The Cross-Up

Anatomy of style; Jim Pomeroy


Compared to the mind-boggling gyrations modern motocross riders have achieved, kicking their bikes into one-handed tabletops and clearing massive double and triple jumps with a whip thrown in for good measure, the photos on this page may seem like much ado about nothing. But in the fledgling days of motocross in the early 70s, when bikes had but a matter of inches of suspension travel and questionable quirks of handling, these were examples of awe-inspiring magic.

The rider depicted here is Jim Pomeroy, a Washington State native who electrified the motocross world in 1973 when he pulled a surprise win at the opening round of the 250cc Motocross World Championship in Spain. A relative unknown, Pomeroy put his Bultaco Pursang out front and opened up a commanding lead, granting him enough of a comfort margin to take the checkered flag in real style; a crossed-up wheelie while flashing the peace sign. The European fans went wild. Jim’s exploits helped usher in America’s presence in the World Championship (Americans would take both the 250cc and 500cc crowns in 1982). The win in Spain, coupled with Pomeroy being the lone American in the field, and the flamboyance of his riding (especially that one-handed wheelie) cemented his status as a world-caliber rider.

Pomeroy became famous for his picture-perfect cross-ups, exhibiting a stylish, picture-perfect form that defined the quintessential cross-up. Although the cross-up was in fact a practical maneuver to initiate an aerial direction change, it was predominantly viewed as a display of showboating. Spectators loved it.

Bultaco-mounted Pomeroy became, quite literally, the poster child of the cross-up, with the Spanish manufacturer using the photo seen here in its advertising campaign.