Dylan Ferrandis is accustomed to running what is, in essence, two Supercross seasons per year.
With the 250 class of the Monster Energy Supercross Series broken into East and West divisions, there are long breaks in the action as the schedule crisscrosses the continent. But there is no denying the fact that 2020 will be unique with a spring and fall schedule to determine the title.
After sitting through a four-week break, Ferrandis was preparing to return to action. He took a few weeks to relax and recover and had just climbed back on his bike to train for the final four races that would complete his championship run.
“When you sign up for the season, you know that you have these breaks,” Ferrandis told NBCSports.com. “In my mind it was just normal. … I was just feeling good and ready to go for the second half of the season when we had to stop it. … At this time, when the situation started to be crazy, I was ready.”
But then dominoes began to fall.
Round 10 at Daytona was in the books, and Supercross prepared to head for Indianapolis in what was to be the fifth consecutive 250 East race. In two weeks, Ferrandis would be able to pick up where he left off. He had the points lead and a ton of momentum from five first- or second-place finishes in the six races run in 250 West competition.
The next West race was supposed to be in Seattle, which at the time was the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. That race was canceled.
Typically, there is a well-established rhythm to the Supercross and Motocross seasons.
With its built-in breaks, the indoor series allows riders to surge, recover and then surge again. Then they brace for a long, grueling outdoor season.
“The week (after Daytona) was a training week; I pushed really hard,” Ferrandis said. “(It was) two weeks before I was due to race. I started to get back to normal and then we had to stop everything.
“It was a little bit weird. For me, as an athlete, those first few weeks (of the break) were difficult because I was ready for the second part of the season. Ready to race again and then there was no race. I did all of this work for the six weeks for nothing and it was difficult to accept that. Now, we all know the situation and that it’s the best for everyone.”
Supercross requires intense concentration and precise movements. And while strength is certainly not of secondary concern indoors, the toll on the body is much less than what is exacted on longer and steeper outdoor tracks.
By the time the combined seasons are over, in late August or early September, a rider is spent both mentally and physically.
Ferrandis was consistent and strong in the outdoor season last year.
In 12 rounds, he never finished worse than fourth. He won his first overall MX at RedBud halfway through the season and went on to score three more wins in the last five weeks.
The late-season charge was not quite enough to overtake Adam Cianciarulo for the top spot, but after dramatically beating that same rider in Supercross in the final race of the season, second in the outdoor championship completed a solid year.
And then he was done.
He could let his battered body rest.
This year, Ferrandis and the rest of the riders will have to head back indoors and reestablish their concentration.
“You have to ride the outdoor and then right afterward we’ll be back in Supercross,” Ferrandis said. “I think it will be difficult because outdoor and Supercross are two different sports, they’re different riding styles and a different approach. Physically they are also really different. We have to stay in good shape all summer and be injury-free. … I think we will not have a lot of time to get prepared.
“Most of the time we are pretty sore and tired (after motocross). That’s why it’s going to be really important to stay healthy all summer and in good shape, because as soon as outdoors will be finished, we will have maybe one or two weeks to get ready for the Supercross tour. It’s a really short time to get ready. It’s going to be really, really interesting and the rider will make the best of the summer.”
No matter what happens in the outdoor season, as long as he is healthy at its completion, Ferrandis will return to Supercross in an enviable position.
The season started with everyone tied at zero. Ferrandis will return to action with a seven-point advantage over Justin Cooper.
Better still, Ferrandis has finished ahead of Cooper nearly every week. Ferrandis gave up the majority of his points at St. Louis with one bad run and a 12th-place finish.
Ferrandis knows that he needs to avoid that same kind of catastrophic race. If he does not make mistakes, he has the bike and team that will allow him to remain in the lead.
“It’s difficult when you start to think about points or championships,” Ferrandis said. “For me, the best is to always give it everything that you have. … Most of the time the wins come when you are trying to stay in position. I think when the championship will be back, we will keep the same momentum that we had in the first six rounds. (I need to ) Stay aggressive and try for the wins.”