I’ll be re-sharing some of my favorite posts from my old blog from time to time. This one is from a couple of years ago, but I felt it really captured my feelings still.
I have to record the most awesome motocross weekend ever, from the Mom’s point of view anyway!
This series the boys have upped the ante so to speak and moved to the “expert” track. This alone was a feat of strength. They’ve been riding motocross for about a year now and weren’t really winning all that much on the “amateur” track but they figured, why waste time mastering the smaller track when they could be losing and gaining experience on the same track the pro’s use. The reaction from their friends was enough to spur them on. They were all excited and amazed that they would even try it. So there we were lined up for our first moto on the big track. That’s when I got nervous. What if they shouldn’t be there? What if they embarrassed themselves? What if they crashed? The gate dropped and those “novice” riders came roaring down the track with my boys in the back. My stomach dropped. We were way out of our league. The second gate dropped and the next race started and they began to catch up to my boys. Watching Jake ride was inspiring though. He looked like he was having the time of his life. Every jump was loose and every turn and slide was controlled. He wasn’t THAT far behind. But Tom looked like he was in fear of his very life. Stiff and rigid as he made every turn and each jump he just rolled it. He never made the last lap before they ended the race. I had to hold back tears the whole time.
There is some back story here. Three weeks ago we had a friend come and give them some tips and they rode the main track at another place. They were flying and very happy, ready for the “big time”. One week later, we went for another practice, this time on the main track we were going to race at next. They didn’t do so well here. I think they were intimidated by the fast riders on a Wednesday morning and lost faith in themselves. During the last round, Tom crashed, not a bad one by motocross standards but a good one for him. It was over a jump and he left the bike and came flying down the jump without it, landing on his back, rolling hard. He strained his back and fractured his wrist. We decided to baby that wrist to give it time to heal before the next race. Maybe that wasn’t a good idea because he didn’t ride those two weeks, he only did some strength training. We knew going there this weekend that he wouldn’t do well in the race for several reasons. The combination of the new track and level, and the fact that he was still healing from his injury and hadn’t ridden in awhile was pretty much cutting out all hopes of racing well. Jake on the other hand was ready. He’d been practicing and working out and was mentally ready for this race. And he did amazingly well. I’ve never seen him more confident. I feel bad that the focus leaned toward Tom and his problems when Jake had put in just as much work. But as always, the squeaky wheel, right? We kept praising Jake as much as we could without making Tom feel too bad. It felt strange because for the last year, it has been the other way around!
Back to this weekend’s race. Friday evening Tom comes down with a sore throat and a stuffy nose. He felt pretty crappy on Saturday morning as we finished loading up and headed for the track. What else can go wrong?
Saturday was a decent day of practice. The weather was perfect. The track wasn’t too crowded. But Tom wasn’t feeling it. In hindsight, you could feel his tension building but I thought it was just his cold keeping him low key. We registered for the next day’s race after practice and were encouraged by the TWMX staff about moving to the big track. Our usual after Race Day Eve rituals commenced.
Sunday morning we woke up to rain, as was expected. We waited for them to cancel the race, but they didn’t. It wasn’t a heavy rain so the track wasn’t flooded, just muddy, and it was supposed to start letting up at 8am just as practice was starting. By the time the races started it was looking nice. We got the schedule…the last race of the day! And the waiting began.
Both the boys took turns riding over to the track and watching, seeing where they were in the line of races. Tom always takes so much longer to come back because he stops and talks to people. The combination of his friendly and outgoing nature and his cool vintage pit bike leads him to conversations with people all along the track and pits. It’s fun to watch him. He introduces his brother and drags him along to talk with people sometimes, but Jake is much more comfortable at his camp or riding. The high point of his socializing is to joke and tell the rider next to him at the gate to slow down a bit and not make him look so bad! His sense of humor catches you off guard because he’s usually so quiet.
So there we were, the first moto in the books and it didn’t look good at all for Tom. Jake was happily sipping his cool sports drink and eating a hot dog while Tom was silently freaking out. It’s hard when your kids are going through something like this. I wanted so much to help but really didn’t know how. Talking about it, going over what happened, seemed to be making it worse. I felt like talking it out would be helpful (for me) but then I thought maybe just putting it behind him would be better, look to the next one. He was going on about the mud and not feeling well. Maybe he had the suspension set wrong. What was he doing wrong? But we could tell it was fear. He didn’t see it. He wasn’t jumping and speeding because he was afraid of crashing again. He needed to put THAT behind him. What do you do? I went to congratulate Jake on his performance and then looked at Facebook to occupy myself and give him space.
We had about an hour before the next moto, so Jake went to see how things were going at the track and I suggested to Tom that he meditate, clear his mind of anxiety. He agreed and settled into deep breathing. And then we headed back for the next round.
We got there a bit early this time so we had about a half an hour to stand around and watch. Jake was chomping at the bit to get out there. He just loves being out on the track! He said that the running and climbing as cross training is really working because the moto’s aren’t wiping him out anymore. He could have done that for hours. And it was so awesome to see him so proud of the work he put into it. Tom needed more time alone. I held his bike while he stood at that fence and watched the other races take off. A Dad of a friend of his came up and talked to him for a bit and I watched him relax. He needs to know people think he can do this. That little bit of fame pushes him on. That man was a gift from God.
When we got to the gate, he swept, packed down the dirt, got ready. He said he was going to just ride to finish and not fall, focus on not falling. His breathing was short. He already looked stiff. In a moment of inspiration I told him to not focus on that. No, is what I said. Remember the breathing, roll your shoulders back, open up the chest, shake out your arms, legs, and head. Focus on your confidence. You CAN do this. You have landed this a thousand times. You’re all alone, look out ahead, and have fun. He shook his head yes and the starter took his place. I ran off to the side with Dan. I highly doubted it would help. He was pretty scared. The gate dropped and both the boys were out there in the middle of the pack. Jake was a bit behind. They rounded corners and made the jumps just like that first practice. It was amazing. I couldn’t help but yell out, “That’s my boy! That’s what they LOVE!” You could see it in their riding. You could feel it as they passed by. My heart soared with them.
Now…before you go thinking that they had magically went faster and moved up in the ranks of riders, they were still in last place. They did significantly faster laps, but so did everyone else. The track was more dried out and most usually do better on their second moto. It was the attitude that was different. They were matched in their joy and excitement of making the laps. Now they just have to work on speed. That will come with practice.
After the race, they always get back to camp first. They are on bikes and we’re walking. But as we walked up, the attitude at camp was WAY better than the last time. Jake was already packing up bikes and tools. He used to have to take a good long rest before he even started to move after a race. Tom was all thumbs up, running over to us. He was almost crying. He hugged me and told me it worked and I’m the best mom for helping him. And then I almost cried! Dan was so proud of us. It was a pretty awesome moment. We all talked about how great it was and loaded up, got dressed, put away all that muddy gear, and headed for home!
I’m amazed at my children. They are brave, confident, brilliant, and talented. As much as I dislike motocross, I cannot imagine life without their craziness. Since this is the race weekend from my perspective, I’ll tell you what I learned most, the admiration of two boys that push themselves to the limit of their abilities by sheer will power. I don’t like this sport. I’d love it if they decided that it was enough now and move on to something cheaper and safer. But I see it through their eyes and I’m just as excited as they are. I’m seeing where they could go and what they can do with the skills they are learning. I’m making plans in my mind about races across the country, two brothers and a box truck! I’m seeing factory teams, personal tracks, and watching them on TV and in sports magazines. But I’ll be happy seeing them play at it all their lives, find work that keeps them fed, and wives that support their crazy dreams. I can see them getting bikes for their kids and doing it all over again. Deep sighs for this momma.
Right now, the day after, I’m in awe. I’m relieved that we are home safe, no one came home injured. I’m happy we left the track on a high note for both my babies. I’m thankful that my amazing husband supports this craziness even though I’m sure he’d rather be doing a thousand other things with his time and money. I’m looking forward and planning the next practice day. And I’m terrified of the next race in two weeks. It will never stop scaring the crap out of me every time they head out there, but how can I let my fear get in the way of their joy? I think I’ll make cookies in their honor and just bask in their glory today.