By Hayden Schultz
I’ll be honest, the 2016 season was disappointing. Coming off the best season of my career in 2015, I had big goals. After having the best performance of my life at the KTM RC Cup World Finals, I had high hopes that support or sponsorship would be there. There were some things here and there but nothing that ended up making a big difference. It wasn’t for lack of trying either. I spent a lot of time sending emails, planning, meeting people, and being on the phone trying to make things happen. That off season, once I figured out I would be doing on my own again, I decided to jump on a 1000cc and try to be competitive.
At this time in my life I was living in Gainesville, Florida, had a track close and warm weather all year round. I was also going to school full time and working to help pay for all those tires eaten when riding a big bike. I’d go to school during the day and work in the afternoon and train in between. My problem was time management. I didn’t manage my time well enough and that ended up hurting me.
It was a struggle to balance it all but after really getting into the season and seeing my shortcomings did I see that I had not prepared myself well enough. You see, riding the KTM gave me a false sense of security. It is easy to ride and doesn’t physically exert much energy. I did not train well enough to ride a liter bike for that long at that pace. I came into my first MotoAmerica race and struggled. I ended up crashing in qualifying and didn’t even race. Far from the hopes I had for myself. It was a tough pill to swallow. We were on a limited budget and it just got tighter having to repair the damage.
This caused us to race significantly less than we had planned but that’s racing sometimes. During the summer I ended up moving back to where I grew up in Arkansas. This took up a lot of time which limited racing even more. Between this, I was struggling with what I should do with my life. The lack of performance was tough on me and there were a lot of times where I almost quit racing to pursue another venture. It took a lot of praying and time with God to decide that I was still being used through racing and he wasn’t done with me there yet. So with that, I moved home, did a couple more club races and also struggled there. The facts are that I was not prepared. I made a big step and did not put in the work to make that step properly.
I’m now back to going to school, studying sports management at the University of Arkansas and working again. This offseason has provided a lot of time to reflect and regroup. This much needed time has giving me time to get back to training consistently on the MX bike and preparing myself to handle a 1000. For the first time in a year I’m having fun on a motorcycle again. I’ve decided to go back to my roots and go club racing with CMRA in 2017. I will still be at some MotoAmerica races in 2017, but first I need to focus on getting seat time and getting my bike and program set up. The disappointment of last season has motivated me to be prepared for 2017.
If I have more seasons like 2016, I don’t know how much longer I can keep racing. That’s just me being real with you all. I have to get back to having fun, being well prepared, and focused on my goals. God has a plan for me and right now I feel he has me still racing for a reason. I will continue to walk down this path, and use this as a platform until he says stop and opens another door for my life to follow. It may be in a week, it could be years. Until then, I will put all I have into it and give all the glory to God. Win or lose, I’ll praise him. I’m extremely lucky to have the opportunities I do. If having a bad year racing is one of my biggest problems, then I have a pretty great life.
So I apologize for not living up to expectations I had for the past year. Thank you for supporting me and sticking with it, I wouldn’t have done it without you. Thank you to my family, Gene, Gary, Mike, Jim and everyone who made it possible to get that ZX-10 back together even when I kept breaking things.
I’m excited for what this year holds, and I am so grateful to have the support from people and the opportunity to race. I’m blessed to be able to serve God through racing and will focus on that first and foremost.
P.S. sorry to those at the track who I paid in $1 bills. Being a waiter didn’t give me much of a choice haha.