As the third-place finisher in the 2019 250SX West Supercross Series, Colt Nichols had an excellent season in 2019, and one that also included a big win at the Angel Stadium Supercross.
The Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha challenger ran well all year long in ’19, and was also a consistent top-five finisher in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Things went off the script when a practice crash at Pala last October sidelined him all winter. In fact, Nichols has not raced since Budds Creek, Maryland late last summer.
“It was probably my last week of riding outdoors before we hopped on a supercross track to get ready for the 2020 season, and it was just a little practice crash and it ended up getting me,” Nichols said. Currently in California and keeping his ear to the ground what comes next, we spoke with the Oklahoman on Sunday.
“I guess not a whole lot has changed for us,” he says. “The riding has just been scaled back a lot [due to the coronavirus]. I’ve been doing a good amount of cycling and training. We actually had to move our gym to our trainer Gareth Swanepoel’s garage. He has a nice little gym set-up in there, so we’ve been doing gym work out of there the past two or three weeks now. Just kind of trying to keep going with the grind here now that we can’t ride as much. The team kind of wants us to take it a little bit lighter with riding right now. We’ve just been working on a lot of off-the-bike fitness, really. We’ve been riding pretty much two times a week for the past three weeks now. It’s been good. We haven’t changed a whole lot, but we’ve definitely been staying inside and trying to keep our distance, that’s for sure.”
For Nichols, simply being able to train at an accelerated pace is a relatively new development.
“I’ve been riding for a little while now and the shoulder feels great,” he said. “My foot feels good. I’m starting to feel a little more like myself when I ride now. With all the off-the-bike training, everything is coming together just the way I want it. Fitness-wise, I actually feel really good. I feel really strong. That’s been a really big ray of sunshine. Lately, I feel really good off the bike with the training. I’m really happy with where we are right now, but now that we have a little bit of time before we can race, we can kind of dig into it a little more and try to get even stronger and more fit.”
And like every other racer out there, Nichols has remained in about what will come next in AMA Pro Racing. With no concrete date to aim for, Nichols is anxious and frustrated.
“Yeah, that’s kind of the hard part for us right now,” he said. “Everything is unknown. If we just knew when and where we were going to go racing, it would make everything so much easier so we could say, ‘Okay, maybe we can take off from everything for a week or two and kind of relax a little bit.’ Whatever the case may be, we’d really hit it hard if we knew we were going to race sooner or later, which probably isn’t going to be the case, but if we just had that goal and a little bit of a date that we could go off, that would be nice. Everyone is in the same boat. It’s not just us and we’re trying to do what we can right now and trying to make sure we’ll be ready to race when the time comes.”
Nichols spoke of remaining in contact with his team, teammates and even competitors in southern California.
“I’ve seen and talked with a few of the guys a little bit,” he said. “Like, we just got to go ride at Perris before they shut it down, and there were a decent amount of people out there. More just local guys and stuff. I’ve talked to a few people on the phone and certainly to people on the team. I’ve also heard a lot from just hanging around and seeing what everyone is saying, but everyone is kind of stuck in the same limbo that we are, and nobody knows more than the other guy. It’s like, ‘Man, I wonder what they’re going to do?’ Everything is just really, really just stuck.
“From what I can tell, it seems like people are being optimistic and we’re hoping that we can race soon, but in the way things have been going with just the world lately, I think with where we are, I think it’s probably going to get a little worse before it gets better. That’s unfortunate, but we’re still lucky, you know? All of us are healthy and it definitely could be a lot worse. We’re all just hoping and praying that we can go race soon, but at the end of the day, health is first. We’re just trying to make sure we stay safe and nobody gets this thing, because this stuff is scary, man. There have been a lot of healthy people dying or getting sick from it, it’s not just old people or people with bad immune systems. That’s the part that is getting scary. There are just a lot of people getting it. We’re just trying to keep our distance and stay away.”
And of not competing since the Budds Creek National way back on August 17, 2019?
“Yeah, it’s honestly been a really long time,” he said. “I tried to race the first moto at Budds Creek last August and got my little concussion, and I haven’t raced since then. It’s been a really long time. Now that I’m actually riding, I’ve probably rode 10 to 12 times now over the course of the past three or four weeks. Now that I’ve been riding, I’m just so happy that I don’t really care about much else! It sucks that I can’t ride as much as I want to right now, but like I said, everyone is in the same boat and we’re just taking it day by day, really.
“I hope I get behind the gate sooner than later. Whether it’s supercross or motocross, I don’t really care. I just want to be able to race. That would be nice. Whatever I can do, I will. Right now we are scheduled to do outdoors first and then kind of touch back on supercross later in the year. It would be good for me. That would mean that I’ll still get some racing in, and do all that. I wasn’t going to be able to race supercross at all in 2020 and I was going to miss the whole season and then just really shoot for outdoors. Not that it’s good, but in a way, it is good that I can hopefully race a little bit more depending on how all this stuff shakes down. Yeah, I’m just hoping we can race period and I can get in as many races that I can to get me ready for the next season. That’s the idea.”