Bone-crunching crashes, paralysis, and a near-death experience would stop most people. But most people aren’t former motocross star David Bailey.
THE SWEAT is pouring down David Bailey’s face as he enters the 40th mile of his daily 70-mile cycling regimen. Just 70 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, the hills around his Murrieta home in Southern California are picturesque enough but also steep and rugged. The next day holds a scheduled 60-lap sprint in a swimming pool, which is to be followed a day later by a 90-mile ride through the muscle-busting hills.
This is just the sort of test for any serious athlete who’s training for a grueling race. The difference is that Bailey is a former motorcycle-racing star who has been paralyzed from the chest down for the past 24 years.
Sweat and fatigue are familiar friends to Bailey, who became a world-recognized icon in the 1980s as an all-American motocross star. One of the most physically demanding sports in the world, motocross involves a delicate yet exacting test of man and machine, one in which riders routinely wrestle 200-pound steel broncos over brutal terrain at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour and for up to 45 minutes at a time.
Founded in the rolling hills of Europe, motocross first came to America in 1966, thanks to an entrepreneurial promoter named Edison Dye. Today, the sport is a worldwide multibillion-dollar industry and features two major series: the uniquely American circus known as indoor supercross, which is held in huge stadiums before as many as 70,000 fans and runs from January through early May; and a national outdoor series, which features 12 races on mile-long dirt tracks and goes from May through September.