He Bla-i-zed Zim motocross

HARARE - Many have so often passed it off as a coffin on wheels, but for Blaize Thomas, motorcycling is just a misunderstood lifestyle.

The seven-time Zimbabwe national motocross champion feels the two wheels are largely misunderstood, in fact they provide a thrill and adrenalin rush like no other.

“Motorcycling is a lifestyle,” Thomas, who at 54, still represents Zimbabwe in the masters’ category, tells the Daily News.

“You never stop riding.

“People who drive cars are all the same. But once you ride a bike you are different. You don’t have road rage. You just whisk through traffic.

“Culturally, Zimbabweans have always been afraid of motorcycles. It is only now where parents are letting their kids get involved.”

The former Churchill High School student has been in motocross since 1970, starting off as a 12-year-old when the sport was relatively unknown in then colonial Zimbabwe.

“Back then there was no organised racing,” he says.

“It was my brother (Shane), I and about three or four other guys who started racing here as little kids.

“There was nowhere in Zimbabwe where kids were racing. It was all adults. I know it is hard to grasp but in those days kids were kids.

“This thing of kids going out and partying was not there. It is ridiculous. I mean, I did not even know what a beer was until I turned 19. That is how it was then but now you have a 14-year-old getting drunk.

“But the sport started to grow. More youngsters started coming in and like with anything if you get young blood in, it starts to really spread. We started to have junior races for kids.

“It grew to such an extent that we were given land at Donnybrook. We used to race way out there near the airport.

“There were no facilities at the airport track. But we moved to Donnybrook and this venue grew to a place where you now have road racing, karting, drags, motocross, and four by four’s.

“It evolved into a sport that was supported.

“It did take a while for it to be appreciated because you had schools that did not accept motocross as a sport.”

Thomas rose to prominence at the age of 14, in 1972 after scooping the Zimbabwe national motocross championships in the B class.

He would go on to illuminate the local scene before leaving for South Africa in 1979, joining Suzuki Distributors and subsequently embarking on a semi-professional career that would span for the next seven years.

The avid biker later returned home at the end of 1985 before claiming the national motocross championship the following year.

Thomas’ career took him to England in 1987, where he would sign a one-year contract with motorcycle manufacturing company, Husqvarna Motorcycles.

“There were about 120 applicants who applied for that sponsorship but I got the first option because I was a national champion.

“They felt I was committed to the sport,” he says.

That stint in England was followed by a good run of form on the local scene which included winning the national motocross championship from 1988 up to 1991.

“1990 was an exciting year,” he says.

“I won the national motocross championship, national foot-up trials, national road racing champs and the enduro champs.

“I got injured in 1992 came back won various championships. I am still in motorsport but my children Broc and Josh have now taken the front seat.

“It has been an exciting 38 years, you get slower as you get older but the thrill remains the same.

“I have competed, I have taught the sport and now I’m selling it,” says Thomas who runs a motorsport spares and maintenance shop called Trailblazers, situated along Enterprise Road.

On how he has been able to stay afloat in a financially demanding sport, the 56-year-old says: “If you are a drinker you will find a way to get that drink. If you are a fisherman you will find fish one way or the other.

“And that is how we have basically got on with life.”

The former Admiral Tait Primary School pupil’s love for the two wheels has not wavered since he learnt to ride a bike in 1966.

When he is not riding his Yamaha 250cc on the racetrack he prefers to ride his 900cc Harley-Davidson to work rather than drive his Isuzu KB 250 d-teq.

“Why should I to use more fuel when I can use just a litre for every 40km?” he asks.

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