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Schoolboy Heroes

Fri, 04 Mar 2011

A wet and grey day in Calais in 1992 wouldn’t be the obvious situation for a life changing experience, but for a 11 year old lad on a boring booze cruise from Dover this is exactly what happened.

Pockets bulging with funny money I headed to the Tabac for the obligatory bangers, dirty playing cards and some sweets.  Then it happened, I stood in front of the magazine rack and reached up, as if drawn by an external force.  At the time I wasn’t tall enough for Playboy or L’ Escort so settled for a copy of Moto Verte, the French motocross mag.  Life would never be the same again.

Inside there was a double page spread, with a fresh faced Jeremy McGrath resting a leg over his #15 Honda CR125.  Sporting a pair of fluro MX trousers with a, now retro, bright white surname emblazoned jersey, and casting an eye over a seriously vast motocross park.  I stared at this Sinisalo advert all the way home, partly because all the articles were in foreign, but also because I was transfixed.  What and how do I become a motocross champion?

Once in my bedroom I tore the advert out and blue-tacked it to the wall and hatched a plan.  Over the next 12 months I washed every car in the neighbourhood and cut more grass than Old Trafford's groundsman.  During school I used the back of text books to design dream supercross tracks, and gazed out of classroom windows for hours imagining getting the holeshot by the oak tree next to the football pitches.

Now 12 and half years old and 5 and half feet tall, I was ready.  Not quite for the  AMA series in the USA, but ready to buy a bike.  This is where it all went horribly wrong.  Instead of following in Jeremy’s footsteps and working my way up through the ranks I aimed a little too high and bought a 1988 Kawasaki KX250.  Not the best first bike, especially as everything ridden until now was either semi or full auto.

Unflustered by the constant crashing and calling in bigger boys for kick starting duties, I was convinced that one day I would be block passing ‘Showtime’ McGrath into a giant berm at Anaheim for the top step of the podium.

This obviously never happened, in reality anyway, but JMC was my two wheeled hero and was responsible for accelerating my bike interest into a full blown addiction.

Who was your two wheeled hero?

For all you Metal Mulisha, freestyle guys out there, it all started with McGrath and the Nac Nac.

By Ross Sharp

See also: Old boys up front and where are the new 600 Gixers?, Old boys up front and where are the new 600 Gixers?, Flaming World Superbike Crash at 130mph [Video].