With the ’05 Nationals quickly becoming a fond memory, and the off-season beginning to pick up speed with the high dollar races just around the corner. We decided to see what former National Champion turned full-time Supercross racer Mike LaRocco has been up to during his summer off.
As it turns out, after a summer of as Mike says, “Just playing around, The Rock is back at it training, and testing, out in sunny SoCal in preparation for the up-coming U.S. Open in Las Vegas; a race that he has won in the past. So what does LaRocco think of his chances at the lucrative event, as well as the ’06 Supercross season? Read on and find out…
How has everything been going for you since you have been away from the races?
It’s been good. I’m just kind of living; doing things different than the grind during the racing season. So it’s been good.
What did you do when you weren’t racing the Nationals this year?
Not really anything to speak of. I just kind of played around. I went back to Michigan. I have some acres there that I can ride, and Ryder can ride. We just kind of messed around really. No big plans, nothing too exciting. So it was kind of nice.
Do you enjoy just doing Supercross and having the entire summer off?
Yes, actually I like it a lot. It’s nice to still have something to work for, but once you’ve worked hard at it for a few months—or six months, or what ever it is—it’s nice to have a break. It recharges my batteries and allows me to just be normal. So yeah it’s good.
What made you decided to not do Red Bud this year, was it because you wouldn’t have been prepared for it?
Yeah, pretty much. I kind of decided that racing unprepared isn’t really any fun. To me it was embarrassing last year. Making the mistakes on the track, and trying to do stuff when I just wasn’t really in the mode of doing it. It just wasn’t any fun. I figured this year, I wasn’t riding, and I hadn’t really even ridden at all, because I hurt my shoulder at the last… well when I crashed out at the Houston Supercross. So I hadn’t ridden at all and I just thought it would be silly for me to go try and race.
This Supercross season you had some really good rides mixed in with some horrible luck. How do you feel about your ’05 season?
It was nowhere near what I wanted it to be. Those guys (Ricky Carmichael, James Stewart, Kevin Windham and Chad Reed) stepped up the bar this year. I kind of felt stuck back there: in fourth, or fifth, or whatever. I had some decent results, but just nothing that I was really hoping for.
What was probably the race that stood out the most for you this past season?
Actually, I was pretty monotone I guess. That is what I felt like this last season. Actually I spent most of the season searching, trying to pick up my speed, and some comfort, and all that stuff. So I didn’t really… I was always trying stuff, and it just felt like a long season. I did get five podiums, but none of them I was ever really in the race. As far as I’m concerned, I never really had a highlight.
Are you planning on racing the U.S. Open?
Yes, I am.
Do you feel like you have found that extra speed that you said you were missing last year?
I feel pretty comfortable right now. But without riding with the guys that make me feel uncomfortable it is hard to tell.
Do you enjoy the U.S. Open race?
Yeah, I like the race. It’s different. It’s a little narrower than other Supercrosses, and the track isn’t necessarily the best. But it’s kind of a cool event. For me it’s even better because I’m at the point where I am just getting rolling again, and seeing what I need to do. So for me it is kind of a marker, and I look forward to learning something; that way I have a path to take for Anaheim in January.
What made you decide to do Supercross only contracts?
Well, Supercross, at the time I made the decision, just seemed a little more fun to me. Outdoors got to the pointt that the pace was high enough to where you pretty much had to be willing to hang it out. It’s all speed into the corners, and it’s just pretty much hanging it out the whole time you’re on the bike. In Supercross—I looked at it—you can critique it and study it, and do set-up. There are a lot more variables that you can change, as opposed to all out hanging it out like the Nationals. So I thought, maybe I was going to put all of my effort into one of the series, and Supercross was the one that I felt I could work the best with. And at the time it was more fun for me.
How much longer do you plan on racing for?
I think next year is going to be my last year. I’m not 100 percent sure of that, but that is kind of what I’m leaning towards.
We hear that you have another kid on the way?
Yeah, it’s going to be a boy, and we are stoked. It’s getting close. It’s almost to the point now where I am a little afraid to be traveling, because she is due in November. And the U.S. Open is getting close. She is kind of on limited activity already. We are looking forward to it.
Is he going to be another rider?
Yeah, I’ll let him ride. But racing, that’s another thing. Ryder and I had a lot of fun this summer just riding, so if that’s all it leads to that is fine with me.