Sedalia, Missouri
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 very well).

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
Eugene, Missouri
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.]
Sedalia, Missouri
Eugene, Missouri