Not everyone agrees with me, but I’ve come to the conclusion that Motocross is a transcendental sport. Think of it as yoga for gearheads.
Young men probably don’t think of it that way because they feed on the thrill of speed and the stink of exhaust and the agonizing threat of broken bones. The raw power of a gasoline engine mixes well with competitive spirit.
But out on the track something happens to take it to another level.
Magic gets made when all that noise and bluff are balanced by the poetry of flight. When the decision is made to risk the jump and take to the air. Precious moments of being weightless and free. Time slows, sounds go soft. At least until the inevitable — the return to earth — when all that wonder gives in to gravity. Energy of every kind gets absorbed by simple shocks and springs.
So riders hit the throttle and do it all again. Nothing matters but the spinning tires and the barking motor and the mad dash to the next jump and, eventually, the finish line.
It’s all there — infinity, life, death and rebirth.
In the United States, motocross is huge. Thousands of spectators fill back-country fields and big-city arenas to watch mud fly and young men hang in the air. Top riders are millionaires. But not so in Newfoundland and Labrador. Here there are no crowds. Just hard core support groups. Moms and dads and girlfriends and best buddies. Until last year there wasn’t even a dedicated track.
That’s when Chris O’Neill and and his partner Steve Anstey ended a search spanning eight years and plunked down the cash to buy 50 acres of bush in Butlerville, just outside Bay Roberts. They brought in the heavy equipment in February and this time last year the held their first race on the track they call Riverview Motocross.
No prize money. O’Neill says that might make the racers a little too competitive. For now they have to settle for trophies and a banquet at the end of the season. The number of competitors goes up every event. Last race day they had 85 riders.
"I’m hoping for 120 by the end of the season," he says. "Over the long term I want to expand the number of campsites and attract more younger riders."
Just the same, with an eight-race season it’s hard to come up with a traditional business plan.
"We’ll never make any money here,"says Steve Anstey. He and O’Neill became buddies and partners after meeting through the sport.
"I got into it because of my son Tyler" says O’Neill.
Tyler was about 12 years old then. Now he’s 24. In his prime, he was one of the fastest riders on the island. This summer he’s returning to the track after taking two years off. He had serious injuries that needed to heal. Tyler doesn’t consider himself a serious competitor anymore. He’s slowing down, concentrating on teaching young kids how to ride. Completing the circle.
See? There’s that yoga thing again. Namaste