumstances, take control and minimize the damage and salvage what you can.
There is a saying that championships are won on your worst days. This means what you do on your worst day can seal your fate. Everyone is going to have a bad day, so you need to do the best you can and not let a bad situation get worse.
This past weekend was not a good weekend for two of my riders: one an amateur and the other a pro.
A Bad Amateur Day
My amateur rider is a young man I have been working with for sometime now. Six months ago he was a mid pack B rider and now after a ton of hard work on and off the bike he has been doing very well at the Loretta Lynn Amateur National Championship area qualifiers. When I say well, I mean consistently finishing first, second, and third in every class he has entered.
A few things helped him achieve these results: first was starts and getting his starts from mid-pack to top five, and even a couple of holeshots; and, then all the little details we do on the track every practice day to improve skill, technique and speed. Finally, it has helped getting Tim Crytser from this web site to design a personalized training program so he is ready for the longer motos when the going gets tough.
This past weekend, just as a gauge even though he is qualified, we decided to race one more area qualifier to see where we are with some different riders. Well, it turned into a disaster with two bad motos in a row. So, what happened? Well, after Friday practice all was looking good and the same Saturday morning. Then, something happened, for whatever reason a not so good start got in his head and became a negative. Even though lap times for the top ten were all close, instead of moving forward, he did not push to the front. Then, came moto two, almost the same thing. He just had no fight and defeated himself.
Last night we had a meeting to discuss the bad weekend. I told him I think if you are racing you need to always give one hundred percent no matter what happens. What that 100% is may be different sometimes, but you should always give it your all. If you make yourself do this it may change a bad day into a not so good day. Quite simply, sometimes it is more about not losing than winning. Even when you cannot win, you should not surrender your desire to NOT lose. This mentality alone can change how hard you try! I think that's what helped me when I raced; I hated to lose.
A Bad Pro Day
After a slow SX season start for Jimmy Decotis by round three we had some things figured out and were getting better. Jimmy had better starts and was running near the front. From 15th-16th to 5th-6th in the main event. As we headed to the Meadowlands in NJ we are looking to finish the season in the top five points for the 250 East Coast Championship.
All was ready and Jimmy felt good after working on a few things during the week. In the first 250 A practice during lap two, Jimmy was going to do a step on tabletop from dragon back. The ground was soft with very little traction when his front wheel droped into the face of the tabletop (soft), his hand came off on the throttle side, his chest slamed into the crossbar pad and then as he landed his shoulder slammed into the ground. Next, comes the Asterisk Medical mule ride back to the Asterisk rig for an evaluation. From the onset the news was not good. After being checked out to some degree by the Asterisk medical team, a call had to be made. There appeared to be a possible fracture of the sternum but there is no way to be sure there is no additional internal injury without more testing. So the question became should he go to the hospital for more tests or wait to see if he can possibly make the next practice. If he goes to the hospital, even if he checks out okay, his race day is done because he will not make it back to the venue in time for the last practice and he is yet to qualify. But it needs to be smart decision. How bad is the injury? What are the risks of trying to race? Discussions ensue with Doc Bodner and the Asterisk crew and after another check, Jimmy is medically cleared to give it a try with the caveat that he must pull off if he has any worsening of symptoms.
I catch him chanting to himself, “I can do this"
Quit or try?
To quit is not in Jimmy D’s genes! We came to NJ hoping to finish the season in the top five in points but for sure we don’t want to drop out of the top ten. So, because he only got in one timed lap in the first practice the decision is made to give the second practice a try but WE NEED HELP! How do we get ready to deal with a supercross track that is hard on the body when you are 100%? We still have to do one more practice to get a decent qualifying time for the night show. For now, Jimmy D does what he can to mitigate the pain and lines up for the second practice and his last chance to qualify. It isn’t pretty but its effective. He manages to qualify in 30th place and that is enough to go to the heat races. But he is still in a lot of pain.
After doing a little checking in the pits we find Dr. Chris Mascetta of MotoCare Chiro who is there helping privateer riders who don't have the bucks to have their own private chiropractor trackside. The good news is Dr. Chris agrees to come right over to see what he can do to get Jimmy D ready for the heat race. Dr. Chris evaluates the injury and does a soft tissue massage to try to ease the inflammation and get the muscles to loosen up a bit. As he does this, Jimmy's breathing improves and his pain subsides a little. Finally, just before time to line up for the heat race (thankfully he is in Heat 2 so we have a few extra minutes) Dr. Chris re-tapes his chest with better support tape and wraps his ribs with an ace bandage to help stabilize what appears to be a fracture of the sternum and maybe the tip of the first rib. A little more icing and Jimmy D is ready to give it a try. I catch him chanting to himself, “I can do this” like he is psyching himself up mentally for the task ahead. Never give up! Be smart because it’s not over until it's over.
As Jimmy D lines up for the heat race we all know it is not going to be easy for him but we hope he can qualify straight in and avoid the LCQ. And then there it is; Jimmy pulls the holeshot and takes the lead. After a lap he is still in the lead. I know he is hurting and can't believe he is putting in such a great effort on such a gnarly track. Then, unfortunately the guy in second place decides to punt Jimmy off the track. With no good place to return he loses the lead and re-enters the track in fourth and somehow manages to finish in eighth place. Just enough to go straight to the main and skip the LCQ.
After the heat race, Dr. Chris applies more ice, an adjustment and more soft tissue massage. Jimmy D makes the main but it was not so good from the start, nor was the pain. On a funny note, while trying to finish out the main in pain, Jimmy D hears the leaders approaching and when he gets the blue move over flag he goes high on the berm to get out of their way. Then because he was going so slow he fell over. Jimmy told me after the race that it had been a while since he had been lapped and didn’t remember how to be lapped. Pretty funny and I guess that’s a good problem to have.
The good news and the point of this article is that when faced with adversity, Jimmy D did not quit and still got 8th overall for the season. It sure would have been easy for him to say, “The hell with it” and go home. But that's not how Jimmy D rolls. Quitters never win and winners never quit. My amateur took a not so bad day and let the situation dictate the outcome turning a bad day it be a very bad day. My pro took a very bad day, took control of the situation and made it into a not so bad day. The only difference is how they controlled the adversity. This is a lesson both of them learned this weekend.
A Word on Jimmy D to Canada
It is a bummer that Jimmy as a privateer can’t afford to race all rounds of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on his own buck. So he is once again making the best of adversity and going to Canada to race the 2015 Rockstar Energy Drink Motocross Nationals riding a Yamaha for Canada Motorcycle/FXR/Yamaha. He will make a little coin racing in Canada and even negotiated to be able to race the Yamaha at AMA Nationals that don't conflict with the Canadian rounds. That is a pretty big deal considering his personal bike is a Honda and switching brands for the four US rounds would be far from ideal.
A Word on the Safety Crew at the Meadowlands
Big thanks to the Asterisk crew for giving Jimmy D immediate medical care and to the Feld crew for getting him safely off of the track. The entire team would also like to thank Dr. Chris Mascetta (@MotoCareChiro, www.motocarechiropractic.com) for his help. Both asterisk and Dr. Chris depend on donations to be there for the riders every race. So if your favorite rider made the show please remember to support these guys because you never know when your rider will be fighting to make a bad day better.
Good luck and heal up quick Jimmy D! I am very proud of the champion’s heart you showed this weekend. When you finish up your series in Canada, you deserve a chance on a team here in the US for 2016 and I hope to see you get this opportunity.
That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness.