Jun 10, 2011

Personal Delusions

A while back, I got tangled up on a users' page in a discussion about pro riders. It went something like this [edited for brevity]:

ME: . . .  So, forgive me if I'm unimpressed by a non-pro rider's "power is like a dog dragging its ass across the carpet stock" comments. Any tool can go fast on a straight section of freeway, but real riders prove their point on the race track.

Squid #1: . . . You also don't have to be a pro-rider on a race circuit to be considered 'pro.' It's all in experience.

Squid #2: . . . I'm considered/called a pro artist but I don't get paid for my work. Just because someone races and gets paid for it doesn't mean they actually know what they are doing.

ME: . . . My bet would be that if you put a great rider on a WR250X in a tight supermoto track with all of those poser Hypermotards, Diavels, and SM's, you'd see a WR on the podium. I really want to see a Hypermotard in the whoops or on a big jump. Now that's comedy. 

And so it went.

 There seems to be a complete disconnect among the Boomerang generation. Anyone who considers herself a "pro artist" but has never earned a nickel as an artist is delusional. The definition of "professional" includes the exchange of money for work. It's easy to imagine that people who are proud of their "navel studies" degree and believe they are adults able to make their own life-decisions while living in their parents' basement might be clueless about the meaning of the word "professional." For the generation that grew up playing MX Action and NBA Live! and imagines that has some connection to riding a motocross bike or playing basketball, I suppose we should excuse the strange belief that being "professional" has something to do with "experience." I, however, am not interested in excuses or ignorance.

There is no connection, genetically or talent-wise, between professionals and the rest of us. Anyone who can watch Valentino Rossi, Bobby Hannah, Dougie Lampkin, Jeff Ward, Kenny Roberts, or the rest of the world's best and see any connection between that level of performance and their own riding better be ready to put up or shut up on the track. Otherwise, it's just arrogant babble from drunks at the bar.

Having watched a few pros (motorcycle, basketball, engineers, and musicians) close up, I resent the implication that those exceptional people are just "experienced." Their courage, commitment, ability, dedication, and creativity is almost unimaginable among ordinary humans.  The people who finance professional sports don't care about your experience, they want to win. Coming in second is no better than finishing last. You are either the world champ or one more guy who finished behind the world champ. If you are good enough to convince a motorcycle race team to hand you a zillion dollar race bike, you are better than 99.9-something-% of all motorcyclists in the world. Everyone is "experienced," only the best are professionals. And, yeah, they do know what they are doing.


  1. The problem I see today is that a lot of bikes sold at retail to the general public are capable of performance that in the past only professionals would be expected to handle safely. With the twist of a wrist anyone with a credit card can now go 150+ mph, but there is no accessory that they can buy that tells them how to take a corner at that speed, and there is no option that prevents them from driving beyond their skill level in the first place. We've got professional-level bikes, lots of them, on the streets being operated by amateur-level riders.

  2. I don't see that as much of a problem for competition-designated motorcycles (mostly off-road bikes). However, bikes like the race-based 600cc-and-up sportbikes, V-Max dragsters, and a lot of the wannabe-Hell's Angels hippo-cruisers require more talent than most of us can manage in a lifetime of training. So, I can't disagree with you at all.

    The kid I bought my WR250X from completely chicken-stripped the back tire in less than 1000 miles and didn't even breathe on the front tire's sides. A bike like that is only interesting in the corners, but he was screwing around with trying to get more power out of a 250 when he clearly couldn't approach the bike's limits; bone stock.

  3. your kidding yourself. the only difference between a pro and the rest of us is pros have all the best stuff. give me Rossis ride and I would be in front to.

  4. No you wouldn't. Put a squid on Rossi's bike and all you'd have would be a crashed GP bike and an embarrassed squid.

  5. Anonymous #2 is either messing with you or totally delusional. Last year Yamaha ran a tv ad showing Rossi on the R1 spinning the rear and power sliding through a corner. Other than a couple very good flat track racers I don't know anyone that would even try to do that for fear of getting tossed.
    A good rider on a slow bike will always outrun a poor rider on a fast bike - something you learn over the years.

  6. And you on any bike will always outrun me on any bike. I'm with you there. I remember when Jack Penton had won his zillionth US Enduro championship, someone made a stupid comment about how it was all about the great bikes. Malcolm Smith said Penton, riding a coffee table, could beat most of the pack.


Disagree? Bring it on. Have more to add? Feel free to set me straight. Unfortunately, Blogger doesn't do a great job of figuring out which Anonymous commenters are actually real people, not Russians or Chinese bots. I'm pretty ruthless about spam-labeling anonymous posts. If you have something worth saying, you shouldn't be afraid of using your ID.