A Day In The Life: Broc Tickle RCH Racing Ep. 3

RCH Racing team rider #20 Broc Tickle invites you along on a day in his life. The day starts off at Yoshimura Suzuki where Broc picks up his practice bike and heads off to the Suzuki SX practice track to ride with teammate Josh Hill under the guidance of Ricky Carmichael. Next stop is the Rockwell Training Facility to build up strength and endurance. And that’s a day in the life of Broc Tickle!

Carmichael, Hart model business blueprint after NASCAR

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Through three seasons in the Camping World Truck Series, Ricky Carmichael didn’t approach the sterling results he posted in a career many consider the greatest in motorbike history.

But off the track, the NASCAR foray in 2009-11 might have yielded an intangible benefit: Business savvy.

After watching how stock-car teams pay the bills through creative sponsorships, Carmichael is applying those lessons to his second career as a team owner in motocross, which has been slower to adopt NASCAR’s team economic model after being fueled by money from manufacturers for years.

“After being on both sides of the fence and learning the NASCAR program, I knew this was the way motocross and Supercross were probably going to go,” he told USA TODAY Sports. “I’m thankful I learned so much in NASCAR, and I’m trying to bring that mentality over to the two-wheel side.”

Carmichael, who won a record 15 championships (10 in motocross; five in Supercross), became a partner last October in RCH Racing, which was founded by freestyle motocross pioneer and entrepreneur Carey Hart. After finishing ninth in the Supercross standings with rider Broc Tickle, the team will begin its Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship campaign Saturday in Sacramento, Calif.

Though expectations of results in the 12-round series are modest — Tickle won’t have a teammate until next year — the team still will be distinctive if it doesn’t improve on last season’s fifth-place points finish.

In its third season of sponsorship from Chrysler (its Ram truck brand will sponsor the outdoor season after the Dodge Dart was promoted during Supercross), RCH is proving it’s possible to be a viable organization without being tied solely to money from factories — such as Kawasaki, Honda and Yahama — that are endemic to the sport.

While Carmichael brokered a sponsorship deal with Suzuki that brings critical technology and R&D to the team, RCH remains primarily funded by non-racing sponsors (including Syucan Casino). It’s a necessary arrangement with motorbike sales down since the economic downturn, and the manufacturers less inclined to shell out cash as during Carmichael’s era when the factories paid the entire freight. It costs about $5 million annually to fund a championship rider for a full year of Supercross and motocross.

“Now they can’t sustain that kind of business anymore,” Carmichael said. “(The support) is coming back, but it’s nothing like when I was racing.

“Suzuki thinks our program is the way motocross and Supercross are going. This is the future. I think we can get the same amount of return and results for them for substantially less. We have the best program for pure marketing, and we have a great race program as well.”

While Carmichael handles the competition side of the team, the business side is handled by Hart. The husband of entertainer Pink has been a successful businessman in launching tattoo franchises and a reality TV program, and he sees plenty of marketing potential for sponsors in racing motorbikes.

“What’s really strong with Supercross, looking at it as an underdog. NASCAR is a much older demographic,” Hart told USA TODAY Sports. “The model of NASCAR is so strong, and it’s not getting soft, but people have educated themselves on those programs and now they’re looking at our footprint, too. I think Dodge did a great job of opening that door up as the first big corporate company to get involved with our team. Everyone is testing the waters now, and I think you’ll see a lot more in the future.”

According to demographics supplied by the series, 80% of motocross fans are in the coveted 18-35 age bracket, and its audience numbers are climbing as its exposure increases (after a record 11 Supercross events were live on Speed this year; all 12 motocross rounds in 2013 will be on live TV, starting Saturday on Fuel TV and also on NBC and NBC Sports Network).

In 2013, Supercross averaged a record crowd of 49,911, and its attendance is up 12% since 2000. Last season, motocross averaged 20,750 fans (up for the fourth consecutive year and 5.3% from ’11) and 65,000 live streams per event (775,000 over the 12-event season, an increase of 64%).

Though those numbers still are dwarfed by NASCAR’s fan base, Hart said motorbikes still allow for a more intimate level of access.

“When we’re getting 20,000-plus people per race coming through the pits, they’re having an opportunity to grab a poster, take a picture with Ricky’s motorcycle, or jump on our Suzuki simulator,” he said. “It’s very interactive and touch and feel.”

Hart is confident of re-signing Dodge to another three-year extension when its original deal expires after this season.

But he hopes to add more sponsors when the team expands to two riders in 2014 because “the sport isn’t getting any cheaper. Each year it gets more expensive. And these bigger (sponsors) are expecting more of a return on the investment. A big part of the business is the traction in the pits, and that consists of getting people’s information to really take advantage of (fans) being there to sell them product. You’re going to see more teams like ours.”

Sponsorship, though, also is driven by success, and Carmichael is focused on adding a marquee name for 2014 to pair with Tickle.

“Our sponsors have been in a while and want the winning results, and we’ve been recruiting since January,” Carmichael said. “We’re ready to do this.”

Ricky Carmichael, Josh Hill & Broc Tickle At Houston Supercross

Part owner Ricky Carmichael and team riders Josh Hill and Broc Tickle start the week off with appearances and autograph signings while the RCH team gets the trailer and fan experiences ready for the weekend. Ricky offers a glimpse into his duties away from the team including helping to design the 2013 Monster Energy Cup track. Josh races well over the weekend finishing 8th overall and Broc finishes 10th. Although the guys would like to perform better, it’s the first time both riders have finished in the top 10 together.

TICKLE 10TH AT VEGAS, FINISHES NINTH IN SX RIDER STANDINGS

LAS VEGAS (Saturday, May 4, 2013)

The 2013 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series concluded its 17-race season Saturday night in Las Vegas. Dodge/RCH Racing was led by Broc Tickle (No. 20 Dodge/Sycuan Casino/RCH Racing/Bel-Ray/Suzuki Z450) who finished 10th while teammate Josh Hill (No. 75 Dodge/Sycuan Casino/RCH Racing/Bel-Ray/Suzuki Z450) slowed late in the race and ended up 14th.

“A real physical ride tonight,” said Tickle after the Main Event. “The start was really tricky, the entire track was tough tonight. I felt pretty good in the Main. I was there with a group of guys and kind of lost them for a bit. I regrouped with them near the end of the race and brought home a 10th.”

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Sam Boyd Stadium, home to the University of Las Vegas Runnin’ Rebels, is known for its huge SX layouts and the season finale continued the tradition. Riders were challenged by the ultra-fast “Monster Alley” – a section with a sweeping left-hand turn that took riders outside the stadium and back into a long straightaway where speeds reached 60 mph. The highly-technical rhythm section and gnarly 180-degree turns added to the challenge. Riders willing to grab a handful of throttle were rewarded.

Hill and Tickle were among the eight fastest riders during the afternoon timed practice session which provided better gate selections for the Heat Races. Tickle was seeded fourth for Heat 1, Hill fifth in Heat 2.

Tickle raced as high as fifth in the eight-lap qualifier but a slip on Lap 4 dropped him to sixth were he finished to earn his 17th consecutive Main Event start this season.

“I felt really solid on the bike,” Tickle added. “The track was really hard-packed and kind of tough to figure out for the Main. You had to focus on getting into a good rhythm and not make a mistake.”

Hill’s fate in Heat 2 was nearly disastrous. He jumped the start causing his front tire to lodge against the starting gate, pinning his Suzuki while the other 19 riders rode off into Turn 1. Despite the hiccup, Hill stormed back and gained 13 positions over the next seven laps to finish sixth and advance to the Main.

“Just a little too aggressive, Hill said. “I had a great gate selection and just tried to anticipate the gate drop.”

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In the Main Event, gate selection and the race start were once again key factors in the outcome. Tickle overcame a sluggish start (14th after Lap 1) but quickly regained a fast race pace and was running 10th by Lap 10. He would advance no further over the final 10 laps.

“It was a solid run,” said Tickle. “We were able to move up to ninth in points.”

Hill got a fast start but got caught in slower traffic that inhibited his preferred racing line. As a result, he was shuffled back to 11th by midrace and fell three more positions after a late-race incident.

“I made a little mistake and fell back to 10th where Broc (Tickle) and I were banging handlebars a little bit,” Hill said. “Once he got around me, I was trying to pace myself and right around Lap 19 I crashed coming over the ski jump. My front tire felt like it went flat. It knifed out and I went sliding sideways like I was road racing. It just wasn’t a good race. It was miserable. I was trying so hard to get to the front that I just beat myself up.”

SX Series champion Ryan Villopoto earned his 10th Monster Energy AMA Supercross win of the season edging Ryan Dungey and Davi Millsaps. The three-time champion led the final 19 laps to win by 2.843-seconds.

HILL LEADS RCH RACING with 7th IN MAIN EVENT

SALT LAKE CITY (Saturday, April, 27, 2013)

The picturesque snow-capped mountains of Utah served as the background for Round 16 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City but Chamber of Commerce 70-degree temperatures greeted race teams and fans, the best weather for an SX race this season.

The racing circuit inside the outdoor college football stadium which serves as the home of the Utah Utes proved to be a major challenge for crew chiefs and riders. The extra-short straightaway between the starting gate and tight Turn 1 along with a racing surface filled with marbles and stones were factors in the Heat Races and Main Event.

Josh Hill (No. 75 Dodge/Sycuan Casino/RCH Racing/Bel-Ray/Suzuki Z450) led the Dodge/RCH Racing team with a season-best finish of seventh in the Main Event. He raced inside the top 10 throughout the 20-lap feature.

RCH Racing teammate Broc Tickle (No. 20 Dodge/Sycuan Casino/RCH Racing/Bel-Ray/Suzuki Z450) earned his 16th consecutive Main Event start of the season and finished 11th.

Hill was seventh fastest in the afternoon timed practice and Tickle eighth. Both RCH riders used aggressive starts in their respective Heat Races to easily transfer to the Main. Hill finished third in Heat 2 while Tickle was fourth in Heat 1.

In the Main Event, Hill was running ninth after the first lap. He moved into seventh on Lap 8 and maintained the position the rest of the race.

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“I got a decent start in the Main and made a few quick passes to gain some spots,” Hill said. “I got up into the top 10 early and that helped. The race start was so hard if you were starting outside of the first few gates because it was such a short straightaway and tight left-hand turn. Guys would just bang into each other. Riders with the first eight gate picks chose the inside. It was a battle.”

Tickle looked to be on his way to his ninth top-10 Main Event finish until a mishap on Lap 10 in the tough whoops section dropped the RCH rider seven spots to 17th. The Michigan native raced the next nine laps incident free and battled his way back to 11th.

“It was a solid start in the Main until I went down,” Tickle said. “I was riding ninth and about to pass Andrew Short but skipped over a couple of the whoops and crashed pretty good. So I got up, got in behind (Trey) Canard and just started picking guys off that I had lost positions to earlier.”

Ryan Villopoto earned the Nuclear Cowboyz holeshot and never looked back en route to his ninth 450SX Class win of the season, securing his third-consecutive 450SX Class championship. He held off Davi Millsaps who raced second for the final 18 circuits. The margin of victory was 1.528 seconds. Ryan Dungey was third.

Villopoto is the fifth rider in Monster Energy AMA Supercross history to win three championships, joining RCH Racing team owner Ricky Carmichael, Bob Hannah, Jeff Stanton, and Jeremy McGrath.

The 2013 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series season concludes next weekend in Las Vegas at Sam Boyd Stadium.

X Games rookie Lance Coury wins gold in the Speed & Style!

FOZ DO IGUAÇU, Brazil — X Games rookie Lance Coury, 23, won gold in the Speed & Style event on Saturday at X Games Foz after beating out Brazilian rider Gilmar Flores in quarterfinals, dispatching former FIM Freestyle MX World Champion Libor Podmol of the Czech Republic in semifinals, and finishing ahead in a final bout against Norwegian rider Andre Villa.

“It’s my first X Games. I love this,” said Coury, breathless and dusting himself off in disbelief after the head-to-head race. “I got into freestyle motocross because of Travis Pastrana and X Games.”

In quarterfinals, Villa beat French rider David Rinaldo, the current leader in the 2013 FIM Freestyle MX World Championship series, and took Swiss rider Mat Rebeaud down in semifinals. In the main event Coury took an early lead out of the gates, then slipped up in the rhythm section with Villa closing in fast.

The stadium-sized course was bigger and more open than the previous Speed & Style tracks at X Games Los Angeles, which were held inside the Staples Center arena, leaving room for both more speed and bigger airs.

“I knew I was in front,” Coury said, recounting the slip-up that sent both riders careening off the course. “I don’t know what tricks he’s doing, I’m doing the tricks that I have in my head, I’m going as fast as I can, I can hear him on my back. I make a mistake in that line, he jumps over my head, I’m like, ‘I’ve gotta take the inside, one so he doesn’t crash on me, two so I can maybe keep him off of me.'”

Villa won on style points, 84.66 to 84.00 — partly thanks to a huge whip flip on the course’s 75-foot FMX competition ramp — but Coury came out of the scramble first and finished well ahead of him, bumping his overall score to 97.85.

“I didn’t even expect to ride X Games this year,” Coury said. “I didn’t expect to make it to the final round… honestly, I just had fun out there.”

Villa claimed silver, his first X Games medal in four appearances. Rebead beat out Podmol for the bronze in the consolation round.

TICKLE OVERCOMES EARLY SETBACK, FINISHES SEVENT IN SX MAIN EVENT

SEATTLE – (Saturday, April, 20, 2013)

Broc Tickle led the Dodge/RCH Racing team at Round 15 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series with an impressive performance in Saturday night’s Main Event at CenturyLink Field. He finished seventh while teammate Josh Hill was 12th.

Rain Friday and Saturday made for very sloppy track conditions and forced organizers to condense the schedule. The untimed practice schedule was eliminated leaving only two timed sessions for the riders to dial in their bikes before the evening program.

Tickle (No. 20 Dodge/Sycuan Casino/RCH Racing/Bel-Ray/Suzuki Z450) rebounded from a disappointing 10th-place finish (only the top nine finishers advance to the Main Event) in his Heat Race with a strong performance in the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) to earn one of two transfer spots into the Main Event. His 15th-consecutive Main Event start of the year was secure.

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“I was frustrated that I had to go to the LCQ because you never know who will be in it,” said Tickle. “I rode really well in the LCQ. For six laps, anybody can hang on and step up to beat the field. I just focused on getting a good start and made sure that I rode clean for six laps.”

The wide starting position wasn’t too much to overcome in the 20-lap Main Event. The Michigan native busted out of the gate13th. The determined Tickle went to work and emerged from a four-rider battle to take 11th on Lap 10. Despite the rutted-up track surface, Tickle continued the pressure, gaining three more spots by Lap 14 and used one last pin of the throttle to claim seventh at the checkered flag.

“It was a pretty good Main tonight,” Tickle said. “It always stinks when you have to go through the LCQ. My main goal was to get into the Main. I knew that the track was going to deteriorate. I like rutty tracks. My goal was just to go out there and ride hard for 20 laps and I felt that I did that tonight. I made one mistake in the middle of the race by following somebody and two guys got around me. I recovered pretty well. I think that I had a top-five bike tonight. I’ll take it. This was my best race of the year under some tough circumstances.”

Hill led RCH in the first timed qualifying session, recording the sixth best time on the hard-back and modestly fast race surface. Slower high-banked corners allowed for riders to brake-slide the 180-degree corners. Hill was ready for the challenge. A gnarly start straightaway section made the race start critical. Throttle control was mandatory on a circuit where full power wasn’t necessary to be fast.

Hill was impressive in his Heat race, finishing fourth in Heat 1 with a steady, workman-like ride.

In the Main Event, Hill couldn’t take advantage of his eighth position on the gate. He and Chad Reed collected each other in Turn 1. That dropped the Oregon native all the way down to 19th. He used the next nine laps to climb seven positions and held the spot, finishing 12th.

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“I went into the first turn and came in a little hot,” Hill said of his charge from the gate in the Main Event. “I thought that I was going to get the holeshot; it was me, (Justin) Barcia and (Justin) Brayton all going at it. I thought that I had it. Brayton squeezed me off just a little bit. I grabbed some front brake, had nowhere to go and ran into the tuff blocks which took some guys out behind me. From there, it was tough because I had some clay stuffed in my clutch – I had no clutch. I tried to start my bike and I had to find neutral without using the clutch, which was tough. I started 25-seconds from the last guy on the track and just had to ride my guts out.”

“I feel like I am riding really well right now. I passed a lot of bikes tonight. If I had just a few more laps, I think I would have caught the two guys in front of me and thrown it in the top-10. I just ran out of time”

Barcia was the 450SX Class race winner, edging series point leader Ryan Villopoto by 3.885-seconds. Davi Millsaps was third.

The Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series heads to Salt Lake City for Round 16 next Saturday.

HILL EARNS HEAT WIN and EIGHTH-PLACE FINISH IN MAIN

MINNEAPOLIS – (Saturday, April, 13, 2013) – Dodge’s Josh Hill earned his first Heat Race win of the season en route to his second consecutive top-10 Main Event finish Saturday night to lead RCH Racing at Round 14 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series.

A packed Hubert H. Humphrey Dome welcomed riders for the first time since 2008 on a chilly day in Minnesota. Riders and mechanics had to brave the outdoor working conditions that saw the ambient temperature drop into the 20’s by time the gate dropped for the evening session.

Hill’s comeback continues to be the feel-good story inside the 450SX Class paddock as the defending event champion had his most impressive ride aboard his Suzuki this season. The numbers tell the story as Hill was sixth in both afternoon practice sessions to earn the third gate for his Heat. He used a slick maneuver early in the eight-lap qualifier to claim the lead and never looked back, leading all eight laps. He edged Chad Reed by 1.131-seconds to secure RCH Racing its first qualifying race win of the season.

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“I was fourth (after the gate dropped), a decent start for me,” Hill said. “I set myself up where I could get one clean shot on those guys and I made a pass on all three. I was in the right place at the right time and took advantage of what was in front of me. Reed was coming fast but he made a small mistake and I was able to hold him off. It was cool. I got the jump on (Ryan) Villopoto and just pinched him off a bit. It was a solid ride. It was cool.”

With the second gate selection for the Main Event, Hill was able to bang handlebars with the leaders early, riding as high as fourth on Lap 8 in the 20-lap Main Event until falling off the lead-pack pace in the second half of the race.

“It’s been a long road,” he added. “I’m getting closer to where I want to be, happy about the stepping stone the last few weeks. I still have years of work to do to get to where I want to be. A few good weekends, for sure. I’m going in the right direction. I’ve worked so hard to get to this point and it would be stupid to give up now. I’m just going to keep working as hard as I can and keep challenging the best riders in the world.”

Teammate Broc Tickle finished outside of the top 10 for the first time since Round 11 in Toronto. He finished 13th in Saturday night’s Main Event. His fate was determined early as a pack of riders went down, blocking the racing line and slowing the pace. Tickle was 15th after Lap 1. He managed to gain two positions over the final 19 laps.

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“After the whoops section, some guys crashed and went down,” said Tickle. “I had nowhere to go. By the time I could react, I just basically ran into the guys in front of me. There wasn’t much I could do; three of us got together. I think it was (Phil) Nicoletti who went down, not quite sure. Just a tough deal.”

Hometown favorite Ryan Dungey was the event winner, beating two-time defending series champion Ryan Villopoto by a mere 0.903-seconds. Davi Millsaps, Justin Barcia and Chad Reed rounded out the top-five.

The series heads west for the final three races of the 2013 season. Next week, riders visit Century Link Field in Seattle.

Racer X 450 Words with Josh Hill

Momentum is finally starting to build for Dodge/Sycuan RCH Suzuki’s Josh Hill. For the first time since 2010, he’s finally able to ride and train and practice consistently, and he’s been making the races and making the mains. The results are trending up, too, and he finally delivered a top-ten on Saturday night in Houston with an eighth. Could have been seventh, too, but he was passed in the very last turn by BTOSports.com KTM’s Andrew Short. Still, for what Hill has gone through, eighth is good, and he thinks he has more.

For Hill, much of his story keeps revolving around where he’s been and what he’s gone through. We found him in the RCH rig after the race and, instead, we chatted about where he is, and where he’s going. Forget the past—he’s looking to the future.

Racer X: It did seem like you were just that much closer to the front or feeling better. That’s the way you felt?
Josh Hill: Today was… all day just kind of was good. I’ve been riding really well at the practice tracks. All the test tracks, out at Ricky’s, everywhere, I’ve been riding really well. I just haven’t been putting it together on the weekends. I’ve been coming out and tucking my tail between my legs and not riding like I know how. I still don’t think this weekend I rode to the best of my ability, or even close. But it was definitely a step in the right direction.

And that started right at the beginning of the day. You’re not just talking about getting the best result of the year in the main, but even practice and stuff.
Yeah. I was ninth in the first practice, eighth in the second, third in the heat race, eighth in the main. Should have been seventh. [Andrew] Short got me in the very last corner. I wanted to kill him for like five seconds, but then I realized it is racing. But it was good. If the tables would have been turned I would have been really happy with myself for the pass that he made on me. So, I give him that.

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Did it help even just having better gate picks and all that, going into the main and stuff?
I’m not trying to disrespect anybody but when you’re starting next to [Davi] Millsaps and [James] Stewart and the top players, it feels better than starting on the very outside, barely making it in the main. You go up to the line with the sense of “I belong here.” When you barely make the cut, you’re just all, “Well, 20 laps, starting from last. Let’s get this going.”

Just take me through that pass with Short, in the last turn. Did you even touch? He was squeezing in there.
He threw an elbow in on me, but it was a good pass. I rode too protective the last lap and just kind of didn’t go fast enough. I didn’t go fast enough on the last lap. I was too timid through the whoops. Made a mistake right before the mechanics area, gave him too much room. And I still thought I had it for sure. I thought he was going to try to swing to the outside and rail past me, so I protected the inside. Kind of went a little slow so I could jump out and kind of take the line away from him. And he just ran it in, stuck his elbow, and pretty much just out-muscled me for that 7th spot. Like I said, I was actually kind of out of line and stuffed the hell out of him after the finish. I had to take a deep breath and realize that what he did was great racing, and it wasn’t dirty; it was just a great racing pass. I came out on the short end.

Let’s talk about your riding in general. How close do you feel you’re getting to your potential? You said you still didn’t quite feel like your racing as well as you can ride. Are you close? Or do you think you’ve got a lot more to give?
I’ve got so much more to give. I felt like I rode… I’m telling you, right now I can go to the practice track and I feel as good as I ever have. I get on the Suzuki, the bike works like a dream. And when I’m in the flow on this bike I don’t know how many people could beat me. It’s just when I come to the races, it’s so foreign to me again. I’ve just got to keep racing. I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do. I don’t have an outdoor ride right now, but I have to keep racing. I’ll go to whatever country will give me an opportunity to ride a good dirt bike.

You just need to go over starting gates?
I just need to keep racing. I just want to race. Or maybe it’s a regional series. If I have a bike, that’s what I’m doing. I need to ride because I know I can get back up to the level I was. Just got to keep going. Other than the little wrist thing at the beginning of this season, this is the first time I’ve been able to ride consecutively for months. Every other time, I was riding three weeks, trying to go out and race. After that type of injury that’s just not ever going to happen, it’s never going to work. We’re gaining some momentum now and I’m hoping by the time Vegas rolls around I’ll be knocking on the door for a top five, or on a perfect scenario, a podium, if I ride like myself.

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Does the ankle, foot and all that hurt by the end of the night or anything like that? Or is that totally behind you at this point?
No, I don’t feel it so it doesn’t hurt! It’s completely numb. I mean, it hurts; I take that back. When I wake up Sunday morning and I’m walking through the airport I look like I got ran over. But in the race it doesn’t affect me unless I have an extremely hard landing or someone runs into it, which that doesn’t bother me. But it’s numb. I can’t move my toes and I don’t feel the thing. I can just rock my ankle that many degrees and make it work. But with modern-day suspension and boots, I can make it work.

And on a 450 you don’t need to shift that much, right?
No, not too much.

But you can do it when you need to.
I just throw the butt shift, like the 65 class.

Ah, when they’re learning to shift.
Yeah, I’m throwing the butt shift out. Watch it; you’ll crack up. I’ll go off a little jump, my whole ass just goes forward.

So you look like a guy just learning how to shift a bike.
That’s what I look like, yeah.