Like any sport, Motocross boasts its share of superstitions and rituals. From the arcane to the absurd, most riders have them and swear they work.
Rituals might begin days before or not until the 30 second card. A rider without any rituals, someone who just goes out and rides? That's still a ritual. Think nothing of it and throttle out. Overthinking a race can be detrimental for some, under thinking and forgetting to put the right boot on first is a guaranteed DNF.
Take James Stewart for example. He once said he always puts his right knee brace on before his left and buckles his left boot before the right boot.
When Ricky Carmichael raced he got superstitious "every once in a while." At one time he only wore orange gear but said you make your own luck and riders shouldn't be superstitious.
It used to be with Davi Millsaps if he crashed, he'd take off the gear and put on new gear. He'd wear the gear he crashed in a week later after washing it. Words are problematic too. Millsaps says he hates it when people tell him "Never Say Never," "One more time," "Don't do this" and "Don't get hurt."
We asked some of The Guys that Ride at MotoSport what their superstitions and rituals entailed as well as others heard and seen at the Motocross track. Here's a list. Do you see yourself in some of these?
- Put gear on in the exact same order every time
Boots, knee brace, helmet, goggles...or was it helmet, boots, knee brace then goggles. Don't forget, the checkered flag depends on it.
- Put left/right gear on first
This superstition is pretty easy to spot in the pits but you have to watch for it. The right or left side always gets the next piece of gear first.
Right boot then left boot
A common ritual and probably done by the faithful and non-faithful alike. Certainly Trey Canard says a quick one and Josh Hansen once said in response to superstitions that he had none. "I just believe in God. That's it."
- Only get on bike from one side
However you mount up, be it from the right or left, (does from the back work?) it must be done that way Every. Single. Time.
- Eat something
Kailub Russell eats an orange before racing because it settles his pre-race nerves. Others munch on a candy bar. A full rack of baby back ribs? Probably not on race day but maybe a day or two earlier.
Some people eat their Snickers with a fork
- Check gas/petcock
It probably happened before. Never again. Gates drops, the throttles pinned, your adrenaline is pumping but wait, you're slowing down as the bike bogs to a halt. You sit there confused and realize in all your pre-race haste - probably all those rituals - you forgot to check and see if the petcock was one. Others peter out after the first lap. Oops, you ran out of gas. Topping off repeatedly is one ritual that's hard to break.
Are you really ready to ride?
- Drop brand new helmet on the ground
Whether you throw it (albeit a bit gently) or knock it on the ground the thought behind this superstition is the first time your helmet crashes or hits the dirt - your head is not in it.
You once cranked Metallica before a race and finally stepped on the podium. The next race your sister begged you to listen to Justin Bieber and you crashed and broke an arm. Metallica rules for a reason.
Lance Vincent getting some pre-race tunes in - Photo: TransworldMX
- Pack your own gate
Sky divers pack their own parachutes and you pack your own gate. No worrying about asking if your mechanic, friend or family member made sure they did this or that. It's your gate and you own it.
Some riders prefer the DIY approach to gate packing
- Wear blown out gloves
There's nothing like a pair of comfortable old slippers to wear around the house. In the same way, riders tend to prefer a set of really worn, old gloves. New gloves can be tight and restrictive, the last thing a rider wants in a race. Putting on your "old friends" is sure to get you across the finish line first.
So there you have it. Many, many rituals and superstitions exist. Some riders swear by them, others recognize their folly but under no circumstances would they consider otherwise. The planets aligned that race day when you finally stepped on the podium and you'll do whatever it takes to get them aligned again.
What are your rituals and superstitions? Even better, what are their origins? Let us know!
Written By: AndrewT