First race is down and in the books. I’ve been him-hawing about racing this year. I’ve just been enjoying riding my bikes, so the hassle of dealing with a race was a bit less than appealing. In the morning, I was kinda hoping it was down pouring and I’d stay home and relax all day. It was the opposite, and we had perfect weather all day.
My wife and MIL came with to the race. My MIL hadn’t seen any of my races, and wanted to see what it was all about. When we got to the race, my buddies morning race had just started, so we went over and watched some of the action from the start area. This gave me a chance to eye up the first few turns, and see where the faster guys were starting to brake for the first dash into the woods. After a bit of watching, I figured it was time to start prepping myself for my race.
I like to be geared up and ready to roll 30-45 minutes before my race. I don’t like to really talk to anyone before, preferring to put on my headphones and mentally prep myself. About 15 minutes before the race, I start to do some mild jumping jacks\stretches\etc. Get the blood flowing a little bit and try to just zone in. About 5 minutes before the race is supposed to start, I head over by the starting area (where no one is really even lining up yet) and do some screwing around on some mulch piles and figure I should try out some dead engine starts.
My past 4-stroke & e-start bikes had cost me some terrible starts. Nothing like pushing the damn button and watching the rest of your class just launch away. I tested in 1st gear and 2nd. 1st didn’t seem to want to let the motor spin quick enough to fire, so I tried 2nd. It seemed to work well, but hey….I was uneasy about it. That is one thing I miss about the 2-stroke. With that RMX, you look at it wrong, and it starts up and roosts away. These 4-strokes…not a chance.
Wardy (land owner\race organizer) finally shows up, gives a speech which I can’t hear (ear plugs), and the bikes fire up, waiting for the flag to drop. B class guys are all on Row 4. That gives me 3 chances to do test dead engine starts.
My line is up, engines off, the last check and the flag drops. The 350 fired right to life, but I don’t get the pull that I wanted into the first turn. I’m a couple riders back. I see 2 guys up front really start to scoot away, and I know it’ll be a lot of work to catch them with being stuck behind another 2 or 3 slower guys. I use it as a chance to regroup myself mentally after the start and form my plan of attack.
I slowly begin recognizing where the course is leading us, and know that my first big offensive move will be in the Endurocross section. I’d practice it a LOT the last 2-3 times I’d been there, and I felt confident in my bike. I knew the good lines through there, and I know that if I treat everything like a jump or something I can just wheelie over, I’ll pass a lot of guys. And I did just that. There seemed to be 10 guys all fiddling around through the section as I roosted on past them. That gave me a hell of a mental push to truck on and try to put some distance between anyone I passed.
Unfortunately the section right after the Endurocross section was where I had my bad crash there a few weeks prior. On the upside, they were running the section backwards, so it was like a new section. I was a little gunshy running through there, but kept a decent enough pace that I felt I was pushing fast enough, but not at a speed where I’d be screwed if things got a bit wonky.
I end up making my way through the course and get to timing and scoring. First lap through, and I see I’m 1st in Class. Again, another motivator that makes me push myself to go faster. I remind myself that at this point, it’s mine to lose, so get on the gas. I pace myself, but push in areas where I feel confident. There were a few slick spots where I didn’t trust my front tire, so I was a bit slow in those areas. Again though in the technical areas, I make my attacks. Endurocross, creek section, and the singletrack I gain a LOT of time on people. Thank God I rode trials before getting into harescrambles
Around the 45 minute mark, I feel some minor fatigue setting in. By the next lap though I get a second wind (thanks to some big gulps of icey water) and am able to keep a good solid push. At some point I catch up to another guy in my class, who didn’t realize that I was lapping him decided he’s going to try to keep pace and not move over. Not the end of the world, as there were plenty of spots I could make a move. Of course right when this happens, I end up with an AA guy breathing down my neck. We’re both hooting\hollering\revving to get the slow guy to just slide over a smidge to give us some space. We both finally find a spot to squeak past the guy. I lose sight of the AA guy pretty quick and continue on.
By the 90 minute mark, I’m feeling some pain in my hands. I know they’re blistered, but wasn’t quite sure to what level. I see at timing and scoring that the race ends at 2:20 and it was currently 2:12. I pray that my lap times were not under 8 minutes. I knew I had 1 lap left in me, but 2 more would have been rough.
I get to the endurcross section for what was the last time. All was fine until I jumped the last set of tractor tires. I land and feel all the blisters in my hand all spontaneously explode with the skin ripping off my hands. I grit down knowing that at least I won’t likely have to do the creek section again. I knew I slowed down a bit, but it was still an acceptable pace considering.
I cross the line and see the scoring still says I’m the class leader. I’ll take it.
My wife & MIL greet me back at the truck and I do my best to get my gear off and catch my breath. I was a bit exhausted, but most of all, my hands BURNED. Removing my gloves revealed some nasty blisters, but hey…as far as I knew, I won, so again…I’ll take it.
My upper body is a bit worn out, but otherwise, I’m in relatively good shape. I’m happy with my performance. I’m thrilled with my bike. I would like some new tires on the bike. The OEM DOT tires are……not the best, though oddly the rear hooks up incredibly well. I keep being told I should invest in slightly stiffer springs for the bike, but I’m quite cheap.
Overall a great day. My MIL kept repeating how amazed she was at how difficult the racing was. I knew this, but it is incredibly difficult to explain to people who don’t ride, just how difficult this racing is. There is an assumption that since you have a motor, you just twist the throttle and you go faster. If only
Some pics from the day (most action shots were from FreeMotoPix on facebook)
Filling up with race fuel (yes…I’ve learned my lesson):
Sweet word I look like one of those KTM guys:
All lined up:
Making a pass happen in the creek section:
How I felt at the end:
The results 1st in Open B – 3rd in both B classes – 18th overall (out of 73):
My lap time sheet:
Photos thanks to Free Moto Pix @ https://www.facebook.com/Free.moto.pix