1st of 12 in Open B
Funny how some little mysteries in life have a way of solving themselves.
After nearly running out of gas at Polo, I went on a fact-finding mission to
figure out where the fuel was escaping. Keep in mind, when it's me trying
to identify a problem, most other people's logic need not apply. Case in
point: two years ago when I couldn't figure out why a tank of gas was only
lasting 90 minutes, I spent months playing with the carb. Actual problem:
hole in the fuel line. Fast forward to MHSC Round #13 at Sedalia, and I
got lucky. The prior weekend I had filled up the gas tank and let it sit,
figuring an obvious leak would show up in a wet, oily spot on the garage
floor. The floor stayed dry, but when I unloaded the bike at the race site,
the tank was messy with fuel that had sloshed its way past the gas cap
during the 3-1/2 hour drive. A readjustment of the rubber piece inside the
gas cap, and like magic, problem solved.
Conditions at Sedalia could not have been better. A nice rain during the
week made the trails loamy and full of traction, with only a hint of dust in
the open areas. The course still had its share of rocks, but several miles
of singletrack, left pure and unadulterated by the absence of our
4-wheeled friends, was absolutely beautiful. The 9-mile course was split
roughly in thirds, with the first part following the ATV route through some
tight creek beds that were damp but mostly free of water. In a couple of
spots, the exits from the creeks were up short, steep banks that were
slippery and full of tree roots. The middle section of the course split off
from the ATV route about 3-4 miles into the loop, just after we made a run
through Lake Creek and climbed out of a very slick creek bank. Like last
year, a check was set up there as we headed into the bike-only trail. It
wasn't quite White City, Illinois singletrack but close enough. The trail
wound its way back to Lake Creek, at the same spot as the creek-side
check, where we linked up with the ATV trails and a couple miles later we
were back at the staging area.
On the start, I lined up on the inside and was a contender for the holeshot
until Dwayne Parish flew by on my left. I was second into the woods and
followed him into the first creek section. It wasn't an area well suited for
passing, but I took a chance by hopping over some logs lying across the
creek. Everyone else, including Dwayne, was going around the logs and I
was able to take the lead at that spot. Soon after, I put enough distance
on the other riders in my class that I couldn't hear anything except my own
engine. Just as I was settling into a nice rhythm near the midpoint of the
first lap, I could feel a small pain in my left leg, just above the knee. Soon
after, an identical pain developed in my right leg. Hmmm....leg cramps??
Never had those before. I tried to stand up and stretch out my quad
muscles, but the pain persisted. Not enough to keep me from riding hard,
but plenty annoying.
On the second lap, not too long after the singletrack section began, an
ambulance was parked out in one of the pastures. That is never a good
thing. In the woods, a group of people attended to all-around good guy
Shawn Hall, who had crashed badly and suffered a broken leg, hip, and
wrist. Further evidence that trees don't often move over for dirt bikers.
Shawn was still out here a half-hour later, while I was on my third lap.
Other than my leg cramps, I felt good the whole race and kept up a pretty
good pace. The fast guys in the 4-stroke B class caught up to me on my
third lap, and I tried to hang with them, but they keep up a pretty fast
pace. With nobody to race with but lappers, my speed dropped off a bit
and my 4th lap was my slowest. At the end of that lap, Adam Ashcroft
passed me just before the Lake Creek crossing. I followed him through
the scoring trailer and began my fifth and final lap behind him. Near the
staging area Adam stalled, which may have been the point in which a tree
branch jammed about an inch into his hand (he still finished the race, and
By this time my legs were really beginning to hurt and I didn't stand up
much on the last lap (then again, I don't do much standing to begin with).
The worst part was the run through Lake Creek, which had developed
Supercross-deep whoops and had enough water to cloud my vision as I
splashed through it in 3rd gear. As if whoops themselves weren't bad
enough, these were made from piles of walnut-sized gravel. Each lap, I
was downright slow through there.
The race ended uneventfully, with another strong ride and first place
finish in my class. The results showed that one of my laps was missed by
the scanner and placed me in the lower half of my class, but backup
sheets confirmed my win. Steve Weible printed out the revised Open B
class results and handed them to me, gave me a pat on the back and
said, "You get to put'em up..." and then added something to the effect of
"Good luck with that." Marty Smith got knocked back to second place with
the revision, and then got dropped to third place when Ray Osia noticed a
lap was also missing from his results.
So with 3 class wins in a row, where is this newfound speed coming from?
Who knows, but it sure is fun. I still have aspirations of becoming a
consistent top-20 finisher, but for now I'll have to settle for a nasty mud
race for a shot at some overall points.
September 8, 2002
1st of 13 in Open B
The first four minutes of the Eugene hare scramble went something like
this: 3-kick start, back of the pack choking on dust, creeping along in first
gear while the frontrunners blazed ahead breathing clean air, hard pass
on PizzaMan (sorry, dude), deep rut in which I crashed on the practice lap,
unseen in the dust, again taking me down, PizzaMan and another bike
passing me while I picked up the bike, then more dust.
Eugene is typically the 90-pound nerd in most 1960's teenage movies, but
this Eugene beat me up so bad that I could hardly get out of bed the next
morning. This Eugene hangs with the 'hoods, smokes unfiltered Camels
and wears a wife-beater around the house. Eugene flat-out brutalized
me. With two crashes on the practice lap and three more during the race, I
left with a bruised right palm, a swollen left knee, and a multi-colored
titty-shiner, thanks to a strategically placed spring-loaded cedar branch
[note to racers: yeah, you know what I'm talkin' about]. I also came away
with the Open B class win. It's the classic risk-reward scenario: take a
bunch of chances to make up time, and it might actually work. The
downside is feeling like I did after the race.
The Eugene course was a new venue on the MHSC schedule, and since it
was a bike-only race, I was looking forward to some Polo-like singletrack.
What we got was the most technical course I've seen in a long time. The
starting area was placed in an open field that linked up with the last few
miles of the course. The first quarter-mile was tight single-track with no
possibility of passing, so the start was critical. I had been getting some
good starts in the last three races and expected the trend to continue, but
the engine didn't fire on the first kick. Or the second. By the time I got
started, most of the class was already into the woods, led by Wayne
Hatfield. I was behind PizzaMan on his bored-out XR250 and couldn't see
much of the trail ahead of me. I finally got my chance to make up some
time in a long creek section that led to the scoring trailer. The creek was
mostly flat rock, very slick with many boulders thrown in, and lots of water.
Carefully, I passed and passed again and made it to the scoring trailer in
7th place, a minute behind the leader.
I spent some more time eating dust on the first full lap before the field
spread out, and my main challenge was keeping from stalling the bike,
which must have happened 10 times during the race. Just before the long
creek section, the trail dropped down a steep boulder field with jagged
basketball-sized rocks, kicked around by bike after bike, each boulder
slowly rolling to the bottom of the ravine. As if the stationary rocks weren't
hard enough to deal with...what's next? Moving trees? Anyway, I caught
up to Ray Osia and Matt Coffman and tried to get around Ray in the creek
section, but couldn't make the pass. The three of us checked through the
scoring trailer within 15 seconds of each other. At the beginning of the
second full lap I crashed hard in the first woods section, down below the
railroad tracks. My knee took a hard hit but I picked myself up and began
to chase down Matt and Ray. Matt, back racing after a nasty finger break
at Florence, had his clutch line break on that lap and I moved into second
place, still chasing Ray. I eventually caught up to him and ate his dust for
most of the lap. Passing was nearly impossible, so I hung back and waited
for the creek section to make my move. Ray rode flawlessly through the
creek, but with Matt out of the race I figured I had nothing to lose, so I did
a Kamikaze charge through the deepest part of the water, temporarily
blinding myself but making the pass.
After the scoring trailer the course curved around the pit area and
entered a fast straightaway before heading back into the woods. I knew
that Ray, with his big 4-stroke, would try to get back around me in the
straightaway and make me eat his dust again. He cut to my inside, just
before a sharp right-hand turn before the woods, and was ahead of me
until going wide into the turn. I was able to sneak inside him and barely
beat him into the woods. So I passed, got passed, and passed again, all
within a half-mile. From there, I put some distance between him and built
up a 2-minute lead by the end of the third complete lap. On my final lap, I
continued to ride hard and stayed clear (sort of) of the dust kicked up by
lappers. I had no idea where Ray was and figured he was just behind me,
so I kept riding hard through the long creek section and ended up
crashing in the rocks, a mere quarter-mile from the finish. Little did I know
that Ray had suffered a flat front tire on the final lap and had to slow down
considerably. My right hand was hurting as I limped to the finish with a
very sore body.
Brandon Forrester took the overall win and solidified his top spot in the
point standings. Mathematically, Steve Leivan still has a chance, but
either way, these two fast guys have been in a class of their own during
the second half of the season. On Monday morning following the race, I
performed my best impression of an 80-year-old man. Days later, little
pieces of Eugene lived with me in the form of thorns lodged in my
forearms. Eugene is one bad mutha. Word. [note to readers: that is the
extent of my hip-hop vocabulary for now, but I have been watching MTV's
Cribs and will write my next race report Doggy Style, if you know what I
mean. Yes, you do.]