A debut memoir recounts a former Canadian national champion’s career in motocross and a near-fatal, high-speed crash that left him a paraplegic.
Worrall was born in Chilliwack, British Columbia, in the summer of 1966. The son of a “burly logger” and a “highly intelligent” bank clerk, he was “introverted” at school and “never felt smart.” In 1972, when his father bought him a bright red motorbike, his life changed. The bike became the author’s “first true love,” and “any kind of isolation” he had felt was gone. He progressed from being a plucky 7-year-old who raced wearing a number made from hockey tape to winning the Canadian national motocross championship. Despite his success, he found that he was using alcohol as an “escape,” and it was beginning to turn on him. Alcoholism and compulsive gambling led to periods of absence from the sport. While making a comeback in 2011, he found himself in a “perpetual nose-dive position” and survived a crash in which his “lungs had collapsed as a result of multiple fractures” to his “spinal column and torso.” Paraplegic and robbed of his beloved sport, the author felt the battle against his addictions intensify. Worrall tells how he was able to “put his life back in order” and continue his involvement in motocross. The opening of the memoir is off-puttingly programmatic, as the author unnecessarily recounts his family lineage before beginning his own story. Yet his endearingly droll descriptive style soon shines through: Dad “always looked and smelled as if he had just run a marathon behind a wood chipper.” Worrall’s writing is also unswervingly honest: “The anti-depressants had me wanting to jump off the cliff at the top of Sparkling Hill or run headlong out my living room window.” Still, some of his discussions will prove drowsy for those unfamiliar with the sport: “The other thing to keep in mind is that the 80 cc bikes back then were about as big as today’s 65 cc motorcycles.” Illustrated with the author’s photographs, this frank and straightforward memoir will captivate motocross enthusiasts but may struggle to draw a wider audience.
An uplifting tale of a fight against the odds—told with simplicity and charm—that will appeal to motocross fans.