Jason Thomas: Grinding

Subscribe to MX Vice on YouTube.

Early December is an interesting time for riders. By now, everyone has been suffering through boot camp for over a month. The repetition seems to never end. On the positive side, though, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel. There is less than a month until Anaheim 1, Christmas is only a couple of weeks away, and that lovely time called “tapering” is on the horizon. For now, though, it’s still time for the hard work. The endless laps, miles (kilometres if you are so inclined), and gym sessions completed now are what dictate success in the coming months. What does a typical day look like, you ask?

These training days mimic each other almost like clockwork. The only real variation is typically in lap duration or format of riding and even then it’s usually not a huge difference. Every morning starts with a gym session but not the iron pumping, meathead variety you might find at your local gym. The emphasis these days is more on stretching, core strength and pliability. Strength gains are definitely a goal, but not so much the typical “beach” muscles. Leg strength for gripping the bike and core strength for balance and maintaining proper ride position are much more important than “curls for the girls.”



KTM/Simon Cudby

After the gym, a light breakfast is eaten before arriving to the track by 10am. Most of these programmes are run on a tight time schedule, so the track has been prepped and the motorcycles have been serviced. That all cuts down on wait time from arrival to beginning of ride time. With everything ready, it’s time for the most important part of the process: Riding.

Different times of the season dictate different riding itineraries. Early in the off-season, say October and November, the focus is on building a base of fitness. That means long days, long motos and high lap counts. Every programme is different but the bare minimum at that time of year involves a warm up, sprint laps, and two 20-lap motos. That can ramp up significantly, though. In 2004, Tim Ferry and I had worked up to three 30-lap motos by the end of November. That was the culmination of months of riding, cycling and running to build up our fitness base. Not only that, our bodies needed to be able to withstand that level of abuse every day. Our hands needed to callous, back muscles needed to slowly atone for all of that torture and, well, Monkey Butt is always a problem when riding that much.

By December, that focus shifts to intensity and speed. Riders have now spent months and months building up the fitness for a gruelling spring. With a base built, it’s time to sharpen the spear with sprint laps, heat-race replications and technique work to eek out tenths of a second per lap. There is an art form to riding above one’s comfort zone, even if for a lap. Those 90-lap days are torturous and necessary but if you aren’t fast enough, none of it matters.

That leads me to another point, actually. I often see so many pro privateer riders nowadays just hammering out long motos leading up to the supercross season. I totally understand why but I also question the strategy. The likelihood of them consistently making main events is often low. If that’s the reality, why worry about being able to do 20 minutes? The entire emphasis should be on improving speed for 6-8 minutes. Being able to get into those main events often determines a year’s success or failure. Sponsors want riders in the main events.



KTM/Simon Cudby

Making the main event for privateers means everything. I would (and did) do 8-lap race simulations until the sun goes down. The margin of difference for those on the qualifying bubble is often very small, making any extra speed advantage incredibly valuable. Fitness is great and much of this article speaks to how factory level riders reach their peak but if your goal is just to make the main event, become an expert at the shorter races that dictate that fate.

Okay, back to the topic at hand: The training day. After riding has been completed, riders will shower and regroup. It’s now usually 3pm by now and in late November, there is only a couple hours of daylight left. Trainers will be diligent to get their guys moving so they don’t run out of time for their bike ride or run. Road cycling is the preferred cardio training for many, simply because the impact on joints is less and it’s easy to maintain a targeted heart rate.

On a heavy riding day, the cycling would be somewhere between 1-2 hours. On a day where riding is shorter or an off-day, that cycling duration could be up closer to 3 hours. In December when the intensity focus is ramped up, the cycling rides include interval sprints. The goal is to train your body to hit maximum heart rate, recover back to a manageable effort level and then immediately ramp back up to maximum effort. Hopefully, the body will be trained to handle huge spikes in heart rate and avoid “blowing up” in the middle of a battle.

Finally, the slow cruise back into the driveway has come and riders get to unclip from their bicycle pedals. The highest level riders might still have a massage that night to flush that lactic acid build and prepare to do it all over again the next day. Being able to put in brutally tough training days over and over is where the magic is made. What seems like cruel and unusual torture in October becomes mundane by early December.



KTM/Simon Cudby

Trainers are moulding rider bodies and psyche, hardening them in every sense. Ricky Carmichael often told me that Saturday (race day in America) was his easiest day of the week. His training regimen was so brutal that race day was a walk in the park. That’s the goal for every trainer. Create a rider so finely tuned that his race day feels like a day off. It makes sense, right? On a normal training day, that twenty-minute main event would be just one of many torture tests that day.

In a nutshell, the off-season is a suffer-fest. Every day looks like the day before. Bodies ache, enthusiasm wanes and, personally, I whined incessantly. I knew it was necessary but I also voiced my displeasure to anyone with ears. I can also assure you, though, that as I sat on the starting line every year at Anaheim, I was very thankful for the work I had put in. There is no worse feeling than knowing you are not ready for the upcoming season. Now as we roll into a new week, the hard work will continue. There is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, yes, but the hard yards are not quite done. Anaheim is coming. Who will be ready?

Words: Jason Thomas | Lead Image: KTM/Simon Cudby

Discussion: Jorge Prado

Get the Alpinestars Monster MX range!

Jorge Prado was one of the greatest stars at the 2019 Motocross of Nations, as he made his long awaited debut aboard a 450 and went head-to-head with a lot of the Grand Prix regulars. The rain ruined that spectacle somewhat but the weekend still served as a great indication of where he is at after such little time on the big bike. How did Prado rate his first showing? That information is in this exclusive MX Vice interview.

MX Vice: A big one for you and a big one for Spain, but most importantly this was your first race on a 450 and I feel like it went well. Fast in practice. Showed good speed. Showed good speed in the motos today as well. Battled with [Jeffrey] Herlings for a bit. All good things. I reckon you have got to be happy.

Jorge Prado: Yeah, it was an okay weekend. We can take a lot of positive things, also where we can improve for next year. That is great. I didn’t ride so much with the 450 before this race. I didn’t even make so many starts. I was quite happy with both starts on Saturday in the first moto. In the second moto I messed it up too much. Completely last. I think the speed is good. It’s okay. We can improve on that too. Physically it’s okay. Just put a few things together and then we can make big steps.




That’s why we now have the winter to progress and hopefully next year I can come back strong. Racing… It was just good to come here. First moto I finished third after leading for more than half the moto. Afterwards I struggled a bit with the goggles. Something that I already improved in the second moto as I didn’t take them off. We can also take that for next year. I struggled with the goggles in the first moto and had to go back to sixth or seventh. Fought back to third – that was a cool moto. I even passed a couple of riders in the last corner too.

It was okay. I was happy. It was a bit of a pity with my mistakes: Silly mistakes and rookie mistakes with the goggles and stuff like that, but I was confident for the second moto. In the second moto I messed up the start. It was just trying to fight and fighting with so many riders. The weather was so bad. It was hard. I’m not really mad – I think I can be quite happy. Not one hundred percent, because we know where we need to improve. We take it like it is and I stay positive for the next training sessions. 

Was there one big thing that shocked or surprised you about the 450 this weekend? Maybe something that you did not expect?

No, nothing really. I maybe expected myself to be a bit slower speed-wise. Riders are fast. You need to be there right at the start. You have got to be there. That’s something that I’m strong with – the starts – so I think that’s a good advantage for next year. Even if we made a mistake in the second one, we need to improve. Next year we’ll be alright. Need to get stronger. That’s the thing.




I was thinking that a mud race on a 450 must be a lot more fun for you, because of having more power. It makes it a bit easier. Then at the same time you have got to muscle the bike around. Was it more fun to have a mud race on a 450 or harder work? Like you said, you need to get a bit stronger.

I didn’t spend too much time training sand the last two years as I moved to Italy. We only rode hard pack, because that was my weak point. Only four days on the bike in the sand before this race and it’s not that much. We made them good, but in these conditions it’s difficult to find them. For not riding so much sand lately, it was alright. For sure we can improve on that. I didn’t get that much tired, but the track was tough. It was tough just to ride it. I didn’t ride so much sand, like my said, so my style developed into a hard-pack style a little bit. I need to change that again a little bit for the sand races, but it’s something that comes quick. It was fine. 

When you were battling with Herlings in that second race, was it something quite normal for you? Did it feel like any other battle? Did you know it was Herlings and think, “How about this? I’m battling with the sand guy!”

Yeah, I think I was in front of him for a couple of laps as he crashed. He was behind me and then I was trying to keep the position. He passed me and then I was thinking, “Maybe I can follow?” I stayed more or less… I kept the gap a couple of laps but then this guy the last laps he puts the throttle down, the hammer down and he just goes. It’s good to know.  

It’s good to know that I can improve, but that we already knew that before the start. Having Jeffrey there for those laps… I could see how he arrived a little bit, even though the track was already hard. I had to focus on myself and not so much on the others. It was nice to see Jeffrey in front, in the back and around. He’s the fastest guy. So, good [laughs].




I guess like every other factory rider you are going to jump into testing now. After the testing you have done recently and this race, is there one big thing that you feel like you need to work on? Engine, power output or suspension. Anything like that?

I think we can work a bit on everything. Firstly, I will take some holidays. It was a long season and it’s been a while. I will go to Spain now tomorrow and spend some time there. Relax and get the batteries charged to start testing and training hard. I will train harder. Next year will be tough. I want to get ready and be the best I can for the first round. 

Are you going to do the same programme as every other year through the winter and be in Italy a lot of the time? Are you going to change things up a bit?

I really don’t know. Maybe we can still improve a couple of things? We speak with the team. We make the programme and it will happen. We already know where we need to improve, so that’s good to make the programme.

450s next year. This is now the new chapter for you. I feel like you are excited for the new challenge, and I’m excited to see you take on a new challenge.  

Yeah. I’m also very excited to take the new challenge and finally with the sixty-one. I like my number more when I ride. Even though this number was quite close. I’m very excited for next year. I think I needed this change to improve even more. It will be very challenging. I hope I do good. We’ll see. We’ll see how it goes. It’s hard. There are many world champions in the big class and many people with a lot of experience. Very fast guys. I have a great team and good people around me, so I think I have everything I need to get to the top.

Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX

Insight: Nathan Watson

Get the Alpinestars Monster MX range!

When Nathan Watson left the Grand Prix paddock at the end of 2015 to pursue a career in the enduro world, the chances of him ever representing Team Great Britain at the Motocross of Nations seemed slim. Watson finally got that opportunity at the Assen TT Circuit over the weekend though and made the most of it, as he helped his nation climb onto the overall podium for the third year in succession. All of that is discussed at length in this exclusive MX Vice interview.

MX Vice: It’s nuts that you are here. When you went to enduro at the end of 2015, I’m guessing you kind of felt like the dream of racing this event had died a little bit. Not only are you here, but you are on the podium. I guess that’s more than you could even ask for.

Nathan Watson: Yeah. It’s unbelievable. It was something that was always in the back of my mind that I never got the opportunity to do this race. After these last few years – especially now that I have started doing these extreme races and stuff that are the polar opposite to motocross – I never expected to be here. When I got the call, I worked hard.




Unfortunately I had a bike problem in the first one, but the boys did good and I had a solid race in the last race. To be on the podium, it’s just like a dream come true. First time with all these press conferences, first time here with all the fans and everything. It’s such an amazing experience. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

Let’s go back to when the team was selected and everything. You were not training for motocross. You were training with tree roots and stuff like that. When you got the call, was there a bit of you that was a bit reluctant? It’s a lot of pressure, and this isn’t your full-time gig. Was there a bit of you that was like, “I don’t know if I want to?”

No. I’ve been doing the beach races every winter and doing a lot of sand riding. Once I heard it was at Assen, if they asked me then I was there no matter what. I would have ridden anything. We have got some great sand riders in the UK, but unfortunately there were a few injuries and stuff like that. I was thinking, “Maybe? Maybe the dream could come true?”

When I finally got the phone call, I had already done a little bit of preparation. I was like, “Yes. Bring it on.” For the conditions like this weekend, it was really nerve-racking. It was a lottery. Everyone had to have some consistent results. There was a lot of pressure going into my two races.




Was the adjustment back to motocross or sand riding easier than you thought? I guess you never lost it. You have always been a sand master. Was it actually much of an adjustment? 

To be honest, I think my riding has improved a lot since I’ve gone to enduro. I’ve always used motocross as training for enduro, so even though I’ve been on an enduro bike I’ve been doing a lot of motocross. I think I’ve definitely improved. I’d like to do more races because, when I go practicing and stuff with some fast people, I always have quite good speed.  

It’s sometimes frustrating that I can’t do more of these races, but these guys now are so fast. It’s so tough here. You have got to be here every weekend racing. It was the first time off a mesh start as well – I got good starts somehow. I don’t know if I fluked it or if I picked it up quick. Really happy with how I’ve gone this weekend.

I think we know why you got good starts. The fake Team GB manager, Marc de Reuver, was on you pretty hard this week. I heard he was texting you and everything, then there was obviously the practice day as well. How was it working with him? Did he scare you? 

Yeah. He definitely whipped me into gear on the starts. He saw that I was pretty bad at them at the start of the day and just gave me some basic tips. Obviously, I only had one day to pick it up. I had to really think about it and work hard. I’d like to thank him for that, because he definitely kicked my ass and got me into gear and got me out of the start. He helped me out with that, I think. 




Has he actually spoken to you much this weekend? Has he been around? I feel like he’s basically British. I don’t know why, but he is all over it this weekend.  

Yeah. I think this is his last race was [Adam] Sterry and with Roan [Van De Moosdijk] not on the Dutch team, I think he’s focused on Team GB. That is good for us. He’s helped us out, definitely. He walked the track with us and gave us some tips, because he is a bit of a sand legend. Just been helping out all weekend and giving me some little tips on everything really. He’s been a second team manager, I guess.

What about your bike? I heard two things. You have got a long swingarm on – that you would use for beach races – and you have got an Antonio Cairoli engine or something? Either of those true?

I’ve got a factory engine. It’s not the exact same as Cairoli’s spec. It’s a little bit different to suit me, but the long swingarm is true. I have the beach race swinging arm. I didn’t know if I was allowed to use it so I wasn’t actually training with it, but when they told me I could use it on Monday I chucked it straight back on and felt way better with it. It wasn’t a true sand race this weekend. There were not big bumps and dry sand. I’d like to come back and do a proper sand race.

Speaking of coming back, are you on a lifetime deal with enduro or are you ever coming back? Has there even been people this weekend who have popped by and been like, “I might have to remember your name in the future?”

No. I’ve not had interest, to be honest. I’ve signed for next year in enduro again but I’m happy with that. I’ve had a good career in enduro now and I’ve got a good system with my beach races and the WESS. That’s on the cards for next year. Definitely like to somehow do some more motocross races and fit some more of them into the calendar, but let’s see.




Are the enduro team happy with you doing this? Were they a bit reluctant? You are not in a title hunt, but you are in a championship. You had a race last weekend and one next week. This is like the worst possible timing.

No, they have been really supportive. They know what a big event this is, and they gave me that opportunity. They couldn’t hold me back from this opportunity, because it is my first time. They have been really supportive. They have helped me out and given me the material I need and put me under this tent. It’s been an unbelievable experience being next to Jeffrey [Herlings] all weekend and getting changed with Jorge [Prado] and Jeffrey. I feel like I’ve been a factory motocross rider for the weekend. It’s been good.

There is one positive here. Team GB obviously finished third last year but they did not get to stand on the podium, which means you have got one over on Ben [Watson]. Who would have thought that when you were away in enduro?

Exactly. I’ve experienced the full Motocross of Nations podium and press conferences. In front of all them fans, it was unbelievable. Definitely got one up on Ben. I”m sure in the future he’s going to be back on that ‘Nations podium. I hope so, anyway.

Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX

Discussion: Adam Sterry

Get the Alpinestars Monster MX range!

Adam Sterry was heartbroken when Team Great Britain for the 2019 Motocross of Nations was first announced, as he missed out on a spot. Who would have thought at that point that he would be stood on the box at the Assen TT Circuit in a little over a month? Sterry eventually got the call up and delivered the goods on the day, as his strong second moto played a huge part in getting his nation into third overall. Sterry recounted his first MXoN experience in his MX Vice interview.

MX Vice: You came here with one goal: Finish on the podium as a team. You did that. It was not looking good after the first moto. I feel like as far as first motos go, as a team that was one of the worst. You pulled it off in the end. I guess you are stoked.

Adam Sterry: Yeah, sure. Like you said, I’m lost for words at the moment. What a way to finish my MX2 career. I got cleaned out by [Gautier] Paulin on the first lap of the first moto and then I made a big crash myself and it took ages to start my bike. Nathan [Watson] went out as well, so I knew that was two bad results. Looking at everybody else’s scores after the first moto, it wasn’t too bad but obviously not ideal.




I thought we threw it away, but luckily me and Shaun [Simpson] did great results in the second race. Those two boys pulled it together for the third moto too. Big congrats to them. Before you ask any more technical questions, I’d just like to say thanks to the whole F&H team for the last two years. They went above and beyond for this race for me. Thanks to Mark [Chamberlain] for the opportunity. Thanks to Shaun and Nathan as well, because they did a great job today. Couldn’t do it without them.  

Were you guys stressed and freaking out after the first moto? There is a lot of pressure on you then because you basically cannot f**k up.

Yeah, exactly. I knew that we were going to have to throw away Nathan’s result, so that meant my twenty-third or whatever had to count. It meant that we only had to do good races from there on, and we did. I’ve never been so nervous watching that third race in my life. I was more nervous watching that race than before my own race, because we were second by a long way and then we dropped to third. Then France were coming. They were coming and they were coming. They overtook us.  

Then I was unbelievably gutted, because as you can imagine I finished fourth three times already this year. I thought, “Not again, surely.” Luckily, I feel like I had some luck for once. I was so happy when I saw Paulin pushing his bike down the side of the track. I was in the Sky Box. Everyone had me on the floor. They were dragging me. Jumping up and down and hitting me. Unbelievable. I started crying. Very emotional.




I just figured it out. Paulin’s bike breaking was karma for him taking you out in the first moto. It got him in the end.

That’s exactly what I was thinking as well in the press conference. I don’t really believe in that stuff, but it is what it is. We’re on the podium. Definitely the best day of my career so far. 

I feel like your second moto was better than maybe people will realize. You finished twelfth but you weren’t there the whole time. You actually moved up to get there.

Yeah, exactly. I got put on the outside for the second moto. It’s not ideal against 450s. Jago [Geerts] said in the press conference that it being muddy brought the 450s and 250s closer together, but I completely disagree. I think it makes it worse. I felt there were some people overtaking me that I never heard of in my life and I was thinking, “They have got to be lapped, surely.” It was just because they had the 450 power they were pulling out of the corners and it made a big difference today. It was tough… Very tough. I like the mud. 2016 here, that was the most gutted I’ve ever been after a race. Today for sure made up for it.

Why did you go outside in the second moto? I don’t like that decision.

After the first moto we needed a really good result, so Shaun went on the inside to get a really good result and he did. Luckily, I ended up getting not a bad start from the outside. I pushed all the way. No mistakes and I ended up in a really good position too.




How happy is the fake Team GB manager, Marc de Reuver? How happy is he and also how much of a hard time has he been giving you this weekend? 

After yesterday and the first moto, he wasn’t very happy. I can tell you that. Obviously, he likes Holland and he’s for Holland to win. Cheekily he was helping me and Team GB. He’s been with us all week. Me and Marc, we have worked together one and a half years now. I need to say thanks to him as well. He’s put an awful lot of effort in the last one and a half years. He did a great job. He really helped Nathan with his starts this week. Nathan had not started from the mesh after so long and he really helped him.

We did so many starts on Wednesday. We aimed for the podium – that’s what we got. Thanks to him for the last one and a half years. I also want to say thanks to everyone that helps. All my sponsors. Rich [Mike Jones]. He’s about to take a flight, but he’s been a big part of my career ever since I was six years old. Massive thanks to him. Marc’s been my trainer for the last one and a half years, but Rich has always been there in the background supporting me. It’s been an emotional ride. This is definitely the best day of my career so far.

Was this Motocross of Nations thing everything that you wanted it to be and expected it to be? Were the fans as crazy as you thought they would be? Was the excitement there? Was it just what you pictured in your mind?

Definitely. This is even more crazy than I expected. I knew there would be a lot of British people coming here, because it’s quite close to the UK. Everybody likes it when they can travel and it’s an excuse for a holiday. The support I’ve had all weekend has been unbelievable. It’s above and beyond what I expected. To finish it off on the podium, like Shaun said, after the race we were all like little babies. We were all literally hugging each other and crying.




It just shows, because Shaun has also been at it a very long time and this is his first time getting on the podium. I didn’t know that. I only just found that out. He was emotional. For Nathan, last weekend he was in an enduro at Hawkstone going up hills and avoiding trees. That just shows what an incredible rider he is. I think today was a little bit more towards enduro. Big props to him. He did a fantastic job and showed what a great rider he is.

We cannot say too much, but things are looking more promising for a ride next year. In Sweden we were talking about maybe starting an AS811 team. It’s not going to come to that.

No. It’s not sorted yet, so you can never say never in motocross. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that. Hopefully in the next couple weeks I can have some news about what’s happening. I’m just going to let my hair down now, get a double vodka and Coke and see where the night takes us.

Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX

Insight: Roger DeCoster

Get the Alpinestars Monster MX range!

Roger DeCoster led Team USA into action yet again over the weekend and also had more candid thoughts to offer up once the final scores were tallied up. The United States finished sixth overall, despite a first-lap crash that left one member with a hand injury, and can take positives from a day of sand surfing beneath rain clouds. DeCoster looks at the event in a similar light but has some grievances that he airs in the exclusive MX Vice interview below.

MX Vice: Again, it was not the result that Team USA wanted or deserved. Last year I think we left RedBud saying, “What happened?” This time I think we are leaving here just saying it was bad luck and I guess you’ll get them next year.  

Roger DeCoster: Yeah. I really am happy and thankful for many things. The effort from the riders by coming in early, working hard for it and being positive. Then for all the help we got from the Europeans, from especially the IceOne team and also the Yamaha team that helped [Justin] Cooper. It’s bad that a crash that happened in the first few corners of the first moto took out Cooper and [Jason] Anderson together. Then Cooper’s hand was pretty badly injured.




He showed a lot of toughness by wanting to race the second race after finishing that first race with no clutch and a badly hurt hand. It sounds like it’s becoming a tradition for us to do bad, but I really feel that there was a big change in attitude and positiveness with the team. We are not going to give up. I think podium was… Third place, I think we deserved it today. It was realistic. We did not get it but there will be next year.  

Was there a point between motos one and two where Cooper was not even going to ride? Was he always saying that he just had to go out there and do it for the team? 

No. When I saw how bad it was swollen and all that – and the doctor said that he thought maybe a couple of fingers were broken – I suggested to him that it was okay to not race. I knew… By then we all knew that winning and being on the podium would be very unlikely. I did not want him to damage his hand more for a result that was not going to be very good anyhow. They took x-rays and the bones were not broken. They were badly bruised. He wanted to race. He didn’t want to quit. I’m really thankful for his attitude and for the effort he put in.




I guess all of this bad luck just makes it even more unbelievable how well everything went from 2005 to 2011. The bad luck hit all of the other teams. You constantly seemed to avoid these weird first-lap crashes. Now though, you cannot get away from them.  

Yeah. By doing the ‘Nations this late, we are looking for this kind of weather. I think it’s time that if we are going to do a ‘Nations this late in the season, then we have to go to the south in a country where we don’t have pretty much guaranteed bad weather.

What did you think of holding the event at this venue? It’s very different to RedBud, Matterley or Ernee. It’s something different, but what did you make of it? 

I’m not a fan of artificial tracks. It’s great for the infrastructure, for the paddock and the facility. That’s great, but for motocross I like elevation changes and a more natural course. Even if it is a sand course, I’m okay with it, but I like it to be basically an outdoor course. That’s my opinion. 

Did the testing that Zach [Osborne] and Jason did before this race work? After practice and the qualifying races yesterday, did they overhaul the bikes completely and just change everything?

No. It helped and I’m sure that they learned from the time they spent on the sand track, but then conditions changed completely today with all of the water. I don’t see it as a negative that we came in early. I think it’s a good thing. It did not help so much in today’s condition. 




Ernee next year. We have got to ask this. We ask it every year. Everyone’s scared that Team USA aren’t going to show up and without Team USA this event loses everything. You are going to keep coming, right?

I want to, but there is a fairly big entourage who will come with us and will expect to get some tickets and all that. The organization, they make fun of us when we come and want 60 tickets or something like that. When you look at that, there is practically no prize money and how much money that we put in… Between the factories and a little bit the AMA, it’s probably close to $300,000 to come for this event. Then even as a team manager, you don’t have a spot where you can see the race properly.

You have to fight the public. You need all these passes, and even with an all-access pass you end up at the place and you have to fight people to be able to see the track. You have to park a mile away with 100,000 other people. I think we deserve this, but not only the US team. The participants and the people who work… We deserve better treatment, I feel.

Compared to, say, 2011 when USA last won, how much harder is it putting a team together to come here? Is it harder than you ever believed it would be?

No. I knew how hard it was going to be. When I started to run the American team, I did it as the US was not coming that year. Then last-minute Dave Arnold and I, we were running a Honda team and at that time we had five riders on the team. I decided to take our team and come to Europe. Then Motocross Action got involved and got behind it. At the time, Bel-Ray Oil also supported it and all that. That’s how I started doing it, because I felt it was wrong for a country like America not to be present.

Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX

Viewpoint: Justin Cooper

Get the Alpinestars Monster MX range!

Justin Cooper was arguably the star of the 2019 Motocross of Nations. Not only did he surpass all expectations during the qualifying process on Saturday, he then pushed through the pain of a hand injury to salvage important points for Team USA on Sunday. It was an extremely eventful weekend and one that he broke down in the form of an exclusive MX Vice interview.

MX Vice: I didn’t even think you would still be here, because obviously you got injured today. Just talk us through everything that happened, how you crashed on the first lap and how you somehow hit your teammate.

Justin Cooper: It’s funny. I didn’t even know it was my teammate until I saw actually a video of it. I just know that someone hit me really hard. I ended up messing up my hand really good. We tried to put some injections in it and numb it up a little bit, but it was painful. Made the call to go out right at the last second and just sat out there in pain. It’s a shame. Pretty unlucky that it was my teammate. It would have been cool if I just went down, but I took my teammate down with me and that didn’t help anything. That’s the way the cookie crumbled. Good day yesterday but nothing today. It was pretty brutal out there.




I didn’t even think you were going to continue after that first moto crash. You were down for a while. It looked like you were hurt. Initially did you think you had done more damage than what you actually did? 

Yeah, I got up and I couldn’t pick my bike up. There was no way I was going to pick it up. I took a breather and my hand was throbbing like crazy. Eventually I got to the bike, then saw there was no clutch or anything. That kind of freaked me out a little bit more. Then I ended up crashing again, because I didn’t have a clutch to save me in the turns at all. I had to be really careful. When I did fall then I had to kind of rev it and pop it into gear. It was a mess. It is what it is. We’ll go home, regroup and get ready for supercross.  

Was that first moto easier than the second? I guess you had adrenaline still and all of that. Was the second moto a bit more comfortable, because of the injections and all of that stuff? 

No, the first moto was way more comfortable. The only thing that wasn’t comfortable was no clutch. I could not really ride. It was hard to ride, because you couldn’t really pop out of lines and save yourself if you messed up in a turn. In a mud race you need the clutch rely on to stay straight. Sometimes you just need to use it for stability. It is what it is. Tried, but we weren’t anywhere in race shape to draft or anything. It’s a shame, but it’s how the sport is. You get highs. My Saturday was great and then Sunday just all went to poop. That’s all there is to say.




This is going to put a bit of a dark cloud over your Motocross of Nations experience, but let’s not forget that you dominated yesterday. A lot of American riders would love to come here and have a day like that. Based on your pre-race comments though, I feel like maybe you expected that against the MX2 guys?

Yeah, for sure. I came here to do my job in the MX2 class. I was doing just that, and then one little mistake and it all goes away. Just wrong place at the wrong time, especially with Jason [Anderson] running into me. This track was so brutal. The weather that we got made it so much different than yesterday. It made it a lot more treacherous. Vision was a problem. It was all that kind of good stuff. Nothing to really complain about. I think I rode really good. It’s just a shame that that happened to us. We’ll regroup and we’ll come back for some revenge, I guess you could say, for the next time for the Motocross of Nations.

When you hopped onto the track for the first time yesterday, was it like nothing you have ever ridden before? Could you at least compare it to the European tracks you have ridden over the last couple of weeks? 

I definitely could compare it. Definitely a little bit more slippery. That’s the best way to describe it. It wasn’t really too difficult, but at the same time it was different. It was different than the European tracks I rode and definitely different to at home. I felt like we were prepared. I felt like were comfortable. Just would have been nice to have a weekend in the deep sand like how it was supposed to be. Turned into much more than that. The vision was so bad out there. Every straightaway you had to pull a roll-off or something. It’s tough on the 250. I knew it was going to be like this. Just survival mode out there.




You have broken a knuckle it sounds like. Is there any other damage? How long is that going to put you out for? 

My hand’s just pretty banged up, cut up and all that. I don’t know exactly what hit me, but I should be out for… I’ll take a couple weeks off – two or three weeks – see how I’m feeling and then go from there.

You put a lot of effort into this race, a lot of time and gave up a lot of off-time. This is a shitty way for it to end, but no regrets? Happy you did it? Happy you had the experience?

Yeah. Just disappointed it ended like that. First lap of the first race. Not how I wanted it to go. All in all, a great experience. Thankful I came. We literally fell as a team on this one. I’m grateful for the opportunity and I’ll do it again the next chance I have. Hopefully we’ll have a little bit better luck next time.

Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX

Interview: Zach Osborne

Get the Alpinestars Monster MX range!

Zach Osborne is arguably more passionate about the Motocross of Nations than any other rider, which was evident by the amount of commitment and work that went into representing Team USA over the weekend. Although the results didn’t pan out as expected, it was down to misfortune more than anything else. Osborne and his two teammates, Jason Anderson and  Justin Cooper, can take comfort in the fact that they clearly had the potential to battle for a podium on race day.

MX Vice: It was not the result anyone wanted. I think the way I sum it up is everyone left RedBud saying, “What happened?” Here you kind of leave it saying, “What are you going to do?” Luck wasn’t on your side. That was that. 

Zach Osborne: Yeah. After yesterday we were feeling pretty positive about it. Justin [Cooper] was really good. He was clearly the best in the MX2, then today obviously he came together with Jason [Anderson] on the first lap and that was worst-case scenario. We didn’t make any progress there. That is super unfortunate, so it is what it is. I don’t know what else to say. I rode pretty good in the first moto.




Mediocre in the second moto and had to stop for goggles. There are a million things you can say, but we were the sixth-best team today. I can really hang my hat on knowing that we came here, we did our very best and we put in a lot of effort. Both of the teams put in a lot of effort, IceOne and Kemea with Star. We gave it our all. There is nothing left to question except that we were not the best team today.

When you were watching that first moto and saw that both the guys were so far down the order on lap one, did that kind of change things for you? Did you immediately have this gut feeling that you have kind of got to do your job?

Yeah. It was worst-case scenario from there on, from the first lap of the first moto. It is what it is. What do you do? I knew that I needed to go out there and make something happen in the second moto, so they gave me the gate pick. I was able to get a fifth, which was decent. Just kind of got the ball rolling in the other direction. That was all we could really write home about today. 

You were not too happy after yesterday. Hard to judge too much, because of the conditions today, but do you feel like you made a lot of progress overnight?

Yeah, but also I just don’t feel like I rode to my full potential either day. Whether I was putting too much pressure on myself or whatever, I don’t really know. It is what it is and we’ll just carry on.




After all of the testing you have done over the last month, did that kind of help? Did you come in after a couple of laps of practice yesterday and feel like you needed to overhaul the bike completely? Was your base setting pretty close?

We were basically both really close to our US-based settings. It was what we knew the best, but definitely the track was like nothing we rode in the weeks prior. It’s super strange. It’s super slick-feeling. Not much to really turn on. There is nothing really to be said other than that it didn’t go our way. That’s huge. If we could have had Justin, I feel like he was easily two times in the top fifteen. That would put us on the podium. It was really unfortunate for him to get injured or banged up in the first race and have a terrible day.

No regrets, right? You put a lot into this event. Your family did too. Are you sat here bitter and pissed off, because of that? Like you said, there is nothing you could do about this.

Yeah. I would have loved to have a trophy to take home or something. That would have been really nice for all the effort, but if I was asked to do it again then I would sign up straight away. No regrets at all. Like I said, I think that we can hang our hats on the fact that we came here when no one else would and put in a bigger effort than probably has been done in a long time. I’m happy with my guys. They picked the flag up and ran towards the battle just as I did, and that’s all we can say.




This event means more to you than maybe any other American rider. You obviously desperately want to stand on the podium. You have had two shots and have not managed it. Is patience starting to wear a little thin? Are you starting to get a bit antsy and really want this to happen?

I mean, of course I would love for it to happen. It’s a huge goal of mine. Even a win with Team USA would be awesome, but it’s one of those deals where what do you do? It’s a freaking hard race to win. I think that we were a little bit spoiled in the US with so many wins in a row and not really realizing the task and how big it actually is.

Then you have a day like today where it is just terrible weather. For me, I hope I get another chance. It’s hard to get picked, honestly. Even with guys saying no, it’s still a decision. I’m grateful every time that I’m mentioned in the conversation. We’ll just keep plugging away and hope for another selection.

When you got selected you were quite vocal about wanting to change the set-up of Team USA and have you guys closer together again. Just looking at the paddock, it seems like you managed that. Do you feel like that was a big advantage compared to say Matterley Basin? 

For sure. We have a much better team atmosphere this week. It’s one of those things where you change something and it doesn’t go well, so then there’s going to be criticism. I’m totally aware and ready for that. I think we did a much better job as a team than I’ve seen in a long time.

Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX

Vice Poll: Standout Rider

Get the Alpinestars Monster MX range!

There was so much that happened at the 2019 Motocross of Nations! It’s almost impossible to remember everything. Who really made an impression and therefore stands out in your mind though? Was it Glenn Coldenhoff sweeping his two motos? Was it Regan Duffy making an immediate impression at an international level? How about Jeffrey Herlings and his charge in race one? Tim Gajser was impressive en route to the individual MXGP win too. Vote for a rider in the poll below and join the conversation on social media (motocrossvice on Twitter).

Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX

Chat: Glenn Coldenhoff

Get the Alpinestars Monster MX range!

Glenn Coldenhoff was the star of the show at the 2019 Motocross of Nations. After being pulled across the Assen TT Circuit by fans and media, he still made some time for a quick MX Vice interview. Coldenhoff discusses his rides, the pressure from the thousands of fans and what actually changed in the days prior to the Grand Prix of Italy. It was at that point in the season where he broke through and suddenly become a contender for wins.

MX Vice: It’s tough to be in the spot that The Netherlands were. Second would have been great but not good enough. You had to win otherwise I don’t know what the fans would have done! You got the job done and got two gold plates as well. This may be the best day of your career, right? I guess so. 

Glenn Coldenhoff: Yeah, I think I can speak as my best career so far this year. Got a bronze medal and now a gold medal. Last year I got one gold plate and this year I got two. It has been amazing to do that in front of my home crowd. It’s something unbelievable.




This is kind of a tricky question. You turned it up at the last couple of rounds. You won today and that was great. I feel like the way you rode in Italy and China was better though. I feel like maybe you had more to give today or another level that was obtainable, even though you won.

The track was so difficult and so demanding, also for the bike. You need to bring it home safe. It’s very, very hard for the bike. No, I wasn’t on the clutch as much as I usually do. That was good. My bike was amazing today, so thanks to Standing Construct KTM. They have done an amazing job. In the end, maybe I could go faster but that would definitely be some risk. That’s something we don’t need to take here. 

How was the pressure and everything? Was it crazier than anything you have experienced before? Did you manage to block it out quite well?

No, there was of course a lot of pressure. Everyone expected us to win. In the end we did that, but the pressure was on. I really did not feel like pressure. I was here to do my job and that’s what we have done. It was good.

I guess it is one of those things where as soon as the gate drops you just forget about everything and do your job.

Yeah, exactly. It was like that.




We need to know: What the hell happened to you before Imola? Did you get new parts? Did you become a new person? What the hell happened? Tell us something.

No, I think it was just many things that all came together.

We need more!

I feel like I got stronger. My team definitely got better. A little better bike. It was just small, tiny changes that we did. In the end it all falls together. Once I got that belief, things changed. I had a good result.

Without those small changes then, you do not think you would have been able to hit that next level?

No. I think it has to do with all of that. I was going into the season after a big injury. I was getting stronger also. The team definitely got better. It was just the complete package.

Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX 

Chat: Calvin Vlaanderen

Get the Alpinestars Monster MX range!

Calvin Vlaanderen faced some criticism after he was selected to race for The Netherlands at the 2019 Motocross of Nations, but delivered when the event was run over the weekend. A brace of tenths on his CRF250RW helped his nation climb atop the podium for the first time in history. What did he have to say when it was all said and done? This exclusive MX Vice interview was conducted on Sunday evening.

MX Vice: There was a lot of debate, hype and whatever else you want to call it about who should be in MX2 for The Netherlands. No one can argue that you were not the right pick. You did your job. You did more than actually what you probably could have or should have. You did exactly what you needed to do to help The Netherlands win, so a perfect day for you.

Calvin Vlaanderen: Yeah, not a perfect day. A perfect day for the team, obviously. We had three good races… Consistent races. I think our worst result was my tenth in both races. I would have liked to be a little bit higher up in the field, but still I’m satisfied with the tenth. It was good enough for the team. I had a lot of pressure coming into the weekend. 




I came into that first race with a lot of pressure, but as soon as I had a good start and as soon as I was in the first corner all the pressure was gone. I could just ride and try to not make mistakes and try to finish as high up as I could. For the team it was very special. A very special day. We made history today. Just a great feeling.  

I feel like finishing in the top ten twice is all you could want on a 250. Like you said, maybe a seventh and eighth would be better. Not many people can do that on a 250 though.  

Yeah. If you are Ryan Villopoto, you can win on a 250. I think it could be possible on a hard-pack track to win on a 250, but today in the sand it was quite a big difference with the 450s. Especially on the long straights. They just haul past you, so I am satisfied with tenth in both races. I would have liked to win MX2. Second in MX2 is still good. Not too bad. Happy. 

I think I saw you throw your goggles four laps from the end of the second race. I was just literally like, “Has he not learnt anything from RedBud?” Was that actually on your mind all day?

My goggles actually worked perfectly the whole day. In the first moto everyone was in front of me. I was getting roosted all the time. I actually finished my film on the roll-off. I had to pull the goggles off. I knew it was like two laps to go or three laps to go, so it was a good time. There was no one really in front of me. I could see a little bit better when I took the goggles off and there were no rocks on the track. No eyes were getting hit.




In the second race, I was behind [Zach] Osborne on the third lap and trying to make a pass on him. He went over a single and just got on the gas. The sand actually went underneath my helmet, underneath my goggles and I was pulling my roll-offs. It was not working, because it was underneath. I had to take my goggles off. I made a decision to come into the Goggle Lane. I lost about ten seconds, because I stalled it there.

We won’t talk about that [laughs].

I think I could have won MX2, because I passed [Thomas] Olsen on the first lap. I passed [Jago] Geerts first lap. I felt like I was going to pass Osborne in the waves. That was the only place that I could pass on the track against the 450s. What more can I say? That was it. 

I was trying to figure out if the rain helped you guys or hurt you. You are all great sand riders, so already you had an advantage. The rain made it more technical, so I guess your skills would shine through more. It also made it more of a lottery though. Do you think it would have favored you more to have the conditions from yesterday or today?

Tough question. How many points did we win by?




Like a gazillion. I don’t know.  

I think if it would have been dry and sunny, not to be cocky but I think we would have done the same. Maybe America or France would have had more luck and been up there with us. I think we still would have won if it was dry. Today we proved in the rain, in the sun or whatever we can still do it. I think yesterday the track was a little better. Today they did not really make it flat overnight, so all the rain just went into the ruts and just made it super soft.

I think my bike got stuck twice in the warm-up this morning. I was thinking, “It’s going to be a terrible day in the rain.” I just tried to put a positive mind to it and have fun. That’s the most important thing – to have fun – and also live in the moment. The day goes by very fast. Now if I look back, I wish I was back on that podium screaming with all the Dutch fans. That goes by like a split second. Very special day.

How has the reaction been from Dutch fans since you were picked? Obviously, there was a lot of debate. Have the people who wanted Roan [van de Moosdijk] been giving you a hard time or has it been quite peaceful?

It’s been quite peaceful. Obviously, a lot of people have their own opinions and I respect that. A lot of people thought that Roan was the better choice, which maybe he was. Who knows? I showed today that I was still a good pick. I think the team manager is very happy with his decision. Nothing against Roan. 




He could have also done great today. A few negative things I have seen on Facebook and Instagram but, to be honest with you, I think I proved everyone wrong today. We proved last year that we should have won, but we had a bit of an unlucky situation. This year we just proved that The Netherlands are the fastest at the moment.

We have talked about you getting a ride forever now. From what I hear, things are looking up. You cannot say too much, but it sounds like you’ll at least be on the start line? 

Definitely. There was no question about not being on the start line. I was always going to be there. I was maybe going to go to America, but that’s kind of fallen away. I will definitely be on the starting line next year. I don’t know what bike or what team.

I’ve heard rumours. Does this mean you are not close to doing a deal?

I’m close, but it’s not confirmed yet at all. I just saw my manager and he said, “I need to talk to you later.” I know that I’m going to go chat to him and find out what’s happened over the weekend as soon as I’m done with this interview. I have not chatted to him. The plan was to wait until after this weekend obviously to get all the pressure… The pressure and the goal was to focus on this weekend. We did that. I think now it’s time to sign my contract and get ready for next year.

Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX