Thursday, January 31

Rumor Control

Rumor had it last night that Broc Hepler had crashed riding and broke his leg. This would have been a horrible, horrible blow to the young man. Even John Knowles from Scott called me today asking if I knew anything. While we waited for everyone in California to wake up so we could make phone calls, Billy Ursic just decided to send a text to Hepler himself. The answer? He didn't even ride yesterday! So Hep's okay. Just clearing that up for those that heard it.

Wednesday, January 30

Trouble with the Double

Found this real story in the NY Times today. Recession? Primaries? Superbowl? Ha! I read this story on the real scientific facts of dipping the same chip in a bowl of dip twice. The double dip.

Tuesday, January 29

Cycles Real News

I've mentioned this before: In motocross, no rider ever, ever, ever speaks bad about his equipment, because A) he would get killed by his sponsors and B) even if he managed to get the words out in public, he would be called a whiner. But in road racing, which at the MotoGP level is much, much more popular than motocross, where teams have much, much, much more money and time invested, it's okay to say what you want. Last year Valentino Rossi went crazy on Michelin to anyone that would listen. I was shocked at first, but the more I dove into the road race media scene, the more insider info I found. Cycle News printed a whole bunch about exactly why Nicky Hayden's Honda sucked--it was slow, it wasn't designed for a rider his size, etc. How did anyone with a tape recorder ever get someone at Honda to admit their bike had a slow top speed?

Cycle News is a great source for this stuff. On the road racing side, they print drama, intrigue and inside gossip like you wouldn't believe if you're raised on motocross. Can you even imagine a whole column saying "Motocross Racer ____ told us his bike has terrible brakes? Or Motocross Racer ____ told us the team needs to do some more work to get more power--his bike is slow." That ain't gonna' happen!

But Cycle News is trying. The first few issues this year had some pretty deep stuff on supercross and motocross, including how teams are not happy about the possibility of international races on the SX schedule, and Ray Blank from American Honda says he's having a hard time believing in the AMA's whole "races are up for bid" process. This week, NPG honcho John Ayers spoke his side on how the National Promoters Group (NPG) is hoping that they get a chance to prove just how effective an organization they can be this summer, providing they win the AMA bid and get the right to promote the AMA/Toyota Motocross Championships. I don't get too much of the inside information here, because with knowledge comes responsiblity, and I'm not very responsible. But I can tell you that what Ayers said is true. The NPG is under the AMA at the Nationals. Yes, they own the tracks, but most every move is dictated by what the AMA told them. I've been here since 2001, and I've seen the bosses here in my office spend many stressful nights knowing the the races are in the hands of the AMA--sometimes that's good, and sometimes it's bad. This latest up for bid deal is just another in a long line. For the most part it usually works out in the end. I know the people behind the NPG are capable of much more, and I know this because other things that run through this office (GNCC and Loretta's) run very, very smoothly, and with unquestioned success. I think a lot of the industry gets that, too.

I would like to think that all of these big deals are just growing pains for the sport. Whatever does happen, these are exciting times. AMA bids are coming in soon, no one really knows what the AMA wants or what they may decide--it's like the season-ending cliffhanger. And that goes not just for motocross, but for superbike, dirt track and the rest. All of these series may look way different soon, and hopefully way better. Will it have a major impact on the racing on the track? Probably not. But people still like reading about this stuff anyway, because we're all just big fans of the sport, and we all want things to get bigger and better for everyone involved--and bigger and better requires changes. For example, I guarantee you no matter who gets to promote the Nationals in the future, there will be high-speed internet access at the track. That's good for everyone...unless you make Michelin tires for Valentino Rossi. Then you just wish everyone would shut up.

Sunday, January 27

They Tried

That's it. You can't ask for a better shot than this. It was raining and muddy, Windham and Millsaps were fast and got good starts. And Tim Ferry even got a freaking holeshot. But when all was said and done Chad Reed was faster, steadier and better than those guys, and now he's got to be thinking about the record book this season. The dude simply has everything on his side right now and it would shock and amaze me to see someone just rip it from him.

The only person who I think has the talent and the stuff to do it is Davi Millsaps. The kid just has gobs and gobs of talent on a supercross track. Speed wise, I think he's a definite maybe, instead of a straight up no like the rest of the pack. But Millsaps has always had trouble putting it together, and against a machine like Chad Reed, you can't make any mistakes at all for 20 laps or you will not beat him (unless you're Ricky Carmichael or James Stewart).

It could be a long season at the top for Reedy.

Saturday, January 26

Still no rain

Wow. I went to post "Still No Rain" as the title of this blog, and the Firefox browser typed it in automatically as soon as I typed "St." How come? Because I had just posted that as a blog title a few weeks ago in Anaheim. On Saturday. Wow.

So yeah, still no rain here. The track is covered--although they say it was so wet yesterday that plywood and tuff blox were FLOATING around the stadium. I just saw David Vuillemin and he said they might as well just take the plastic off the track now and soak up whatever sunshine they can If it rains tonight, it's going to be muddy anyway, so you might as well take the chance. DV also said his thumb is still hurting him, and he hurt it all the way back on October 30. And finally, although he's a good mud rider, DV said riding a muddy supercross is different than motocross (same thing Broc Hepler said at A1).

We'll see how this turns.


Looks like we may be able to add it. Races we thought would be mudders for sure but weren't.

Last night it stopped raining at around 1 am. This morning, at 8 am, we're leaving the hotel and it still isn't raining. In fact, the sky is blue. Yes, the track has taken on A LOT of water over the week, but it's covered, and we know that does help--it kept Anaheim 1 in decent shape after 5 inches of rain on Friday night. As we know, when rain is in the forecast, you only need a 5 hour window to get this show in (they will start practice at 5 and be done racing by 10).

In other words, we may not have a mudder after all. It could be tacky, sticky and rutted, but not a full-on bikes-are-gonna-have-trouble-finishing mudder. Of course, if it rains after 5 pm, we're screwed.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 24

Rain 100000 percent guaranteed (Part 2)

Focus. Block it out. Compartmentalize. Concentrate. I want you to remove all thoughts from today from your mind and think exclusively about Anaheim 1, and the weekend of Saturday, January 5, 2008. On that weekend, not one, not two but THREE storms were supposed to collide over Southern California, and the weather forecast called for a 100% chance of rain. 100!!!!

Well, as I like to say, weather must work on the same 110% scale racers do, because it didn't rain on Saturday until 11:26 pm, and by then it was too late. Yes, the track was soft and rutted and crappy. But the race was not even close to a full-on mudder, the types that makes bikes stop running. Apparent this weekend's forecast is something like 90% chance of rain. Only 90? Ha!

I told you I would start keeping a running list of "races we thought would be mudders for sure but weren't." In fact, for now on I'm calling them RWTWBMFSBW. Anaheim 1 now fits the category. Will San Francisco?

Let's say San Fran and its mere 90% chance of rain actually ends up being a mudder. A real bad mudder, like the 2006 race there. Let's start dreaming a bit. Stewart is out. Carmichael is retired. We are one bad race away from this being the wildest and most wide-open championship since, well, since last summer's AMA/Toyota Motocross Championship. Let's say Reedy has trouble in the mud and finishes 15th. If Kevin Windham wins, he will leave with the points lead.

The mud isn't a guarantee, but if it does rain, I can guarantee you the following:

Industry pundits will start using their rudimentary knowledge of geography to figure out who can ride well in mud. It's a simple formula: think of what state a rider is from, think if it ever rains there, and assign mud skills depending. In this formula, everyone from the East or Northwest "grew up riding in the mud" and anyone from California, New Mexico, or apparently Colorado did not "grow up riding in the mud." Europe used to be a key, too, but now that the French don't win races any longer it's a non-factor.

Teams/mechanics/riders will run all sorts of "it is what it is" and "you just have to be careful" lines. Most importantly, Reed will be 100000 sure to remind everyone that he likes the mud and doesn't suck in it despite previous results.

So that leads to this ridiculous hypothetical: Years ago, the Orlando Magic looked like a lock on becoming the NBA's "Team of the Future." They were still battling Michael Jordan and the Bulls, but it was only a matter of time before Shaq and Penny Hardaway took over the game. Then Shaq signed with the Lakers. The Magic were left with just one star, and I recall one sports writer saying, "They're just one torn ACL away from the lottery." Lo and behold, Penny came down with a bum knee and the Magic indeed dropped into obscurity. It only took two pieces for that castle to crumble. One of the supercross pieces is out.

IF Reed had trouble this weekend, or maybe , just imagine if Reed had some major Stewart-like problems, how do you think this championship would shake down?

Let me know.

Monday, January 21

Daily Kneeds

The Chargers lost to the Patriots yesterday, and the team's star running back LaDainian Thomlinson, widely considered the best player in the NFL, couldn't play. He tweaked his knee last weekend and after giving it a go at the start of Sunday's game, he realized he wouldn't be effective.
In addition, Chargers' Quarterback Phillip Rivers had a knee injury, but he was able to play. After the game Chargers coach Norv Turner handled the press conference, and a reporter asked "If Rivers was able to play with a knee injury, why wasn't LaDainian?"

The coach reacted harshly. "That's a stupid question. Next."

It was a dumb question. Just because one dude has a knee injury and can play, doesn't mean the other guy can, too. A) Not all knee injuries are the same. B) Rivers is a Quarterback who throws the football, LT is a running back who runs. The knee is a little more critical to Thomlinson than Rivers.

I hear the similarities in those criticizing James Stewart right now. He's not tough enough. He needs to suck it up. Etc. Honestly, how could anyone realistically make that judgement? Do any of us know the extent of the injury? For all I know, he could have nothing more than an ingrown hair on his leg and maybe even that's too painful for him to ride with. But the whole damned thing could be blown out, too. I do know the guy is bummed because he wanted to ride, and now he's not riding. But to just guess that the injury wasn't that bad and he just isn't sucking it up is really unfair. As it is, we'll never know for sure, but if James wasn't a competitor he wouldn't be in this sport and wouldn't be as good as he is, so I'm guessing that when he can't go, it's because he really can't go.

The New York Football Giants....

Are going to the Superbowl???? They're not even good!

I pulled an all-nighter before heading to the airport at 5 am Sunday morning, and I slept on the plane ride home. Have I actually woken up? Was that game for real? The Giants clearly outplaying the Packers at Lambeau? I'm in thus euphoric state of shock and happiness right now. The Giants and going to the Superbowl! The Giants are going to the Superbowl!

The Patriots are the best team ever and the Giants only lost to them by 3 points when they played a few weeks ago. You know what that makes the Giants? The second best team in NFL history. And it was close. So this is a dream match up.

Or wait. Maybe it's not a dream.

Sunday, January 20

The Missing Man Formation

Your heart just has to go out for James Stewart. Retro night, 80’s night, whatever you want to call it marked a celebration for supercross, a first-time ever realization that the sport, on a grand scale, has produced enough memories, heroes, drama and stories to build an event around the past. And as much as we super-core fans understand the history of supercross, you have to think really hard to remember just how small the sport was way back when, just how insignificant it was to mainstream America, just how much more popular it is now. Oh yeah, the old-schoolers can point to the “golden era” and wax on about multiple winners and deep competition in the 1980’s, or millions of bike sales every year in the 1970s. But supercross in the current era can point out 50,000 fans per race, next day coverage on network television and consistent reminders in the mainstream press—like USA Today, or ESPN the Magazine—that supercross is very close to reaching the nation’s collective conscience.

So it’s a real shame that on a night when everyone who was anyone along the road to success for supercross, namely 37 past legends and champions in this sport, gathered for one supercross race, one of the best, perhaps the fastest, most talented, most popular and mainstream of them all, couldn’t be out there. Oh yeah, RJ and Bailey were there, so were Wardy and Glover and O’Mara and Stanton and Lechien, and even the OGs, like Brad Lackey, Marty Smith and Marty Tripes. RC and MC were there and even did some riding. Missing? Well, the exceptions to every SX rule, Jean-Michel Bayle and Damon Bradshaw. That’s about it. As far as riding talent goes, Anaheim 2, retro night, was a who’s who for this sport.

Except for that one missing person, the one who bridges the gap between supercross’ past and present, and supercross’ future. The one who broke down barriers (you know what I mean), introduced the next generation of skills and may possibly boost this sport to bigger heights than all that came before him. Hey folks, the rider is James Stewart. He was supposed to be racing and winning here. He was supposed to tame this ’86 replica track and carry the torch for the new school. He was supposed to show respect to the stars of the past, and get respect from them in return—you could almost hear all of those legends ready to praise James for his amazing skills on the bike, and hold him up as the example of how far supercross has come.

But now James has a bad knee. The injury didn’t happen due to the retro track, it happened on December 20th when James crashed on his practice track. He tried to tough it out, but after a month of basically not riding and training, the knee only got worse and not better. One great improvement, though: James and the Monster Kawasaki team held a press conference in the factory semi, and James looked every media member right in the eye and told the truth about his injury. It’s a whole lot better than the mystery injury that followed Washougal.

But the knee isn’t going to get better, and James ended the PC with “The next time you’ll see me is probably Glen Helen in May.” And that was it for him on the evening. Yes, Chas Reed was there, as was RJ and Bailey, Wardy and Glover and O’Mara and Stanton and Lechien, and even Brad Lackey, Marty Smith and Marty Tripes. RC and MC, too. But during those opening ceremonies, James Stewart wasn’t there. He was handing over another championship on this night. Is he injured? Yes. Is he hurt? More than you could possibly imagine.

Saturday, January 19

So how is this 80's thing going?

Well your best answer would come from cruising through the various web sites that have photos up, or check the videos on I think Bad Billy Benedict Ursic and Steve Cox are posting some stuff on right now, too. Me, I'm in the booth so I don't have any pictures.

But...I actually got to ride the track. Jim brought out two 1986 bikes and he was all pumped about taking them out on the track. I was more than a little nervous. Here I am talking racing every weekend like I know what I'm doing, and suddenly the entire industry and every rider in the series is going to be down there watching me on the track, and I have to ride a 1986 bike for the first time ever, with no gear on except for a helmet. I knew my entire career and all credibility could come crashing down, literally, if I stalled the bike or grabbed a handful only to find out "oh man those old bikes hit like a light switch." Plus, the bike is 22 years old. What if it doesn't start?

Well, I calmed Jim down enough to where we only rode one table top, the start straight and some rollers--I think Jim was ready to rock the whole course on his 490 air hammer. I didn't crash and i don't think anyone noticed that, when I slipped the clutch to try to break the rear tire loose, the bike hooked up and I pulled the dorkiest, gooniest wheelie ever allowed on a supercross track. After that it was all good, though.

As for the real riders, Chad Reed has Thor gear with the old logos, Stewart has some more Bradshaw-looking gear like he had a few years ago (curiously he is running a Packers logo on his butt patch. Go Giants!), anyone in O'Neal or MSR is decked out (Ferry and Antonio Balbi actually have straight-up old gear, Langston and Wey have old logos on new stuff). But the coolest? By far, Kevin Windham. He is running boot gators over his black boots! That's the stuff of legend.

The track is way weird and I honestly think it will be awesome. The triple is so big that the Lites guys are struggling with it, and the rhythm sections are, well, lacking in rhythm. But I think it's a good thing as long as no one stacks it up real bad.

The best part? I haven't seen anyone going too big on the "I was a bigger fan than you were back then." I was bracing for the worst. I mean, I can tell you every Larry Huffman line ever, I know O'Mara finished third in Anaheim '86 and Tyson Vohland won the 125 class, I know Ron Lechein was the big signing by Kawasaki and he got lapped, Wardy's throttle cable broke in his heat race, I mean, I love the 80's, too. I really didn't want to get into a pissing match with people over who has been around longer and knows more or is more "core." So far, so good.

Californication (Easily the 974,688,324 time that has been used as a blog title)

Today started in Chicago. My flight was supposed to leave at 10 am and of course got pushed back to 10:15, and then I went to sleep on the plane and woke up, and lo and behold it was 11:05 and we were JUST TAKING OFF. Then I slept the whole way to LA. The Hertz people told me my car would be in spot M84, but that was empty when I walked to it. Then a worked drove a Pruis into that spot. Was I really gonna' get a Prius? Nope--they told me the wrong spot. Went to customer service and watched some guy yelling and screaming because he only went to Mexico for one dayso he shouldn't have had to pay for the full week of Mexico insurance. Some woman was waiting on line behind this and got pissed, she yelled "Hey some of us have a flight to catch! Hurry up!" Then the customer service woman yelled "Hey they are customers just like you!!!" Awesome out here. Finally I got my chance and they told me to go to spot 594, and lo and behold there wasn't a car there, either. Back to the customer service line. They couldn't find my car anywhere. Then all of a sudden it rolled up in front of the office, some guy just got out and left it there. I told the customer service lady "hey there is my car" and she sprinted out of the booth and ran to it. Gave me the car and a $25 coupon for my next rental. I headed and out got suck right in the middle of Friday LA traffic, went a few miles an hour all the way down to Anaheim. Matt Ware and I went on a run. Then we went to Pole Position, the go kart place in Corona, and drove like 100 laps, with Billy Ursic killing us in the karts just like he would have on bikes. And we all finished within the same distance and the same order every time--just like supercross practice! Then we tried to find a late night sushi joint but they were all early-night places. Now we're back at the hotel and painful as it is to admit, the Fender guitar convention has killed supercross, as the bar is packed with middle aged rockers with their flavor savor beards and "long-style" hair, which is actually not long but is styled long, like Jon Bon Jovi runs nowadays. You know "it's no longer cool to have long hair but I run it with this big wave to remind everyone that I did once have long hair." Now it's time for bed. Tomorrow is retro night and I'm beyond pumped.

There. That's a day in my life. This blog post is just as creative as its title.

Thursday, January 17

Thanks for your comments

Please scroll down to "The Reasons" post below. Loyal blogandters have dropped in their 2 cents on the SX season, and I even dropped in some responses to their, um, responses. I feel like the motocross message board community is in flux right now, so maybe I can skim some of the talent and turn this place into grand central bench race station. Or maybe I'll just get flamed. You know, when I was acting in all the plays in high school the word "flaming" used to get thrown around a lot.....

Not Chicagoing AGAIN

And yes, another flight this morning to Chicago and guess what: DELAYED!!!!! If only I could buy stock in "Chicago flights will be jacked up." I had to leave the house at 3:30 am to get here for a 6:20 am flight, and then after chugging a six-pack of Monster to make it, I arrive here to find out my flight was pushed back to 7:36. SHOCK!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 16

The Reasons (Now with updated reader comments)

The best part of the early season is that the riders are all slowly building confidence, which means the racing is still pretty wide open. By week 10, everyone might know where they fit in. For now, it's awesome. Here's what I saw from a few guys in Phoenix that the results won't show you:

Ryan Dungey: Well done for Dungey to get second and extend his points lead, but he had a golden opportunity to stomp on everyone and ruin their confidence, and he couldn't do it. It bodes well for the racing out West, because if Dungey had checked out with the lead on lap two, we could have been in for a snoozer of a series. He may still be the best championship pick out there, but it may take a fight to do it.

Jason Lawrence: Dude, I am going waaaaayyy out on a limb saying this, but I don't think he had the fitness he needed down the stretch to win the race. J-Law was fast all day, and he fought hard to climb into contention. When Hepler fell, Lawrence was right behind him in fifth, and you could tell Hep was a little rattled after the crash. I fully expected #338 to motor by and then start pressuring the leaders, but he just never made it happen. Of course, for all I know he had lost his brakes or had arm pump or something and he's super strong and now Jason and Ryno are gonna' kick my ass for saying this....

Austin Stroupe: Dude, the kid is fast and he looks so much like Villopoto with his short stature and #51 that it's almost scary....for the competition at least! (laughs please). Anyway, he's a little too aggressive right now and that cost him, but the West is so wide open that I could see him figuring this out and winning a race before the season is over.

Broc Hepler: At risk of more Ryno ass kicking, I nominate Hepler as the modern day Ryno. That dude has thrown away more wins from small washouts and tipovers than anyone. Even Josh Grant has figured out how to exorcise those demons. I think Broc had finally worn Dungey down and was ready to win that he's already 19 points down.

Nic Wey: I think NYK just had a bad night in Phoenix and we haven't heard the last of him. He had horrible starts and crashes at the worst times. As it stands now, positions 3-10 in the Supercross Class are pretty closely stacked, and if Wey can get in those battles early and get his confidence back, he can get back on the podium again. But if he has a few more bad ones, uh oh, people are going to start blaming that no-link.

Davi Millsaps: I can see the "Millsaps Sucks" headlines coming to a message board near you. But let me tell you, in his heat race he shadowed Langston and Ferry the whole time, and then uncorked an awesome jump combo in a rhythm section. He passed Ferry and then nearly got Langston on the last lap. I've always said Davi rides like a guy who doesn't know his own strength--occasionally he just busts out crazy jumps and combos and it looks like an accident. Davi's potential is off the scale, he's like the guy on the basketball team who can run and jump right out of the gym but just needs to round out his game. I think it's make or break time for that right now, but unfortunately he got screwed when Alessi clipped a tough block and Davi and Ferry hit it and went off the track. If Davi gets a good start, he can run with almost anyone and that will build that confidence.

Andrew Short: I know Tedesco was the one everyone was talking about at Red Bull Honda, but Shorty handled him in both the heat race and the main, and for a few laps he was closing on Windham and the podium. He needed this ride, and I think Short's about to become a player.

David Vuillemin: DV is nursing a thumb injury right now and he's not riding as well as he could. He has not given up yet.

That's my take--I think this is the best time of the year because no one is sure where they stand yet. Let's get interactive again. In three weeks time, will Dungey be dominant or will we still have a battle? By the halfway point of the season, will we still have positions 3-10 up for grabs in the Supercross Class, or is someone about to start owning that podium real estate? Give me your thoughts.

Tuesday, January 15


Blogandt Note: This post was written last night while waiting for my flight out of an airport. I'm still mad, so I'm still posting it.

One tip for travelers: NEVER fly into or through Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Fly around it at all costs. A hub airport in a cold city just doesn’t work in January, and as a result I’m stranded here again. For whatever reason it also happens to be very windy in Chicago—who knew?—and yes I have had flights delayed due to high winds. By the way, the big buildings in downtown Chicago all use revolving doors to keep out the winter super-draft. Does that sound like a good city to travel through in winter?

Worse, O’Hare isn’t even one of those cool airports that you wouldn’t mind getting stranded in, like the one I just left in Phoenix, or the home airport in Pittsburgh, or that island with magical powers on Lost. And this is coming from me, someone who actually likes airports, planes, seats on planes, sleeping on planes and the general concept of flying and traveling in general. The O’Hare motto here should be, “If you hate flying, you’ll really hate flying out of O’Hare.”

How bad is O’hare? Well, food choices are limited, but you’re forced to eat here since you will inevitably be delayed. I had to eat TWO McDonald’s meals in 24 hours, which means I’ve already gone over my McDonald’s limit for 2008, and it’s still January. And to add insult to injury, you have to pay extra for your McDonald’s meal since you’re in such a great airport (the same meal in Pittsburgh is $1.08 less). I could have sat down for a decent meal at Chili’s next door, but I was afraid I wouldn’t make my flight and hence needed fast food. And of course, three hours later, I’m still at the airport. If I’m here much longer, I may become not only the billionth, but also the 1 billion and 543rd served at the O’Hare McD’s.

O’Hare is crowded. You’re constantly bumping into people because the gates and hallways are way too tight compared to the crowds. Adding more lanes will never help the traffic out West, but it does indeed help in the airports--Phoenix had hallways twice this wide. Walking through O’Hare, I felt like Tony Romo being tracked down by NY Giants linemen on Sunday—or paparazzi the weekend before.

Two times I have been moved toward writing a letter to Chicago’s city planners. When you get near O’Hare, you’ll find the airport and rental car facilities, but no gas stations in which to fill your rental before returning it. The gas station you need actually comes a few miles up the interstate at the “Oasis,” but you wouldn’t know that since there are no signs that say “last gas before airport.” So instead you do what you do in every other city, which is look a gas station near the rental places, expect you will never find one here since they don’t have any. And you drive, and drive, and drive as your flight time looms closer and your rental’s tank gets emptier.

But beware jumping on the interstate roads near the airport, because there are tons of tolls, and some of the exits are the cool kind that require you to have exact change. You know when you dump all your change into your luggage at the airport because you can’t walk through the metal detectors with it? Well, you better get it back out and put it in your pocket, because you’re not getting back on the interstate here if you don’t have exactly 35 cents.

I’m especially pumped because I have to come here twice this week (and neither time for a layover that I would have never booked myself on). I need to make two stops in Chicago this week for TV voice over work (the AMA/Toyota Arenacross Series returns to Speed!) which means there’s a good chance I’ll get stuck here again on Thursday, which may delay my entry into LAX for Anaheim.

And again, I actually LIKE traveling and like my job and this sport. In fact, I can’t believe we’ve begun the fourth season of blogging here and this is my first column about airport complaints. That’s what makes me the most angry about O’Hare—it turns me into someone who complains about flying and airports.

The only good news? I can’t post this thing because O’Hare charges good money to get on the internet. And I won’t give them the satisfaction of making money from my desire to complain about them.

Sunday, January 13

The Rising

Phoenix is over--special thanks to everyone who helped host the HSCGIEGET (Hottest Smartest Coolest Girl I Ever Got Engaged To) ((Who could also go by OGIEGET since she's the only one)). Also special thanks to all the racers who put on an awesome show. I think supercross has been more exciting this year than people expected a few months ago. Reed's challenge to Stewart looked pretty darned real for the first 10 laps last night, there are about 8 guys behind that who are seemingly a complete equal match for each other, and the Lites class is outrageous.

I noted that the track at Phoenix was nearly perfect for good racing--fast and relatively simple, yet with enough different combinations and a split lane that allowed for passing. And man, that Lites main had more passing than I've seen in entire seasons of supercross combined.

Now we should have an even simpler track next weekend for retro night. Imagine if it gets better than this.

Saturday, January 12

Determined to make a determination

So here's the good thing about Anaheim 1 this year--it was just muddy enough to make the race work a little differently than it would have on under perfect conditions, and everyone made it out healthy. That means we can hit the reset button here for Phoenix and expect it to basically be another round one. It's like 2005 again.

And this isn't simple early-season hype. Check out all the comments posted from the previous post, "Who's Bad." About 12 loyal blogandters (that's 100 percent of the people that read this, I believe) posted their thoughts on who should do better and who should do worse this weekend at Phoenix, and what's cool is the opinions differed yet they all made sense.

I'll do my best to keep on top of the happenings here this afternoon in Phoenix, and of course will have tons of updates. Then we have this internet show tonight, too. Okay, meeting time...I'll be back.

Wednesday, January 9

Who's Bad? (Now including new comments!)

Okay, now it's time to put this blog on auto pilot. This year's Anaheim 1 had an exceptionally deep field of talent. There may not have been 12 guys who were considered Stewart or Reed speed, but there were A LOT of good names and good rides battling in that 450 group. Best of all, we didn't have any major injury stories this off-season, and everyone escaped A1 healthy. )I will knock on wood and type with one hand here right now)

Anyway, who do you think has the most to gain based on their A1 performance. Who will get much better? Who has shown us what they really have?

Here are the candidates, all of whom did not make the podium:

L'il Hanny

Who has the most upside from this group? Josh "faster than Langston at the test track" Hill finished 16th. Tedesco crashed a ton and finished 15th. Can Langston get much better than battling Ferry and finishing 4th?

Get back to me on this.

- blogandt

Monday, January 7

Reed's what we need

I'll repeat these two oft-used quotes again:

"The sport needs good racing and close competition to keep growing."

"The sport grew thanks to the dominance of Jeremy McGrath, and then Ricky Carmichael."

So then, is it competition or superstar dominance that makes the supercross dial turn? Right now the sport is positioned for either. Thankfully for everyone involved, Chad Reed brought it at Anaheim, silencing the doubters for probably the 732nd time in his career. Just when you count Reed out, he usually goes out and delivers with a solid ride.

Here's a partial list:

Stewart pulls over and lets Reed pass him at Unadilla in 2002, then passes him back and wins. David Bailey says on TV, "after a move like that, Reed may never beat him again for the rest of his life." Reed wins the very next moto in the series straight-up against Stewart at Millville.

In 2002 Reed talks some trash about not wanting to race the 125 class, he wants to race 250s and go after Ricky Carmichael. No one believes he can do it,when he gets his shot in 2003, but he wins a World SX round in Europe, then wins A1. Carmichael gets a bad start there, though, but Reed is steadfast saying he is working on beating Carmichael heads-up. No one believes he can do that, but he indeed does to the tune of six-straight wins to end the season.

In '05 Carmichael hangs a bunch of wins on Reed early in the season and has all the momentum, Reed fights back to pass RC on the last lap and win San Diego. Then James Stewart re-enters the series, and in the first-ever Stewart/Carmichael showdown on a dry track, in Orlando, Reed wins. He also wins Daytona, the race Carmichael is supposed to own. After RC wraps the championship, the three superstars head to the "gloves are off" shootout in Vegas. Carmichael is expected to uncork it now that he doesn't need to worry about points. Reed wins.

In '06 Reed is struggling bad and losing ground to Carmichael and Stewart. Just when it looks like it's over, he wins big in St. Louis, and when he needs it again he wins in Dallas. He wins just twice all year, but each win comes at the most opportune moment. Last year in Toronto Reed is thought to be struggling since he has just had shoulder surgery in the off-season and has a new team to work with, and he ends up winning the race.

At Budds Creek, twice, Reed comes in with doubt everywhere and expectations on "getting smoked." He promptly takes third overall in the National in June and second in the first moto at the des Nations in September. Then he's supposed to be all fat and out of shape and over it, but he is the fastest rider at the US Open and Bercy, and now he has won A1.

What am I saying here? If the game of racing is mental, Chad has something in his arsenal no one else has, an unwavering belief in his abilities. Maybe it rubs people the wrong way at times, but the guy has won plenty of races that other riders of equal ability wouldn't, simply because he believes he can win every time he rolls to the line.

And if Reed doesn't win some more this year, well, James Stewart's dominance may just take the sport to another level, just like McGrath and Carmichael did before.

Saturday, January 5

Still no rain

And we wait and wait, but still no rain today. It rained hard last night but the track was covered, and Live Nation spent the morning pumping water off of the tarps. During a meeting this morning there was a hope of a weather window between 3 pm and 2 am with no rain, so they're going to pull the tarps up at 3:30, have a track walk and then some practice. If that weather window doesn't close, we'll have another notch on the "races that should have been mudders that weren't." Perhaps I'm jinxing Southern California now, and if so, hey, you had no idea this blog was powerful enough to change the weather, did you?

You know what I like about this year's racing? We all know James Stewart and Chad Reed should be the fastest guys, but I'm looking forward to the bug mash up of guys behind that. I'd maybe, maybe put Langston as a third favorite, but can you really guess who will be better this year between him, Ferry, Tedesco, the forgotten talent Davi Millsaps, Andrew Short, Nick Wey, Vuillemin...then you technically have two rookies this year in Josh Hill and Mike Alessi. Where will all these guys all fit in? We may need to remove all fixation on focusing on who wins only, and instead look a little further back. Of course, this summer we learned that guys battle a lot harder when they're racing for first instead of third....

And then we have Lites, starring Ryan Dungey, Jason Lawrence, Broc Hepler, Brett Metcalfe, Jake Weimer, Austin Stroupe.... this title is up for the taking now that Villo2 is out, which should make it really fun to watch. Careers can change depending on how tonight shapes up--for real a bad race in a short series can cost someone like say, Hepler, his best every chance at landing a professional title.

But bad races should be easy to avoid tonight, because the tarp is coming up and it's still not raining!

Tarps coming off

It's Here

I don't even have time to run through all the stuff we've done since getting out here to California. After a great Red Bull Honda intro party on Wednesday night, we held the SX press conference on Thursday. Then yesterday we headed to Pro Circuit to shoot our SX preview show on Racer X Films, and stopped by Troy Lee Designs for a tour. I then whipped up Racerhead real quick before heading to Tom White's house (the founder of White Bros.) for a tour of his amazing motorcycle collection. It's right up there with Primm. Through it all though, there has been scant amounts of bench racing going on. I think everyone is scared to think too hard about all of this, because anyone rational will realize Stewart has a huge edge until someone proves otherwise.

Unless it rains, and then anything can happen. It finally opened up last night, but it's not raining right now. Moreover, the track is covered in plastic so at the moment it's all good. If it's not raining tonight, I will begin a running tab of "races we thought would be muddy that weren't," because this has happened plenty of times before.

Thursday, January 3

What? Supercross begins in 48 hours????

I spent a solid two weeks vacationing, proposing and basically forgetting about the whole darned sport. But now that I've been in California for two days, I realized what the problem was: no one is talking about the sport right now. This has to be the least hyped, least buzzed A1 ever--this is ridiculous, but I suppose the idea of someone challenging James Stewart for the title this year is ridiculous, too. So now we have what we have.

But I'm starting to feel some pumpitude coming on. We had some real fun last night at the Honda Red Bull intro and today's PC was pretty good. I'll report on it all soon, but for now we're off to the annual Racer X go-kart night at Pole Position.

But the blog is once again the place to be!