September 12, 1999
Fosterburg, Illinois
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
Jonesboro, Illinois
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
Festus, Missouri
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.
Fosterburg, Illinois
Jonesboro, Illinois
Festus, Missouri