2000 Race Reports
March 12, 2000
Steelville, Missouri
3rd of 8 in Open B class
Driving to this race reminded me of last year's first race in Cuba, Illinois.  
Matt Sellers and I had driven up together, and the farther north we drove,
the more snow was on the ground.  The drive to Steelville was similar
except that there was three times as much snow.  The day before, winter's
last blessing of the season had left us with 3 or 4 inches.  Naturally, I
wasn't too excited to start out the racing season pushing my bike more
than I actually rode it (like Cuba).  But two key differences would make this
race much more enjoyable.  First, the snow was rapidly melting and would
be pretty much gone by the end of the day.  And second, Missouri's
natural splendor includes more rocks than most quarries, so the mud was
only axle-deep instead of handlebar-deep like Illinois.

I had ridden several times since January, thanks to the mildest winter I'd
ever experienced.  Physically, I felt good enough to go at least 10 or 15
minutes without panting like a dog in heat.  As I pulled up to the starting
line, I noticed some familiar bikes and riders, particularly the guy on the
Honda XR who wears the "Pizza Man" jersey (he beat me in Kahoka last
year).  I also noticed my front brake caliper bolts were just about ready to
fall out.  Apparently the threadlock wore off, so there I sat trying to decide
if I had enough time to go back to the truck and tighten the bolts.  Since
our Open B class was on the 5th row and they start each row a minute
apart, I figured I had at least 4 minutes, so I dashed back to the truck and
grabbed a wrench.  Losing the front brake during the race could have
been a painful disaster.

So the race started, and I entered the first turn in 4th place.  The guy next
to me had a brand new Y2K KTM 300EXC, and he crashed in a
whooped-out creek bed shortly after the first turn.  One down, three to
go.  The course was extremely muddy for a Missouri race, and with just
one lap complete the goggles came off.  After that it was a constant battle
to keep mud out of my eyes.  I felt like I was riding pretty good, but based
on previous experience, that didn't mean much except all the other guys
were probably riding better.  The second lap was slower because the
course was torn up, but by then my forearms were finally warmed up and
pain-free.  At the main checkpoint after the second lap, the scorer told me
there was one more lap to go.  I caught my second wind and started riding
harder.  Little did I know that after the first lap I was in second place, but
on the second lap I lost a place and gave up a full minute on the guy who
passed me.  On the third lap I nearly caught up to the second place guy
but came up 18 seconds short.  Still, it was my best finish ever in a
Missouri race.  My goal before the season was to win a trophy at a truly
rocky Missouri race (i.e. anywhere outside of Kahoka).  In my first race of
2000, I met that goal.

March 19, 2000
Belleville, Illinois
4th of 5 in Open B
Ah, a return to the scene of last year's dizzying experience.  Thanks to
steady rain the prior two days, the course was almost too slippery to walk.  
I walked it anyway, and as I passed the infamous hill that knocked me out
last year, I thought of taking another look.  But I decided to let it remain a
memory, since the hill was not part of this year's course.  The promoters
scrapped the motorcycle course altogether and had us all ride the ATV
course.  Even in the mud I could tell it would be a very fast course.

Matt had called in the morning and decided not to race because of the
mud, that wimp.  He might have been smarter than me, though.  The race
got off to a bad start when my engine refused to run.  I kicked, swore a
little, kicked harder, swore harder, watched row after row pass by, and
after 5 minutes or so it finally fired up.  My friends Curtis and Resmi
watched the whole embarrassing ordeal.  By this time the trailriders had
already left.  It didn't take long to catch them, but when I did it was at a
muddy section that was causing them all problems.  I was able to squeeze
through without much delay, thanks in part to using some of them (bikes
and body parts) as traction, but I had a lot of time to make up.  The laps
were very short and had sections that were WFO in 5th gear.  It was kind
of cool to be keeping up with the highway traffic that bordered a long, fast
trail section for nearly a mile.  After 3 or 4 laps I noticed that my front tire
felt like it was losing air.  I kept going anyway, but after 1½ hours it gave
out completely.  Luckily I was very close to the staging area and simply
turned around and rode the 100 yards back to my truck.  I called it a day,
since putting in a new tube would have taken too much time to be
worthwhile.  Curtis and Resmi had braved the cool weather to watch me,
and just like last year they didn't get to see me finish.   

March 26, 2000
Wesphalia, Missouri
6th of 12 in Open B
Another typical Missouri hare scramble.  Rocky and fast.  Conditions were
just about perfect, though, with sunshine and fairly mild temperatures.  
Matt and I both raced the Open B class.  I got off to a decent start and
rode pretty well, then got hooked up with a guy trying to pass me and fell
down.  Matt passed me there, but I got by him again within a few minutes.  
I was comfortably in a top-5 position for 1½ hours and then, inexplicably, I
ran out of gas.  Over the next month this would happen a couple more
times and I would struggle to figure out what the problem was.  Between
getting the bike started again and leaving the course to get gas, I lost
about 3-4 minutes.  I did one more lap, riding like hell (it was actually my
fastest lap by about 2 minutes), but finished in 6th place behind Matt, who
ended only 21 seconds ahead of me.  Had I not run out of gas, I would
have finished fourth and brought home another trophy.  Matt got bragging
rights and I had to listen to him all the way home.
Steelville, Missouri
Belleville, Illinois
Westphalia, Missouri