By John Basher
My taste in clothing is atypical of other 32-year-olds,
though it’s not like I set out to be different. You won’t find
me on the cover of a fashion magazine or confuse me for a
groupie of some grunge band. If I had to classify my garb, it
would be upscale surfer. In a broader scope, I’m a SoCal
resident. The weather is the primary factor for my fashion.
A suit is too hot and stuffy when it’s 80 degrees for nine
months out of the year.
I suppose I could dress like a business person, but I’d stick
out like a sore thumb at the track. My line of work merely
requires shorts, T-shirt and flip-flops. The last time I wore
a collared shirt to the office my coworkers asked me how
my job interview went. Then they laughed incessantly at my
expense. Suffice it to say that I rarely deviate from my normal
attire. I’m sure that a member of high society would classify
me as a sloppy dolt.
Adding to the fashion woes, my seasoned Toyota Tundra,
with faded paint and a bent bumper, will never be featured in
Car and Driver magazine. Lacking tailored haberdashery or a
highfalutin vehicle, I’m the very definition of a blue-collar
worker. Of course, more money would move me up in the
social register, but I’m not ashamed of my status in life. In
fact, I’m very proud.
As with most people, I enjoy observing my fellow species.
Those in my age bracket particularly pique my interest. I don’t
necessarily compare myself to them in terms of social status
or fiscal fortitude. I’m happy as a clam to see other people
succeed in life, but I prefer to measure people by their inner
worth more than the breadth of their stock portfolio.
GARISH TRUMPS BORING.
RESISTANCE COMES WITH THE
TERRITORY WHEN YOU’RE AT THE
FOREFRONT OF NEW DESIGN. JUST
ASK LADY GAGA.
Where my clothes do stand out and set me apart is at a
motocross track. My tastes border on ostentatious. I like to
wear bright colors. The other MXA test riders joke that my
color choices look like a unicorn threw up in my gear bag.
Others rib me about what Rorschach test outfit I’ll be
wearing to the race that weekend. I take it all in stride,
because I believe that I have impeccable style. Garish trumps
boring. Resistance comes with the territory when you’re at
the forefront of new design. Just ask Lady Gaga.
A psychiatrist could diagnose me just from my quirks at
the racetrack. Motocross is the microscope into my life,
so naturally it’s where my habits are most noticeable. For
starters, I absolutely abhor wearing gear that doesn’t match.
My pants, jersey, goggles and boots must match. Here’s the
rub. My gloves can be any color under the sun. The reasoning? A great pair of gloves are the most important part of
any rider’s clothing. It’s easy to deal with pants that are too
loose, a tight jersey, snug boots or poorly ventilated helmet.
However, my day is ruined when a blister forms from wearing
shoddy gloves. I make no compromises, either. I wear new
gear at regular intervals, but I have worn the same pair of
gloves for two years. I ignore the holes in the thumbs and
frayed seams because my cherished gloves have finally broken
in to the point of feeling like peccary leather around my paws.
It doesn’t matter that my gloves don’t match the rest of my
gear, because my hands are comfortable.
If you read MXA every month, then you might have noticed
that I tend to go overboard when I build project bikes. My
most recent conquest, an all-black Yamaha YZ125, was
featured in the June 2014 issue of MXA. I poured my heart
and soul into that steed, going so far as pulling the engine
out of the frame so my wife could begrudgingly shoot a photo
of me kissing the powerplant. That night I had wonderful
dreams of how my darling YZ125 would turn out…while I
slept on the couch.
Hours were spent brainstorming, and I took an active
approach at building my two-stroke. Although I didn’t get all of
the parts off my wish list—titanium bolts, aluminum gas tank,
factory suspension—my dream became a reality. It wasn’t
without sacrifices. Phone calls were cut short, attention to
other projects wavered, and quality time with my sweet wife
was put on hold. It was all in the name of my YZ125. When
the bike was finally finished I felt instant gratification. How so?
I drove straight to the track. To see fellow racers gawk at
my pristine weapon of mass-moto destruction was priceless.
Sadly, the joy wore off. At the end of the day I was left with
a motorcycle that didn’t look brand new anymore. Instead, it
was camouflaged in a coat of mud, just like every other bike
at the track.
My quirkiness used to be really bad, but I’ve learned
restraint in the past year (though, admittedly, I went
overboard on the YZ125 bike build). I’ll chalk the improvement
of my condition up to a shift in priorities. At one time I was
appalled to show up at the track with a dirty bike. I’ve since
softened in my ways. I attribute my newfound relaxed
persona to my son, Brayden. Before he was born I toiled
away in the garage for hours, going over my race bike with a
fine-tooth comb. It got so bad that at one point I used cotton
swabs to meticulously remove the grime in every nook and
cranny. Since Brayden joined the Basher family, it has been
more rewarding to chase him around the house than swoon
over my bike. Besides that, it isn’t like my lap times improve
whether my ride is clean or dirty. A clean bike doesn’t make
a happy man, but a satisfied heart sure does. How funny it is
that a little boy who loves to roll around in the dirt and
get dirty cured me of the desire to have the cleanest bike
in the pits.