I am writing to try to hopefully clear up some of the questions and speculation regarding the Motocross des Nations. I have learned that the best way to do this is by writing an open letter to the fans.
At the beginning of the Outdoor National Series there was talk of the US sending a Dream Team to represent our country at the Motocross des Nations. The team is normally selected by inviting the best riders in the 250 and 125 classes. Last year the format was a little strange because there was no 125 class but the promoters decided to return to the original format for 2004. I was fortunate to be on a very short list of riders to be selected with Kevin Windham and James Stewart. Kevin is coming off of a hard fought second over all in the SX season to Chad Reed on top of a great summer last year with a solid second over all in the outdoor national series. Bubba is totally dominating his class and is a threat to anyone on any track.
The selection and the participation of Team USA for the Motocross des Nations has always been a tough proposition for everyone and it isn¿t getting any easier. The race is held on the other side of the world at a very difficult time for riders based on the AMA circuit, especially since everyone is just coming off of a 28-race season that is almost twice as long as the season is in Europe. Obviously I wasn¿t able to compete in the SX season this year but the other selected riders will have just completed a very long season.
I have always been proud to step up and ride for my country when asked. In fact, I believe six years in a row matches the record for Team USA appearances, if we had actually gone all six times. But I have raced four times ¿ in England, Brazil, France and Belgium ¿ and been fortunate enough to be on one winning team. (We didn¿t go in 2001 after the terrorist attacks, and the 2002 race in California was canceled at the last minute.
This year, the decision of whether to go or not has been made particularly difficult for me. As many of you know, I am switching teams for 2005, going from the CRF450R Honda factory bike I have raced all summer long, to a Suzuki RM250, so I will be in sort of a limbo in September: With the last national being held at Glen Helen on September 12 and the MXDN just three weeks later, there is little time to make the transition from one brand to the other, to do adequate testing, and then to have the bike shipped from California across the ocean to Holland in time for the race. This would actually give me less than 2 weeks on a bike that I have never ridden.
My success in Motocross is based upon a very solid training and testing schedule. I do not feel like I would be at my best with less than three weeks of testing with my new team. I have committed 100% of my focus and dedication to team Honda in our quest for this outdoor National Championship and don¿t feel that it would be fair to anyone to give less than my all.
My future team manager Roger DeCoster, who is probably the biggest fan of the MXDN, as well as the Team USA manager, believes that it would be virtually impossible for me to be ready for the race on a Suzuki. Besides, I¿m not sure when I will even be released from my current Honda contract. For what it¿s worth, I have never even ridden a Suzuki. When I signed my contract in the spring, I was injured.
What it all comes to is this: I feel that I need to make a decision now before the final selection is made and the invitations are prepared so that other people¿fans, riders and supporters¿will know that Team USA is sending the best and most prepared team possible. But looking down the road two months, I¿m not sure where I¿m even going to be as far as my transition from one team to another goes. So before everyone commits to the event and spends a bunch of money on plane tickets, vacations, team personnel or whatever, only to ffind out that I can¿t pull it off, well, I just think it¿s better to say now that I will not be able to compete in the race this time around and will open my spot on the team to a better prepared rider.
I hope that in the future that I will be able to race for Team USA again, and that I will be joined by the very best American riders out there. I know that the Motocross des Nations hold a special place in the hearts of many fans, including my own, and I am optimistic that a team that represents American motocross at its finest will come together very soon. Thanks for your continued support as I finish this outdoor season and as I begin my career at Suzuki and prepare to regain my Supercross title.