Last week, our Contributing Editor Mark Gardiner bought you an interview with Matt Wadsworth in his Backmarker feature. In his article Blind Amibition
, Mark gave us a bit of back-story to Matt’s quest to beat a motorcycle jump record by a blindfolded
Matt's attempt to break 80 feet was foiled by heavy rain and the resulting muddy soil on the jumps run-in.
rider with the help of motocross legend Mickey Diamond. Although Wadsworth is blind there is no actual record for a blind person, only blindfolded.
The plan was to make the final attempt to break the record on December 14th, but as is often the case with dirt sports the weather doesn’t make things easy. Just the day before, the skies opened up and dumped on the jump site, making the run-in for the jump a muddy mess. And to add to the pressure, Matt had a crash the day before the rain that could be enough to rattle anyone’s confidence.
After some careful consideration, Matt decide to forgo confirmation from Guinness for the world record, as his jump is so much more than rolling up to a jump and putting on a blindfold. Matt’s blindness makes jumping a dirt bike so much more difficult than a rider who has been riding for years wearing a blindfold. The comparison is almost laughable. So the goal is to make the jump of 82 feet or more just to prove it can be done. Ultimately the goal is to reach 100 feet.
As the project has progressed so have the methods in which Diamond and Wadsworth work together to get airborne. Consistency is the key. With the lack of sight, Matt relies on every other sense to gauge his speed and direction. When
discussing what inputs he needs to find his way, Matt said that the wind in his face, the feel of the knobs rolling through the dirt
Do you think you could make the run to this jump with your eyes closed or blindfolded?
and engine pitch help him set his speed. As a professional musician he can detect the change in pitch of the motor and the vibrations from the tires very accurately.
The sensation of the wind across his face matters more than even Matt realized. Early on he tried riding with goggles. The sensation was completely disorienting. Mickey insisted that some sort of protection was needed in case of crash; a handlebar or other object could do some serious damage to Matt’s face without something filling the eyeport. The masterminds at Troy Lee Designs
fashioned a visor system that still allowed air to flow freely. Problem solved.
Then of course there is Mickey’s voice. Using Scala Rider Bluetooth headsets
, Diamond is Matt’s only real sense of direction. Before each jump, the former motocross star lines up Wadsworth straight. Then a few words of assurance and positive reinforcement and it’s go time.
“Straight, straight, 2nd, little left, straight, 3rd, straight, jump! Brake and stop.” It’s almost rhythmic.
It’s plain to see how much Diamond has put is heart and soul into helping Matt achieve his goal. Wadsworth has trusted Mickey to help him get to the jump but also keep him safe. As dirt bike riders we often throw caution to the wind at some point; we
"The Bat" refers to flying sightless, and the number 415 is the frequency of the musical note "A" during the 17th Century.
might be tempted to tell our friend to “just pin it.” There is no chance of that with these two. Trust and confidence are fragile, and Mickey has handled both with an empathetic care not often seen in this day and age.
Every little factor is magnified when consistency is key, and right before the big day Matt and the team were thrown a curveball with a winter downpour. The ground became saturated and muddy, a surface that Matt has not had to deal with. The run-up had always been watered to perfection to ensure uniform traction and feel. Just the slightest lack of traction caused the relatively stock CR450R to veer left or right. Matt choked it up to just one more hurdle to overcome and handled the situation with a dead cool that is found in the best athletes and performers.
At the end of the day, the inconsistent surface of the run-in made it difficult to get a solid jump in the books. Matt did not reach his goal of 82 feet this day, but this is not the end. After the holidays, the team will get back at it until they have reached the mark they have set out to beat. I have no doubt the he will get there and ultimately top 100 feet. Matt is just like any other person that has become the best in their chosen field; they often can take that same focus and be successful at other endeavors, no matter the difficulty.
We will continue to follow Wadsworth’s journey until his goal is reached. You can find out more and make a donation to the project at www.makingthejump.com