Typical conversations around tracks in El Paso easily lead one to believe that motocross in West Texas, Southern New Mexico and Chihuahua is a casual involvement. Riders can be heard asking others: What gear do you take that jump in? Sometimes, riders will say about a course: Oh, I had fun. However, when watching the serious riders battling for position in the Supercross events, conversation is about weather conditions, track conditions, obstacles and their configurations, regearing, and above all, thinking and experience. The most frequently heard remarks are about “making mistakes.”
Mistakes and not making them are about two very important components of not only motocross and other sports, but also about life: Experience and knowledge. Everyone is familiar with experience, its various outcomes, and the various remarks that are made about it. But one characteristic about experience, particularly bad experience, is that it often results from a lack of knowledge. As society advances, people’s understanding about the benefits of greater knowledge is spreading more rapidly through and deeply into the population.
ESPN’s coverage of Pastrana’s jump over Long Beach Bay New Year’s Eve offered insight into the complex and sophisticated technology that Pastrana and his team brought to bear, technology that focused not only on providing great entertainment, but on keeping Travis alive and safe. While Nitro Circus offers great entertainment, and many hilarious happenings, underneath everything is calculation, computation, and serious safety gear. Many watch Nitro Circus for the entertainment value; there are many opinions about the relative insanity of Circus stunts. But one thing is very, very clear: Pastrana is pushing the integrated envelope of sport and technology.
Even as this is happening, students are leaving high schools poorly qualified even for the junior colleges that work to promote transfers to 4-year universities. Thus the same people who are motocross riders, some of whom ride for “fun” while harboring dreams of teams and motocross careers, are unprepared for understanding the questions that will determine whether they succeed or fail. Few, for example, know that Pastrana’s Suzuki WRX STI was specially modified to make the jump physically possible. Without this knowledge, the detail questions that explore the basis – the why of the particular modifications – will never be asked. And to step up the game, to make motocross a serious sport in the Borderlands, in geographical la Frontera, these questions need to be asked.