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MD Readers Weigh In On Motocross Concussion Issue

On August 1, 2001, we published an article titled “Robert Pastrana’s Open Letter; MD Response”. We tried to look beyond the immediate issue of Travis Pastrana’s head injuries. The bigger issue concerns head injury in motorcycle racing, in general, and how participants (teams, riders and parents of younger riders) react to it.

Frankly, MD was braced for a wave of negative response to our opinion, but it didn’t happen. Here are all of the responses we received (again, with no edits whatsoever).

  • I would like to thank you for speaking up about what a concussion can do to someone over a period of time. Earlier in the year when Travis had one concussion and then another I kept wondering why there wasn’t anyone in the industry speaking up about it. If it happened to a football player they wouldn’t even let him play. I suffered a concussion a year ago on a motocross bike. For a few days I couldn’t even walk straight. It is rediculous that they, the parents, continue to let Travis ride. He should definitely take the rest of the season off. On a different note, great job on the website. I look forward to reading it on a daily basis!

  • Great commentary on the Pastrana letter! I have to agree with you 100% My
    11 year old son got his first dirt bike about a year and a half ago and has
    already physically outgrown it. We are looking to move up to a bigger one
    but first we are looking for a dirt rider MSF course that he can take.
    Without the fundamentals, you’re just an accident waiting to happen. Thanks
    for the commentary.

  • That was a great piece of writing.

  • I realize this letter has about one chance in 10 mil
    of being read but.. Travis’ bike is not properly set
    up,; it is nosediving off jumps and causing his
    crashes. He is too tall for his handlebars. I am 6’3″
    and after a couple painful getoffs I realized the
    problem. A CR hi bend or a set of risers are not
    enough. The grips must be 4 or 5 inches higher and 2
    to 3 inches farther forward for someone of his height.
    I currently use a custom made riser and a set of 1 1/8
    aluminum bars. No I don’t sell these risers, any
    fabricating shop can make them.

  • Pastrana is only 17 yrs old, he has his whole career ahead of him (at least 13
    more years). He is popular and will only become more so. That is, IF he can
    still function properly in a few years from now. If he calls it quits for the
    season, and doesn’t race until supercross, then he will be doing himself and
    motocross fans a big favor. Next year at this time he will be in the points
    lead again and it will all be behind us, and him.

    Although maybe he could ride at the X-Games in a few weeks….. He rarely
    crashes in freestyle competitions, and he is so fun to watch…

  • I read your article about Travis and his injury. I have spent alot of years racing and through out those years I have had my share of injuries. One thing my parents did for me was be my parents. They made the decisions that needed to be made about my health and career. At the time these were not the popular decision with me and I was mad at them for making them. Now that I am 35 and have a son of my own that has started riding I truly appreciate those decision that my parent made. Through there wisdom and life experience they were able to make the correct decision for me. Better to come back in the next series and win than to struggle through and risk more or worse injury in this one.

    I was at Washougal last weekend and watch Travis ride. He was not his usual incredible self. He didn’t make the right decisions on the track. Travis’s parents need to make the hard decision that Travis is not capable of making right now.

    Your article was right on and it is great to see that there are some publications out there that still can see that as important as racing is that it is still just supposed to be a great way to spend a Sunday.

    Thanks for the article!

  • Travis has far to many years ahead of him to push himself over the edge and
    get hurt again. It would be without shame if Travis did decide to sit out
    the remainder of the nationals and skip the x-games in order to heal for
    next year.

    I have a ton of respect for Travis and his family.

  • EXCELLENT!

    I applaud your comment to Travis’s dad. You nailed it perfectly.

    May 19, 1967. I may never forget that date, (because I asked everyone what
    day it was), but I will forever forget the previous three months. Just a
    dumb trail riding crash, down a very steep slope. Poor body protection,
    because I didn’t know any better. I walked some distance to down town
    Granada Hills, with a lot a loss blood. Lots a stitches and a few weeks,
    very quietly, in bed.
    I have no idea what happened that day. I have no idea how it affected me
    thro out my life, so far.
    I do know that no championship is worth it. No, I’ve never been at his
    level. Not many have. His dad also has never been there either.

    Travis, listen to your fans, me included. Loose the battle but be around to
    win the future wars. You are the future for many of our riders. Be there to
    be with them.

  • Have never written to an editor before, on any other issue, but I want to
    commend you for voicing what is likely to be an unpopular opinion, without
    ‘copping out’ for fear of alienating some of your readership.

    I, like you, have experienced concussions, both from riding and other
    sports. I want to preface my remarks by saying that I ride motorcyles, flew
    ultralight aircraft, took 8 years of full-contact martial arts, and still
    play as a hockey and in-line goaltender. So, while middle age is making my
    leathers fit tight, I’m not just some desk-bound geek adverse to ever taking
    a risk.

    I think your read of the situation is spot on, in that Travis is in no
    condition, physically/mentally, to make his own decision on this. Of course,
    it is a whole lot easier to arm-chair quarterback this thing, than to be
    Travis’ dad right now. But, in my humble opinion, his father Robert should
    not get too caught up in his ‘sports as a substitute for warfare’ analogy or
    thinking. Without a doubt, true warriors fight [and die] through pain. These
    are men we rightfully admire. But Travis is not protecting hearth and home,
    saving democracy, or turning back the hordes from the gates. He is riding a
    motorcycle for money. It is, callously put, just a job, though also luckily
    for him, something he loves doing. But ultimately, it is a couple weeks off
    the job, versus a possible lifetime. Look at some of the players in
    ice-hockey, who have faced similar situations. Many will never play the game
    again.

    As you rightfully point out, his actions are being watched by millions, and
    will help shape the attitudes of many towards their health. Hopefully,
    whatever his, and his family’s decision, nothing untoward will happen to
    this fine young man.

  • In regards to MD’s response to Robert Pastrana’s letter concerning
    Travis’s condition:
    What an excellent response.
    The worst thing for the sport(and of course, Travis) would be Travis
    getting seriously injured due to his current state.

    A parent’s role is to guide their children, who at 17 are not in a
    position to make the wisest choice, especially when it could affect the
    rest of their life.

    Travis needs to let go of this year, fully recover and come back next
    year, healthy.
    He loses nothing by doing this, as he truly is an established champion.
    If he continues this year, he is in danger of losing everything.
    Just ask David Bailey, or Mohammed Ali.

  • I have valued your motorcycle related advice and opinions, via
    motorcycledaily.com for a while now. Your mature(except for street
    wheelies), common sense approach to evaluating motorcycles is somthing I
    eagerly look forward to.

    In your commentary to Robert Pastrana’s letter, the same mature, common
    sense approach was used to convey the seriousness of Travis’s potential life
    threatening injuries. I only hope that Robert reads and heeds your
    suggestions.

    Thank’s for the good work….

  • I applaud you for the articles you have written and your editorial
    “concern” with Travis Pastrana. I am 33 yrs old, in the best shape of my
    life, an avid MX’r, surfer, and snowboarder. In fact, I work in the
    Snowboard industry so I am all to familiar with young athletes performing
    while injured. 2 years ago, I was hit by a car while skateboarding across
    the street (I was in a cross walk with the right of way). The Full size
    pickup ran a red light and hit me at nearly 50 miles an hr. Thankfully I
    did not sustain any broken bones, due to my fitness and the skateboard
    taking the brunt of the energy. I did however receive a serious
    concussion. While I cannot remember the scale that the doctors referred
    to, I believe it was in the 4-5 category. This “Brain Injury” took me
    nearly a full year to recover from. I exhibited all of the effects that
    you have mentioned, the worst being loss of balance and constant dizziness.

    I implore Travis and any other person, young or old, to let their injury
    heal properly. This is the only way you can ever hope to continue to
    compete at the same level as previous.

  • That was the best writing I have come across in a long time. Very well said.
    Thanks.