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