It is said that one never forgets how to ride a bike, and Hampton Bays resident Eric Flagg is a perfect example.
After a 15-year hiatus from motocross, the 35-year-old maintenance worker for Cowfish and Rumba Restaurants returned to the sport he so dearly loves, and he has made it to one of the highest levels of competition. On Sunday, Flagg will compete in the weeklong Red Bull AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship presented by Amsoil at the Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.
In order to reach the national championships, Flagg first had to finish in the top seven of the area qualifiers and then in the regional qualifiers. Back on March 23, Flagg finished fourth at the Northeast Area Qualifer in Englishtown, New Jersey. He then repeated that performance at the Northeast Regional Qualifier in Budds Creek, Maryland, on June 28. Flagg has gone from one of 20,000 competitors to being in the top 40 in his division (Vet B/C 30+) in the country.
His comeback started back in December when he was looking up a motocross race schedule and saw that an area qualifier would be relatively close in New Jersey. He decided then to get back on a bike after missing out on racing competitively since he was about 21.
“I just kind of got to a level where it was getting too expensive for me,” he explained. “I was traveling every weekend, going to different races.
“But, to be honest, those who really know me were waiting to hear me say I was coming back,” he added. “It was just a matter of time.”
Flagg not only started training at the track but he also worked out and lost 45 pounds to get ready for the area qualifier. He said there were some new tricks he had to learn but that, for the most part, he knew what he was doing when he officially returned to motocross back in March. “I put a lot of pressure on myself,” he said. “My expectations were to try and get top five. I had a lot of nerves but, right when you’re about to start the race, you dig your feet into the dirt. As soon as I did that, it brought everything back. I didn’t lose it.”
Mario Burriesci, who owns MB Tinting in Quogue, has been friends with Flagg since they were children and helped him get to the top of the sport by training with him at numerous tracks in Suffolk County. Both Burriesci and Flagg trained at the Calverton Training Facility and Club MX in Ronkonkoma.
“He was definitely working hard,” Burriesci said. “We were laughing over the winter that we were getting big and fat. But he slimmed down, he was using PX90. He’s just awesome. He was definitely a great rider before he started.”
Flagg’s mother, Judith Rose, recalled when her son started riding a 50CC Yamaha at 4 years old. She didn’t like it too much then but grew to eventually enjoy him on the track.
“He really got himself into fabulous shape in mind and in body,” she said. “What makes him such a strong rider is his really good endurance.”
Flagg has been very appreciative of all the help he has gotten since getting back onto his bike. He thanked his friends and family and his wife, Melissa, especially for joining him on his trips and enduring all of the ups and downs together.
Flagg also appreciates his sponsors, which include: Hampton Motorsports in Southampton, Honda Riverhead, Cooper Pools in Hampton Bays, MRK Electric in Hampton Bays, MB Tinting, M&M Pools in Hampton Bays, Ponquogue Power and Rumba and Cowfish Restaurants.