My XGames Experience
The weeks and months leading up to XGames every year is a stressful, labor intensive time that very few people understand. Never as an athlete do you get to just "show up" and compete. Between organizing bike transportation, coordinating travel, ensuring sponsors are properly represented, and oh yeah, PRACTICING - it is more than a full-time job.
And with no guarantee to make money unless you do well in the event, stakes are high to ensure all your preparation will pay off.
But at the end of the day all us athletes are competing for the same top spot. Someone has to win and someone has to lose. Unfortunately, this year I lost!
Having prepared more for Step Up this year than I had in any years previously, I was ready to compete and go head to head with all the riders. I was feeling confident, my bike was ready, and I couldn't have asked for a better support team.
When we arrived for practice the morning of, all the riders agreed the lip was too steep and we wouldn't jump it until we could fix it. The only problem with this was we had 1 hour of practice allotted. We spent about 45 minutes of that time adjusting the lip, and the extra 15 actually riding our bikes.
Within a few jumps of practice, I ended up drifting off to the side of the landing during a jump and took a small spill. Unfortunately resulting in dislocating my shoulder and unable to practice anymore. Due to 'protocol' the medics on site wouldn't pop it back into place until getting x-rays and scans to ensure no worse damage was done. But we had less than an hour until the event and I wouldn’t have made it in time for finals. Thankfully fellow motocross rider Josh Sheehan was there to help pop it back into place quickly as he is familiar with the injury.
Once all this was said and done, I still had to head back and get X-rays to make sure I was cleared and safe to compete in the event. Everything was fine other than a very sore shoulder. It's XGames, you’re not allowed to complain sissy...
Now it's time to compete. I headed straight into the event and was still feeling ready to go. The first couple of jumps went great and I had a good line choice that got me up and over no problem.
A few jumps later I clipped the bar on the way down. All the riders were dealing with this all day, but I was the first to actually hit it.
All good, I was calm cool and collected and ready to try again. This time I told myself "hey just go twice as fast and you should go twice as far". I got a good drive and great start and then came up even shorter on this jump. Once again hitting the bar, popping my shoulder out a 2nd time, and becoming the first to be eliminated from the contest.
And just like that it was all over. All that hard work and preparation over within a few hours. Yet still falling short of my expectations for the weekend.
I could make all kinds of excuses about the lip being too steep, my suspension being off, sore shoulder, yada yada... But that's why I love Step Up. All the riders are dealing with the same jump and conditions. You either get over it or you don't. So, props to everyone that did!
At the end of the day I think there is an important message that can be learned from this experience. And while the short time at XGames was fun, I realized it is the preparation months before XGames where the real fun and journey lies.
The fun is in the hard work. The daily grind. The sleepless nights. Anxiety filled days. Pushing through injuries. The training.
Ultimately, the PROGRESSION.
And not just in your riding or athletic abilities. But progression as an individual in pushing your personal boundaries and limits of self-discipline.
This is what I feel makes athletes different. We have what it takes to prepare us to get to the events. We started in the beginning just like everyone else, but had the discipline to push past the embarrassing stages to get to the finals. Most people are afraid of taking the beginning steps of any goal for fear of being embarrassed or criticized.
And while I did get last place this year, I’m not afraid to come back and try again even harder at the next one. Just being able to compete in XGames is a dream of mine and I’m so grateful to be a part of it.
Big thanks for checking out and reading my article. Also a huge thanks to XGames, their staff, and the track crew for always doing the best they can. Also thank you Casey @defyfocusphotography for all the photos!
For anyone that knows me (Soap Boy), then odds are you also know Kortney (Soap Girl).
She has been my sidekick the past 5 years and I was very excited to have the opportunity to ask her to marry me at the event. Due to the pressure she HAD to say yes. A future blog will tell what the future holds ;)
Funny Story: Jarryd Mcneil actually set Kortney and I up on a double date 5+ years ago. And the rest is history!