It’s all about getting off to a fast start for Nathan Bles.
The 21-year-old Gopher Dunes Racing Troy Lee Designs Honda Canada pro motocross racer had good results in the first four rounds of the 2013 Monster Energy Canadian Motocross Nationals when he got good starts.
“The Series has been going well,” said Bles at Gopher Dunes Monday afternoon, the final day of practice on the track before it shut down to prepare for this weekend’s July 13-14 Round 5 races.
“The series has been going well. Ups and downs, but mostly ups. My results have been fair – good – but there’s always room for improvement.”
Bles could point to one ‘really bad’ moto, and judged the other three ‘great.’
“Can’t complain,” he smiled.
“Kamloops was rough – second round – my first moto, first-turn crash. But I came back to 17th from dead last, so made some points. It was salvage time.”
Flying in-and-out of race venues, from Nanaimo and Kamloops to Calgary and Edmonton, was enjoyable, he said.
“It’s been cool, not having to worry about traveling. Do my race, fly home, and when I’m at home eat what I need to eat, be on my training program, then fly back again.
“The team bikes have been great, my mechanic – Justin – awesome.”
Bles and GDR TDL Honda teammate Blake Savage are both racing in the MX2 division.
“We have a good, tight bond,” said Bles. “Everyone talks and communicates really well – the whole team. Being friends, nothing’s too serious. There’s jokes and laughter. I think that makes the racing more fun as well.”
He learned a lot in the first half of the nine-round series, and is looking forward to even better results as the series moves to Gopher Dunes on July 14 (Round 5) and then moves east, concluding back in Ontario at Walton.
“Every time you race pro nationals you learn something new, and the more I’m doing, the better I’m getting mentally. Being in that atmosphere with all the fans, being in there for 30 minutes racing as hard as you can…”
After a three-week break, he feels good both physically and mentally.
“Having a great team behind my back is definitely a good advantage.”
But his success in the final five rounds, he admits, all comes down to starts.
“You’ve got to get your aggression level up real quick. You have to be attentive, from when the board goes sideways till you get to that first turn. You have to be mean.
“My reaction time is great… but I slack with being aggressive enough. Giving up too early. Too timid. I need to get that anger and just ‘go.’”
Training at Gopher Dunes, they worked on starts with that in mind.
“I try to make sure my intensity’s high and try to do the same thing as race day. Starts were my weakness – if I get my starts down, it makes it easier on myself. It’s easier if you don’t have to pass so many riders, you can focus on your lines and your own race. Yes, I do believe my results will be better with better starts.
“I feel like I have the speed to be in the Top 10 and if I get a start, I could be in the Top 5.”
Competing with and against his teammate, Savage, has worked out well so far, he said.
“Actually we get along pretty good, you’d be surprised. We both have our goals to go out and do the best we can. Both of us give each other the most respect possible, racing. Obviously we don’t go out there to take a teammate out – if one has the line, we go with the flow. Racing’s been good.”
His best moto was in the first round in Nanaimo, a fifth.
“A good start,” he laughed. “My only good start and I got fifth, so… That tells you I can be there.”
Bles, 21, grew up in Bayfield, Ont., near Goderich, but moved to London for the summer.
Bles started riding motocross bikes when he was three, and racing when he was 10.
“Been pro for three years,” said Bles, recalling his first amateur CMRC races at Gopher Dunes a decade ago.
“I’ve known Gopher Dunes and Frank (Schuster) since I was 10 years old. That’s… 11 years riding here. That’s incredible when you think about it like that.”
That familiarity, he said, might give him an advantage Sunday against Western Canadians who aren’t sand riders.
“Oh yeah, big advantage. It’s a massive advantage just because I’m able to be on the track, and get used to the texture of the sand. You can ride on sand tracks, but it’s nowhere near the same as this. I call it the Endless Sand Pit. Because it never ends. It just gets deeper and deeper.
“Once you learn the technique of sand riding, you get pretty good. It makes for less effort. A lot of people try to fight the sand – and you can’t. You have ride with the sand, and I think with me riding here for 11 years now will be beneficial when it comes to this weekend’s race. Having that know-how.”