Life of the Privateer

Over the course of the day the rigs file in, a procession of competitors, so that by sun down the lot that was empty this morning has transformed into what will be known for the next 48 hours as the pro pits.  They house the greatest talents in motocross today, some of whom are making motocross history.

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Amongst them is Jordan Reynolds, a driven twenty-year-old with a broad, white smile and diamond studs in his ears. When I ask him where his pit is, he points to the nosebleeds.  “Life of the privateer,” he shrugs and shakes his head without a hint of bitterness.  With dad-mechanic-biggest fan in tow, along with his mom and sister, Thunder Valley is Jordan’s third pro motocross event, after Hangtown and his debut race last season at Lake Elsinore.

A couple hours later, Ian Chia, a privateer from Peru, stops by.  Ian is accompanied by his lovely girlfriend Sarah who will share the task of driving their trailer across America and back, for the entire Pro Motocross National series.

I am always impressed, not only by the will of the privateers, but by the commitment put forth from the company they keep.

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When I catch up with Jordan after qualifying, I ask him how it went. “I could have done better,” he replies, and it’s clear in his momentary downward glance that he is his harshest critic.  He immediately recovers, “I learned a lot though. And I guess I did better than last time.” He recounts the morning, the highs and lows, and as something of an afterthought tells me that he hardly felt his shoulder until he got to the whoops. He had failed to mention earlier that he had dislocated his shoulder last week at Hangtown. Having just dislocated my elbow snowboarding six months ago, I shudder at the thought of suffering through the joint-yanking whoops section aboard the hulking piece of metal that is a motocross bike with a fresh dislocation. As my mind pauses on this thought, Jordan is already talking about his next event, Washougal, and all the training and working out he plans to do between now and then, and I smile because I’m looking forward to his return.

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On Saturday evening, Ian drops by on his way out.  He and Sarah are already heading out to get a head-start on the drive to Tennessee. With a holeshot and fastest lap of 2:16 that morning, Ian would have been in great standings to compete in the main. But he was flagged, and docked his fastest lap, losing his chance.  “Tennessee will be good,” he smiles. He knows he’s close enough to grasp it. He’s ready to race against the best.

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Later, as our truck and trailer trudge east through the golden morning, I think of the privateers, and in that moment, I feel the Dawn all around me.

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