1st race of the season down, and I can’t complain one bit. I managed to pull a handy 1st in my class (Open B). Looking at the numbers, I Overalled in the B class (little\big\30+), so I’m happy about that. My finish woulda put me in about 6th place in the A Class, and well….let’s not even go into where I’d be in the AA class. On the upside, it puts me around 20th out of 72 for the afternoon race. Not too bad considering the 10 deep AA class.
I rode pretty well, and managed a decent start. Into the 2nd turn, I was in 3rd place. I slipped into 4th in the middle of the first lap, and then took advantage of the MX portion of the course, and kept the 450 pinned as best I could. After that section, I pulled back into 3rd, and shortly after the 1st & 2nd place guys made some poor line choices over a log (much faster going around it ), and I managed to squeak up to 1st. I held 1st through the rest of the race, and did my best to try to not let anyone pass me (AA guys lapped me )
The course was overall pretty easy. There was nothing super technical, as they had a good bit of rain, and races really suck when there are traffic jams on slick hills and such. This helped a bit, as I was racing my WR450F, as my 250F was still on the fritz. On the 2nd lap, I managed to dump the bike in the creek section. I wouldn’t have minded, but my gloves were then soaked, and my left grip was spinning like mad. Not fun when I still had 10 laps to go.
About an hour in (and coincidentally when my GoPro stopped recording) I caught a tree with my handguard on the left side. This bucked me pretty good (I’m blaming my handguards as they were some homebrew ones I made out of plastic), and I managed to huck-a-buck myself into the dirt pretty good. This took the wind out of me a bit, but I kept on trucking.
Approaching the 90 minute mark (105 minute race), and my body was really feeling things. The 450 power, the multiple crashes, the blisters growing ever larger on my hands….it was all adding up. The braking bumps in some of the turns were wreaking havoc on my lower back. You could just feel things being jarred. I was chuckling to myself thinking about how I used to blame my suspension for getting harsh late in a race. I laughed as I realized that I’m just not in 100% perfect shape. I continued on with this thought in my head.
As I rolled through Timing\Scoring just before my last lap, I realized I made the cutoff for the “extra lap” by just a couple of minutes. I really didn’t want to do this lap at all. I was concerned I’d drop the bike in the creek section again, so I really tip toed it through there (which ironically makes it more difficult). I more or less did my best to just enjoy the last lap. You could hear that there were less riders out there, so there was a sense of calm and I was able to collect my thoughts and push through the burning sensation in my hands.
I slightly fumbled my way over the 2 large Timing\Scoring “speed reducing” logs, and off the course. I putted my way back to the truck, and could feel my body was already wanting to lock up. I did my best to load up the truck, and off we went. Glad I wasn’t the one driving home.
I learned a few things about my riding. I watched as the AA guys passed me. The speed that they carry, is just far better than me. I could see that they were experiencing less obstacles, due to the fact that they were essentially skipping over them. I’ve realized that I really need to smooth out my riding. This would probably get easier with doing a better job of looking ahead at the course, but as fatigue sets in, that grows increasingly difficult. I was on my 450, and I really wish that I had been on my 250F. Not so much the power situation, but the fact that its at least 30# lighter, and heck, I’ll admit it, the Rekluse wouldn’t have hurt me either. I’m perfectly OK not using an autoclutch, but there are times where I think it would help me with keeping a gear higher, and lugging the bike a bit more. Why I wasn’t doing that more on the 450, I’ve no idea. The thing can drop down to 0 RPM and still be running, and will pull it just fine. Keeping the bike in 3rd gear (instead of clicking between 2nd\3rd), I woulda been in much better shape.
Overall though, I had a blast, and am itching to get back riding (though the hands are still healing). I’m going to invest in some of those locking grips in the meantime, and some more proper\sturdy handguards.
Here’s some pics some folks took at the race. I’ll be uploading whatever video I have from the race when I get home this evening.
Heading into the creek section:
Bowl turn before a tabletop (that I always manage to over-jump):
This is a short climb, followed by a quick right hand uphill climb. My goodness that 450 excelled here. 2nd WFO and roost up the hill:
Start Finish speed logs. When just riding there, I normally jump these things. In the races, I find I do a trials style double tap. I figure that’s the safest way to go over, with least risk of messing up (note that these logs have no ramp on the opposite side in pic):
And the coolest one of the bunch, mid-creek section, full attack mode: