Riders flew down the hill on the approach to the enormous jump and held their throttles wide open on the takeoff, which catapulted them into the air and eventually onto the landing. This was my favorite spot to watch the action at the 2015 UPMC Sports Medicine High Point National, the 39th annual motocross race held this year in Mt. Morris, Pa.
As the title sponsor of the event, UPMC Sports Medicine is committed to providing exceptional treatment to all types of sports related injuries. In a sport where risks are high and injuries are unfortunately common, UPMC Sports Medicine steps in to lend a helping hand to the motocross community. As an employee in the UPMC Media Relations Department, I saw this commitment first hand while attending the race.
A slight drizzle subsided on race day, Saturday June 13th 2015, giving way to partly cloudy skies around noon. The rain held off throughout all motos, or races, although dark skies did roll in here and there, making spectators and announcers alike wonder if the races would turn into mud battles. Thankfully, there were no mud battles, and the track conditions were better than expected, allowing for some great racing action!
There are two motos for each class, 250 and 450 (bike engine sizes), and each moto lasts 30 minutes plus two laps. The first 250 moto began while the track was still slightly damp from early morning rain. Track conditions only got better from here. For each race, spectators lined the fences near the first corner as the riders lined up to the gate. The gates dropped and the loud roars from the thunderous four-stroke bikes, and one pinging 125cc 2-stroke (rare these days), filled the air as riders fought for holeshots into the first corner. Standing near the first corner, I saw nearly 40 racers filing into a bottleneck of the first turn. Dirt was kicked up by the spinning back tires and flung into the crowd where everyone received it with a triumphant scream. Imagine the big splash from a whale at Sea World. Each lap was filled with great action as racers battled for positions over huge jumps, tight turns, and tricky sections of track.
From my vantage point, I watched as riders flew down the hill on the approach to the jump and held their throttles wide open on the takeoff which catapulted them into the air and eventually onto the landing. Riders would throw a “whip” over this jump, a maneuver where they turn the bike sideways and somewhat parallel with the ground, keeping them lower and increasing horizontal momentum through the air. This was a sight to see by all means.
At the top of the hill in the spectator area was the UPMC Smart (Simulation and Medical Resource Training) Unit. This mobile first aid unit also doubles as a learning area where spectators can visit and learn about some common injuries relating to the sport. UPMC’s own Sports Medicine Physical Therapist and Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Science, Brian Hagen, PhD, P.T., weighs in on the ongoing relationship with the motocross community. “We are bringing a high level of care to the motocross profession,” as they “bring education as well as treatment.” Dr. Hagen goes on to describe how UPMC Sports Medicine works with the American Motorcyclist Association to create concussion protocols for the racers involved.
One might think riding these motorcycles are as easy as twisting the throttle, however Dr. Hagen describes how these motocross racers are some of most physically fit athletes he has come across as demonstrated through endurance and physical tests at UPMC Sports Medicine. Try wrestling around 200 pounds of metal all while standing up and sitting down dozens of times for 30 minutes! These are top-notch athletes who require top-notch care.
After all was said and done, Ken Roczen from Germany won the 450 class, and Marvin Musquin from France won the 250 class at the event. Fans were thrilled throughout. Couples could be seen getting lemonade during a break in between races. Die-hard motocross riders who were spectating could be seen visiting one of the many parts vendors in attendance. As their favorite rider would fly past, fans would scream their names only to barely be heard over the roar of the engines. It was all smiles on race day throughout the spectator area. From small children in strollers, to a slightly older crowd, everyone, it seemed, enjoyed themselves. I know I did! I will anxiously be looking forward to attending next year’s race, that’s for sure!