November 30, 2003
Toys for Tots Team Race
White City, Illinois
For the last several months, I've been corresponding by e-mail (and
phone, occasionally) with Jim Walker of Team RocketRacing.net. Jim
does some hare scramble racing and writes about his exploits on the
RocketRacing website in similar fashion as myself, only in a much
prettier format. Throughout the year we had tried to hook up and go
to races together, but hadn’t been successful. With the annual
Cahokia Creek Dirt Riders Toys for Tots charity team race upcoming,
we decided to join forces and ride the 3-hour hare scramble together.

As I've mentioned before, the Cahokia Creek club is located just up
the road from St. Louis near a racially sensitive town called White
City. I would call it the best riding in Illinois, with a few hundred acres
of beautiful woods used exclusively for motorcycles. Each year the
club organizes a charity event that benefits the Toys for Tots
organization. Naturally, the goal is to help less fortunate kids have a
nice Christmas, and the club does its part by donating a massive
amount of toys contributed by riders as part of the race fee. So I
braved the Thanksgiving retail frenzy (also called torture) on Saturday
night to track down a $10 toy. I bought two – one for the Tots and one
for me.

Sunday morning I drove the short distance north to the Cahokia Creek
club and met up with Mike Goforth and David Brewster, who were
teaming up in the B class. Jim Walker arrived shortly after with his
KTM 200EXC and we signed up for the same class. John Yarnell also
showed up to race his new KX250 in the Iron Man class, which is for
partner-less individuals who want the whole 3 hours for themselves.
Actually, Yarnell’s teammate didn’t show, so it was either Iron Man or
Pit Boy.

As an honorary member of Team RocketRacing, I was nominated to
ride the first lap, which meant I would be lining up with the 20 or so
teams in the B class. Since the course was laid out exclusively on the
south side of the highway, there would be no crossing under the road
bridge and thus, no starting line in the open field on the far side of
the staging area. Instead, we lined up at the little motocross track,
headed for a makeshift hairpin left turn, another hard left shortly after,
the tabletop jump, and then into the woods.

The KX started up quickly and I jockeyed for position around the first
turn. I was somewhere in the top half of the group when we entered
the woods, and moved up a few spots through the usual maneuvering
around guys packed tightly together during the first couple of miles.
Within a few minutes from the start, I had worked my way up to
somewhere close to the top five. Near the halfway point I clipped a
tree with my handguard and fell down, losing several places. The
course was a bit slippery, with more mud than I had seen during the
October hare scramble. At some point early in the lap, my goggles
became smeared with more mud than the roll-offs could handle.
Since I was only riding one lap before Jim was to take over, I decided
to take off the goggles. Big mistake. As I caught up to a guy who had
passed me during my earlier crash, his back tire spit out a piece of
mud that landed squarely in my right eye. With one eye closed and a
numbing case of arm pump, I finished the lap and searched for Jim.
Apparently I missed him in the “hand-off” area and had to circle back.
After we found each other, Jim took off while I went back to the truck
to clean out my eye.

The rest of the race, I never could get all the crap out of my eye. And
the arm pump only subsided late in the day. The fancy clutch
lever/perch I had installed didn’t do much to alleviate my sore
forearms, even though the clutch pull was noticeably lighter. [note to
self: for a change, put some grip exercisers in your hands during The
Simple Life on Fox]

Jim and I each completed 6 or 7 laps around the course. After I
finished each lap, Jim would take over and return about 17 minutes
later, like clockwork. We had no idea where we were in the standings,
nor did we care. The race was for fun, and other than the mud in my
eye, I had a thoroughly enjoyable time. Goforth and Brewster took the
win in the B class, while Team RocketRacing.net finished somewhere
around mid-pack. Yarnell took the title of Champion Iron Man, winning
the class after more than 3 hours alone on the bike. If you're ever in
the vicinity of White City over the Thanksgiving weekend, I’d highly
recommend bring your bike and a toy and trying out the Toys for Tots
team race. Lots of fun.
White City, Illinois