Holiday time here in the USA! Thanksgiving is underway and it's a big deal here in America. Me being Canadian, we have our Thanksgiving on a different date than the USA and it's not that big of a deal. The USA does this holiday right with football, food and fun. Well, until that uncle that you only see once a year gets hammered and starts talking about politics. For me it's a time to be thankful for many things, one of them that I get to watch a sport that I've been involved with my whole life and get paid at that!
Some other things I'm thankful for at this time of the year…
– I'm thankful that I get to see some of the best racers in the world push themselves each race to try and, well, win. To have a trackside seat and watch Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen, Jeffrey Herlings, Antonio Cairoli and others dig deep. Man, it's cool when these guys push themselves and get out of their comfort zone.
– I'm thankful that I got to see James Stewart's entire career in the sport. Seriously, he's been gone a while now so some fans don't really remember what it was like to watch a rider change the way people race motorcycles. The things he did in practice and at his house in Florida during the week (that I got to see a few times) were amazing. He was on another level man.
– Speaking of Stew: I'm thankful that I got to watch him, Chad Reed and Ricky Carmichael go at it a few times for the 450SX title. This was a real rivalry with some real hatred involved. We don't really have that now in our sport, good or bad. These three dudes had some gnarly races and I got to be there to see almost all of them.
– I'm thankful that racers that my heroes like Damon Bradshaw, Rick Johnson, Ron Lechien are now in my phone and I'm able to call them to BS. Like, seriously, how cool is that?
– I'm thankful that I got to see two-strokes race and also got to see the rise of the four-stroke. There are lots of good and bad things about both of these events but if you were around in 1997 or 1998 when Yamaha unleashed the YZ400 then you know what I'm talking about. Four-strokes have hurt pro racing, there's no doubt about that, but they are also easier to ride and pretty damn trick now.
– I have a few issues with the Motocross of Nations from a Team USA standpoint but I'm thankful that I get to cover the race year-to-year. There's something about that race that's special as a journalist (but that doesn't mean it's perfect!).
– Speaking of that, I was able to be a mechanic on Team USA in 2003 for Tim Ferry and although my memories are mostly sour (Ferry crashed and Team USA got second) the fact that I got to wrench on a MXoN team was pretty cool and I'm thankful for that.
– I'm thankful that I got to catch the last half of the great Jeremy McGrath's career. I started wrenching in '96 and although he made many a race pretty boring, at the time you had an appreciation of his skills. He was just so much better than everyone else it was silly. Always a cool, classy guy the whole time as well.
– My job as a journalist in the sport has allowed me access behind the curtain many times and I'm thankful for that. To be at Ryan Villopoto's place or Chad Reed's during the week and watch what went on, go to dinner with these guys and shoot the shit with them has been pretty cool. You get a sense of what makes them tick and also some of the real things going on in the sport.
Those are just a few things that I can think off the top of my head, it's been a hell of a ride and I've been pretty lucky along the way also.
Words: Steve Matthes | Lead Image: Monster Energy/Octopi