Woods Riders Talk About Supercross, Soul, and the Tsunami of the Politically Correct

Dirty Jersey dives head first into Boston’s dirty water.

   
  
   
  
  By Jerry Bernardo and Frank Visone  
  
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By Jerry Bernardo and Frank Visone

If Hunter S. Thompson were alive today he would be running full euro ice spikes on his front wheel and blazing a path right down Snowflake Alley. Picture the original palm reader of truth with his gut full of Old Mr. Boston bourbon, saddled up and death-gripping a fistful of “get the fuck out of my way” as he pinballs brand new iPhones out of the hands of distracted and hapless victims, stagnant and sloth-like at any bus stop in the world. Peel back Hunter’s Bell-helmeted onion and try to decipher why the asphalt carnage was ignited in the first place? I’ll tell you why: he read the news, he heard the murmurs and smelled the Kool-Aid. HST stuffed up and listened to the pulse of the masses and the news slid down his neck like a dog chomping on a bit of broken barbwire.

Cut to Dirty Jersey’s Frank Visone, a self-described “old and slow Vet B offroad rider” with a quick wit and the complete lack of a hair-trigger temper. I soon found out that we are just like-minded dirt bike guys from the east coast and we will always disregard the bright orange X and get in amongst the conversation. We spoke about bikes, family, pizza, and people misplacing their souls. I asked him where one would find it had it become lost. Quicker than a rookie cop pops off on a driver fishing in his pockets he told me: “A misplaced soul can be found if you know where and how to look. Try muscling a ’76 Bultaco through the muck of Pine Hill with an open face helmet through the pines, and then try and fight the desire to peel your face off when you’re sitting in your van contemplating WTF you’ve just been through.

“The soul, for those of you who want to know, is found when you’re hanging on for dear life on the back of a living breathing machine of death, bouncing from tree to tree, clicking up another gear even though you know it just might get you killed. You’ll go punch the clock on Monday morning and while the rest of the mules are mumbling about some ball game or what ass-wipe got kicked off the latest reality show last night, you’ll sit there quietly smiling, knowing that you’re actually alive. Those ribs that feel broken only serve to make you smile harder.”

“If you find the devil …. and he makes you click up to third in the trails on the way home with a 'fuck outta my way trees' shit-eater of a grin on your face, then I humbly congratulate you on finding your soul.”

When you are born you don’t know which way the shift pattern of life goes. The first time you finally get slapped in the nuts with the main jet your head snaps back and you truly come to life. While most of us are working class weekend riders, some have miraculously found a way to make a living out of it.

Frank laughed as if it [that dream] were a unicorn fart. He told me: “If I could talk with Danny Hamel or Kurt Caselli right now, I’d invite them to New Jersey and take them on a tour of the barren and soulless shopping mall and Starbucks wastelands so we could all have a great laugh together. I’d thank them for giving us the vision of a racing soul and something to truly aspire to as I humbly take to the teeth whatever roost their back tires give out. And yes, I will be smiling.”

Be like Frank.

The good old days of bikes floating angelically back into view at the LA Coliseum are gone. This was a time when racing was pure and no one ever wanted to lose. What we are left with now is a minuscule fragment of that great action. The baton was passed and now we [fans] are trying to carry an industry held together by sponsor stickers and rainbow-colored Band-Aids. Riders are so consumed by a solid result penned in the resume for next year they have forgotten to remember racing dirt bikes is fun—the end.

We are just weekend warriors looking for a fix. Each time our bikes spit out a whiff of exhaust a slice of hate goes with it. That hate is rife with taxes, responsibilities, things we cannot change and Whoopi Goldberg. I told Frank: “I don’t ever recall applying for a job as an adult.”

I continued adding: “If wishes were horses then beggars would ride.” There was a bit of an odd pause and then he offered me this synopsis: “If you find the devil while riding 4th gear pinned skimming across a set of natural whoops at the local rock quarry or sand pit, and he makes you click up to third in the trails on the way home with a “fuck outta my way trees” shit-eater of a grin on your face, then I humbly congratulate you on finding your soul.”

Frank plodded on denouncing the tsunami known as the politically correct wave: “Racing used to be cool. And if you are too young to have even been a tickle in your daddy’s shorts, let me prove it to you. We had our series sponsored by Coors and Camel, FFS! Guys used to crack open a beer on the podium and grab the trophy girl and kiss her when they won. It used to be FUN to win. Remember fun? Remember what it was like to go race your guts out for the promise of nothing more than a broken body, and maybe a trophy if you held out longer than everyone else? Now, everyone is so serious, so focused on putting in their 20 hard laps that they’ve lost that purity.”

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We both know the drill: you go to work to pay the bills. At the stadium, it’s all business and the bank of Supercross is open. The security guard at the door is an aging woods rider who never got shit for three hours of bloody knuckles and cow dung roosted up in his grill. The promoter has known him for ten years and doesn’t even recall his name when they pass in the tunnels.

Frank and I continued to lock horns on the topic and agreed that the best course of action was to ride more often. Escape the madness, kill your television, spell the WIFI password wrong on purpose and get your numb ass outside. Once you swing a leg over an enduro bike and point it off to the edges you suddenly begin to hear the silence. I am not suggesting anyone tune out the snotty bark of a Fatty pipe kicking the shit out of your brain. Riding in the forest instantly forces you to leave any excess mental baggage back in the van and do best to not to elbow an oak tree at speed.

Frank is not a liar, Frank will tell you the truth. As a father he knows how whooped out life can get when you stay in the mini-van and let the kids pick the radio station. I saw it glimmering in my crystal ball, reached in the window of the van and yanked him out by the scruff of his “Camden raped my childhood” shirt. As I swung his soon-to-be lifeless corpse over the median strip to an awaiting tree chipper he managed to blurt out his thanks. He expressed to me his internal compulsion to drive the family van through the window of a motorcycle shop in the quest to save himself. No one is saying family isn’t #1 but your family has no interest in helping you do a dozen filters.

“No one is saying family isn’t #1 but your family has no interest in helping you do a dozen filters.”

If supercross is supposed to be a family-friendly sport why do all the promo models look like anime porn? “At A1 this year Little Timmy not only got Ronnie Mac’s autograph but managed to reach puberty right before our astounded eyes while taking a photo with the energy drink girls.” Dirty bounce house (aka Supercross) has morphed into QVC with the decibel level on 11. We laughed as I used my Cartoon Channel voice saying: “Hi, my name is 250 Lites Main and I feel like a stowaway here [tonight] in Angel Stadium.”

I got a solid high five for my stowaway analogy and Frank rebutted adding: “Thankfully, despite the visual vomit that is Supercross, the soul of this sport is alive and well for those who seek it. Turn your head to the GNCC series and you’ll see exactly what I mean. Hell, ask anyone who has raced a Hare Scramble at least once in their life, and the look in their eyes is all you need to see. It’s almost like staring into the eyes of the man who killed your mother, and then throwing your arm around his shoulder and having a drink with him. To me, watching Supercross on TV is like trying on your sister’s underwear and pretending that it never happened when you get caught doing it.”

Supercross on TV = commercial funding while off road will always be the red-headed stepchild with a snotty nose and a shitty payout, even for the top guns. I swear there’s a typo on the cardboard checks offroad riders are asked to hold up. No one with a 3rd place check for $350 is ever really smiling—it’s not rocket science.

Cut to the promoter drag racing the local pastor in their matching Benz’s.

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You know what we like? Talking shit with your mates after a nasty hare scramble. Hare scrambles are meant to be a rude awakening that ends two hours later. Having trouble with premature ejaculation? Try a sprint enduro, I heard they are much quicker. Cut back to you soaked in your salty meat eater sweat, plopped on a stranger’s tailgate too tired to get out of your gear and clean up. You sit there, bubbling up spit and sharing the post-race chat about the “3” inches of remaining dirt on the high edge of that rut, the one that would have cannibalized you in a heartbeat had you crashed.” The next time the cops pull you over for a breath test and ask you to recite the alphabet backwards stop at the letter W. Tell them: “Flying W…yeah copper, flying W: pogo-sticked off the seat at speed into a handstand, taking that split second to wonder what dying feels like only to land back in the saddle with a chopped throttle and a mouthful of cobwebs. There’s ya’ backwards alphabet fruity.”

“To me, watching Supercross on TV is like trying on your sister’s underwear and pretending that it never happened when you get caught doing it.”

Get out, pop wheelies, do skids and eat the goddamn tacos—you’re going to be OK—trust me. In the end, the world of dirt bikes is just you against a pissed off emergency room nurse who seems to always disapprove of what makes normal men shoot glue. It’s like answering to your Mom for having fun: you love her but you wish you could get away with punching her in the tummy for scolding you.

“You know what I want to see?” Frank asked me;  “I want to go to the Monster Cup and see one of these preened, prepped and propped-up-on-a-stick little racer kids, who somehow come on camera and are so suave and smooth and thank all their sponsors just like their older protégé’s do so well; and rather than sit there and recite the well-rehearsed podium speech and listen to the cliché’ hot pit reporter chick ask them nonsense, let this kid grab one of those Monster girls, kiss her on the lips, motorboat her, drop the mic and strut back to the pits. That’s fucking punk rock, and that is what is missing from this sport.

That kid will go places in life.”

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