Failure is a part of life. I don’t care who you are or how good you are at something, you are bound to fail at some point. And your character will be
defined by how you respond to that failure. I used to
think the best way to get over a devastating setback
was to get out and go for a light jog and then just keep
running until I was in a different city and then change
my name and start a whole new life. I’ve grown a little
since those days.
Motocross, like many individual sports, is especially
difficult in this arena. Unfortunately, we have sort of a
Ricky Bobby mindset in moto: If you ain’t first, you’re
last. There is only one champion per year in each class
out of a whole gate full of riders. Maybe there are only
a dozen or so who believe they can win, but even that
leaves eleven disappointed riders at the end of the year.
If their expectation was to win, they failed when the
season was over.
As a racer, you spend each day riding, training, and
working on building your confidence. You tell yourself
over and over that you can and will win, and your suc-
cess is dependent upon you believing that. And yet there
you sit at the end of the season, watching some other
knucklehead spraying that champagne. We get it, guy
walking around with a giant #1 on the front of your jersey.
You’re the best. Woo hoo. We’re all really happy for you.
If my tone seems to be coated in bitterness, it’s
because I am the king of failure. I had several legitimate shots at a 125 supercross title and they were all
derailed by injury or mechanical failure. I almost had
a 250 Supermoto championship wrapped up until a
broken arm relegated me to second once again. As a
team manager, I watched our TLD riders—Seely, Hahn,
Townley, and Gieger—come ever so close to winning
races, only to finish second. I am the consummate vice-champion—or the first loser, if we’re to believe all those
No Fear shirts from back in the day.
Rebounding from failure is what really matters,
though. I like to mope around the house for a day or
two when something goes wrong, but then I know I
have to put on my big-boy pants and get to work. Learn
from the mistakes that led to your previous failure and
move forward. Like Truman Capote said, “Failure is the
condiment that gives success its flavor.”
In terms of motocross racing, you have to pull a
tear-off and start over every Monday. You give your
absolute best effort and the results will sort them-
selves out on the weekend. Good or bad, you have to
be content knowing you did your best. Greg Albertyn
was a big influence in my life in the late 1990s, and he
changed my perspective about a lot
of things. After a particularly disap-
pointing race I was explaining to
him that I just wanted to get certain
results and I would be content. He
assured me I wouldn’t. He told me
that even though he had won three
World Championships and a 250
National Championship here in the
If we base our happiness on racing results, we will
never be happy. If it weren’t for Albertyn’s help at that
time, I might be living in a different city right now using
a completely different name.
Thomas Edison had to fail a lot before he finally built
a working light bulb. You could clown him for screwing it
up again and again or call him a genius and be glad you
aren’t reading this by oil lamp. Edison said he never failed,
he just found ten thousand ways that it wouldn’t work.
Looking at it through those glasses, I spent an entire career figuring out a few thousand ways not to win
a championship. I’m awesome.
I AM THE CONSUMMATE VICE-
CHAMPION—OR THE FIRST LOSER,
IF WE’RE TO BELIEVE ALL THOSE NO
FEAR SHIRTS FROM BACK IN THE DAY.