TIME FLIES WHEN you’re having fun, and it’s hard to believe that we are already into April with the 2017 season well underway… And I’ve had the best start EVER in my career to date!
As much as people say to me “you make it look easy”, it really isn’t and it’s a very calculated and structured schedule for us over any race weekend. We capitalise when we know our package is strong, and ensure we gain as many points as we can. In short, if we can win, we HAVE to win! Phillip Island and Thailand are two tracks which we know we should and can win at, so the fact that we got the maximum points at the opening rounds puts me in good stead going into the European rounds, when we know our rivals will be biting harder on my tail.
The off-season also went like clockwork for us with several winter tests taking place during January. Some people have asked me “what’s so different to the bike from last year” and my answer is this: a new bike always takes time to develop. It’s impossible to totally understand a new machine straight away, so we are into the second year of a new bike in which we can test and try to understand more. We have upgraded the electronics package which is really helping with engine braking. We also have a different swingarm and chassis components, and on top of that we also have a little increase in power. Overall I am feeling a lot more comfortable on the bike than I did last year and I guess it’s showing on track. The bike and I are in sync, so I just hope that we can continue to make progress in this way. I know it’s a long season, but I’m very happy and grateful to my team that we have made this clear head start.
It wasn’t all work, work, work during the off season. I always start my year out in Australia, in my wife’s homeland. We split our time between Phillip Island, and Bright, a lovely little mountain town around 3.5 hours from Melbourne. I use this time to gain a lot of ground on my cardio so get up early to do a morning cycle. It’s such a nice way to start the day and after a few weeks I know that I’m on my way to being in top form. But there’s nothing quite like twisting a throttle for training, so a big part of my off-season training is doing a motocross camp at the end of January, for racecraft and fitness. A few friends and my brother come out to northern Spain and we pretty much do a week of solid MX training, which is a great way to get yourself dialled in for racing. This is my third year organising this kind of MX camp, and it’s such a fun way to start out the year.
Between the Phillip Island race and Thailand, we made the most of having a week off and spent this as a family in Phuket. It was great to see my kids enjoying the water so much, swimming every day in the pool and having great experiences such as riding elephants and snorkeling under the water watching fish. I’m very lucky to show my boys such a diverse way of life, and they enjoy the roller coaster ride of our crazy world-tour life. My oldest son Jake really understands now what I do for a job, and he’s super excited for returning to Europe and our motorhome life. Tyler Jon is also starting to understand that his little life is a pretty cool one, and he runs about the house playing with little MX model bikes wearing a helmet. They’re at a great age. Although Tyler has struggled on-and-off with his health recently, so the reality of being a dad really hit me when I spent a night in the children’s ward with him when we got home to Isle of Man. Thankfully the staff at Nobels put him right, and he’s back to full power and to back to being the crazy little boy we love.
I can’t wait to see what the next few months brings, but you can be sure I’ll be doing my best as always.