News
10 Apr, 2017

Decotis Misses Podium in Return for GEICO Honda

Seattle, Washington, (April 8, 2017) –Jimmy Decotis served as the lone representative for the GEICO Honda race team for Monster Energy Supercross in Seattle, Washington’s Century Link Field, and the popular New Englander rode hard in another attempt to collect his first career top three. He found himself battling in second and third for most of the race, and then back to fourth during a fight late in the race. After fourth place finishes in his last two races, Decotis was determined to do one better, so he entered checkers-or-wreckers mode on the last lap, and crashed vying for third. The crash cost him a few positions, as he ultimately finished sixth.

“I wasn’t going to get fourth tonight, I was either going to get third or I was going to crash,” said Decotis. “It’s been a long seven weeks of having to think about getting two fourths at the last two races. During the break, I rode with Coop [Cooper Webb] and AP [Aaron Plessinger] and we had fun. And during the week, I can hang right in there with them if I’m feeling good. So, AP and I had fun battling in the heat race. I’m starting to fight back when I’m up there, because I’m starting to believe in myself now. I was just trying to do my best, I gave it everything I had. Mitchell [Oldenburg] passed me [for third] and I thought maybe I was dropping off, but then I saw we were starting to catch back up to [second place rider Justin] Hill. I knew we had two laps to go, so I laid it down and went as fast as I could on the next to last lap. Going to the white flag, I just missed the rut coming up the jump. And if I had hit the finishline jump, it would have been bad. I backed off at the last second, went into a mud hole, and a couple of guys ran into me. It ended up being a sixth, bummed about that, but I did everything I could. I passed a few guys back I put up a lot more fight than I have in the past, and I nailed all of my starts. That’s good progress.”

 

Decotis gets another brief break to think about the podium, as the series takes a weekend off for Easter before resuming at Salt Lake City on April 22nd. Decotis 250SX West Region teammate Jeremy Martin, who missed the Seattle race after a practice crash prior to the event, will be reevaluated before the Salt Lake City race.

GEICO Honda Results:

6. Jimmy Decotis

07 Apr, 2017

Transworld MX: Josh Varize | The Underdog

Photos/Words | Casey Davis @air_d617

The amateur motocross racing scene is thriving right now, as more and more people are taking an interest in racing dirt bikes with each passing year. The sport is gaining recognition and growing in popularity, and families are hungrier than ever to help their kid make a name for themselves in the hopes of bettering their future as a racer. The Varize family fits into this category of dedicated families, as they’ve sacrificed and given up material items that most people wouldn’t even dream of doing, and it was all for their 14 year old son Josh. We caught up with “Jammin Josh” earlier this week at the 2017 Orange Brigade Camp to talk about his plans for the rest of year and to hear about some of the things that his family has done to get him to this point in his young career.

We’re out here at Brian Deegan’s house for the 2017 Orange Brigade Camp. Tell us a little bit about what’s going on today. It’s pretty cool that Orange Brigade put this on for you guys…
Yeah, it’s great. Almost every one of the Orange Brigade riders is here having a great time and putting in some laps. We all get to work with Buddy Antunez and Nathan Ramsey on the track, which is something that I’m really excited about. Everyone is having a lot of fun and I’m stoked to be here!

What’s it been like to work with Nate and “Budman?”
It’s been great because I feel like I’m really learning a few things. I just returned from an injury, so I’m still not quite up to pace, but I know I’ll be back in no time. I think the OBCamp came at the right time for me since I’m still getting myself back up to speed because this has allowed me to really take in everything from Nate and Buddy.

image: http://cdn.motocross.transworld.net/blogs.dir/441/files/2017/04/A57A6698-600×400.jpg

Let’s talk about the injury. How are you feeling now that you’re back on the bike?
It’s feeling pretty good, actually. It doesn’t bother me when I’m riding, but I lost all of the muscle in my arm, and that’s been the biggest struggle. I don’t remember exactly how long, but I wasn’t able to move my arm for a few months. I’m back on the bike now though, and almost 100%.

You just returned from the Freestone Amateur National, and you did quite well considering the amount of time you had to prepare after your injury…
Yeah, I had a good time over there, and I’m totally happy with the way I rode considering everything! Even though you’re right, I didn’t want to use that as an excuse. Like I said, I’m happy with the way I rode, but I needed to find my starts. Once I get my starts down though, and maintain consistency with no mistakes, I’ll feel even better!

image: http://cdn.motocross.transworld.net/blogs.dir/441/files/2017/04/A57A6574-600×400.jpg

We know you’re a real threat wherever you go and it’s evident in your results, but we don’t hear your name as much as the Jett Reynolds, the Stilez Robertsons or the Carson Mumfords. Do you feel like people underestimate you a little bit?
Maybe a little bit, but I know where I stand at the races when I’m good and healthy. It doesn’t really bother me that people don’t put me in the same category as Mumford or Robertson, and maybe it’s because I’m not doing the social media thing as much. I’m just having a good time riding my dirt bike!

Which amateur nationals do you plan on attending this year?
Up next is the Cal Classic, and I’m really hoping to get in some more good rides there, as well. I would love to come home with some championships! After that, we’ll be doing a few regional qualifiers for Loretta Lynn’s, then Mammoth will be next I think and then we’ll head back east for Loretta’s.

image: http://cdn.motocross.transworld.net/blogs.dir/441/files/2017/04/A57A6371-600×400.jpg

Prior to OBCamp17, have you ever worked with Ramsey or Antunez before?
I’ve been with Orange Brigade KTM since 2015, and twice a year they put on these OBCamps – one on the East Coast and another here on the West Coast. The first OBCamp was held in 2014 I think. I’ve actually worked with Nate quite a bit, but I really only get to work with Buddy at the OBCamps.

Just about anyone that’s been to Milestone MX has more than likely visited MX Pro Parts, which is a race shop located next to the front gate, and your parents happen to own the shop, right?
Yeah, exactly. It’s a cool little place, too because everything you need is in there. We also service bikes, as well, which is something that I don’t think many people know about. My parents work really hard to keep the place up and running, and they’ve sacrificed so much for me and my future. The same goes for my brother, and I’m very thankful for him! My parents have given up our jet skis, our boat and two really nice convertibles just so that I can race dirt bikes, and we’re even living in our motorhome behind the shop, right now. But we spend a lot of time in our motorhome traveling to the races anyways, so it feels like home. We also have another separate trailer that my mom and brother sleep in when we’re on the road traveling to the races. My parents race shop though, is pretty cool and it really comes in handy if you break a lever or get a flat tire. They carry a ton of other stuff, too in case you forget your boots or helmet or even your motor oil. I’m extremely thankful for my family and everything they’ve put on the line for me. I hope to return the favor one day.

image: http://cdn.motocross.transworld.net/blogs.dir/441/files/2017/04/A57A6388-400×600.jpg


Read more at http://motocross.transworld.net/news/josh-varize-underdog/#ptZDEomqGutGML4k.99

07 Apr, 2017

Transworld MX: Jo Shimoda | The Japanese Import

Words/Photos: Casey Davis | @air_d617

Following a championship at Loretta Lynn’s in the highly competitive Supermini 2 class, Jo Shimoda signed a two year contract with Amsoil/Factory Connection/Honda. Shimoda’s US racing career began roughly four years ago though, after moving to Southern California from Japan. Shimoda is now one the sport’s rising young stars, as he is a real threat in the “B” class wherever he goes. We caught up with the #47 after the Freestone Amateur National to discuss his plans for the year and to hear a little more about the “Snapchat Master.”

We’re out here at Milestone MX, and it looks like you’re doing a bit of testing. What’s going on today?
Yeah, we’re doing some suspension testing. I had a little trouble in Freestone with my suspension, so that’s what’s brought us out here today. My bike wasn’t handling the way that I wanted it to in the high speed sections, so we’re here trying to figure out a better setting. However, we are having a little bit of trouble because the track isn’t very rough right now, which isn’t ideal for suspension testing.

As you mentioned, you just returned from Freestone, so talk about how the week went for you.
Freestone went pretty well even though my times were slightly off from the top guys. My corner speed was lacking a little bit and my speed around the outside lines wasn’t what it should have been. Garrett Marchbanks and Pierce Brown rode really well though. Right now, I’m just preparing for the Cal Classic.

Let’s talk about your mechanic Cameron Camera. You two have a very close relationship, as he’s been working with you for the last four years since your move to the US.
Cameron is a great guy. He’s the “Snapchat Master!” This guy is constantly Snapchatting. It will be quiet one minute, then all of a sudden Cameron will yell something as he records a Snapchat. He’s so funny (laughs).

image: http://cdn.motocross.transworld.net/blogs.dir/441/files/2017/04/A57A4737-600×400.jpg

Are you Snapchat famous because of Cameron?
I’m not famous on my own personal Snapchat, but that’s another story on Cameron’s. I think that’s how most people know me (laughs).

Recently you signed with Amsoil/Factory Connection/Honda, and you’re looking very comfortable on your new ride. How has everything been with the new bike and new team?
Everything has been amazing! Jeff Majkrzak and everyone at the team is very nice. Working with this team has eliminated a lot of the everyday stresses that come with motocross racing because they take care of everything. The bike has been incredible, as well! Until this, I’ve never ridden a bike like that!

Prior to signing with Factory Connection Honda, you were racing Superminis and occasionally a KTM 125SX. Going from Superminis to a full-fledged Factory Connection Honda, was that a difficult transition for you?
It was definitely a big jump. Before riding a Factory Connection bike though, I was riding a Honda CR125. It was a little difficult to ride that bike because it was a little slow. The switch did take a little time because there were so many new things for me to get used to, but I’m settled in and very happy my bike.

image: http://cdn.motocross.transworld.net/blogs.dir/441/files/2017/04/A57A4740-600×400.jpg

Mike LaRocco heads up the professional side of the team, but do you ever get to work with him?
On rare occasions. He primarily works with the Geico guys, but if I ever need any tips or advice I know I can ask him. Most of my time is spent with Cameron (laughs).

When you moved to the US, how was Cameron able to help you?
When I came here, Cameron was my first friend. I stayed with him at Jeff Pestana’s place for a short time, so right off the bat we were with each other every day. Cameron was able to help me communicate with other people since I didn’t speak English when I moved out here. Everything worked out great with Cameron and I’m so happy to have him in my corner. He’s not just a mechanic to me, he’s my friend!

How do the racetracks in Japan compare to the tracks here in Southern California?
First off, they don’t prep the tracks, and sometimes there isn’t any water, either. Other times they’ll water the course, but they won’t groom it. Sugo is a really cool track though, because they prep it. Everyone out here always complains about the tracks being too rough or too dusty, but that’s what I’m used to. Everyone out here has it really good when it comes to practice tracks, they just don’t know it (laughs).

image: http://cdn.motocross.transworld.net/blogs.dir/441/files/2017/04/A57A4747-600×400.jpg

Coming from those kinds of riding conditions, did you have to adjust your riding style to get used to the tracks here in So.Cal?
Yeah, I basically had to learn how to ride in this kind of dirt. The dirt is so much tackier out here, which requires a different kind of riding style. I learned that I can lean the bike a lot more thanks to the moist dirt.

You have a few more races to accomplish by the end of the year, so do you have any goals set forth other than the obvious, which would be winning?
My primary goal is to ride throughout the entire year without any injuries. I want to continue to progress every time I’m on the bike, as well. Being stationary in this sport means you’re going backwards, so I want to keep moving forward.

image: http://cdn.motocross.transworld.net/blogs.dir/441/files/2017/04/A57A4754-600×400.jpg


Read more at http://motocross.transworld.net/news/jo-shimoda-the-japanese-import/#Xb8vOcyII0oWwlq7.99

04 Apr, 2017

Christian Craig to Fill in for Team Honda HRC During AMA Motocross Series

TORRANCE, Calif. (April 4, 2017) – Team Honda HRC is happy to announce that current GEICO Honda rider Christian Craig will fill in for the injured Ken Roczen throughout the entire 12-round AMA Pro Motocross series. Craig will pilot a factory CRF450R alongside Cole Seely beginning with the Hangtown season opener on May 20.

Craig is not new to the premier class, having campaigned 450s during the 2009 ’11, ’12 and ’14 Pro Motocross seasons. The Californian has a career-best 450 outdoor finish of seventh and is hoping to improve with help from the factory squad.

“Honestly, when I got the call that factory Honda wanted me to fill in, I couldn’t stop smiling,” Craig said. “To have this opportunity is an honor. Obviously, everyone including me is so bummed Kenny got hurt, and I’ll do everything in my power to make the team and Kenny happy they chose me as the guy to ride his bike while he recovers. I’ll be going into the season open-minded and as prepared as I can be. The 450 class is more stacked than ever, but hopefully after the first couple rounds I’ll be able to learn the pace and see where I fit in. Thanks to the entire Team Honda HRC and GEICO Honda crews for allowing this to happen, and to Kenny for letting me borrow his bike for the summer. I’m beyond grateful.”

“We’re really excited to have Christian riding for us in the AMA Pro Motocross series,” said Team Honda HRC manager Dan Betley. “He’s shown notable speed in the 450 class in previous years, and I think he has the potential to deliver solid results. GEICO Honda is our extended family; we have a great relationship, so we appreciate them allowing us to have Christian for the season.”

03 Apr, 2017

Craig Grabs Top Five for GEICO Honda in St. Louis

April 2, 2017 ST. LOUIS, MO – GEICO Honda’s Christian Craig was looking forward to a fresh start when Monster Energy Supercross arrived at the Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis. He ended last week’s main event in Detroit with solid lap times and a great comeback, from nearly last to seventh. He improved in St. Louis, finishing fifth, but was still disappointed that a bad start in the main event continued to hamper any chance of making the podium.

“Practice started off good, ended up qualifying fifth,” said Craig. “Going into my heat I had third gate pick. I got a pretty good start and ended up coming out first in the first turn. Joey [Savatgy] took a different line so he passed me through the first rhythm section. I stayed on him the entire race which was really good for me. I never let him out of sight and kept fighting. The main event is the same story I’ve been telling all season, I feel like. A crappy jump left me almost last and I had to work my way up, once again. I ended up getting fifth which was good compared to where I started but extremely frustrating at this point. I’m not a fifth place guy and I hope other people still believe that.”

Craig, who sits sixth in the 250SX East Region standings, will get two more cracks at it this year, with a small break before the New Jersey supercross on April 29, and then the Las Vegas finale the following weekend. In between, West Region 250SX resumes, with GEICO Honda sending Jeremy Martin and Jimmy Decotis back into competition this upcoming weekend in Seattle.

GEICO Honda Results
St. Louis Supercross

5. Christian Craig

27 Mar, 2017

Dramatic Weekend for Craig at Detroit Supercross

Detroit, MI (March 26, 2017) – Christian Craig’s up and down season of 250SX racing for GEICO Honda gained yet another twist after a dramatic weekend at Ford Field in downtown Detroit, Michigan. Craig collided with Alex Martin in practice, and the move sent Martin over a berm and down hard. Martin was knocked out of racing for the night. As a penalty, the AMA and FIM assigned Craig the last gate selection for the night’s main event, but then a strange thing happened during this day of drama for Craig: he ended up logging his best ride of the season.

“Well, yesterday went from terrible to great to pretty good. As everyone knows, I had a practice incident with Alex Martin. I let my frustrations get the best of me in the heat of the moment. I could sit here and explain my side of the story but I’ll still end up in the wrong so I won’t,” said Craig, who took to his personal Instagram account to apologize to Martin. “Anyway, I got penalized and fined by the AMA. No matter what I got in my heat I would have last gate pick for the main. I ended up winning my heat which was such a good confidence booster for me. I’ve been mentally broken this season and I’ve been trying to get myself to where I was last year. I feel like I’m back as my normal self again. I rode like I knew how and I didn’t give up. I got the holeshot and led every lap. I know it was only a heat race win but that one felt really good.”

With the 22nd gate pick in the main event, Craig had no choice but to go wide open into turn one and hope for the best. He very nearly pulled off a good start, but at the last moment he came into contact with a pileup building from the inside, and that sent him into the tuff blocks.

“Going into the main I obviously knew I was going to be last pick so I took the outside gate and was just gonna go for it,” sais Craig. “I actually got a really good start but was caught in a first turn pile up. I would have for sure gotten a top five start if that [the crash] hadn’t happened. I started in 18th and made my way to seventh. With one more lap I could have gotten the two guys in front of me but I was just happy to see myself fight again. This season has been rough and it sucks it’s taken me this many rounds to find myself again but I’m thankful I’m healthy and ready for St. Louis next weekend.”

Craig will continue as the lone 250SX East rider for GEICO Honda, as new team member Cameron McAdoo will miss this weekend’s race in St. Louis while he waits for a deep cut on his hand to heal properly.

GEICO Honda Results

Detroit Supercross

7. Christian Craig

23 Mar, 2017

Racer X Illustrated : On SITE w| Alias MX

A few weeks ago I did an OnSite visit with Alias MX in Carlsbad, California. Alias launched as the official gear sponsor for the GEICO Honda team back in 2012 and has held that role ever since. Even though the company is fairly new, Alias’ roots run deep within motocross. In large part, this is thanks to one of the co-founders, Mike Grondahl. Mike is well known throughout the motocross community, as he not only serves as a partner with the GEICO Honda team, he’s also the man who revived The Wick 338 (Southwick) when the track’s days looked numbered a few years ago. He also owns the Nest (formerly Grant Langston and Ryan Villopoto’s track in Florida, and now used by riders like Adam Cianciarulo and Ken Roczen, although Grondahl is in the process of selling it). Oh, Grondahl is also the co-founder of Planet Fitness. That’s a big deal.

One thing Alias does differently than the other brands is they do not sell to dealers in the U.S. They sell directly to consumers. Most of the other gear companies sell to the brick and mortar as well as online dealers at one price and then the dealer sells it for a higher price. By selling their gear direct to rider, Alias attempts to cut out the “middle man” so to speak. Alias says they’re not trying to harm dealers, as they encourage riders to take the money saved on gear and spend it at the dealer on hard parts or whatever else you need to get you to the races. The direct to rider sales (D2R, as Alias calls it) is a free program that allows riders to get high quality, good-looking gear at wholesale prices.

Bruce Marada is Alias’ athlete manager and he also does some test riding for us from time to time. When I asked Bruce what Alias was all about he told me, “Our goal as a company is really to give back to our sport and to make it so we have these unbeatable prices so people can actually afford to go racing. Alias MX has evolved into one of the only direct to consumer apparel brands in the moto industry and through the exclusive Direct2Rider program we are able to sell out products to the end user for a significant savings without sacrificing any quality.”

We’ve also heard through the rumor mill that Alias makes a good fit for the GEICO team because the brand is willing to sacrifice some of its own logo space to give the GEICO logo more exposure. That’s a big deal when outside-the-industry money is funding a team, and another example of Alias giving back.

You can check out their current gear sets at AliasMX.com and follow them on Instagram and Facebook for current deals. Keep an eye on the GEICO Honda boys to see what those gear sets look like on the track—Jeremy Martin wore the gear to Alias’ first 450SX podium at Daytona a few weeks back, and looked good doing it.

20 Mar, 2017

Throttle Therapy: Veterans Find Peace of Mind in Motocross

By Ralph Berrier Jr. ralph.berrier@roanoke.com 981-3338 – Roanoke Times

Dustin Blankenship is in pain when he walks, but not when he flies. As he tears around the dirt track on his motorcycle, he is not slowed by his paralyzed left thigh. When his wheels leave the ground and he soars over a hill, he doesn’t think about the searing pain that usually shoots through his leg. When he competes in motocross races, he is no longer the guy who can’t run, jump or ride a bicycle. He’s the military airman and athlete that he used to be. And he wants other military veterans, especially those who ache from physical and mental wounds suffered in combat zones, to have that same feeling. “I realized that there was more to this than just pain mitigation,” Blankenship said. “I decided that I wanted to see if this helps other people.” A year and a half ago, Blankenship, 36, and his brother, Cody, 38, established the Veteran Motocross Foundation — VetMX, for short — which administers “throttle therapy” for veterans who need it. The nonprofit teaches veterans the basics of motocross racing, the high-flying, off-road motorcycle competitions held on dirt tracks. The Blankenships are Cave Spring High School graduates who each served in the military. Dustin was in the Air Force from 2001 until 2004, and Cody was in the Marines, which included a deployment to Afghanistan a month after the 9-11 attacks. The brothers live in Shawsville, where they built a motorcycle track on their property, partly for the purpose of helping military veterans who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, have physical wounds, have lost limbs or who just want to ride fast. Dustin Blankenship said clinical research has shown that competing in fast-paced sports such as motocross helps men and women who need new ways to channel their thrill-seeking, and potentially self-destructive, impulses. “It’s not something radical we’ve come up with,” said Dustin, who works as an industrial engineer in Blacksburg. “There’s proof that riding a motorcycle helps people. It’s almost like you’re in a trance state on a motorcycle. It’s like meditation.”

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   Since creating the foundation, the brothers have welcomed more than 800 supporters, who donate time, money and gear for the riders. Dozens of veterans have participated in motocross clinics and races. The Blankenships started the Warrior Class, a competitive motocross division especially for former military members. Some of the veterans who have signed up for VetMX events had motocross experience. Others had never been on a motorcycle before, such as Justin Ebelt, a 31-year-old veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division who served two deployments in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He was later part of a global response force that went to Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010. “When you twist that throttle, and when the wind starts hitting you in the face, this euphoric feeling takes over you,” said Ebelt, who lives in Danville and has been diagnosed with PTSD. When you’re on the bike, Ebelt said, “you’re not looking back. You’re looking ahead.”

Finding friends who are veterans

On a 39-degree Saturday morning under cloudless blue skies, nine riders participated in a VetMX clinic at Birch Creek Motorsports, a track just north of Danville. Rusty Reynolds, owner of Triangle Cycles in Danville, provided motorcycles and gear for riders. Even if a veteran doesn’t have a motorcycle, helmet, protective padding or any of the necessary safety gear, VetMX will provide it. The track owners usually allow the foundation to use their facilities for free. Sponsors donate bikes, helmets, protective padding and other gear. Some riders in Las Vegas, whom the Blankenships have never met, are holding a VetMX fundraiser this month. VetMX offers a three-month training program that prepares riders for motocross racing. Beyond the competitions, veterans also learn how to improve their physical well-being, pain mitigation, personal relationships and their mental health. “Guys are dealing with anxiety and stress,” said Cody Blankenship, a health care executive who is married and a father of two. “We want to see if their demeanor changes after a couple of hours on the bike. They’re out here in the dirt, outside, in nature. We want this to be different from what they’re used to.” During the clinic, Reynolds went over some basic safety tips and riding fundamentals. Everybody there had been on a motorcycle before, and some had even raced as teenagers. “I searched social media trying to find a group of guys who were service-related who raced,” said Jake Jordan, 22, a Navy veteran from Greensboro, North Carolina. “I’m an adrenaline junkie through and through, but this is the most relaxing thing.” Not everybody who attends a VetMX event has served in a combat zone or has been diagnosed with post-service physical or emotional problems. Still, the pressure of having been in the military can be hard to shake. “The army expects so much of you,” said Jeremy Underwood, 28, a veteran from Pasadena, Maryland, who attended the clinic. “During a time of war, you try to do everything right and perfect, it makes you tense and tight.” Daniel Powell, 31, of Archdale, North Carolina, knows that feeling. He served five years with the Marines, including a stretch as a combat engineer in Afghanistan during the fight to defeat the Taliban in 2009 and 2010. His company cleared improvised explosive devices from roads. Even though he wasn’t wounded, he lost buddies who were killed in bombings. “I gathered remains, burned clothes from guys who got killed,” Powell said. He came to the VetMX clinic because he missed the camaraderie and fellowship of the Marines. “I wanted to be around other people who had been in the service,” he said. “One thing I do miss about the Marines is the friends I had there. We were tight.” Ebelt, the 82nd Airborne veteran who was deployed four times, had never ridden a motorcycle before learning about VetMX. Now, he is one of the foundation’s biggest advocates. “I made the conscious decision to be all-in,” Ebelt said. “It’s given me a drive, a purpose, … something to look forward to.” Ebelt said that he suffers from PTSD after enduring rocket attacks in Iraq. On one occasion, a rocket exploded 30 meters in front of him. “The concussion rocked my head a little,” he said. After returning to the United States, he said he had problems in his personal life, which included a divorce. Ebelt credits VetMX with helping him improve his relationship with his ex-wife and become a better parent to his son, who is also a motocross racer. The foundation motivated Ebelt to go to college and study business on the GI Bill. He now helps VetMX secure sponsors and other support. Ebelt thinks about his buddies who came home from war with emotional wounds that never healed, the guys who suffered quietly until they killed themselves. “Had there been a program like this, would it have changed things?” he said. “I probably shouldn’t think like that. But the question lingers.”

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Racing past the pain

Dustin Blankenship had ridden fast and soared over dirt tracks years before — on a bicycle, not a motorcycle. He competed in BMX and was a distance runner and a general adrenaline addict. His extreme sports days ended following a leg injury he sustained in 2011 while in the military. Blankenship’s left thigh was left partially paralyzed, and he suffers from complex regional pain syndrome — which means that his leg is in near constant pain. Blankenship can walk, but he has difficulty with stairs. He can’t run, jog or pedal a bicycle. He used to ride horses on his Montgomery County property but can’t do so anymore because of the pain. A year and a half after the surgery, when he realized the paralysis would be permanent, he entered what he called “a very self-destructive phase.” Blankenship, who served Middle East tours in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, is quick to point out that he has never been diagnosed with service-connected PTSD or any traumatic brain injury. His paralysis is described in his personnel file as a secondary-service connected injury. Blankenship, who is divorced, said he became reclusive following his injury. The daily mental grind of dealing with constant pain left him too exhausted to enjoy time with family and friends or even to watch his two daughters’ soccer games. “He had depression,” said Uyen Nguyen, a close friend and VetMX board member. She added: “He wasn’t sleeping because of the pain. He knew he would have it the rest of his life. It was really hard to get over.” Then, near the end of 2013, his brother bought a Kawasaki KDX 200 motorcycle to ride around the family’s property. As Dustin watched his brother Cody tearing through the fields where he used to ride horses, he thought, “I can do that. “I can putt around,” Dustin said. “Just to do something.” When he sat on Cody’s bike and wrapped his fingers around the handlebars, his mood brightened and his pain lessened. “It was instantaneous,” he said. “It was the first time something gave me a break from what I was dealing with.” Riding the motorcycle kick-started his competitive engine. If he couldn’t race on the BMX circuit anymore, he could try motocross. Soon, he and Cody were racing on tracks at Lake Sugar Tree in Axton and Birch Creek. That’s when the brothers decided to launch a foundation for veterans. “If this worked for me,” Dustin said, “maybe it can help others.”

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Kicking up a little dirt

“As long as you have good technique when there is chaos going on, you have control,” Rusty Reynolds told riders during the VetMX clinic. That sounded like good life advice, too. The riders started the day slowly, riding in circles at first, then gradually doing some figure eights. By the end of the three-hour session, the vets engaged in a little side-by-side racing. Riders revved their engines, popped wheelies and kicked up geysers of dirt known as “rooster tails.” Afterward, a few riders from the group headed down to the Birch Creek track, where they flew down the dirt course and sailed high over the jumps. Everybody felt like a winner. “Seeing the guys today has validated the importance of VetMX,” Ebelt said. “I feel like I can still help my bros. That is my task.”

20 Mar, 2017

Craig Takes Positives From Indianapolis Run

Indianapolis, IN (March 18, 2017) – While a sixth-place finish in the 250SX East Region main event wasn’t exactly what GEICO Honda’s Christian Craig was hoping for, it was still a much-needed improvement over the previous week’s 14th place at Daytona. Following that race, Craig said he needed to make some changes, and it started with the week of preparation between the races. That resulted in a much better feeling throughout the race weekend.

“The week before Indy was no doubt the best week I’ve had during the season. I got caught up in my own head for the first few rounds and kinda just lost touch with where I should be mentally,” said Craig. “I had my mechanic stay in Florida with me and we did a week from last year. I had fun riding again. When you’re in season and have all this pressure, it’s easy to lose the fun part. I also am having a detox from social media and any dirt bike websites! I need to focus on myself right now so that’s what I’m doing. My plan for Indy was to have fun and race for me again and I did just that.”

Craig took fourth in 250SX qualifying in Indianapolis and finished second in his heat race. In the main event, he completed the first lap in eighth place and rode a steady race to net sixth. He is up to seventh in the point standings.

“Did I want sixth place? No, but I was happy with where my head was during the day,” explained Craig. “I was thoroughly enjoying myself and my bike. I was happy to get through the day and start building myself back up to where I should be. Like I always say, you can see where I am in practice and even in the heat races. I belong up front and I need to bring that to the main.”

Craig’s next chance to do that comes this weekend with the Detroit Supercross at Ford Field. He will be joined by new teammate Cameron McAdoo, who will make his debut with the team.

GEICO Honda Results

Indianapolis, Indiana

6. Christian Craig

16 Mar, 2017

Transworld MX: Jeremy Martin | Planting The Seed

Photos | Mike Emery @emeryphoto/Words | Casey Davis @air_d617

By now, you’ve either heard about or witnessed Jeremy Martin’s performance at the 2017 Daytona Supercross, as he finished in second place in his first-ever 450 class race. The Geico Honda rider lined up on the bigger bike as a one-time deal and did so aboard a factory HRC Honda CRF450R. J-Mart went on to lead the race for a total of 11 laps in front of the likes of Ryan Dungey, Marvin Musquin and Chad Reed after grabbing the holeshot, but in the end he was passed by Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac for the lead. J-Mart ultimately finished in second place and has plans to make the move up to the premier class in 2018, so his results at Daytona couldn’t have come at a better time. We caught up with the number six this morning to talk about Daytona and to hear about his experience working with Team HRC Honda.

First off, let’s talk about Daytona. The weekend went very well for yourself, so talk about the experience through your eyes…
Daytona was a breath of fresh air, for myself. To get second overall in my first ever 450 class Main Event against guys like Chad Reed, Ryan Dungey, Jason Anderson and so on is extremely gratifying. Every one of those guys in that class has done something exceptional at some point in their career, so it was an honor to a race against guys of that caliber. The 450 guys ride a lot differently then the 250 class racers in that they seem to hold their line more efficiently. I had the upmost respect for everyone out there, especially the guys in championship contention, and I had a really good time out there.

Now that you’ve experienced the 450 class, how does it compare to the 250 class as far as the competition goes?
The obvious difference with the 450 guys is that they’re much more seasoned therefore they know what moves to make and when to make them. As a 250 class competitor, I’m used to doing only eight rounds of Supercross whereas the premier class races a total of 17 rounds, so that alone gives them over twice as much race time as us. Not only that, but the racing format in the 450 class entails more race-time because of the addition of the semi qualifiers, so they’re experiencing more gate-drops, as well. The race-craft that the premier class racers embody is way up there! Again, they know when to make a move and when to hold off. Sometimes I get a little impatient and that’s exactly what happened this weekend as I was trailing Justin Brayton. I attempted to make a pass on him, but I was unsuccessful, which allowed for Cole Seely to pass me. That particular instance also showed me that there’s always going to be someone there to capitalize on your mistakes.

image: http://motocross.transworld.net/wp-content/blogs.dir/441/files/2017/03/DAYTONA2107_MARTIN-EMERY_WEB-3725-600×400.jpg

Did you expect to qualify second for your first 450 Supercross?
No, not at all. I remember looking over at the board and saying to myself, “Holy crap! The six is up there!” (Laughs). I felt good throughout the week leading up to Daytona, but I guess I didn’t realize how good I felt (laughs). It was an experience that I’ll never forget.

You led more than half of the Main Event in front of some notable riders. That has to be a gratifying feeling, right? To know that you’re more than capable of beating some of the best in the world in the 450 class.
Yeah, absolutely. To be able to pull the holeshot from 18th gate pick on the outside was unbelievable, as well. All of the lines going down the start straight were shitty because they were choppy and many of them even crossed over into other lines, so it wasn’t exactly ideal. My plan was to obviously get a good jump off the gate, but after that I was aiming for the outside line. I was going to Mono-rail the crap out of that outside berm and I did just that! As the race went on I thought to myself, “Wow, I lead the first lap!” And that went on for 11 laps. After a while, I had to take a look back to see who was on me and when I saw it was Eli Tomac my goal was just to ride as smooth as possible. I actually managed to calm down and relax on lap four or five, and I was really able to find my groove out there. As the laps clicked off, I thought that I could possibly win, but on the lap eight is when the fatigue began to set in. I gave it all I had until lap 11 and soon after is when Eli passed me. That 450 is so much more powerful and obviously heavier, which is something that I am not accustomed to, quite yet. I didn’t get tired because I was riding too tight though. Instead, I think riding the heavier and more powerful bike is what got to me.

image: http://motocross.transworld.net/wp-content/blogs.dir/441/files/2017/03/DAYTONA2107_MARTIN-EMERY_WEB-6682-600×400.jpg

Was the jump up to the bigger bike a difficult transition for you?
No, actually it was quite the opposite. It was a very simple transition for me simply because of the bike and the way it handles. The entire HRC Honda crew took me in under their wing and from the beginning it was an easy switch. I adapted to the bike in a matter of two or three days. I think it was evident that I was comfortable on the bike during the race, as well.

Talk about your time with Team HRC Honda. They’re one of the most prestigious teams in the pits, so talk about your experience working alongside that crew of people.
It was great working alongside the HRC Honda guys! For me, I never thought I’d be in a position to ride a factory Honda. I mean, I got to ride a factory Honda CRF450R! That’s pretty bad ass if you ask me because a lot of people never even get the chance to see those bikes in person. Those guys over at HRC have worked with a lot of successful people over the years, so to work with Dan Betley and everyone else was an incredible experience, for me. That’s something that I get to cross off my bucket list!

image: http://motocross.transworld.net/wp-content/blogs.dir/441/files/2017/03/DAYTONA2107_MARTIN-EMERY_WEB-3650-1-600×400.jpg

Now that your first race in the 450 class is in the books, do you think you planted a good seed with that second place finish for your move up to the 450 class next year as far as contracts and teams go?
Yeah, I’d like to believe that I planted a good seed. To be honest, I know that a lot of people said that I was going to fail at Daytona because they weren’t expecting me to do as well as I did. And a lot of people said that it was a no-pressure race, which is completely untrue. There was a lot of pressure on myself last weekend, because that was essentially a tryout of sorts for my move up to the premier class. I think there was more pressure to do well this weekend than there was to win the 250 West Coast Supercross Championship. I knew that I needed to do well because I know that eventually I’ll be moving up to that class, so it was important for me to establish myself and what I’m capable of. I’ve been saying for the last year or two that I’ve wanted to move up to the 450 class, so getting that second place was also a bit of reassurance. A lot of people also said that Daytona wasn’t a legitimate Supercross track. I disagree because it was much more jumpy and more technical than it has been in the past. Nonetheless, I showcased that I know how to ride a 450!

You surprised a lot of people this weekend including those that doubted you. How does it feel proving all of those people wrong?
It feels really good! I finished 17 seconds behind Eli and I wasn’t happy about that because I got pretty tired out there. I just tried my best to ride it into the finish. With how my season has gone in the 250 West Coast Supercross Series, my performance at Daytona couldn’t have come at a better time because that’s a huge accomplishment to have on my resume. I made sure to crack open a beer after the race because I wanted to celebrate with the people that have been in my corner before the 2017 season even began. We’ve been in the trenches since then, so we had to soak it in. Like I said, I had a celebratory beer and I even ordered some pizza (laughs). We had a great night, and I felt that it was important to celebrate as a team. That was probably the most rewarding part of the weekend; to be able to share that experience and success with everyone.

image: http://motocross.transworld.net/wp-content/blogs.dir/441/files/2017/03/DAYTONA2107_MARTIN-EMERY_WEB-6801-600×399.jpg


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