Motocross is an aggressive, highly competitive sport and like any other activity that pits your talents against someone else, emotions sometime get the best of us.
Clean bar-banging quickly turns into aggressive take-outs, taunting and sometimes straight-up fighting. It almost always ends badly with DQs, fines and suspensions levied or even the loss of a Championship. And often, just like in school or between siblings, it's the one retaliating (justified or not) who gets caught.
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When a cooler head prevails, that rider who keeps it on the track, let's his dirt bike do the talking and dismisses the angry intentions by a fellow racer, not only enjoys respect from fans and the field but learns a valuable life lesson which helps in future competition. However, if we're honest, in the heat of battle against a well-known jerk, a well-timed T-bone would feel oh so good.
But letting your frustration build into a retaliatory conflict on or off the track instead of keeping it under wraps is a good way to hurt someone else, hurt yourself and end your career. So, check out our 10 tips to help you keep from sinking a level the next time you're confronted with another rider trying to undermine your race:
1. Hone Your Craft
If you're dealing with a dirty racer for the first time it won't be the last. Consider an aggressive rider as one more obstacle on the track. Therefore - ride faster, ride craftier. Either way elevate your race and leave the other rider in your roost.
2. Ignore Them
Yes, it might be hard to do but ignoring someone looking for attention usually results in the person looking elsewhere for whatever response they want. If you let the offending rider know he or she is under your skin, don't expect them to leave you alone.
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3. Don't Take It Personally
The bar-banging you're experiencing might be just that - legitimate, clean bar-banging. Everyone on the track wants to cross the checkers first so perhaps your style of riding doesn't match your perceived rival so if you fly off the handle you might get a puzzled look from someone who has no idea they've rubbed you the wrong way.
4. Take it in Stride
Ryan Dungey's comments after not winning a race this year raised some eyebrows but he's also right. It is just a dirt bike race and indeed there are bigger things in life. In the grand scheme of things, risking life and limb to fight with a hot-headed dirt rider isn't worth the time especially if you're a weekend warrior with a full-time real job. Find another race or series to stretch your skills and ride your dirt bike.
5. Alert Race Officials
Chad Reed talked to a race official after a Heat race this year to advise him about over-the-top aggressive riding from other riders. If you have a legitimate complaint, take it to race officials. The other rider might already have built a name for himself so it's a good chance race officials have their eye on the offending party. At the very least, you've let someone know, it'll make you feel better and if something goes down you'll have a leg (hopefully) to stand on.
6. Talk It Out
Unbeknownst to you, another rider might be ticked off because of what you did last weekend. Clear the air, talk it out, shake hands. You'll learn lots of problems in life and on the Motocross track result from a serious lack of communication.
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7. Fight Back
You were probably waiting for this. We don't mean an illegal move or unsportsmanlike conduct. But surely a clean, aggressive take-out to let the other rider know you won't be pushed around is no different than the little kid in school punching the bully back. Stand your ground - you'll probably be left alone from here on out.
8. Use it as Motivation
What's better: You driving the other rider into the dirt and risking a crash or DQ, or you standing on the podium as the other guy licks his wounds in the pits? Look at the big picture, it always wins.
9. Cool Off
It's very easy to let your emotions take over especially when your heart is already pumping and adrenaline is high. Your instinct says fight the other guy but if you can fight yourself by taking a moment and cooling down you might discover after further evaluation the situation wasn't that bad especially if you...
10. Get a Different Perspective
Ask your friends and family what they saw. Your frame of reference in the middle of a fast-paced race where everyone is out for themselves could be completely different than what those in the stands witnessed. "Did you see that!?" could be answered with, "No, what are you talking about? That was a great race."
Lots of times "aggressive" riding is simply a mistake and if you follow the pros long enough, every now and then one of them issues an apology for a bad decision or an accidental take-out. Usually it's enough to clear the air and everyone moves on. Therefore, you're much better off waiting it out, evaluating the situation and taking the steps above. Throwing fuel on a fire you only see could lead to an unwanted rivalry that lasts.
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