Listen To Me!
by Charlie Oxford #20E
You know, those ole’ gut feelings that hit you in the pit of the stomach about the time you think of doing something different? Something out of the norm. I get those thoughts from time to time and the trick is knowing exactly when to listen to those thoughts. Sometimes I guess, you just need to listen to yourself.
If you’ve been taking time reading this site for a while maybe you’ve read my first publication called “ My Story”. I was just jotting down thoughts one day about my motocross background, you know, kind of “ how did I get here “ story.
If you happened to catch the last edition of McCookRacing you may have read about a dose of reality. I have been racing with the Florida series for several seasons and have success finishing races. One of our fellow racers broke his leg badly in November. The injury put me to thinking about all the things that go into racing a dirt bike. I started writing down all the things that need to happen to have fun and successfully finish a race.
I should have listened to myself and remembered what those things were.
I finished 3rd in the 2007 AHRMA Post Vintage series Historic 250 Intermediate class. I was pretty stoked about it, even though I only went to the minimum four races. I also know the saying “checkbook challenge”. After the season, I began thinking of attending seven races in 2008. Travel and see more tracks, meet new people and the folks I know over the internet or phone. Be National Champion. Hell, why not sign up for the expert class! I can ride as fast as some of the experts I know, even if it is just past the first turn, sometime. Any way, I figured someone has to finish last and doing so in the expert class, sounds better. Naaa , stay in the intermediate class. Maybe I should just ride the Florida series and have fun I thought.
I should have listened to that little voice.
After the 2008 AHRMA schedule came out, I calculated the road and race expenses to go to 7 events. It would be quite a commitment traveling from my little corner of the nation, and funding would be a challenge. With gas prices going up five cents a gallon every day it was difficult to estimate. I had it figured at approximately $3500.00 to attend seven races. I will always ride the Florida series, and I continued to prepare for the 2008 AHRMA series. I wanted to wait and see how I did at Hard Rock before deciding about going to Diamond Don’s. I thought maybe I would wait until 2009, get an entire season in Florida on the ’74, save some race money. I should have listened to myself.
My FLVMX season has not gone as well as envisioned. My 1974 YZ had tranny troubles and not available for two events early in the season. The bike and vintage class is new to me this year and these races were intended to give me some time on the bike prior to the start of the AHRMA series. At the beginning of the season the plan was to only run a few choice post vintage events on my 1976 YZ and I did not race it opening day so I fell behind in the points series. A fork seal failed on the ‘76 in Folkston Ga. and for the first time in two seasons, I fell . My ’74 and I parted company in mid air off the grandstand jump ! I was fortunate not to get injured , just embarrassed. I said to myself then I was pushing too much. I was riding on the edge of my ability. I was taking it too seriously. But I didn’t listen.
I began to forget about keeping it real !
It had been a relaxing sort of three day camping weekend. Hard Rock is only forty five minutes from my house and I arrived to set up Thursday around noon in an area roped off, for FLVMX riders to pit. After last years monsoon, and my tent floating in two inches of muddy water, sleeping arrangements were different this year. I obtained a small box trailer to sleep in and it proved to work well.
I saw a lot of racers from all over the country, some I am sure I wish I had talked to. There were some of the coolest camping and racing rigs imaginable.
I watched cross country on Friday and began to get ready for Saturday.
I really normally don’t complain much, I am just glad to be participating, and I probably shouldn’t say anything but there are some things I don’t understand.
Inside my December 2007 Vintage Views, was a 2007 AHRMA awards banquet ticket request form.
They wanted twenty five dollars a seat for an awards banquet dinner.
An awards banquet for which I would expect to get an award, I qualified, that is why I went to four races. I also thought about those folks who also qualified for an award but lives in Seattle and couldn’t come. I kinda felt obligated, since the banquet is in Florida about 50 yards from where my camp will be.
But, I sort of felt like they were charging the guest of honor to come eat. Then I thought, I can understand the cost of catering a meal for a couple of hundred people is expensive.
No one from AHRMA actually contacted me to tell me to go to the banquet. I had to ask if they were giving out awards and would there be one there for me. I thought about not going, I should have listened to myself.
On Friday night at Hard Rock , under the big tent was this festive event. The MC handing out awards, started with boxes of plaques. In the beginning he would pick up a plaque and read 3rd place Expert Sportsman class in a vintage series goes to... and if you were there you came up and got your picture taken with Marty Tripes and Chuck Sun. How cool was that ! But when they realized that person was not there they quickly handed the plaque to his helper who filed it away in another box. This process got long winded and the MC began just calling out a name and the plaques were flying into the, not here box. When he called out my name he did not here me reply and my plaque went into the not here box! By the time I made my way to the stage, several more names had been called and plaques piled up on top of mine. The helper could not remember which box it went into and I was told to sort through several boxes while the presentation continued. After quite a while of looking I never found my plaque, frustration set in and I left. I went back and got it the next day.
So my wife asked what did ya get for the eighteen hundred dollars you spent and the twelve days vacation traveling to four races?
I told her a two dollar plaque, and a four dollar meal for twenty five. And I also did not get to have my picture taken with Tripes and Sun.
The racing is about the thrill of competition, and riding a dirt bike, not awards. But it is a national series. Everyone does like recognition for an accomplishment.
The Florida series gives out much higher quality plaques and trophies. It also presents contingency prizes, racing accessories to the tune of about $200.00 retail per racer that qualifies. And, the banquet meal food was just as good and free to the racer. Where does all that money go?
The entire weekend was beautiful from a weather standpoint. Saturday morning race day was normal and I slept well. My moto was number nine so there was no early a.m. hurry, Tech had been accomplished on Friday evening. Vintage Sportsman 250 Expert class, seventeen riders on the gate and I don’t get a good start. I ended up 10th first moto and 11th second moto, no where near what I expected. I just have not had enough seat time on the vintage bike.
I decided to concentrate on post vintage Sunday , Historic 250 expert class. When the race order came out and my moto was thirteenth, last, I was disappointed. I ended up 4th in the first moto. While having to wait until moto thirteen, I had one of those gut feelings about not riding the last moto. I had done poorly in the Vintage class on Saturday. It really would not matter if I chose to not race any more AHRMA nationals this season. I should have listened to those thoughts. But I really did not want a DNS, I thought I could finish better the next moto.
Moto thirteen was comprised of the Historic 250 and 500 experts. All weekend I had chose a starting spot on the outside, on the end and not getting good results. This last moto I moved to inside right next to the starters box. Off the start the two riders to my right got together, the one to my immediate right swerved hard left to avoid that collision and swept my front wheel out from under me. I never saw it coming because my focus was further down the track. It had become quite dusty and visibility was poor, but bottom line, I failed to be aware of the riders around me and react in time to get out of the way.
My friend Ed Gocek just happened to be up on the hill and video’d the entire crash. I have studied it many, many times.
I took a trip over the bars so quick, it really is just a blur. Impact with “Hard Rock” was no match for mortal bone. The distinctive sound of bone cracking was so clear inside that bell helmet, even for someone who has never broken a bone. When I rolled to my feet I knew right away my collar bone was broken, at least it wasn’t my neck. The separated shoulder was more painful.
My friends loaded my wagon and I drove home, with my tail tucked between my legs.
It has been three months now. The High quality titanium plate and screws are holding me together just fine. I have begun rehab, lifting weights lightly, stretching, range of motion. It is amazing all the Florida rider who then showed me their scars. I hear there are two types of motocross riders , the ones who have broken the collar bone and the ones who will.
I now have too much time for this computer, even though I have a slow restoration of a YZ in progress.
I had felt kinda embarrassed about the article on “keeping it real” , finishing races on two wheels and all that shit. I should have listened to myself, but men and ladies of vintage existence, it is true. It ain’t no fun on the couch !
Charlie Oxford #20E