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Friday, May. 24, 2019
Motocross and McDonald brothers go hand in hand
by Randy Pascal

Their vehicles might be different, the racing venues are varied, but the constant, through the years, has been the love of riding for Garson siblings Everett and Elliott McDonald.

Sure, there was a family interest, one that would predispose the pair to at least being introduced to the world of bike riding, in general. But there is also a clear, natural affinity for the pastime, one that has led the brothers to reach a certain degree of success, while anxiously looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead.

“I started dirt-biking at my camp when I was three or four years old,” recalled Everett, now 15 years of age. “We would do logging roads. I first started in the pits when I was 12 or 13. I would kind of dirt-bike around here, doing jumps, doing rut tracks, corners in the sand.”

In the summer of 2017, Everett would take his first crack at motocross racing. Currently 11 years old, Elliott would follow just months later. And while their father, James, was understandably proud to see his boys follow with the family tradition, to some extent, he was also the first who would caution of the respect that is required towards the machinery they were manning.

“He told me to ride to your own abilities and don't try and be like other people,” said Everett. “If they're going fast, just ride to your own speed.” And, of course, there was the natural technical help that could be readily applied as the boys slowly started to learn the craft.

“When I first started riding in the sand, I would be really off-balance,” said Everett. “But he gave me some pointers. For instance, it's easier to ride standing up in the sand and lean further back. I gradually got more and more comfortable until I could finally sit down and ride in the sand.”

Jumping into the Northern Ontario Motocross Series some 18 months ago, the local riders proved to be quick studies in year one, enjoying a breakthrough on several fronts this past summer. Everett captured a pair of Series Championship titles, taking first place in the Junior 250 class, with relative ease, but surprising many onlookers by also winning the MX Open class.

For his part, Elliott would place second in the 65cc 10-11 year old grouping, with both youngsters preparing to tackle the Southern Ontario Series in 2019. It would seem that the lessons learned have been split, somewhat evenly, between the Garson pits conveniently located close to home, as well as the various tracks, across the province, upon which racers will migrate to.

“I would go into the pits and I had to learn to go into a corner, brake sooner, and get on the gas faster in the corner,” said Everett. “Racing is really all about how fast you get into the corners and out of the corners. I had to practice jumps at the tracks. My dad would remind me to learn the track before your race. Walk the track, do some slow laps first.”

Still, there is nothing like the benefits of experienced racing. “I went to the Sault and noticed that people we're getting to the corners faster, so I would learn from them,” said Everett. “I would learn how to pass, to get faster every time I went around the track.”

“You've got to be aware at all times of the other riders around you,” he added. “People will try and hit you, take your position, because it's really intense.” Despite all of the cautionary words from their father, the reality of racing is that there is an element of fearlessness that is required, even if it's coupled with a well-grounded strategic approach to the race itself.

“You've got to have a little bit of crazy in you to go flying into a corner to make that pass,” noted Everett. “And the jumps can be pretty scary.” Those feelings are not lost on the younger brother, even as he looks forward to making the move from the 65cc category of 2018 to racing in the 85cc class next summer.

“At the start of a race, I get butterflies in my belly, because I don't want to get run over,” suggested Elliott. “A good start helps a lot. Let's say you're the first out of the start, there's nobody that you have to go by. When you're in first, you feel pretty confident.”

It's also a confidence that is beginning to build. While he has garnered a given comfort level with cornering, jumps still remain to be conquered. “Body position is key,” explained Elliott. “You don't want to go sideways, or else you will fall. If you have control of the bike in the air, it's not too bad, but I'm not too good at that yet.”

The jumping skills will come. In the meantime, much like his brother, Elliott absorbs all that he can in terms of every aspect of motocross racing. “It's a mistake to look back,” he stated. “If they go on the other side, they can pass you. When you're in first, you make sure you take the inside line, so they can't cut you off.”

While both boys can often be found, out on their bikes, during the summer, with their friends, the reality is that nothing can quite emulate the thrill of racing – or the challenges, apparently. “My dad told me that it was hard work, but I didn't think it was that hard, because you're kind of on a dirt bike, after all,” said Everett.

“But my first race in the Sault, the bumps in the corners were massive. I was so out of breath, so tired at the end, my arms were super heavy. I started training at the gym four times a week. It helped with my cardio, my arm strength, my legs.”

“I could out-ride people because they got tired and I didn't.” And truth be told, riding is really what it's all about for Everett and Elliott McDonald.

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