September 12, 1999
3rd of 3 in Open B
The week before this race I fell hard at St. Joe State Park and bruised my
ribs, so I almost didn't race here at all. Matt wanted to go, so we drove
out in my truck and I figured I would do a recreational ride. Again, more
dust. Matt got the early holeshot at the start and I rode cautiously. After
about 10 minutes he and the only other rider in our class were out of my
sight. The ribs loosened up after awhile, but I just couldn't ride
aggressively at all. A couple of times I started to get my groove on, but
then I'd bobble and have to slow down. During the last half hour of the
race, rain appeared for the first time in months. If it had just stopped at
about ¼ inch, that would have been perfect. Instead, it continued for the
rest of the race. The last lap turned into survival, and I was doing fine
until a slippery uphill that I had to push the bike up. The summer had
been so dry that the trails were packed down, and when the rains came it
was like riding on frozen ground. When it gets wet and muddy like that,
goggles don't work very well. I took mine off, and about two minutes later
one of the fast guys, Lee Lankutis, squeezed around me and a bunch of
mud shot off his back tire and went into my eye. Lee is a good guy and
even though I was cursing him at the time, no damage was done and
once the mud cleared from my eye I didn't care. I just wanted to get the
race over with.
I finished up and Matt was already done. He was a little depressed
because he had led the whole race until the rain came, and the other guy
passed him. It continued to rain for the rest of the afternoon, so once
again it was a real pain trying to get changed in my truck. Matt was
having an especially difficult time changing in my little truck because he's
three inches taller and 50 pounds heavier than me.
September 19, 1999
2nd of 6 in Open B (trophy)
This was probably my best all-around ride of the year. These types of
Illinois races suit my riding style much better than Missouri because the
woods are always tight. I seem to race better under those more technical
conditions where precision riding is a must. The Southern Illinois club that
put on the race uses a resort that owns some ground adjacent to the
Shawnee National Forest. Matt and I rode here for fun during the
summer, so I had an idea of what to expect. He came down to race and
brought his wife and kids, including his 6-year-old son. Matt bought him a
KTM mini-bike a few months before, and the little guy was putting around
on it before the race.
The course was very dry, so apparently they did not get the rain that
Fosterburg had the previous weekend. I was there early and had a
chance to walk some of the course while the ATV's were doing their race.
I helped a couple of guys up a huge, steep hill that was causing everyone
problems. There is nothing scarier that watching someone lose traction
and try to slide backwards down a hill on a 4-wheeler. However, helping
those guys would end up being a big advantage during the race because
I knew the best way up the hill.
I got off to a decent start, entering the first turn in third place. I quickly
passed one guy in front of me but the leader started pulling away and I
never caught him. The dust either wasn't as bad, or maybe I was just
getting used to it. The ribs were still a bit sore, but I was able to ride
aggressively for the whole race. I missed a turn on the first lap and had
to backtrack, and I was afraid I lost my position, so for the rest of the race
I was trying hard and riding pretty well. The big hill never gave me
problems, but on each lap there were guys hung up on the hillside. I
never did crash, which for me is some kind of miracle, especially since I
was riding pretty hard. The hills were very steep but the course was
routed down most of them. Even so, a couple were just plain scary. On
the last lap I nudged the handlebar end into my sore ribs, but the pain
was only temporary.
Matt was already done when I got back to my truck. He and the family
packed up right away, and I stuck around to check our scores. He had
some trouble with the steep hill and ended up in last place, completing
one less lap than me. I finished in second place and was about 10
minutes behind the leader. During the trophy presentation they had a fun
time with my name. Most of the time they just butcher my last name and
move on to the next guy, but this time the presenter actually made an
effort to pronounce it correctly. Then he got the crowd involved, and they
all started chanting "Stich-noth...Stich-noth." It was a good day.
Damage Report: lost a radiator guard.
October 10, 1999
7th of 9 in Open B
Another case of the bike that refused to start. The only thing more
embarrassing than kicking your bike over and over again while the rest of
your group has already left, is crashing in the first corner (and I've done
that, too). After I finally got going, I immediately found myself being
strangled by my chest protector. It kept sliding back against the front of
my neck. I finally had to stop and discovered that I had failed to latch two
of the straps, so the thing was just flopping around. By that time I was so
far behind everyone else in my class that I knew it wouldn't be a real
successful day. The lowlight had to be the minibike that passed me on
the second lap. You never feel so slow as when a 13-year-old blows by
your 300cc bike on his 80cc minibike.
The course was really fun, though. They had a pasture where someone
had made a great little grass motocross track with some good jumps.
Another section was about a mile of a wide, flat trail in the woods where
you could just fly in 5th gear.
Before the race, while standing in line to sign up for the race, I saw
another reason why the ATV's scare the hell out of me. The course ran
through the spectator's area and crossed a shallow gully. The fast guys
were just hammering through it, and some of the slow guys were trying
the same thing with mixed results. I suddenly heard a scream and looked
over to the area of the gully. An ATV had crossed the gully and was
continuing down the trail without its driver. Actually, the guy was still with
his ATV, except he was under it and being pulled along the ground! It
stunned him for awhile, but later he walked away from it.