Kevin Elcock is first and foremost a pretty nice guy. He must be. St Lucia’s premiere motorcyclist and perennial champion showed up for his feature interview fresh off his victory at St Vincent’s Bike Extravaganza 2013 with his cousin in tow. Said cousin Oswald Simon just happens to be one of his closest competitors on the racing circuit. But the twenty-four year old was determined to share top billing with his St Lucia Moto X Club teammate and blood brother.
“I always try to share the spotlight with others that I know are working just as hard. It’s true that I always want to win. I believe that everybody who goes out to race always wants to win. Everybody has their own style. They try things their way. But I still try to show persons what I see and how much it would help them improve their level. For me, racing is a battle. But outside from that life goes on and we should all just get along and make the world a better place. That’s how I see it.”
But don’t get it twisted. Under that sweet exterior is a steely grit and determination to claim every championship available. His love for the the mechanical has long been in his veins.
“I started at the age of 14,” said Elcock. “Ever since I was a little boy my interests have always been in tools. I rode a lot of bicycles before. I grew up, whilst all of my cousins were inseparable watching cartoons, I would probably be outside riding a bicycle. There was a big race at Pigeon Point. My uncle told me about it and I took the opportunity. I went out there with my father and watched the races. There was a young guy from Barbados dominating the younger class. I told my father he really needs to get me a bike. It’s a bit shameful that this guy is dominating everybody. He asked me ‘Can you make a difference?’ I said ‘Of course I could make a difference. At that point I had never ridden a motorcycle in my life before.”
But his desire for a motorbike was not immediately met. He ran into an obstacle: his mother. She was concerned about the very real dangers involved in the sport. Elcock spent well over a year trying to convince her before she caved and his father surprised him with his first bike. It was all the encouragement he needed. He threw himself into training, learning the basics from a coach before immersing himself in videos and tapes to pick up tips. It paid off tremendously when in his first local race he was promoted to the higher class as a testament to his rapid progress. But his crowning moment came when he realized a self-fulfilling prophecy.
“It was always my dream to race against that little guy I saw beating everybody. And imagine in my first regional race in St Vincent he was actually there and so said so done. I beat him.”
I’ve learned that fear is the worst thing you can ever let get in your way when it comes to racing. Ten years plus competitively. Over ten titles.
Simon also knows all too well what it is like to be bitten by the racing bug.
“It was the same as Kevin. Going by the track at Pigeon Island, watching the guys racing. That’s what I really wanted to do from day one. I was nineteen. I used to borrow bicycles and train little humps and jumps with mud. And then I went to the races and saw the guys were riding. That was where my interest was. To be a motocross rider. And I pursued my dream. I got my first bike from my brother-in-law and I started riding.”
It’s a sport of risk and reward and they have seen both sides of that equation. For all the success they have both experienced, they have also racked up numerous injuries.
“Broken shoulder. Both of them. Broken ribs, broken arm, and both ligaments on the knee torn. So i’ve had it all,” shares Simon. Adds Elcock, “My last injury was a cracked wrist. I’ve had dislocated shoulders. Cracked my shoulder bones. My knee ligaments. I just tore my ACL recently. My very first injury was my ankle. I broke it.”
Sensing my skepticism Simon explained matter-of-factly, “When you start riding and racing you’re hooked on it and cannot let go. And we have a passion for riding. No matter what happens to me I will not turn my back on it.”
Make no mistake though. They are not young and reckless. The duo is well aware of the perception of the sport and it’s riders as irresponsible speed demons with no regard for safety.
“Riding without a helmet is dangerous,” said Simon. “We have been promoting safe riding for a very long time. Even off the track we have our separate motorcycles; we have the track and the road. And we always tend to wear a helmet on the road. It’s the law, you have to abide with the law. There’s a section in our constitution that speaks to club members wearing their helmet at all times once you on a motorcycle. A lot of the guys don’t like to wear helmet but they’re not part of the club.”
Elcock agreed. “We don’t plan accidents, we don’t know when they’re gonna happen but what we could do is try to avoid them or try your best to prepare yourself. And that’s why we always urge our members and the public to always wear their helmets.”
It’s the foundation of the example that they want to set. There are a number of kids who ride with the club from as young as five. The guys see them as the next generation of the sport and serve as mentors. Their young members are expected to conduct themselves with discipline, respect, and pull in good grades before they can race.
“We always try to do a lot of work with them in terms of training, try to teach them proper techniques and proper lines because we didn’t really have people to stand behind our backs and teach us those things when we were coming up. So we always try to improve on things. Not because we didn’t have it, they shouldn’t have it,” said Elcock.
Elcock and Simon are making strides in elevating their sport. The recently elected President and Vice-President respectively of the club, are hosting Supermoto 2013 on National Day at the Beausejour Grounds. It’s the first step in their plans to make motocross a fixture on the island and beyond. As well as meeting some personal goals.
“My ultimate goal is to see myself racing against the best around the world. But I would like for it to start with racing against the best around the Caribbean. If within the next five years we can host a race out here where the best three from within every island in the Caribbean can come out and we prepare a track on an international level where it will attract these riders to come over. Prize money that’s big enough to make them want to come and race. That’s where I want to see the sport. In terms of international I would love to get a contract with some factory team or support team from the US. That’s where everybody goes to ride. That’s where the sport is at its biggest right now. Honestly if I don’t make a career out of it up there, if I could ride one season, I would be happy.”
Simon shares the sentiment. “That’s the direction we’re trying to take the sport in now. Take it from where it started and develop it into something bigger.”
Even in the singular sport of motocross, teamwork still prevails.