I was a lucky kid! From the time I was 11 until I was 14 my Dad would show up at school every Thursday at noon with the van, my YZ 80 and all my gear so we could skip the afternoon and head south to race motocross.
I loved racing then and still do today. Now I’m spinning the pedals instead of twisting a throttle, but the racing atmosphere is the same; good people, tons of fun and the amazing feel of competition.
Some people handle the competition with ease, others focus so hard on the goal they don’t have time to be nervous and still others, like me, have such huge nerves that we are only one wrong move away from vomiting as we approach the start line.
I remember those days as a kid racing motocross. I’d wake up on Thursday morning and could barely hold breakfast down. I often wondered why I bothered going to school in the mornings since I was so focused on the afternoon’s racing that I never paid attention anyway.
As we drove to Bellingham I would just sit in silence thinking about the track…the nerves would build up steadily from morning until the start gate.
In the start gate back then they would show a 30 second sign indicating the gate would drop any time in the next half minute, and as soon as I saw that, I was good to go. The nerves would disappear in a split second and my entire body would relax. It was a great feeling and just made me realize how easy competition can be if I could just quit thinking so much.
Lacrosse was the same thing, tons of nerves until the opening face off and all was good from that point forward.
In DH racing I could barely function until the five beeps started my race run, then it was easy, just riding and relying on instinct.
I can’t say I ever enjoyed the few hours before a competition, but while actually competing I was euphoric.
Thirty years later, I haven’t changed a bit, but now it’s not a weekly race or game where I’m nervous for a few hours, this is a seven day race that has had the butterflies fluttering for a couple of weeks.
I’m writing this two days before the race starts and as much as I have to eat and drink lots right now, I’m having trouble getting food down and I don’t think I’ve actually tasted anything for the last week, and its getting worse as we get closer. I’m done with the training, done with the diet, done with the waiting and definitely done anticipating…I’M DONE THINKING ABOUT IT…SOMEONE YELL GO!
I am not enjoying today and won’t enjoy the next two as we build up to the race, but the seven after that will be some of the best ever…A trade off that is more than worth it!
I’m James Durand and I’m Goin’ Ridin’