Yesterday marked the six-year anniversary of a crash I had that resulted in nine broken bones and a collapsed lung. I wrote about this crash on this site, lamenting that it probably meant the end of my 22-year run as a racer.
Six years later, I still haven't returned to racing motocross, and I am mostly OK with that. Today I still ride my dirt bike regularly, and the absence of racing has allowed me to enjoy riding on a different level. I have more fun when I'm riding now. I'm free from the pressure of practicing starts, building endurance and pushing past my comfort zone on long, whooped-out straights and sketchy, rut-filled jumps. It's nice.
But there's still a part of me that sees photos or results from the races and wishes I was out there. Racing is a hard habit to kick, and if I hadn't adopted downhill mountain bike racing -- for me, the methadone to the heroin of motocross -- I might struggle with my lack of motocross racing a lot more.
Yet I also know that I'm not the only one who's turned away from motocross racing in recent years. The race turnouts are much thinner than they were a decade ago -- in northern Nevada as well as much of the rest of the nation -- and while many of the racers who've left have done so because of injuries (like me), I don't think all of them have left for that reason. I think many of them have left because of economics, thin competition, new responsibilities or plain old loss of interest.
So the question this week is: If you've not raced many motocross races lately, what's kept you away? You can let us know on this thread on the message board.
I don't see myself returning to racing anytime in the immediate future, but who knows? If I'm still in decent shape when I turn 40 -- in other words, if my past concussions haven't led me to a state of permanent haziness by then -- I might drag myself back to the starting line for a comeback.
Look out, 40+ class of 2021.