“Cooksey’s Hard Truth” presented by Scott Sports is a weekly editorial written by Chris Cooksey. Chris will be diving in and out of controversial subjects and bringing you his hard truth about the racing and the riders from around the world of Supercross and Motocross.

Every offseason, the same debate between racers, trainers and teams begins to develop over the risk versus reward of offseason racing. While the offseason races can be lucrative, they come with additional risks. Often these races are in countries not accustomed to top level racing. There are usually a few local racers lined up alongside the world’s best supercross racers. These guys would be considered novice in the United States and wouldn’t come close to making the night show at Anaheim. Then there is the language barrier along with unfamiliar and possibly questionable medical care.  I wish the answer was as simple as a yes or no, but there are many factors to consider.

While trying to hunt down Josh Grant at the Barcelona SX, Malcolm Stewart finds a much slower lapped rider in his way.

JGR rider’s Weston Peick and Chad Reed (Reed’s deal is not officially announced) have competed in offseason races this year with dramatically different results. Unfortunately, Peick is living every racer’s worst nightmare: sustaining extensive facial fractures while competing at the Paris Supercross. Weston is stuck in France as his injuries are too severe to travel. When he stabilizes, he will be flown back to the United States to complete his extensive recovery. There is no chance the money he made racing the Paris Supercross will offset his medical bills or his potential 2019 lost earnings—as it is doubtful Weston will heal in time to race in the 2019 Supercross series. Obviously, the purse money and offseason racing experience weren’t worth it for Weston, but this doesn’t necessarily mean offseason races are not beneficial.

Chad Reed has been racing in Australia and New Zealand and has found some of his old magic. It’s doubtful he could have made this kind of gain at the practice track. Often riders need “gate drops” to measure themselves and this gives them an advantage heading into Anaheim. Last year Reed had an offseason race cost him big; prior to the 2018 series, he broke his leg at the Red Bull Straight Rhythm. The injury completely ruined his offseason and left him overweight and unprepared heading into 2018. Throughout the entire 2018 season, Reed struggled to get back to form. Obviously, he knows the dangers of offseason races but is still using them to prepare for 2019.

Offseason races can be huge for guys like Zach Osborne (left) who want to see where they are in a race setting against guys like the 450SX Champ, Jason Anderson (center), before their rookie 450 season begins at A1. Photo by: Motoverte

Justin Brayton has tailored his program around this idea. The last three years Brayton has spent his offseason racing supercross in Australia, and it’s hard to argue with his results as he is having a career resurgence despite being on the wrong side of thirty. Brayton’s extra “gate drops” leave him razor sharp come Anaheim, while other racers are still finding their rhythm. The extra racing can prove beneficial early in the season but can be exhausting near the end of the series. Brayton has admitted the double supercross seasons have him feeling a little run down near the end. Still, the gains and financial benefit justify the schedule for him.

When thinking about what offseason races a rider should or shouldn’t race, there isn’t a cookie cutter answer. Racing motorcycles is extremely competitive and dangerous despite riders having a way of taking life changing risks and making them look routine. Unfortunately, when someone as tough as Weston Peick suffers a catastrophic injury, it reminds everyone what can happen. Athletes don’t concern themselves with fear—because when fear becomes part of the equation, it’s time to retire. They do, however, need to carefully consider their offseason races and balance the risk against the reward when deciding how they spend their offseason.

If you want to donate to Weston Peick’s medical fund go to https://road2recovery.com/

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Feature Photo by: Suzuki