At every race there are the riders who all the fans want to see, with factory bikes and the latest, coolest gear. But for every factory ride out there, there is a whole slew racers just that are fighting just to get to each event. If they are lucky, they might even score a few points along the way. However, for Ben Evans, luck has nothing to do with it. The young Idaho native is currently in his rookie season as a professional, and after enjoying some decent finishes in his first Supercross season on the West Coast, Ben has been working hard to make a name for himself outdoors. Thispast weekend at Red Bud, Evans matched his season best 11th overall, while taking home his first Top Privateer Award in the 250 Class. We spent a few minutes with Ben on a practice day before the racing went down to find out how the number 350's outdoor season is going so far.
What does your outdoor program look like? Who is helping you get to the races?
For outdoors I just gathered a lot of my same sponsors that I had earlier in the year for Supercross. People like Mike Moodie, Jack Struthers from Carl's Cycles Sales, and a lot of local guys who have been giving me a grand here and a grand there. Fly has also really been helping me out. It's all of those guys who made it possible for me to come out to the Nationals this year. Wonder Warthog has been helping me out a bunch, taking my bikes to the races, along with Alan Brown doing my motors, and MB1 taking care of my suspension so I feel like I have a great bike; it's the best bike I have ever had. Even though it's a privateer bike, it's pretty legit, even though it's not a factory bike by any means. But, it's getting me up there into the top fifteen. I just need a little more speed and hopefully it will land me a ride for next year.
Talk about your finishes this year. You have yet to finish outside of the top 20, correct?
I think at Freestone I finished 19th, but I wasn't feeling too great there. I threw up after practice; I think I ate something funny. No excuses though, that's part of racing, you have your good and your bad days. I have been really consistent, which I think has been my strongest trait this year. My best was an 11th, a couple of 12th overalls, and a few around 14th or 16th. It's just been really good.
What does it mean to you knowing that you are running right up there with a lot of riders who are salaried and have much more support than you do?
It feels good. I have to work extra hard just to get to the races. It's sweet being out there knowing that I am beating half the guys with factory rides or factory support. I think there are about 20 or 25 guys out there who are at least on a team of some kind, when I am beating half of them or even more than that, it definitely feels good.
So where are you based this summer?
I am living in California now. I've lived in Idaho my whole life and these last couple weeks have really been the first that I have spent on my own; my family is not out here anymore. My brother was out here for a while, and that was just awesome. But, for example, today I am just out here at the track by myself. It's good though because I have made a lot of friends so I know at least a few of the guys out there.
Are you able to train at all?
During the week I have just been doing as much riding as I can. Sometimes I try to fit in some road bike rides, but really I just try to recover and feel good for the Nationals. I think after the first couple races I was over training and I was feeling a bit tired. I have heard a lot of guys, like Jake Weimer, saying they took the whole two-week break off and came back feeling good at Colorado. I didn't go to the gym or do much during that break and at Thunder Valley I felt really good even at the high elevation. The oxygen is just so low at that high elevation, but I felt strong at the end of the motos. There is a balance in motocross between putting in your good workouts and recovery time. Really I have just been having fun working on speed and corners during the week trying to find some stuff that I'm missing. There is time to do motos, but for me right now I just need to get faster, that's my main goal.
So right now you are focusing on technique.
Yeah, during the off-season is when I really hit it hard. I have done some crazy things like triathlons and that is where you really gain fitness. You are not going to gain fitness over a week long break. All you are going to do is just tear yourself down. I've had an awesome coach, Joe DeGano, and he's taught me a lot. Really I think recovery is the best thing you can do during the breaks.
So have any teams taken notice of your strong finishes yet? Are you talking with anyone?
Nothing definite yet. I might have a few tryouts with a couple of teams. But there has been a little bit of interest, for sure. I think teams want to see a little more speed from me. I feel that I have the conditioning and I have been getting decent starts during the last few races, and that's good. I just need to work on my sprint pace and stay up there at the beginning of the moto.
Was that a difficult thing to get accustomed to? Now you need to go out in practice and almost immediately lay down some fast lap times.
Yeah, that has been a struggle for me; going out and laying down a super fast lap time on the third lap. On the first lap we are rolling the jumps because they have that red-cross flag out, then you hit all the jumps the next lap, and then you've got to be ready to go. As a rookie I don't know the tracks yet so I have to take that extra time to be mentally prepared by walking it and just doing everything I can before I get on the track to learn it. I don't want to be out there going, "What's this jump again? Does it turn left down here or turn right (laughs)." So it's important for me to come out and know the track as best I can.