2002 Race Reports
June 2, 2002
Marshfield, Missouri
15th of 22 in Open B
The Marshfield round of the MHSC is a gem in the middle of the roughest rock region
of Missouri, the southwest part of the state near Springfield.  As the crow would fly with
a mild hangover, the Marshfield course is about halfway in between Lebanon and
Chadwick, both remembered for past poundings of bike and body.  While not totally
free of the rocks I've come to expect south of the Missouri River, this course did
contain enough narrow singletrack for me to forget, for very, very brief moments, that I
was still riding in someone else's Motherland.

Aside from a few mud holes and a couple hundred thousand little red ticks roaming
the parking area, I liked what I saw before the race.  Not that I mind sharing my blood
with thirsty critters, but I'd rather have preserved all my bodily fluids for the race (note
to self: next time pack the Deep Woods Off).  The course was in fine shape with no
major obstacles other than a huge terrace leading into the woods after a fast section
of open pasture. Approaching it in 5th gear WFO, would have been a nice jump for
Pastrana but not for a slow-reacting spode like yours truly.  On the practice lap I
followed PizzaMan for awhile, until he decided to park himself at the bottom of a
water-filled gully. As much as I tried (very little, actually), I couldn't resist my temptation
to blast through the gully and spray him with muddy water. Hey, just trying to keep you
cool, buddy.

At the start of the race, I charged off the line fairly well, but shared the same fate as
Matt, who eloquently described after the race, "I got off to a good start, but everyone
else just passed me."  I fought through the middle of the pack and passed 3 or 4
riders before settling in behind a train of guys led by none other than PizzaMan
himself.  Kurt was riding about as well as I've ever seen him, and despite a few
attempts, I was unable to get around him before the end of the first lap.  More of the
same on lap 2, but PizzaMan finally let me by and I continued my charge.  Somewhere
near the end of that lap, a tiny, jagged rock worked its way down my boot and became
jammed on the top of my right foot.  I kicked, twisted, and stomped, but could not get
the rock to move.  To understand my pain, go into your garage, take off your shoes
and socks, put down your bike's kickstand, let it rest upon your 4th metatarsal (ride
dirt bikes long enough and you, too, will come to know all of the bones in your feet),
and have a friend sit on the bike.  Feel good?

On lap 3, rock still jammed in my boot, my front end suddenly became virtually
uncontrollable, the victim of a pinch flat.  Apparently a Michelin S12 with 16 psi and an
extra layer of old tube isn't enough to conquer the rocks.  The official results show that
I finished 15th, although a scoring error put me ahead of Matt and possibly one other
rider in our class.  Not that it mattered...Matt still retained bragging rights for the race.  
Congrats to Steve Leivan, who returned to his winning ways by capturing his first
overall win of the year.

June 16, 2002
St. Joe State Park
Park Hills, Missouri
3rd of 14 in Open B
I have never ridden so fast, for so long, during a motorcycle race.  And I have never
seen so many other people ride so fast, for so long.  The course was advertised as
13.5 miles long, and my lap times were around 35 minutes. For me, that's fast. Before
the race I warned my Arkansas neighbors that the practice loop (made up of the first 5
miles of the course) was probably not representative of all that St. Joe had to offer.
Although I was correct, it wasn't because of the rock-beating I expected in the second
half of the course.  Instead, we were pleasantly surprised by a couple miles of brand
new trail, lots of wide-open sand, and about as few rocks as I've ever seen at one of
these races. Overall, the course was outstanding.

While the weather was remarkably balmy upon arrival, the dust was already kicking
up during the pee-wee race.  My 300EXC had apparently got wind of its imminent
departure from the Stichnoth garage and punished me by refusing to start up for the
practice lap (note to readers: the bike is for sale).  Fortunately, she didn't make me
suffer for too long - after a quick throttle cable adjustment, the problem was solved.  
The practice lap went off without a hitch and the gods smiled on Flat River by dropping
5 minutes worth of rain just before the race began.  The promoters wasted no time in
starting the AA's, and two minutes later my race began with a dust-free run through
the sand track.

My start was typically unimpressive, as the big 4-strokes powered their way through
the sand ahead of me.  The wide trail narrowed to a small opening in the trees, where
my new tinted goggle lens turned day into dusk. My eyes adjusted in time for a steep
uphill, followed by an equally steep downhill where I stalled the engine while trying to
get past a rider having trouble with the descent.  Dwayne Parish got by me there, but I
got back around him with a block pass that was way too aggressive so early in the
race.  But the train of riders that I had followed during the first lap at Marshfield was
still fresh in my mind, and I was determined to lead, not follow.

But follow I did, as I gradually caught up to the class leaders. Once we finished the
first 5 miles, the rest of the course we were seeing for the first time.  We spent a mile
or two blasting through sand whoops at warp speed before settling back into the
woods.  A new section of "virgin" trails was laid out for our enjoyment, and the old
concrete structure was again made part of the course. A few fast, rocky sections
made me cringe each time my front tire took a hard impact, but my new Bridgestone's
held up just fine for the whole race.  The best part was riding across a levee, perfectly
flat, straight, and wide open for a half-mile or so.  The big 4-strokes were surely going
90 mph or more through that section.  As the freaky, future serial killer kid from the
Mazda commercials would say, "Zoom, zoom." [I have a recurring dream where that
little monster drives over to my house in a Protégé and appears behind every door I
open, whispering those words with the same evil, boyish grin seen on TV's all over
the world.  Then I duct-tape his mouth shut and he never speaks again. It is a
beautiful dream.]

Lap two was more of the same, with me in second place, about 30 seconds behind
the leader, at the scoring trailer.  My lap times slowed a bit after that, probably
because I had the crap scared out of me from a near-crash in the 5th gear sand
whoops on lap 2. I settled into 3rd place on laps 3 and 4, and that's where I finished.  
Brandon Forrester took the overall win, with 4 other riders less than one minute
Marshfield, Missouri
Park Hills, Missouri