Taddy Blazusiak is back in hard enduro not even a year after retiring. Turns out he missed racing too much. Part of that might have been fuelled by his friendship and partnership with fellow hard enduro racer Jonny Walker. They’ve got to know each other a lot this last year, both living in Spain and training together. So we got them to sit down together and pick over each other’s lives…
Taddy: Okay, Jonny, your thoughts on Graham Jarvis in 30-seconds. Go!
Jonny: He’s an animal! I respect him so much for doing what he’s doing at his age. And he’s never lacking in skills. Everywhere he goes he’s good, no matter what track you go to he’ll be good and if he has a shit day he’s going to be third at the worst! His bike is not going to break or anything like that, he’s always be there or thereabouts.
Taddy: I agree, he’s an amazing guy. And the way he’s improved his speed, and his bike set-up, everything, from a couple of years ago – that’s impressive. When I beat him at Erzberg I was going so much faster that in all the technical stuff I didn’t have to go fast because I was gaining so much time everywhere else, he had no chance. But he’s improved over the years, and not being the youngest it’s not so easy to learn new tricks. So yes, he’s an animal. But if you would meet the guy off the track you’d never say he could go fast on a motorcycle or do anything really! But he puts the helmet on and goes into gear and no one knows how.
Jonny: I remember about five years ago I thought I’d have him sorted inside of about two years.
Taddy: And now you think he has another ten!?
Jonny: No, but he’s got another two!
Taddy: You know he’s just going to go and go and go, he’ll not stop.
Jonny: Yeah, but that’s because he’s making good money. It’s money that’s keeping him going, he loves the money! But no, fair play, he loves riding.
Taddy: Because of the way he is – he’s a nice guy – he’s number one. The Man.
INDOOR OR OUTDOOR?
Jonny: I like to do them both, I enjoy the indoor and the outdoor and I enjoy it because I need the variation, I like to get onto the four-stroke and train with that. If I was doing just outdoors all the time I’d get bored, if I was doing just indoors I’d get bored, I don’t know how you did it (just indoors) for five years, that would be so f*&@%g boring!
Taddy: Look, I was the right guy at the right time. The money helped to keep my focus, but yes it’s hard to keep doing the same thing. But indoor is so intense and if you don’t do your motos for a week you are already falling back. Outdoor is different, you can always cross-train and get away with it. Indoors, if you don’t do your motos and don’t do the intensity it all goes out the window.
Jonny: But five years, you must have got bored?
Taddy: Yeah, in the end I tired of it big time. I could have lasted longer, maybe if I had committed to just the one side of the world, that would have helped. But no regrets, I was there at the right time and the money was amazing! But racing America through the summer and then going back to Europe and starting again just two weeks later, then finishing there in March and flying back to the States to start again in April, there was no time to stop, it was like a matter of pounding out motos non-stop. But that’s how you get the focus, the intensity.
Jonny: Yeah, it’s hard to do both indoor and outdoor because they’re totally different styles of riding.
You’ve got your indoor races which are like, minute sprints where you ride all-out, then outdoors you ride lazy on a bike as you try and save as much energy as you can.
ON BEING PROFESSIONAL RACERS…
Jonny: Nobody understands. They think you go racing, do a bit of training during the week, then lounge around. But it’s hard work. I guess I used to think the same, I couldn’t wait to be professional, do a bit of riding here and there, then f*&@ around. But it’s not like that, and this last year it’s been a nightmare, and it puts a strain on my relationship with my girlfriend and with my family. You explain it to them but they don’t – can’t – understand. My mum says, ‘just do this, don’t worry about it!’ It’s hard for my girlfriend, too, I come home and she’s like ‘what’s wrong?’ And you’re pissed off, because what? Your mechanic has put the wrong spindle in the bike for the last two months and your bike’s been riding like shit! So yeah, it’s hard on both of us. But my girlfriend loves it, and she likes coming to the track with us andbeing a part of it. And telling me what I’m doing wrong, she loves that.
Taddy: Yeah, I noticed, she loves that part (laughs).
Jonny: She’s like, ‘you’re going so slow over this log’ and I’m like, ‘I’m not!’ Then I go faster and she says, ‘I told you!’ And then she’ll do pit board at the enduros. She loves to pit board me and tell me what I’m doing wrong. It’s a good thing, eh? What about your girlfriend?
Taddy: Yeah, it’s hard to find the right person. But we’ve been together seven years and she’s been a big part of what I’ve been doing over those seven years. To have her on my side is amazing, she’s put in a lot of work and sacrificed quite a bit to be here with me. And it’s been all about me, which is not easy for a relationship. And I’m hard on myself, which makes it tougher for her. You see, for me it’s really hard to disconnect, that’s my worse trait, that’s why I got so tired of racing – it’s a good and a bad thing. You win, but you can’t disconnect. I do a lot of stuff like jet skiing and shifter karts to relax, but everything is moto – race related in my life. I’d only go on short vacations with my girlfriend. I’d do my last hard workout on the Thursday, fly out Friday and be back for Monday, back to work. But we’re all different; you have to find your own way. When I retired I did some catching up on the fun stuff, but to be honest I still enjoyed the riding. Once a racer, always a racer. It’s something that makes us special and its something that makes us weird at some point!
Jonny: Yeah, I get that. I’ve just been riding non-stop. It’s good to have a break and chill out, but I haven’t really done it this last year.My girlfriend likes holidays, she wants to go on holiday, but I said we’ll go on holiday when we’re winning – and we’re not totally winning yet!
When things are sorted and I’m back racing well, yes, we’ll go on holiday – but not until then!
Taddy: You know, there is no guidebook for how to go through your career. Maybe you would never do what I did, I would maybe never have been who I was if I trained like you. You have to know what you’re doing and make your own decisions. This is racing, it’s so individual, some people train more and some people can stick to their own routine for years, you can’t really say what’s good and what’s bad. It’s such a difficult life you know; when you’re a pro racer you have to find a way that makes sense for you, but always it’s hard work.
ON WORKING TOGETHER…
Jonny: It’s helped to train together. I don’t think you’ve ever trained with anyone before, so no one has known what you’re doing, everyone has been trying to catch you. But by riding together I feel we can bring the sport on some more, because its two heads.
Taddy: Yeah, it’s massive, you can improve so much faster if you ride with someone, and it just makes you ride harder, for sure there are benefits. Back in December 2016 when I was going to retire I didn’t think I’d ride as much as I have this past year, and definitely I wouldn’t have ridden so much if you hadn’t been hanging around. I took two months off from riding and since then I’ve been riding constantly. It wasn’t my plan to do it that way but it’s cool that riding with you has brought the fun back into riding for me, that’s thebiggest thing for me. When I was racing before I wanted to do things on my own but to be honest I think if you do it with an equally good rider you can both benefit.
Jonny: That’s right, even though we’re very different. Following you I can see you’re a lot more aggressive than me. I try and pull a gear more than you, while you’re way more aggressive. I try and ride chilled, maybe I don’t actually try, I just ride chilled naturally, that’s my thing. But we still do the same lap times. But if I try to ride like you, I can’t!
Taddy: We’re different styles for sure, and we ride different lines, too. If we’re riding motocross we’re hitting different lines, but like you say, at the end of the day the difference is very little. You say you ride chilled, but if I push you I can see you’re riding on the limit, but you still look smooth even then.
Jonny: Yeah, I’ve heard that before. I can be riding on the limit and the team manager will think I’m riding lazy!
Taddy: Maybe it’s a good thing because you’re not using up so much energy, right? If I was critical I’d say for indoors you should bring some more intensity into it, but you can’t really change your style. If you do you can mess it up and you don’t want that.
Jonny: No, but I’m still learning from you.
Taddy: Yeah, but I’m not a coach, it’s just like we’re two pro riders riding together. I think we’ve been pretty much been doing what the supercross boys are doing in America. We’re not on the same programme when it comes to physical training but we’re riding together helping each other, and because the intensity is there when we ride together we always push ourselves. And we’ve all had those days where we don’t really feel like riding and if you were on your own you’d do a lazy moto and go like ‘yeah, it’s done’ but then when we’re together if I’m having a good day and pushing, after 20 minutes you’re into it too. And the same for me.
Jonny: Do you like trials, Taddy?
Taddy: I wouldn’t say ‘like’, but it got me to where I am. Trials is just not who I am. I was into trials because my dad was into it, my brother was into it and this is what we used to look like at the weekends. But for sure I wasn’t a born trials rider and everybody knew that from day one. Too many sparks coming off! But if it weren’t for trails I wouldn’t be a successful indoor and hard enduro rider. Maybe I would have found another way to get into it but trials is an amazing background and you learn so much about bike control and clutch control and with my style that’s so important, I guess that’s why I’m still on one piece today, I have all those skills.
Jonny: I did trials too, but I always wanted to be a motocross rider, all my friends at home did motocross. So I bought a motocross bike and then literally hated trials from then on! I still did it but I was bored of it and then I just called it. My plan was to go motocross but I got kind of sidetracked. I did like a year of motocross, then some hare and hounds, and then did an enduro and then got into extreme enduro. I’d got into a team and the manager said ‘you gotta do Erzberg’. I’d never heard of it,never knew it. And a bit like you, I went – and now I’m here. But if I could be anything right now, I’d be a motocross rider!
FINALLY, A LITTLE ADVICE FOR THE REST OF US Jonny: Practice the basics: bike control, clutch control, body positioning, that kind of thing. When I help at schools all the guys ever want to do is get over massive rocks – when they can’t even ride around in circles. Even now I always practice the basics as it helps so much. Taddy: Yep, keep the basic skills sharp. Where you get into trouble is where you forget the basics. And don’t forget messing about, doing wheelies and stuff –that’s not only fun, its good for clutch control and all. To ride right you have to play right.