As stated before, I’ve made some bad choices in the past. The thing that’s really killed my racing as of late has been my only constant being change. I’ve tended to keep a bike for a few short months, complain about something on it, and want to change to something “better”. While it was true that each bike presented itself with it’s own unique issues, I didn’t stick to my “just run it” attitude I had in the past. I assume this is partially because now I could actually get the bikes I want & choose. But aside from causing me to lose money, I lost valuable time in learning my machines.
So it all started back with a 2001 KTM 300exc. I picked this up from another ADVRider member in February of 2010. Prior to this, I had a BMW G650XCountry that I realized would not be a good race bike. The KTM had power, suspension, and at the time, I felt it wast the lightest bike on the planet. I raced 3 races on the bike, and by the 3rd I was thinking it’d help if I had something lighter. I test rode a Honda CRF250R and felt this was the key for Harescrambles. I unloaded the 300exc & picked up a 2004 Yamaha YZ250F. The bike was setup for an A MX rider, far from ideal for the Harescrambles (and the Indy Endurocross I raced it in). The YZ250F was feeling good, until I rode a 125 2-stroke.
This is about where I really shot myself in the foot. I ended up trading a perfectly good YZ250F for a YZ125, thinking that it was going to be all that and a bag of chips. I lost BIG on that deal. I was jaded by lack of lighting, a crew of hillbillys surrounding me, and the sweet scent of pre-mix. I got the YZ125 home and began finding all it’s problems. Steering stem bearings were the least of my worries, and after my first real ride on the bike, found that aside from the top end being worn, the bottom end was as Eric Gorr put it “One of the worst we’ve seen”. This was the end of October/ beginning of November of 2010, and of course, I needed to rush to get the thing sorted. 1 Eric Gorr 144 big bore & a fresh bottom end rebuild, and I was ready to rock and roll. Go figure that the day I go to test out the bike, I case a small double at a buddies track, exploding the rear shock, linkage, and along the way, my right knee. Thankfully it was getting towards winter, so I had time to get things sorted.
I rebuilt the YZ144 over the winter, fresh everything. I added a Revloc auto clutch & was ready to get down to business racing it. First race out was awesome. It was up at Aztalan MX in Wisconsin. I took 2nd off the start and was positioned well to be competitive throughout the race. Go figure though that about 30 minutes into the 120 minute race, I flatted my rear tire. I said screw it & continued on. On the jumps, I took it easy to not throttle too hard in the air. By the 90 minute mark, my body was feeling it & I was slowing quickly. I ended up in 4th or so in the race, which sucked, cause the 3rd place rider was right in front of me, I just had no idea on timing\scoring…..Racing and learning.
I continued to race the YZ144 at a couple more local Harescrambles. Somewhere along the way in early 2010, I convinced myself to pickup a BMW G450X. Dealer had a stupid low price & I convinced myself I “needed” one for riding trips in the UP (Michigan). Plated, dirtbike, yup how can you go wrong? Unfortunately I was alternating between racing the 450 & the 144 and just wasn’t doing good at all. I was never confident in the races, and just fudging up where I shouldn’t have been.
At this point, I was really getting down on my abilities in racing. I knew I could ride faster than my friends when we’d race around. I knew I could keep up with A riders at times, but it was like I had A skills, with the fitness of a C rider, and the mental lapses of an 80 year old. Flashes of brilliance while racing, peppered however, with more poor riding. This is just chalked up to not having raced a whole bunch. Nerves and the like. (Un)Fortunately at this point I had a buddy of mine ask me if I wanted to give Supermoto a try. I was a bit worn out on the off-road riding\racing & more or less just needed a break. I had a good first weekend in that, really enjoyed having proper brake markers & keypoints on a constant track, but just didn’t “feel” it for the road type racing again. This brief foray back onto the road racing cost me some valuable off-road race weekends, but I needed to do it to know for sure.
At this point, I was beginning to feel that I should be sticking with the 450 for racing, but was still switching back and forth between it and the 144. I went down to race a GP on the 144 and was just downright pissed about my performance. I’ve only myself to blame, as my tires were destroyed and half way into the first race, I lost all rear brake. I thought I had it fixed for the 2nd moto, but it was all but gone, not my way to ride, but not much I could do. I was getting to be quite sick of that YZ144, and just fed up with how things were going for me.
It was at this point that I finally decided to finally give an Enduro a go. I figured there were no other Harescrambles going on at the time and it’d let me see if maybe I’d like the format of these types of races over whatever else. I loaded up the 450, signed up for Open B class & just figured I’d go and have fun with it. And fun was had! These enduro’s actually started on time (pet peeve of mine from Harescrambles), I got to race for all day long, and best of all, I got a great finish in my class. I had some issues, but I loved how my bike felt, I felt positive with how I rode, and basically went home feeling happy. At this point, I was dead set on racing the 450 the following season, in the Enduro’s.
This past winter was spent prepping the 450X for a committed D17 Open B Enduro season. I had scored a great bigger tank for the bike, I revalved the suspension just to my liking, and had it completely fresh for the season. I got one early ride on the bike and just felt great on it. Again, my brain began to wander. Deep down I knew that for 2013, I’d want to be back on a 2-stroke. One thing led to another, and here I am now on a Husqvarna WR250 2-stroke. It was a relatively easy decision for me to make. I had no real complaints with the 450X, but things fell into place, so I rolled with it and am now on a bike that just feels wonderful.
I’ve learned some really key things this past year, and despite how much I had wavered throughout the year, it’s really helped me focus in. In 2011, I had no set goal. I had no set plan. Yes, I wanted to race Harescrambles, but I wasn’t yet at a point to really push to be competitive. I was jumping around from bike to bike, discipline to discipline This year I feel renewed and confident. I’ve got the clear goal to compete in the D17 Open B Enduro class and I feel I’m on the best bike for the job.
This season, I’m going in with confidence! – More to follow!