So you’ve probably seen that Zach Osborne raced a GNCC round over the weekend, but as a professional supercross and motocross racer, why was he competing in an off-road event, and should he have been doing it?
The current situation we’re in has placed the upcoming Pro Motocross series in doubt, with promoters pushing back the start date to mid-August, and despite that, the championship is still not a certainty in 2020.
Since Supercross wrapped up in mid-June, and up until at the beginning of the month, riders were preparing for the outdoor series to commence this weekend, but now that’s out of the picture, they’ve got another month or more of grinding out 30 minute motos before the season starts.
How riders manage this period will play a pivotal role in how their campaigns turn out, as it’s easy to burn out or even lose motivation when there’s so much uncertainty around the outdoors getting underway.
Every rider is taking their own approach, and as Zach Osborne explained to Racer X, he’s putting his hand up to race anywhere there’s an opportunity.
“Obviously the times are unique and things are strange," said Osborne. "We don’t really know the future as far as what’s going to happen with outdoors and everything - we’re planning on going racing in the middle of August, but we’ll see.
"We don’t know - I just kind of offered my services to do whatever, whether it be GNCC, Candian Nationals - whatever [it is], I want to go racing - I’m not going to sit here in Florida and grind until we go or we don’t go [outdoor racing].
"So I’m happy to go and race and have some fun, and bring some recognition to the brand. I think it’s good for everyone involved, and I’m just looking forward to going racing again.”
Now his decision to race GNCC has come with many questions, mainly surrounding if it will impact his outdoor preparations, and also the fact that he might be putting himself at extra risk of suffering an injury.
Osborne is no stranger to off-road racing - he’s represented the USA on two occasions at the International Six Days Enduro, and he’s scored three podiums in GNCC during 2013.
Does that exempt from an extra risk? Absolutely not, but what we have to remember is these guys are training day in day out, where they continue to push the limits despite being in practice conditions.
So they’re still exposed to a significant amount risk, and while I understand racing adds another element of risk, I think the benefits far outweigh the negatives when it comes to Osborne’s situation.
As I said before, many riders are going to experience burn out and a lack of motivation during this time, and you would think additional racing would only promote this, but Osborne doesn’t see it that way.
“I mean, I’m going to get some rest time - it’s no different if I raced on a Saturday or went a did a GNCC on a Sunday, I don’t think there’s a tonne of difference. My stress level - you have to look at the whole picture - you’ve got mental stress, physical stress, your body and everything that’s going on.
"My mental stress is going to be pretty low since there’s zero pressure - I have nothing to prove or show, so that kind of takes some load off. The physical stress, I believe my heart rate will be a little bit lower than normal, so it’s going to be that same as racing on a Saturday in Pro Motocross in my opinion.”
Anytime you step on a dirt bike comes an element of risk, but for a professional rider, there also comes the opportunity to remain sharp and further refine their craft.
In fact, remaining sharp is probably the biggest advantage for a rider, and that’s an advantage Osborne is going to get by adding extra races into his schedule as the outdoors series awaits a confirmed start date.
To further strengthen his case, many of his rivals are stuck in the grind with no certain goal - the series keeps changing its start date, so they’re putting in all this training without any certain reward, and even though there’s no pressure for Osborne in these GNCC races, it still offers the element of reward for his hard work during the week.
There are the advantages for a rider themself in going out and doing additional races, and then there are the commercial advantages.
As Obsorne says in the podcast with Racer X, it’s a chance for him to represent his team and sponsors, giving them exposure during a time where they otherwise wouldn’t benefit from it.
“I mean, I think the intensity is a little bit less, but at the same time, I think anytime you can go out learn and spend three hours on your motorcycles, that’s a massive gain, especially in a race situation.
"Yeah okay, it’s not a prepped tracked - it’s a marked course in a sense, but you know what I mean, it’s not your closed-circuit racing like we normally do. I just feel like it’s a good experience. I’m at the point where I just enjoy going racing - I enjoyed that Salt Lake swing with two races a week a lot - that was me down to the ground.
"I think we ride a lot during the week and there’s a lot that goes into that nice edge, you know, razor-sharp focus that you see on the weekends, but at the same time, it’s always nice just to go racing - that’s what we train for anyway. This is a bit of a different race, but at the same time, it’s beneficial. Like I said, it’s good for my brand, Husky and Rockstar as well.”
So it’s clear why Osborne is racing GNCC - he wants to further improve his craft, he wants to represent and promote his sponsors, and most of all, he just loves racing, which is ultimately the biggest reward for all the grinding he does during the week.
What are your thoughts? Should Pro Motocross riders be doing additional races like GNCC?