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Jesse Guibault

What started off as an idea to point out the differences between NBL and ABA for expert riders lead to me getting in touch with Supercross’ 30-34 X rider Jesse Guibault. I found his story a little more interesting than the original intention, but you will find some of the differences between the two US associations in there as well. Enjoy!

Who is Jesse Guibault?

bmxultra.com: How/When did you first get involved in BMX?
I first got involved with sanctioned BMX in April of 1986. While visiting my mom (I was being raised by my Grandparents on their farm at the time) she found out that they were having some races close by her house. She knew I loved riding my bike so we went and I raced. It was on a Huffy Pro Thunder and I won all three motos. I still have that trophy.

I didn’t get to race again for 2 years. I ended up moving in with my mom and we started racing the 1988 Delaware state series at Lums Pond BMX.

bmxultra.com: What level did you get to the first time around?
At the end of the 1990 series the NBL announced this new class called “Superclass” where we raced as Experts locally and for money at the nationals. It replaced B Pro. I think everyone and their brother signed up for that class. I signed up for Superclass and went to my first national race of the 1991 series at the Harrisburg farm show arena. I think we had 1/16th qualifiers that weekend.

bmxultra.com: How long were you in the sport that time?
Not including the one race in 86 it was four years.

bmxultra.com: What was it that made you stop?
I worked at a bike shop at the time (Wooden Wheels) and Cliff who was one of my coworkers was in the Navy Reserve. He would bring in these books about different Navy careers which were pretty interesting. Then everything started happening in Iraq and I started getting the “Your not going anywhere with your life riding those kids bikes” rap from the family. I was doing well and making mains. But I caved to the pressure and joined the military. I raced the weekend before I left for boot camp at the NBL Sarasota national. I only had money for one class so I raced Super Cruiser. I made the main Sunday for my last race with Kenny May, D.D. Leone, Barry McManus, Billy Au, Tony Szynaka, Sean Newberry and Ron Sutton. I let myself get nervous and smacked the gate. It was not the way I wanted to end my racing career.

bmxultra.com: How did you get back into it the next time around?
I ended up getting injured when I was stationed in Guam. I spent a few months in the hospital and by the time I got out, my four year enlistment was two weeks from being over. I decided to go home and cancel my reenlistment. That was in 95 and I was told I would never ride a bike again or even do a pushup. I was still having surgeries on my arm with the last one in early 2003. Around this time my wife became pregnant with our second child. She ended up stuck in the hospital on bed rest as she went into labor at twenty weeks. I found out they were building a track close to the house so I decided to take my son out there when we weren’t spending time at the hospital visiting his mom. Due to the ward she was in, there were only certain hours we could be there as the moms all needed their rest and it had to be quiet. If it was visiting hours, we were there. My son was three at the time and has a mild case of Cerebral Palsy. It affects his lower legs but riding his BMX bike worked like therapy for him. I think it had to do with standing up and pedaling which stretched his calves out, they were real tight and would cramp on him at night time. He would wake up screaming it was so painful, but after he started riding for a few months the cramps he always had stopped and never came back. His walking corrected too as he always used to walk on his toes, now he has a normal stance and gate. At the track I would follow him around on a cruiser to make sure he got up the jumps. We had a lot of fun out there just playing around and became good friends with the track operator. The track was not ready for racing until later on in 2004, plus I needed time at home with my daughter so that is when we started competing. It was for my son, but then I started getting better at it and progressed quickly.

bmxultra.com: What do you do for a job now to keep your BMX habit and food on the table for the family?
I’ve been working for a large bank now in Information Technology for 5 years. I’ve been in the field now for about 10 years. Last year was really good for racing as I worked long days on Monday through Thursday and had off Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I started with a new department this year so it was back to 5 days a week of work. It’s a great job for BMX as it is more mental than physical. I can still work through most injuries and even work from home if I really have to.

bmxultra.com: What about training? How do you find time for that?
Very good question. Right now I start at 4:30am during the weekdays with sprints for an hour. This gives me time to shower, dress and hit work by 7am with the hour drive in. I was doing them in the evening but this took time away from the family. I now do my stretching and exercises in the evening as I can do them while hanging out with the family. Big thanks to Greg Hill for all the help with training. I just started working with him about a month ago. He has put me on the right path for success.

bmxultra.com: Working with Greg Hill must be fun, was he one of your heros back in the day?
Greg is a great guy. He’s not as intense as he was back in the day but that is because he chooses to be that way. If you look at his eyes it is still there, he just has to flip the switch and turn it on. He still makes it look effortless around the track. I really hope he spends some time competing in the near future. Greg Hill is BMX and it isn’t the same with him and some of the other greats not around. I enjoyed my time with Greg when he came out to one of our local tracks to train us. He was a hero back in the day and still is today. He tells it like it is so if you don’t want to hear the answer, don’t ask the question.

bmxultra.com: What does your wife think of BMX?
Well, my first lap around a track at a sanctioned event I broke my wrist. She wasn’t really happy with me racing at that point. I waited 3 days to go to the doctor hoping that it wasn’t busted but it started turning funny colors so I had it checked out. Ended up spending 4 months in a cast. Last year when I busted the shoulder up she made sure I had plenty to do. That was to make sure I understood that even if I get hurt I still have responsibilities outside of racing to take care of. She gets worried sometimes at the big events but has come to understand it as a part of our life. She is very supportive and has even taken a lap or two around the local track on a cruiser. Our daughter is disabled and cannot walk which takes up a lot of the wife’s time. She doesn’t get to make it to many races. I try to help with everything I can but I still do not know how she does it all. She is an inspiration.

bmxultra.com: BMX is very much a family sport, and as we all know every family is different and has it’s own sets of needs. Do you think BMX tracks, clubs or associations are set up to cope with handicapped riders or spectators? Is there any room for improvements?
I think there is a lot of room for improvement. Currently the number of handicapped riders is pretty low. They are not drawn to the sport with any incentives. One of our other local riders has an almost unusable leg due to cerebral palsy. He uses one clipless pedal and shoe to help control the leg. The boy is around 10 years old and has a lot of heart. I think the riders are more adapting around the associations. I would like to see BMX included in the Special Olympics in the future. It can be difficult to bring my daughter out to the tracks depending on the facilities. You have to bring a big blanket for her as you don’t want them laying in the dirt all day and the wheelchair is very hard to push in the dirt. But we do what we can.

bmxultra.com: Where is your property?
The new location is just off the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. We are out away from everything where I can put as much jumps on the property as I want and not have to listen to any one complain. I can’t wait to get the jumps in as mowing the 7 acres of open land sucks!

bmxultra.com: Does it get very wet, or even snow, during winter?
We definitely get snow, which is a lot of fun on the four wheelers. We have also been getting rain for the past 3 weeks about every day. Did I ever tell you how much fun sprints in the rain are? If we get a lightening storm the bike stays parked.

bmxultra.com: You currently live on a large property any plans to build a backyard track?
With the new house being as far as it is from the tracks this is the plan. I already have a couple of jumps out there but I plan to have a two man BSX style track. One side will be for the adults to ride and the other side for the little guys to ride. The adult side will have gap jumps and the little guys will have the centers filled in for them.

bmxultra.com: Do you do a lot of riding with your son (JD)?
When I can pry him off of his dirtbike. He likes to ride his ramps and jumps when I am at work. His mom doesn’t like him riding the dirtbike when I am not home so usually that is first thing he wants to do when I get home. When he is done we spend some time goofing around on the bikes. He loves to go to practice sessions at the track on the weekends.

bmxultra.com: Do you think you can learn as much from him as he can from you?
He has very unique perspectives on different BMX subjects. I really like listening to what he thinks. He is the future of BMX so I pay attention to his input and give him the best feedback that I can. Some of the stuff he comes up with is off the wall and makes you laugh, it makes you appreciate his youth.

bmxultra.com: What class does he compete in?
Jess: 6 Intermediate in the ABA and 6 Novice in the NBL.

bmxultra.com: Do you think if he stops racing that you will to?
No. He pretty much stopped racing this year and is taking a break. I think he has 3 races in since January? Last year he moved so fast through the lower class that he had no one to race with. He ended up racing kids much older than him (sometimes twice his age) that it really got in his head. Not only that but he saw my two serious crashes with injuries happen last year which really bothered him. Some time off is what he needs. I miss having him with me at the big races but if he is not having fun it is not the place for him. He has a ton of talent so I hope he continues on with the sport. I will still race no matter what he decides.

bmxultra.com: What do you think he wants out of BMX? To be #1 in his class, to have fun, or to beat his father?
To have fun. He finished #3 last year and within striking distance of #1. All he wanted to do was race his pitbike in the 3rd round at the Grands. He got his wish and really hammed it up on the track. Fun is always greater than a number. You only get one chance to race that specific race and have fun. There will always be a new number waiting for you, and that one number only lasts a year.

bmxultra.com: How long do you think you can keep racing for?
Baring serious injury? I plan on racing you for the 55+ cruiser title in 2028.

bmxultra.com: What was your first bike?
It was a Huffy Pro Thunder. My first good race bike was a 1986 Haro Group 1 that was a left over model we got for cheap in 1987.

bmxultra.com: What’s your current bike?
Currently I am on a Supercross UL. We will be unveiling a new frame at the UCI Worlds called a S7. I love my 4130 frames but this new one is pretty slick. Sammy Cools will be racing it there. The S7 is in the mid 2 pound (1.2kg) range for a Pro XL. It has been a big project and the test bike has 2 hard years on it.

bmxultra.com: Do you prefer flat or clip pedals for racing?
I prefer flats but that is not as conducive to racing here in the US. Clips are so prevalent here, even in the 5 and under beginner class at locals. You will see dads  shoving their kid’s feet into the pedals and then run and catch them at the finish line because they are too small to clip in and clip out on their own. It really is a shame as I  think it drives a lot of riders away from the sport. That could be due to injury, not feeling comfortable at speed clipped in or not being able to compete in flats if they do not clip in. They feel they have to clip in to compete, and at the top national level you pretty much need to. If clips were banned tomorrow I would be perfectly happy. But until then I will still clip in like the rest of the competition. My son rides flats only. I let him try clips one time at a local track. This was after bugging me for 5 months about it and I knew he would not like them. He almost went over the bars the first lap and off they came per his request. I haven’t heard one word about clips since then from him.

bmxultra.com: do you consider yourself old school?
Not totally. Since I started racing in 86 that is the fringe of what the collectors call old school and mid school. We were there for the beginning of manuals, which we called “coaster wheelies”. Electric gates were the norm and the equipment was pretty good.

bmxultra.com: do you have an old school collection or project?
I have some real old stuff hidden around. Most of the stuff I have is 1990+. A small collection of Technique frames as they are very cool looking, S&M, Auburns, HH racing, Supercross and stuff like that. I missed the late mid school time with the Techniques, JAD, Rumblefish and all the odd ones so they are very intriguing to me.


bmxultra.com: What sort of music do you listen to?
Hard Rock. Disturbed, Korn, Static X and most of the stuff they play on Sirius’ Octane channel. My wife loves country and hates the hard rock stuff. So I will listen to country at times, plus you’ve got to love chicks in cowgirl boots. I grew up listening to country on the farm as a kid but it doesn’t get the blood flowing fast enough when your getting ready to hit the track.

bmxultra.com: With such a big difference in musical tastes like that what was the last concert you went to with your wife?
LOL, Alan Jackson. I had to go with my brother to see Disturbed. As a compromise we are seeing 3 Doors Down and Bon Jovi this weekend before the Worlds.

bmxultra.com: What do you think of Neil Young?
Good question. Neil Young puts a lot of thought into his music and it has a lot of meaning buried in the lyrics. Some of it is political agenda and this is his way of showing his view. The loud stuff is cool (Rockin’ In The Free World) and some of the quieter songs are great for hanging out around the campfire and drinking a beer with friends.

bmxultra.com: What was the last CD you bought for yourself?
10,000 fists.


bmxultra.com: What are you favourite websites and why?
This should be a good one.

bmxultra.com as I like to see what is going on with the Australian race scene. I will make it over there at some point to race as it is one of my goals in life. The scene and structure there is way different, yet we are still doing the same thing.

Vintage BMX. They have a lot of traffic and I know a lot of the people on the board from out at the races in the new school section. The collecting stuff is cool and it is great to see a bike or part you no longer have from a long time ago show up looking like new. It’s like stepping out of a time machine. Some of the memories you can share about the old times are great too. There is a lot of history there. Every once in a while we have some one drop a “drama bomb” but Elvis has been on the ball lately.

BMX News. Lots of drama. You have to read between the lines a lot of the times but some of the posts are hilarious. Most people are trying to hide who they are and talk a lot of crap. It’s 80% drama and 20% attitude.

BMXmania. Good updates as to what is going on all around.

BMXunderground. Nick does a lot of updates and pictures for us here in the North Eastern United States. You see faces you know in the pictures and sometimes even get in one yourself.

bmxultra.com: How often would you say you visit the sites?
Daily. With the job I have we only have a very short time to fix any issues that happen due to the monetary impact. But when things are quiet there is a lot of down  time. I usually spend that time reading.


bmxultra.com: What’s your fascination with Australia?
I really wish I had made it over there when I lived in Guam. The people are passionate about racing and have a history with it. The blue water and the scenery. The crazy animals you guys have there and the bitchen accents! How has that been working for you when you are over here visiting anyway? LOL. I work with a few Australians here at the bank and they are great people and have a lot of national pride. It’s hilarious when we are out at lunch and the waitresses ask if they are English. You guys do not take that lightly. Plus Australians can down a pint like no other. Cheers!

bmxultra.com: Have you raced many Aussies?
I got to race you and Dean Coles this past year. I’m sure I will see an Aussie contingent at the Worlds.

bmxultra.com: What do you think of the style of Aussie riding that you have seen?
The only one I have really been able to sit and watch ride has been Madill. I think the Aussies are thought of as power riders but Madill shows the skills are there by pulling Robinson through the rhythms to win the NBL Grands in Pro Cruiser.

bmxultra.com: Did you learn anything racing against Aussies?
This is where the power comes in again. If you are ahead of them they will be putting the pass attempt on you at some point on the track. If they are ahead of you, Lord help you because they are hard as hell to catch. #1 lesson is try to get out ahead of them first.

bmxultra.com: How do you think Aussie BMXers are different to US BMXers?
The Aussie riders seem to be less clip dependent than the US riders. With that the US riders seem to be more on the technical side. I’m not saying the Aussies do not have skills, it’s just at a lot of our tracks in the NBL there is hardly any room for pedaling. When the kids grow up racing in this type of environment and clipped in they either get their technique down or fade fast. It’s sink or swim.

bmxultra.com: What time of the year would you prefer to come to Aus?
I would probably have to come during the BMX “off” season here in the US. We do not get much down time here except during the January through February time frame. We are also starting a horse riding therapy site on our new property for disabled children so it would have to be scheduled around that too. It should also be closed during those months due to the weather until we get an indoor riding ring built.

bmxultra.com: What races would you prefer to race here?
I would be happy to hang out locally or hit whatever big races are going on.

bmxultra.com: Are there any specific tracks you would like to check out?
I think Knox is out your way correct and the BSX track? I’ll bring the bike, you point me to the good tracks. Deal?

bmxultra.com: Would you bring the whole family?
It would really depend on the time of the year and time frame with school and what not. My wife has never been outside of the US (and very few places inside of it) so I think she would be thrilled if she did go. That’s some major airfare for all of us though. Maybe I could talk the family into watching the little ones for us.

bmxultra.com: Ok deal. You should know Jan to Feb is perfect for racing here. In Jan there is a week of racing in Queensland followed by a week of racing in Melbourne (My home town), which includes both Knox and BSX. And other races through Feb.
Other than the semi-local indoor (4 hours away) it is dead here during that time frame. We need to work on a BMX exchange program or something!

Vet Pro and BS Stops

bmxultra.com: Do you think you would give Vet Pro/Vet Masters a go? Why(/why not)?
When I started back in late 2004 I did the right thing and let the NBL know I was previously a Superclass rider and kept my old NBL number. I could have signed up for a new number in any class and kept it quiet but that didn’t sit right with me. I had to get Bob Tedesco to sign my license renewal stating that it was o.k. with him that I race in Expert. I had been off of a bike for 13 years at that time and there was no way I should be in any pro class. At that point Expert was even a stretch but I would not sign up for anything lower. I told Bob that I would move to Masters if I got a top 10 plate, as the NBL rule was you had to be top 10 to move up. I separated my shoulder twice last summer a month apart and ended up finishing 11th nationally. That rule was removed this year so it has been something to think about. Staying injury free for one season has been my first priority so that I can get my skill level up. I recently did some training with Greg Hill and I have been working on my riding daily. Before that I would just pick my bike up out of the garage when it was race day and not train at all. I still made 95% of my mains that way, but I did not win any. If I can finish top 10 in both NBL and ABA I will donate some money to the Vet class next year. That class is serious and it is getting faster every year. The recent additions of Bittner and Loffredo show you how tough that class is. I will be racing the Vet guys (Rupe, Carnes, Lyons, Domingos, Strieby and non-U.S. vets) at the UCI Worlds next month in the Masters Challenge class, I will have an idea of how much further I have to go from that experience.

bmxultra.com: Will it be your first UCI worlds?
Yes it will.

bmxultra.com: Have you been to Rockford to see how you would go in the BS stops race yet?
I went last year but that was just after I had separated the shoulder for the second time. I still raced and did well in the motos but did not make the main. If it were not
for the cost of the Worlds trip I would have been there again this year. I will be there next year.

bmxultra.com: What does it mean to a 30 & Over rider in the US to race at the BS stops?
It means you might have to back all the crap you talked on the boards leading up to the race LOL. It also means you get to see some of the fastest 30+ riders in the country all in one class. Although the AA pros are not included there are still some amazing riders. You also get the 30+ guys who finally get a chance to be in the gate with the Pros they look up to and would otherwise never get to gate up with them.

bmxultra.com: What do you think the concept does for the riders in the 30 & Over class?
Mostly it is a big testosterone outlet. Chest thumping, bragging rights, who’s who of the old farts race. ABA, NBL, it doesn’t matter where you came from. You get in the gate and put on a show.

bmxultra.com: Does it do anything more than any standard 30 & Over money open?
The BS Open makes a 30+ money open look like a tricycle race. I’d take that motomag trophy over any 30+ money open purse out there. There are Money opens at every national. There is only one Rockford BS Open and everyone knows who won it.

bmxultra.com: What would you say to an Aussie (or any other international rider) who is thinking of racing the BS Stops race?
Don’t think about it, just do it. It is one of those things you have to experience at least once in your life. This years attendance was down due to cost of travel but last
year we had 70+ guys over 30 going for one trophy. Oh yeah, do your sprints!


bmxultra.com: What do you think are the biggest differences between NBL and ABA?
NBL has money opens (they rock by the way), three qualifying rounds and most of the points come from the motos. You blow one moto and your points are shot for the day. If you do not have a class you automatically get first when you are combined with another class. I’ve seen people get capped out for a season because they never have a class. Yet when they get to the Grands they do not make it out of the motos but still get a top 10 plate because they had so many points going in. Some people tend to stay in the Rookie and Novice classes for extended periods of time as they are awarded national rankings. If you have been in the Rookie class for 4 years with a national ranking, it was time to move up 3 years ago. Pros run one main.

ABA has only two qualifying rounds and no points from the motos. If you qualify the first moto you do not race the second moto.
If you blow your first moto you have the second moto to qualify and it does not hurt your points. If you do not make the main, no main points as you are only scored on your main finish. No money opens (bummer). If you do not have a class you get combined with another and are scored how you finish. For example if my class (28-35 Expert) gets combined with 19-27 Expert I better be riding hard or I will not get any main points. There are no national plates specifically for the beginner and intermediate
classes, which cuts down on the sandbagging (holding back from moving up, avoiding a win by hitting the brakes) a lot. Pros run three mains.

bmxultra.com: Which do you prefer? Why?
In the ABA there is less drama and sandbagging at the races. You race the other riders more than you do the track. The NBL tracks are more lipped out so you are concentrating more on getting over the obstacles safe and with speed than you are racing the other riders. A lot of the NBL tracks have a separator jump. This is a hard, big jump that if you do not jump it, you will not do well. South Park was like that last year, do or die on the second straight. I rode it in practice and jumped everything but this was during the shoulder injury so I decided not to risk it and did not race. The ABA jumps you can usually either jump or manual it and keep speed so they seem to flow better. Pull manualling can be just as technical and difficult as jumping, one is not necessarily easier than the other. In the ABA staging they call your moto number, name and gate, which is nice. NBL money opens are great as you get to mix it up with the pros and try to get some of your entry fees back. The NBL has more races on the East Coast. If the ABA had more races on the East Coast I think the NBL would be in a bit of trouble. Vice versa, if the NBL had a website like the ABA and changed a few things I think the ABA could be in trouble. Right now I am leaning a bit towards the ABA side of the house. For all my friends in the NBL office, I am talking racing format and not people. I have known some of you since I was just a kid. I just think that some of the format needs to be tuned up. I have to say hi to my friends in the ABA office to. (Shane is trying to put me in hard spot on this one!)

bmxultra.com: Do you think there is a benefit for BMX in the US to have 2 sanctioning bodies?
Yes and no. I think there is a benefit as some people are strictly aligned with one or the other. They have been racing one format for so many years that they have  become biased towards the one they prefer. This gives them what they want, and a choice if they do not like it. It also gives some variety if you start getting burned out on one or the other. You get to race different riders, tracks and a different format.

I also say no as there is a lot of scheduling conflicts that happen, and they seem to not happen randomly. Sometimes there are two nationals in the same area on the same weekend, one NBL and one ABA. It doesn’t make sense. Back in May there was an ABA Pro national, an NBL Elite national, two NBL Regional Nationals and the NBL Florida state championships all on the same weekend. Next weekend is the NBL Virginia national and the ABA Tennessee national. Our state ABA championships are on the same weekend as the NBL Grands. You can guess where a lot of our top riders are going to be that weekend. The Grands.

bmxultra.com: So if you had 2 races on the same weekend, the same distance from your house, one NBL and one ABA how would you chose which one you race at?
I would hit the ABA national, as there are few on the east coast of the U.S. This year we have 6 ABA national weekends on our coast. There are 27 national weekends in the NBL so that is 54 qualifiers, not including the Regional races which you can use two scores from them also in your national points. With no points based on rider count it doesn’t matter which national you get your points at in the NBL. They are all worth the same amount if you have 24 riders or only 3 riders. 200 points for winning your motos and the main. 5 scores count for a maximum of 1000 points possible going into the Grands. I try to hit the hardest NBL nationals that have the largest turnout for my class. Woodward, Egg Harbor and the Christmas Classic are the big ones. It gives you an idea of how you are riding against the rest of the group. I would rather do well at the hard nationals and the Grands than hit the easy ones and try to get the lowest number plate the easy way. You will get people sitting high in the points from hitting the easy races going into the Grands but cannot make it out of the motos when they get there. Yes they still get the low number plate, but that takes prestige away from the whole NBL ranking system.

bmxultra.com: What is your favourite ABA Track? Why?
Jess: Rockford. It flows like Niagara falls.

bmxultra.com: What is your favourite NBL Track? Why?
Egg Harbor, NJ. Good flow and I used to go there back when I was a kid. Great racing for the 30+ crowd. Lots of riders in the older 20 inch classes.

bmxultra.com: What is your favourite ABA race meeting? Why?
Jess: Rockford. The mix of old school and new school. The BMX celebrities who are just walking around in the crowd. The  atmosphere there is amazing. I will be hitting my first ABA Grands this fall so I might have to revise that.

bmxultra.com: What is your favourite NBL race meeting? Why?
That would have to be the Grands. The atmosphere and tension is thick. Big classes and it is all on the line. You either walk the walk or pack it up and head home. No second chances.

bmxultra.com: Who are your sponsors?
Bill Ryan at Supercross BMX (www.supercrossbmx.com), Monster Energy Drink (www.monsterenergy.com) and 661 (www.sixsixone.com).
I also have to give a shout out to John Kovachi at Kovachi Wheels (www.kovachiwheels.com) who always takes care of me.

bmxultra.com: Is there anyone you would like to thank for getting you to this point?
My mom for getting me started in racing. My step-dad, for all of his encouragement and reality checks. My family for being there to pick me up when I jacked myself up out on the track and standing by me when I did. My friend Bill Ryan at Supercross for his kindness, believing in me, and his encouragement. Thank you to you too Shane for giving me this opportunity to share my story.

bmxultra.com: Good luck with everything. Let us know when you are heading to Aus.
Thank you, and you will be the first to know.

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