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Motocross Memento MAG
“Derek Hom!” screeched the announcer, his voice nearly drowned out by the thunder of bikes. “It’s Hom in third place. He’s taken over Bobbles’ position as they head into the last lap.”
The deafening roar of the spectators, their bodies pressed against the plastic barrier, as they jostle to get a good view of the race’s exciting end, competed with the rumble of the bikes. Rain threatened and gray clouds, wisped with shades of deep purple, cast shadows across the brightly colored machines.
My dad was on the crest of the first corner, lungs full of air and red-faced, eagerly waiting for me to fly past. Face shiny from the sun, his strong hands held the shovel that perfected my gate at the start. He always had so much fun at the races. My dad had created a family from his racing friends. He had a ritual of staying up by the fire the night before, and during a race he always chewed tobacco. I can remember that smell to this day. The rich mahogany fragrance burned my nostrils every time he opened that bronze tin.
The sunrise was cloaked in a foggy haze that outlined the track. The bulldozers were deafening as they rolled up and down the jumps, packing them.
Dad would yell out ideas to help me on my way, just as he’d been doing the last three laps. It was motivating and helpful.
Truthfully, I raced partly for my dad … maybe mostly for him. I always wanted to prove I was something to the sport of motocross because he loved it so much, because he loved me.
Gripping the handlebars and clutch, I shifted my shoulders forward, thigh muscles tensing as I pushed firmly onto the foot pegs, trying to focus and ignore the increasing closeness of the drone behind me.
“Come on!” My dad’s voice carried over the others, urging me on. My dad emptied his lungs and lost his voice every time I passed; he always gave his all for me, so I did the same for him.
“GO!” he demanded. “GO, son! GO!”
Bikes, sounding like bumblebees, neared my green fender, buzzing with their desire to sting, to take my glory. Some were not merely bee-voiced; the four-strokes, had a deeper voice, a rumbling, rippling (and sometimes roaring) sound that would become the future of the sport.
“You really need to hit that first corner harder,” my dad had explained, his eyebrows crinkling and his strong voice convincing. “They’re catching you right there, and it’ll drop your lap times down.”
At this race in Minnesota, there were huge, mountainous jumps – hills that demanded riders dig their fingers into the dirt to even walk up them – and a calm, trickling river to add to the beautiful scenery. The smell of fuel revived memories sheltered in my mind from my childhood at the racetrack.
My dad always had a stern look in his eyes that was so convincing it made me pay attention to everything he said … almost. Pasting that father-knows-best glare on his face, he counseled, “I’d rather see you push your limits than settle for riding within your margin of speed. It builds character to try to improve and maybe some day become a professional at something you have put so much time and effort into.”
I lived for that saying, and it will be with me for the rest of my life. My brother and dad have our motto tattooed between their shoulder blades and across their spine. I plan to get the same tattoo on my eighteenth birthday.
“We can make an appointment with the artist who did ours,” Dad said with that serious look in his eyes, as if we were at the track again.
Doing this means a lot to me for some reason. It’s a memento of a meaningful part of my life that will always remind me of my childhood: the traveling, the races, and most importantly my dad.