The Taddy Blazusiak Story

Story By B. M. Smith · Photos By Shan Moore

Printed in the September 2013 issue of Dirt Rider Magazine.

Taddy Blazusiak, 2013 EnduroCross Champion

Almost an hour has passed following the X Games Enduro X final in Barcelona, Spain. Taddy Blazusiak has a line of people waiting outside of the KTM truck—journalists, sport officials, well-wishers and sponsors—and Taddy doesn’ t shut the door, doesn’ t change any of them away. His girlfriend, Joanna, who rarely comes to events, waits patiently while talking with friends.

On the final lap of the main event, Blazusiak got crashed hard while battling Paul Brown for the win. He’ t clearly in pain, yet he’ s still sitting on a sofa wearing his riding pants plus boots. A plastic yellow grocery store sack filled with ice rests on his knotted right wrist. A sponsor needs a document signed. He chuckles, holds up his bum hand, after which says, “I’ll just do it with my left. ” For finishing an uncustomary fourth overall, and looking at the prospect of a bad-news X-ray, Taddy seems to be in a good mood—better than he was after winning the gold medal a month earlier in Brazil.

But still, I am about to ask a guy who simply ejected from his motorcycle in midair, lost the race and may have a broken wrist if I can come up to his house plus shadow him, see him train and try to figure out what makes him so darn good. Since 2007, he’s bagged eight combined EnduroCross plus SuperEnduro titles, multiple X Video games gold medals and five Erzbergrodeo wins in as many attempts, the very first of which was possibly the biggest Cinderella story in off-road history.

Where would we be going? To his hometown of Nowy Targ, Poland, where ice hockey and floorball are the most widely used sports? To the ski resort nation of Andorra where he is also a resident? Or Girona, Spain, where he lbs laps on a private EnduroCross track just a few miles from the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea? After standing underneath the orange awning observing this parade of people that he continued to freely accept, I am cautiously optimistic. Once the hospitality room finally clears away, I tentatively climb the tips searching for the right way to handle this situation. Yet he is the first to speak. “Hey, about your visit …”

The hollow, metallic but forceful “thwock” makes Taddy flinch and look to his right. He’s seated at the edge of a bluff that looks out to a fairway on the back 9 of a golf course in Girona, The country. Netting keeps most of the shanks plus hooks from dropping into the yard. A bucket of white plus blaze-orange golf balls next to the front door suggests it isn’t completely effective.

It’s almost three days after the crash, and Taddy’s right wrist has strips of white tape running up close in order to his elbow. He has torn structures. He won’t be riding or training; his quest for a sixth win at the Iron Giant is over as quickly as it had been announced just days earlier. I almost suggest hitting the golf course that sits right before us, but I can’t find a set of clubs inside his immaculate garage area. Then he tells me he doesn’t golfing. He was hoping to learn this year but doesn’t know when can find the time. So we just sit down and talk. We discuss his travel schedule, goals, the number of languages he speaks and somehow get off on a tangent about online dating internet sites. He was incredulous when he discovered that people actually meet with the Internet and sometimes get married.

Taddy Blazusiak

One of the most fascinating thing about Blazusiak’s life is how he’s able to divide his time and his mind and still become the best rider his sport provides ever seen. In my short time with him, I hear him speak in the three languages in which they are completely fluent: when his practice mechanic stopped by to take aside his bike—Spanish; when Joanna really wants to have a conversation—Polish; when the reporter, whom now feels linguistically inadequate, asks yet another question—English. He often would go to bed at night thinking of words in three different languages. He stated it gets confusing, but when he stays in one spot, like when he comes to American for the EnduroCross Series, he gets into a tempo. He also speaks enough of several other European languages to carry on basic conversations, like French when he wants to chat with his good buddy Cyril Despres, the five-time Dakar Rally winner.

Blazusiak has two homes in two different countries. One is in Andorra, a principality between Spain plus France, and one in Girona, just an hour north of Barcelona. They are only three hours from one another, but the climate in Spain is different enough to allow him to train through the wintertime. Although he was born in Poland, raised in Nowy Targ, his roots in Spain go back to the ’90s when he and his brother, Wojpek, would spend up to seven months a year there to train for studies. The best trials riders in the world are usually from Spain, and Taddy’s family members was big into the sport.

Taddy Blazusiak

It might be now forgotten that Taddy Blazusiak was once more commonly known as Tadeusz (Tad-ee-osh), named after his great grandpa. In the early 2000s, young Taddy was excelling in FIM Planet Trials. He was the 2004 Western Trials Champion and finished eighth in the World Trials two years later when he was 23. He as soon as had a goal to become the first rider from Poland to win the entire world Trials title. But he struggled with the Scorpa-Yamaha, a bike that wasn’t fully developed, and then had a brief stint with Beta at the beginning of 2007. In late May of the exact same year, he was having drinks in a bar with a friend whom had just broken his steak. The friend suggested that Blazusiak take his spot at the Erzbergrodeo in Austria, the toughest rough-road race in the world. That’s when Taddy says he didn’t actually have much racing …

He appears up with pursed lips and dunes his hand in a forward circle. He’s stuck in mid-sentence. “Experience? ” I say.

“That’s what I’m talking about! ” he says. “I just had the term from three different languages going through my head. ”

Blazusiak doesn’t spend much time dwelling upon or thinking about what happened. His philosophy is win the championship upon Sunday and train for the following one on Monday. But he can use the past as a way to correct errors. One of his favorite lines is usually, “If you don’t want to improve that means you’re pretty much done. ” He doesn’t bother to watch movie from races that he won. “Because I know what happened and I won the particular race, ” he explains. “There’s nothing to improve on that. Yet I watch the races where I didn’t win thousands of situations. ”

 

Erzberg 2007 could be his one guilty pleasure because he doesn’t mind discussing the one weekend in his life that he admits he could write a book about. He remembers all the details and doesn’t seem to want to hurry through the story. The short edition is that some kid from Poland who nobody had heard of, whom had very little experience riding fullsize dirt bikes, showed up to the most well-known extreme enduro in the world and gained.

 

The details of the longer version are very rich. He wasn’t competing in trials at the moment and was looking for methods to prepare for the 2008 season, that was more than six months away. When he accepted his friend’s entry to the sold-out, 1, 500-rider race, he got a 2-year-old bike from your Polish Gas Gas importer. “It was pretty beat up, ” he said.

 

This story is now so legendary that some facts possess turned to fable. The real version is that Blazusiak showed up in a camper plus was there just to have some fun. He or she said that even though he didn’t have a trials contract at the time, he had been having more fun riding than he’d ever had. In the Iron Road début, Blazusiak was actually underpowered. “Qualifying on the bike was crap, ” he said. “It was fairly bad. ” But then he subscribed to the Saturday night endurocross competition that promoter Karl Katoch had been holding for the first time in Erzberg background. Blazusiak said he signed up for the particular amateur class and set times which were fast enough to put him directly into second place amongst the pros. That’s when Katoch gave Blazusiak the particular wild card invite to the front row of the Hare Scramble, plus that’s also when KTM offered up a factory 250 EXC that had been left vacant by injured Spaniard Xavi Galindo.

 

The best part of the story is that Taddy, lined up together with off-road’s best, had no idea the particular race had a dead engine begin. When the official motioned for all bikers to kill their motors, he thought instructions were to be given and his attention focused in on that instead of preparing to restart his bicycle. Then a flag went up plus 1, 499 motorcycles came to life while the new kid in the gray plus yellow Beta riding gear pondered what had just happened.

 

“So I’m already mid-pack, ” Blazusiak said. “I started to push and I ended up like top 10 or 15 after the first few hills. So I started pushing like crazy and all of an abrupt I was all by myself and I believed I got lost. ” When he hit a checkpoint and had been informed that he was leading, it was that moment when Blazusiak noticed he was once again a professional motorcycle rider. He finished the event six minutes ahead of his new teammates Tom Sager and enduro symbol Juha Salminen. “When I got to the finish, they’re like, ‘Who’s that guy? ’”

 

One month later, Blazusiak signed a contract with KTM with the 2009 season to compete in extreme and indoor enduros. He or she showed his appreciation to his new bosses by doing one-handed stoppies in the parking lot while wearing denims and sneakers. Then he went on to be the face of EnduroCross in America, SuperEnduro in Europe, and won Erzberg four more times.

Taddy Blazusiak

A stack of photographs fills Blazusiak’s hand. He flips through some of them quickly but breaks on others. Joanna recently procured these pictures from Blazusiak’s mom in Poland. The first photo he stops on is one of him at 8 or 9 years old and it appears he has crashed. He is completely separated from the trials bicycle. “Man, I’ve been on the ground a lot, especially at first when I was learning to ride trials bikes, ” he says. He then flips to the next photo. A childish smile that looks just like the a single in the photograph spreads across his face. “Racing and running via life, you forget about a lot of these products. When I see those photos, it comes back. ”

It is obvious that if he’s ever noticed these snapshots before, it was the day they came home from getting developed. Again, his life is normally moving forward. Right now it’s “all in regards to the goal. ” I’m digging to determine what that means and it seems he’s simply motivated by winning. It isn’t really about the rewards of winning; it is the feeling he gets from getting first, fastest and the best. “I’ve been walking on the planet for a significant couple years and I’ve found nothing that gives me a better sensation than that, ” he says. “That’s why I’m around, I guess. ”

You might call Taddy a neat freak. For a motorcycle guy, his garage is surprisingly clutter-free.

You might call Taddy a neat freak. For a motorcycle guy, his garage area is surprisingly clutter-free.

And it doesn’t matter what he’s doing. When he was a studies rider, he focused on winning studies events. When he discovered that he was good at extreme and interior enduros, winning those became the particular goal. He doesn’t allow what-if moments to happen. If he turned to car racing, that would be the newest goal. “I’m super happy, yet thinking about ‘what if’ makes no sense. What if I hadn’t crashed last weekend on the log jump? Mike Brown got hung on the rocks on the last panel, right? Would I have won gold? Live with it. That’s the way it goes. ”

 

This militant attitude toward goals and winning and never looking back also shows up in the fact that he never, ever talks about various other riders, even when asked specifically whom his main competition is plus whether or not he thinks they’re improving. “The hardest guy I have to cope with every day is myself, ” he says. “I’m the hardest guy I must talk to, for sure. ”

 

Nearing the end of the stack of childhood pictures that feature purple and fuchsia riding gear and baggy street clothing, we’re reminded that we were all once style victims of the 1990s. The answers to a lot of of my questions circle returning to having goals, so I ask him if he remembered what he wanted to be when he had been 6 or 7 years old. “If I would have known how much function it is to get where I’m in right now when I was 7, I don’t think I would do it. It’s crazy, way too much. ”

 

Today, Blazusiak enjoys putting in the work. Even though he doesn’t talk about, think about or even hang about his competition, he doesn’t sleep until he’s sure he’s ridden more, trained more and tested new parts and settings more than everybody else.

 

After spending a few hours at his Girona home, it’s apparent that this is really where he comes to get away from riding, rushing and training. This is where downtime occurs. Outside of a few trophies, medals as well as a jersey hanging on the living room wall, his home is immaculate plus free of moto-clutter. A homemade work schedule on the refrigerator outlines where Blazusiak is each weekend so Joanna can keep up. She’s currently studying to become a lawyer, and she’s never been to America. He likes having that separation. “It’s cool mainly because I can disconnect from the racing picture when I’m home, ” he says.

Taddy likes to keep his racing and his personal life separate. Here at home with girlfriend Joanna, he can relax.

Taddy likes to keep his racing and his personal life separate. Here at house with girlfriend Joanna, he can unwind.

He competes in a world of chaos where obstacles move, lines get clogged by fallen riders, and it is loud, slippery, dirty and stressful. But his home is very arranged. He said he cannot experience his belongings out of order. Dozens of Fox jerseys and pairs of riding pants are neatly folded on shelves. His helmet liners are filed so tightly inside a pullout drawer that they look like a foam card catalog system. Each toy—a Jet Ski, a road bike, a mountain bike, a shifter kart, a KTM 350, the trials bike—has plenty of space about it and is easily accessible.

 

One week after winning his fourth consecutive Geico EnduroCross title on November 17, 2012, Blazusiak went to a motocross track in Spain. The FIM SuperEnduro World Championship started on December 8 and he wanted to work on his speed and test the bicycle to ensure that he could win his 4th consecutive title in Europe, too. A vicious high side caused a third-degree AC joint splitting up in his right shoulder. He came along to round one in Lodz, Poland, heavily taped and on painkillers. “It was a mess, ” he says. “I probably should not have been traveling the bike a week after the accident. It was an adrenaline rush, yet I wanted so bad to be rushing and not watching from the stands. I just pushed myself again to a new limit that I didn’t know I needed. ”

 

He still won the particular race over riders like Brian Knight and Jonny Walker after which had surgery the following week on his left shoulder, which was injured inside a previous crash. It was a simple fragment cleanup procedure he had scheduled significantly in advance. Doctors recommended surgery at the right shoulder’s AC separation yet said recovery would require a minimum of three months off the bike. He opted to postpone surgery and instead went home to rest. Within France in early March, Blazusiak wrapped up the title even though he had been still trying to get back to full strength. Again, it was all about the goal. “I don’t know that we’re superhuman, ” he says. “We’re pretty much the same, all of us riders. ”

 

Some athletes, afraid of saying the wrong thing or being misunderstood, will dance about topics like injuries and shedding. To Blazusiak, injuries are just section of the game and losing is what motivates him. Even though he’s won far more races than he hasn’t, he’s still surprised to learn that, as of late May, he’s won exactly 57 FIM, AMA and X Video games main events. He allows themself about four seconds to enjoy that stat and by the time he’s handed back my notebook, he’s currently moved on. “What’s beautiful about rushing is that when we are on that door, it doesn’t matter how many championships you gained, how many races you won, ” he says. “Nobody cares about the stats anymore. It’s about those 15 guys at the gate and who’s going to be the first guy at the finish line. We all have the same opportunity, the same distance to go between winning and losing. ”

 

Now 30 years old, Blazusiak walks his practice track with childlike enthusiasm. With his hands, he air-rides log jumps and firewood pits while mimicking the sound of a two-stroke: Braaaaap! Their favorite sections are the fast ones. Even though the more technical tracks have been in his favor, and the faster ones better suit teammate Mike Brown, he says he loves slamming directly into obstacles at speed. He breaks on top of a rock pile where he’s asked how often he free rides. “I don’t ride a dirt bike for fun, ” he says. Again, this unfiltered honesty is almost as shocking as it is refreshing. On the drive to the track, he sipped a can of Coca-Cola while saying that he usually doesn’t roll out of bed until 8: thirty or 9: 00 a. m. on training days. Now he’s telling me that unless somebody is holding a stopwatch, he doesn’t get on the bike. Who might be this guy? There’s a long moment involving silence and he can’t understand there is no benefits not to understand about what he just said. “I ride because it may be fun, but I don’t ride simply to ride, ” he says. “I ride for my training. It’s often fun because when I’m rushing a dirt bike, or riding or even training, I feel great. I feel free on the bike.

 

“I think once you’re really working on your speed and you’re trying to be as fast as you can on the motorcycle, you should ride it to the limit every day. An individual shouldn’t be just riding. It is difficult to understand, but to ride the bike to its limit, you have to ride this specific [points to track] to their limit every day. ” Right now, Blazusiak is hoping that pushing to the limit earns him more By Games gold medals and in house enduro wins.

Taddy Blazusiak at home.

With Cyril Despres as his Andorran neighbor, Blazusiak has the best possible mentor into street motorcycle rally racing. He has already taken part in two events. The most recent was at April at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, part of the Cross Country Rally Universe Championship Series. He finished seventh overall after five days of competitors. Blazusiak is very attracted to the idea of rushing the Dakar Rally, the Trip de France of motorcycle races. Nonetheless unlike Erzberg, it’s not a contest he’s going to compete in on the whim or show up to in the camper. It’s a goal but an undeveloped one, still growing in his mind, he says. “I love racing. Does not matter what it is. Dakar is a thing that interests me a lot. If I may have the goal of racing Dakar, if that would be something that I would want to do, I would undertake it tomorrow. It’s still somewhere, but it’s still not there but. ” Just like when he switched from trials to extreme and in house enduro, he’s confident that he could possibly be successful in rally. But with the particular X Games expansion and the SuperEnduro series growing next season, he / she still feels like he has more to perform where he is and won’t put an exact date on a career transform.

 

As we drive back to Girona upon highway C-66, I’m finally at ease with the fact that I didn’t see a valid Taddy Blazusiak training day. At that point, I’m not certain that watching him or her ride lap after lap while testing parts and tweaking postponement, interruption would have helped to get any more informed on what it takes for him to become a champion. After hours of conversation, really strong espresso and watching baseballs float through the air, I deduced that winning isn’t a goal to get him. Winning is just what he will. The goal is larger than successful. Wherever life takes him, successful is what Blazusiak will do. Success will be the goal.


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