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“The Hard Way” – Jason Thomas

The Hard Way

Hey guys and gals, first of all I would like to start off with letting you know what the plan is with article of mine. I want to share with you my journey through not only the 2013 season, hopefully to another GNCC championship, but also through the past where I have been able to accumulate a plethora of great stories, and life changing experiences. I want to give you something to look forward to each time that you sit down to read about my journey, which was done the hard way.

It’s been a very stressful off season where my plans have changed what seems like every week – no doubt most of you are also busy with your own plans for the upcoming season.

Well, since winning the Pro XC2 championship in the GNCC series in late 2012, things really have been all over the place. Originally I was trying to form my own team with KR4 as the title sponsor but just a week before Christmas that all fell through, so I headed into the holidays with no job and no plan. Luckily, though the generosity of Steve from the AWRCS regional race series, my wife, Laci, and I were going home to the UK for Christmas where I could get my head together while drinking a lot of beer and scoffing down even more fish and chips.

We landed in the UK on Christmas Eve just in time for a little food shopping (beer run), and set about getting a little merry with some good friends and family. While this was my first time back to the UK for 2 years, I found it very difficult to relax and enjoy being home. In the back of my mind all I could think about was, “How will I survive once we get home to the US”.

Racing has been my only source of income now for the past 7 or 8 years, but as the years go on its become harder to find support to continue, even now with a Pro championship to my name. Growing up as a kid all I wanted to be was a pro. My dad and I spent every weekend trail riding together in the Dyfi forest by our house, in mid Wales. He rode an clapped out CZ175 trail bike and I started out on an old beat up Puch 50.

Going racing wasn’t an option back then as money was tight, but it’s them days in the Welsh forest, following my old man around is where I really get my skill and talent from. The fact we had no money really made me appreciate every second I spent in the mud and ruts of the Dyfi, and still to this day those memories make me very grateful for the life I now live.

But like I said, at Christmas the life I live was at an end, or at least I thought it was. I tried to enjoy my Christmas but all I wanted to do was figure out my future.

Laci an I landed back in Pittsburgh on January 1st to a foot of snow. We were a little anxious as to what our next move was – turns out our next move had nothing to do with racing or getting home to a nice warm house because with all the stress on the day we left for the UK, neither Laci or myself had remembered to collect the ticket with the car park number on it. Great start to a new year! Anyway as always we decided to work as a team to find the car (princess sat in the bus shelter) while I set off on what turned out to be a 2 mile hike in the snow in search of our wheels. About an hour later the car was found and we were on our way home.

On the drive home, Shane Watts, an old mate of mine called me up. “Ratboy!”, he says…..

Anyway, after a lengthy conversation with the legend, life had gone from bad, to frost bitten, to looking a little better. I spent the next few days waiting for a call back and true to his word my old mate came good – “Pick two bikes up from and head down to my place in Hickory, NC and we will make a plan”.

I arrived at Shane’s on the Wednesday, and the very next night we set off for Florida for a two day DirtWise school. We talked all the way down about what our plan was going to be and I felt confident that life was back on track.

Being a married man, there is more to think about than just myself nowadays. Having to leave my wife at home for several months while I venture south for better weather is very difficult. In order to get myself into top physical shape, and up to full speed, it’s something I must do to be competitive. Laci supports me 100%, but there are days when it’s very hard – I miss my best friend, as well as my dog, Kip, and my own home. I know that sounds a little soft, but living on the road especially when you get older, is not all that it’s cracked up to be……

Anyway after a fantastic weekend with an awesome group of students in Florida, it was time to haul it north bound that Sunday evening back to NC. The next day Wattsy and I went out and hit a sensational local sand track where he schooled me for 3 laps (just over 10 minutes) before the old man was sucking air like a Dyson, ha, ha!
The next day, the weather in NC was fixing to get cold so I dialed up the flying Baylor boys in SC to see if they wanted to shred. I got the green light, so I ripped down there.

In the next article I’ll give you a run down on the Baylor compound, and what they have got going on there in the back woods of South Carolina……

Until then, believe in yourself and trust that everything happens for a reason.

Boom, boom, POW!!!

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