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ISDE motocross – another extreme

December 5, 2008

We have often wondered about the definition of extreme and therefore what can be classified as an extreme sport or Xtreme sport. The dictionary’s suggestion for extreme is ‘situated at the end, farthest from centre; reaching a high or the highest degree’. That will do. Last night we sat down and watched ‘On Any Sunday’ which is Bruce Brown’s story of the legends and generation of US moto cross riders from the 1970s.

Men such as Malcolm Smith, David Evans, Mert Lawwill and of course Steve McQueen talk and demonstrate their skills and daring, and it was whilst watching this documentary that we came to the conclusion that these guys were most definitely situated at the end, farthest from centre; reaching a high or the highest degree. What an unbelievable, incredible, fantastic and extreme activity.

Did you know there are over 4 million Americans who ride motor bikes of some or other description – thats one hell of a lot of people. And to get to the top of that tree you have to be darn good at what you do. In Brown’s opinion Malcolm Smith was the best of his generation and maybe if McQueen hadn’t been in such demand from Hollywood he would have made it to the very top – he was anyway very, very good – the toughest of competitors, a man without fear.

In the documentary Brown shows Smith at what was then called the International Six Day Trial which was then held in Spain and where Smith won, between 1966 and 1976 no less than eight gold medals. That does not mean to say he won the race outright but he completed each stage in the allotted time and without the assistance of any other person to assist with repairs to his bike. Really, really impressive.

We think the rules have changed somewhat since 1966, and indeed since 1913 when the first ‘ISDE’ was held in Carlisle, England, since 1973 the event has been held around the world: from New Zealand to the United States, from Chile to Sweden – and in 2009  the event will be held at the Figueira de Foz in Portugal between October 10th and 17th.

We will visit this subject again and again, we find it brilliant and extreme and watching Smith ride his bike we notice something else. Yes this is extreme but there is something else –  a man (in this case)  at extreme ease and comfort with his medium. To achieve what he achieved, to get to where he got, in his chosen sport, he had to be an artist in that environment. Extreme sports is one thing but to be at the top of your field in extreme sports you also have to be an artist.

In 1966 we don’t think  YouTube was around and so we leave you with ISDE official video of the 2008 event which was held in Greece.

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