Every generation believes that their generation is the best to have ever done it. In every town in every country across the planet there’s an old man proverbially sitting on his rocking chair talking about how “kids these days ___.” You can fill in the rest of that quote with whatever you like, but you get the point. Don’t forget that while Baby Boomers were one of the toughest generations to have ever done it, they also had doctors promoting the health advantages of smoking. Nobody’s perfect.
When we relaunched Vurb the same sentiment rang true. Comments were floating around about how kids today aren’t as fast as they were in the early 2000s and how the golden era of amateur moto was gone. I set out today with the mission to figure out if that’s true. And seeing as we’ve watched more gates drop than just about anyone on the planet, consider us the authority on the subject.
First off, despite the recent pandemic, more kids are on bikes. Hell, I’d argue that because of the pandemic more kids are on bikes. Outdoors is about the only place deemed safe so the reality show watching, potato chip eating portion of our population is all the sudden ready to get outside and enjoy the finer things. And REI ain’t the only one benefitting from this, as moto sales across the board are up.
Look, it’s cyclical, as are most things. But no matter how you shake it, it appears as if the industry is on an up tic. We’ll take responsibility for that, as despite having no data to prove it, Vurb is good for the dirtbike industry. Prove us wrong!
Now let’s look at speed. The Bird Dog went hunting today (yes, Bird Dog refers to himself in the third person) and personally watched every moto through lunch on Wednesday. Not only paying attention to the leaders, but to the entire pack. From lap one to lap 10, the Bird Dog was sniffing out talent like a blue tic hound. So what did the Bird Dog take away from this, you might ask? Sit down, grab some tea and plan to be enlightened.
The top kids are every damn bit as dialed in today as they were in 2007 when we started. Dudes like Levi Kitchin, Evan Ferry, Ryder D., Matt LeBlanc, Dilan Schwartz, Jett Renyolds—you get the point—could roll the dice with the likes of Austin Stroupe, Nico Izzi, Eli Tomac and Jason Anderson if they were all in the Supermini class at the same time. I have zero doubt about that. Levi Kitchin won his class by 30 damn seconds today! What, you think AC would have won by 40? Nope!
But the cream of the crop always rises to the top. The factory kids 15 years ago have the same support system as they do today. Based on the long list of people thanked on the podium (all including a trainer and unlimited sponsors) all things have remained equal.
My focus then went to the mid-pack guys—the fastest dudes at their local tracks that seem to slide into the shadows when facing the big rig boys. Now hold onto your Natty Light before you read this, but I think they are actually faster today. “But why would you spew such propaganda, Bird Dog?” Because it’s true.
As more and more training facilities continue to pop up all over the country, more and more riders are getting top notch support from an early age. And that ain’t just the top kids. Back in the day MTF enjoyed being early to the market by having every kid on the podium pitted at their camp. Not so true anymore. While MTF still has their share of the talent pool, you’ve got 10 times the facilities as you did 10 years ago.
And these kids were charging all moto. I specifically paid attention to the mid-pack after the mid-way point of the races and 95% of them were still standing up through the roughest sand corner on the track, still scrubbing every damn jump and timing the breaking bumps with flow. They were not only fit, but unfazed by the intensity that Loretta’s can put on a rider.
My answer to the current thought process that racers 10 or 15 years ago were better than they are today is because the coverage of amateur moto was bigger than it is today. Everyone knew who Tevin Tapia and Derek Rodgers were in 2008. Far fewer know who the equivalent of Tevin Tapia and Derek Rodgers are in 2020.
So kick back in your easy up and crack open another ice cold cruiser, as we’re here to bring the nostalgia of the golden era of amateur moto back and prove that the next generation of talent is just as good as any past generation we’ve seen.
Viva la Vurb!