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Rain Check: Jessy Nelson Grabs His First Moto Win

AMA Motocross - Crawfordsville, IN

  • Jessy Nelson, Photo: VurbMoto
  • Jessy Nelson, Photo: VurbMoto
  • Jessy Nelson, Photo: VurbMoto
Erik Shirk /

A moto win at a professional motocross event is a feat that the majority of professional motocross riders will never get to experience. Whether it’s lack of work ethic, unsatisfactory machinery, or just plain bad luck, there are countless things that can work against these racers as they take their shot at a moto victory. However, for some riders, it’s only a matter of time until they experience the sweet taste of success.

During this climb to the top it is extremely difficult to accept small improvements in the right direction, when a rider knows exactly what they are capable of. Because, “When the best is possible, better is not good enough.” Well Jessy Nelson, you proved the best most definitely is possible. And we are extremely stoked that you kept up the hard work and grabbed your first professional moto win last weekend at Ironman MX.

Read on as we sit down with Jessy to talk about his 2014 season, the mental side of motocross, and the difficulties of riding through past injuries.

Congratulations on your first ever moto win in the outdoors and your first podium overall finish! It must feel good to finally get one after leading almost the entire first moto at Thunder Valley, right?

Yeah it felt amazing being out front again. It had been way too long and was well overdue. Those have been my only two good starts all year and I hope to keep the ball rolling into Utah. I’m so happy for my team, family, and myself. The overall would have been awesome but I’m taking baby steps as much as I hate it.

That’s right! As much as it sucks, these things take time. At the beginning of the season though it seemed like you were coming out swinging as you grabbed a 5th overall at Hangtown and a 4th overall at Thunder Valley. However, after that you began to fall into some troubles mid-season. With the season coming to a close next weekend, take us through this season and what exactly went on leading up to your moto win in Indiana.

It’s been a season of ups and downs. More downs than I would have liked, but that’s motocross. Anything can happen. I ran into a lot of trouble with bad starts, getting stuck behind riders, and ending up on the ground. I had lots of crashes also. Just all around bad luck I would say. I thought maybe I need to work even harder in the gym and on the bike and I kind of went backwards. Then I regrouped, took it easy, and started to feel better and better each week. So I’m looking to finish this season as strong as I can.

You say you started to go “backwards.” With the pressure to be in the best fitness possible for racing, do you find it hard to balance between training too hard and not training enough?

Yeah it is hard sometimes. I think I just wasn’t getting enough rest time. Also, making the change to training in Florida was a lot different for me. So it was a hard adjustment on my body just jumping right into it.

I’m sure! Speaking from experience, the southern heat is no joke in the summer time. What made you make the switch from California to Florida? Also, who have you been training with down there?

I’m not sure how it came about. But my team manager Tyler Keefe worked it out to head east and ride with Ken Roczen and AC (Adam Cianciarulo) when Adam got back to riding. So I jumped on it and Aldon Baker let me join in with them. I’m very grateful for that and it’s been a cool experience.

That’s super sick! While were on the topic of training, we heard your mechanic, Eric Gass, talk about the mental side of your training during the live broadcast. He said that during your season you have just been trying to stay positive. How important is it to keep a positive mindset throughout the race season?

It’s huge to stay positive and have a good mindset. Mistakes happen, and bad races are part of the game. It’s hard and I struggle with it sometimes when it seems like the downs will never end. But when it turns around it’s all worth it.

Well it definitely turned around for you last weekend that’s for sure! You must have gained so much confidence from holeshotting and leading every lap of the first moto. Everyone that has ever raced knows what it’s like when you’re sitting on the line and know you can win. It’s an irreplaceable feeling. Do you feel as though this confidence played a part in your second moto holeshot?

I felt pretty confident going in. I made some changes with my bike, and how I went into the race also. I was going for it!

During the live broadcast we watched you make a mistake the second moto, when you fell into one of the track markers. Luckily, you were able to keep the bike running and maintain the lead. We’ve heard riders say that it can be hard to find a flow after mid-moto mistakes and that it sometimes leads to riding tight. Did this happen to you at all during this second moto?

Yeah it most definitely did happen to me. My bike was getting heavy from the mud and I was starting to feel it’s affects on me. Then I lost my flow with a group of mistakes and lappers getting in the way. I ended up crashing twice that moto and finishing 8th, but I feel I learned from it and won’t make that mistake again.

I can’t imagine trying to find a flow at all in those conditions, especially in your situation. For everyone that doesn’t know, you suffered a pretty bad injury when you were younger. Does this injury affect you at all when riding in conditions this gnarly, or have you adapted to it?

Yes, conditions made it tough. Especially with the bike being heavier than usual and mud trying to suck you down. It actually isn’t much different than riding in normal conditions; not having a left thumb. The only thing that bothered me Saturday was not getting to run roll offs because it’s hard to pull without a left thumb.

That’s gnarly that you can still ride, let alone win a national moto. As the nationals come to a close though, what are your plans for next weekend, the off-season, and the future all together?

I’m looking forward to a short break after Utah, then getting back into it for Red Bull Straight Rhythm in October, and maybe Monster Cup. But heading into Utah I’m not changing anything, looking to score some more points, and try to get up on the box again. As of the future, I’m not sure. Just ready to put in some hard work and start winning!

Well, we definitely know what your capable of now that’s for sure! Anyone you’d like to thank?

I’d like to thank Troy Lee Designs, Lucas Oil, Red Bull, Honda, Oakley, Alpinestars, Horizon Hobby, Dunlop, Lightning Audio, Weatherby Firearms, Adidas, Renthal, Specialized, my mechanic Eric Gass, my trainer Brian Lopes, my family, Aldon Baker, Tyler Keefe, also my practice bike mechanic in Florida Anthony Amos.

Thanks for taking the time to do the interview! I appreciate it Jessy!

No worries, thanks man!
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  • Jessy Nelson, Photo: VurbMoto
  • Jessy Nelson, Photo: VurbMoto
  • Jessy Nelson, Photo: VurbMoto

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