Sunday, February 14, 2010

I just can't let it get to a year between posts. I just can't!

But I'm cutting it close aren't I? Well there are plenty of good reasons for that, but I'm not going to get into all of them just now (probably never to be honest).

To bring you all up to speed (because I know the ENTIRE WORLD is hanging on this blog just dying to know what I'm up to) as mentioned previously I now live in Washington State, in the Seattle area. When I first got here I was able to line up a bike to race and even made it out to a race and had a great time. Got to go riding a couple times, and even met Paul in Idaho for another race.

But reality quickly set in after that. Though I make a great deal more money than I was making in Utah, life is quite expensive here. Plus as I age my priorities change and money I would have previously spent on myself and racing has been diverted to other things. My goals and desire to race haven't changed, just that now I need to earn a lot more to be able to do it.

My love of the sport hasn't diminished at all though, so I'm turning to things to keep my foot in the door while I take some time to make myself worth more money to my employer (this is a subtle, or maybe not so subtle, way of saying after a long time I have returned to college to get a degree).

This brings me to the future and the goals I have set, and the future of this blog. This is, officially, the last post here at My blog will continue however, officially located at I will leave all these posts here though, for anyone's viewing pleasure.

While there is a lot of time and races and rides that have gone unreported, I'm going to have to just let the past be in the past and start with a clean slate.

So for my continued musings on the sport, and my involvement in it, and what the "Furious bros." is all about, I invite you to continue reading me there! Until my first post there, adieu.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Furious bros. attacks the GNCC!

But not the way you're thinking! That would be pretty awesome if Paul and I were to go and go a GNCC. But the cost would be quite prohibitive since the GNCC is an east coast circuit and we're here on the western side of the country.

But Paul and I are not the only brothers in the family. We count any other brothers as Furious bros. also, and so it is that our brother Matt attended Round 1 of the GNCC a few days ago. However he wasn't there to race, but to take pictures as he's trying to explore new avenues of his craft (he's a photographer by profession).

He got a lot of great shots, here's a sampling of them. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Future of the Desert Race Diaries: Part 1

Well I'm pushing 3 months since a post, figured I should update or something. ;)

A great many things have changed since the last post, all of which will affect this blog. My intention is to keep the blog up and running and with new and exciting things regarding my passion for racing, but they will be...of a different flavor. No worries! I'll explain.

First though, I should explain what has changed! Two major things: The first one is we have welcomed a new baby boy to the family! Benjamin Liam Day was born on Sunday, February 22, 2009 at 8 pounds 8 ounces and 21 inches right here in our Murray home. He's perfect and he and momma are doing great. This awesome new arrival affects yon blog a bit - for example there was a race today that I didn't go to as a result of having a new baby in the house. But future races likely might not have been as drastically affected had change #2 not occurred.

The second major change was that in January I lost my job. Lucky though I had begun the internal process of applying for a new job before the layoff that affected me, which kept me in the considering for a new position, which I just recently was offered! That will affect this blog the most though, because the position I was offered (and accepted) is not in Salt Lake City, nor anywhere in the State of Utah. It's in Washington (Seattle), far away from the USRA and Utah deserts and desert racing scene.

But these are not negative changes. Benjamin is a great addition to the family and we are so excited to have him! And the new job has a great many more opportunities than my previous position had, so with any luck I'll be soon fulfilling my Husqvarna dream and racing one of their bikes in Washington. Speaking of Washington racing - there's a lot to be had up there! And from what I've found so far, a lot of pretty cool stuff (might want to mute the music on that video) too. There seems to be a great deal of single track and woods riding, which is great because it's fun riding but I also need a lot of work and practice on it as it's been a point of weakness for me so far.

The only real negative thing is that the move and new position will mean I'll have to put my racing, and riding, on hold for a while. It's a little more expensive to live up there and while I'm getting a pay increase it will only just barely cover the new expenses. It will take a promotion before I'll be able to ride and race again (at least as much as I want to, there may be random opportunities here and there), but that's not too bad as I will only be more motivated to make it happen as a result!

So what is the future of the Diaries? I should say a pretty decent one - so do not despair! For starters I have a lot of catching up to do before I can even pick up with new updates. My last post about the Sage Riders Dam Good Race was never fully done - there's a lot of links I didn't include (I think lol), and my sister Rachel was there taking pictures and I never posted any of those. There was a pretty epic ride with my brothers and dad that took place after Thanksgiving that I wanted to report on. I also raced my first ever motocross race in the Utah Wintercross which was awesome (and addicting!), so that deserves a post. And there's already been a USRA race in the 2009 season that I've attended which also needs reporting. There were more posts that I would have done had I been up to date, such as my plans for the 2009 racing season and such, but as those plans have now changed there's not a lot of point in a post like that. ;)

But that's just the beginning to get caught up. I have some pretty good plans for the blog when I get to Washington, but this post is already way longer than intended so I'll save that for when I'm caught up. Stay tuned!


Sunday, November 16, 2008

USRA Round 10: Sage Riders Dam Good Race (be sure to click "watch in high quality")

After reading and hearing about this race from last year I had all but decided to skip it this year. Didn't sound like a good time to me at all - there were horror stories of whoops, sand, whoops, sand, more whoops, and lots more sand. But I had to chance to take 3rd in points for the year in my class by going to it so I figured I'd take that chance. I have improved significantly over the year and learned a lot so I figured I'd be able to tackle this one and do well.

I had a great start but quickly got out of control and lost a lot of places. A mile or two into the course we got next to a road where I started making up a lot of ground. I was doing great and going fast and passing guys left and right when I suddenly found myself looking at the guy behind me, and he was upside down! Actually I was one upside down, midway through going over the handle bars. I really have no idea what happened to make me do that. Seemed like I was in the air for the longest time, then I finally smashed down hard on my head.

This made me pretty delirious for a time. I sprained both wrists and hands in this crash due to my stubbornness of not letting go of the handlebars. The front part of the bike crashed down on part of me when I landed as well. The guy behind me either jumped off my bike over me or actually drove over me or something, but he did stop a moment to see if I was okay before going (kinda funny - he knew it was a bad crash which is why he asked if I was okay, but he didn't stick around long enough for me to give him an answer, not that he could have heard me since we were in the middle of the pack of Amateurs).

All those people I passed passed me up until the last Amateur went by me (excluding Carlo - he was still in the pits I think trying to start his bike). I stood up to get my bearings wondering if I could even finish at this point and kind of bummed about it. I looked over at the start and saw the dust from the Novices and thought I should at least get out of the way when they come through.

Trying to start the bike wore me out even more...I felt like I had done 100 miles already at 100% - in other words, I was spent already. However when I got going again I felt like I could ride okay. The sprains weren't that bad (haha thanks adrenaline!) so I figured I could finish. If the guy I was hoping to take 3rd place away from DNF'd, a finish should give me enough points to beat him for the year.

Surprisingly I was able to ride plenty fast and caught up and passed a lot more AM's until crash #2. The course had about 50/50 of sand (meaning deep sand dune type sand, usually accompanied by whoops) and slick rock. The slick rock was pretty cool, but also very technical. There were several spots where there was a one to two foot ledge you had to go up. Those aren't something you can climb - you just pop the front tire up and over and gas it to have your back tire come up and over with momentum.

It was one of those 1-2 foot ledges we had to climb in the slick rock that caused crash #2. It had a bit of a bottleneck on it, so in an attempt to make several passes at once and show my expertise I took a little more difficult path through it only I did not have enough speed. As I was about to go over backwards, I instead just gassed it and threw the bike forward and watched it bounce off the rocks a few times. It didn't stall though so I just picked it up real quick and kept going, obtaining my goal of making those passes, but not looking so expert.

Didn't take me long to figure out I had bent the handlebars (further inspection proves I did not in fact bend the bars, they just felt like I did I guess) by doing that, as well as the clutch lever. Took me a while to get adjusted to that.

I kept pushing and made more passes. Surprisingly I was doing really well with the technical slick rock, and not so good in the sand. While sand is tiring to ride I DO know how to ride it and have in times past been pretty good at it, but whether it was the back tire on my bike (which I have come to not like a great deal), the weight of the Blue Tank (a likely culprit!), or maybe my new bent handlebars, I was struggling in the sand a great deal to say the least.

I made a pass on two guys on a corner going into one of the slic krock areas, and these two guys figured they were faster than me so they pushed hard to get the pass back. In one of my more genius moments in life we got to a point where the course markings had fallen down and it was harder to tell where to go. I could tell they were just following me and not actually looking for the markers due to a few attempts to pass me on corners and missing the course as a result.

I took the opportunity here to deliberately get off the course a bit. I then stopped, looked around, and shook my head. They figured it out pretty quick that we were off course and turned around. I then turned toward where I knew the course had gone and got rid of those two pests. :) I didn't see them again until I had a stall that cost me a lot of places later on.

Making more and more ground on some of the more difficult climbs in the slickrock made me feel good, and my day was really made when I saw number 101 Open Amateur - he's the one I was fighting for 3rd place overall in points. I put the moves on and got by him and then forgot my wrists were hurting and my bike wasn't normal. I was now ahead of him and all I needed to do was make that distance greater.

He didn't like that though and he turned it on as well. Despite the fact my 4 stroke is a loud beast and I generally can't hear 2 strokes behind me, I could hear his 2 stroke right on me as he was staying right with me. I pushed it and started hearing a couple other bikes in the mix so I thought I might be gaining some ground. Then I came to the spot where it was a 2-3 foot drop into the wash.

It caught me off guard so when I landed in it I stalled the bike. #101 got by me here and I never saw him again sadly. I couldn't start the bike for the life of me and I lost probably 15 places.

Finally getting it going again I took off with a vengeance in hopes of catching him again but it was to no avail. All the kicking I had done between that stall and several others, in conjunction with the first crash was starting to take it's toll on me. I was exhausted.

I still passed a few people on my way back to the pits despite the fatigue. I got a nice rest getting gassed up and headed out for a second loop. I was still making some more ground when I got back into one of the slick rock areas where my fatigue worked against me and caused me to have a stupid tip over. It couldn't have happened in a worse place though, because my boot got caught on the peg on my way down trapping my leg under the bike, making the Blue Tank's heaviness essentially throw me to the ground with the bike on top.

My right thigh hit the slick rock just right - gave me a nice bruise that is super deep. Trying to start the bike after this was an exercise in self-torture. It was my right leg that I had landed on and bruised and now kicking the bike was like stabbing myself with a knife. I basically called it at this point, making it my only goal to just finish the race and hope #101 gets a DNF (terrible to hope for another racer to have problems, but when you're out for points, it's a shark tank out there!).

I rolled through the rest of the course at a leisurely pace, occasionally turning it on when my leg wasn't hurting so bad. My wrists were starting to come to life as well in terms of pain - every bump and every whoop and every variation in the slick rock was just pure pain in several places at once.

I had a couple more dumb tip overs due to washing out in corners and going to put my right leg down to keep myself from falling only to have it give out on me. Stalling it and trying to bring it back to life just more torture.

Then I saw a sight that made me oh so happy - an of the leaders. In fact the leader had already passed me but since I didn't recognize his number I wasn't sure if he was the leader. But the guy coming up was someone I knew - #2, Jason Gomeric. I was now certain that no matter what I would only be doing 2 loops.

I through the rest of the course getting passed by several more experts. The course was drawing to a close as was the race and with it the 2008 Desert season. I had done much better than I think was realistic to hope for this race after that first crash, but not as well as I know I am capable of.

The last few miles of whoops were pretty brutal on my leg and wrists, but I rolled in and got my finishers pin. The Sage Riders put on a great race, and had I not injured myself and worn myself out so early on with many preventable stalls and the crashes including the over the handlebars crash spectacular within the first couple miles of course, I'm sure I could have finished pretty good and possibly good enough to have clinched that 3rd place overall in points for the season. But that's the nature of racing, you never know what will happen and when things go South you have make the best of it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Race Report: Grand Junction Fall 2008 Snakebite Hare Scrambles!

(Yes, I am so awesome for editing with awesomeness, and much awesometry. Props to Dalin for the mad filming skills. Sorry for lack of pics...hopefully the awesomeness of this awesome video that displays how awesome I am will make up for it.)

In the beginning, there were the Buzzards, and they had a race scheduled for November 1, 2008. But then the flood came. The flood of what, I know not, but for one reason or another, and possibly many, the Buzzards were forced by the hand of Him Who Shall Not Be Named that goeth about canceling USRA Desert Races (he's not named because I don't think anyone knows who he is, or whether or not he actually exists, or what his name is).

So with no race that weekend my wandering eyes were forced to look elsewhere, and found browner (in this hobby, that's a good thing) pastures on the other side (in this case, the CO/UT border). The Bookcliff Rattlers Motorcycle Club of Grand Junction, Colorado were there to fill in the gap by putting on their Fall 2008 Snakebite Hare Scrambles.

This intrigued me a great deal - it would be a short 15 mile loop, timed 2 hour race, and including a motocross track. Very similar to the Bull Hollow race in June this year, a race which I liked a lot. So I got everything arranged and ready to go and on Saturday night I loaded up with my good friend Dalin and we drove out to Grand Junction, a four and a half hour drive.

There would be quite a few other USRA races showing up to get their race fix like me, so there would be familiar faces to hang out with, but as an added bonus it would be fun to race against people I didn't know, and see how I fared in a foreign market.

We rolled in after dark, set up camp, and tried to fall asleep amidst the loud camp music and beer celebrations that were occurring.

Thanks to daylight savings (actually no thanks...I hate daylight savings more than anyone I know) I was able to get up a little earlier than planned to get ready. I registered for the race and did some work on the bike while I waited for Dalin to get up so we could grab breakfast.

Had I asked a few more race workers a few more questions, I would have been gearing up to go out and ride on the course. They were allowing a one-lap pre-run of the course for $10, which in my opinion would have been totally worth it. Instead I didn't know about it and woke up Dalin and went into town and got breakfast.

When we got back I saw loads of people taking their pre-run, but I was too late to get one in. I went back to work on the bike to check the bolts and fix my stuck throttle among other things. The Novices and women were scheduled to start at 9:00 a.m, Amateurs/Experts/Pros were schedule for 11:00. I had chosen to enter the Expert Under 30 class for a variety of reasons, chief among them was that I would be one of the first off the start line, so there would be a much lesser chance of slower riders in front of me and a lot less dust. I also chose that class to see how I'd fare against Experts, since I consider myself faster than a lot of the Experts in USRA.

I borrowed Carlo's video camera so Dalin could get some good footage. Since the Novices were going separate I broke out the camera and got some footage of their starts. One of our USRA buddies would be racing in the women class so we made sure to show our support.

After the Novices took off Dalin took his jeep out for some play time and I finished working on the bike. The area the race was in was really neat because there were trails everywhere, so I finished up the bike, got geared up and went out for a ride before the race to get warmed up. I had installed some new hand grips and wanted to try them out a bit, and also spend some time trying to get used to the dirt - it was kinda slippery.

11:00 am came up fast and before long I was lining up on the start. They had us start by class so instead of a big line of Experts I would only be starting against four other guys. The only line in front of mine was the pro line, which had seven or so riders. I was starting, at worst, in the 12th position overall. Not too bad!

They used a similar setup as Bull Hollow with a start light. What was different though was the time between starts. I'm used to longer times, around one to two minutes. They started us on a minute, so simply the next minute that came around after they had checked us for the start. I think my line had about 15 seconds before the light turned green. Kinda caught me off guard, but I was able to react quickly.

The Blue Tank hasn't liked starting in gear for more than six months, a fact I've just started to accept. After blowing it at the Knolls Knockdown start, I decided not to chance it this time and left it in neutral. I got a one kick start, but getting it into gear took way longer than I would have liked. As a result I was last off the line by a split second and got beat into the first turns handily.

I quickly realized I had entered a class over my ability by a long shot. A few turns into the motocross track I was being left quickly behind. I think that had I practiced that morning I might have fared slightly better, but there is no denying the riders in my class were better than me. I felt okay though - I was getting hopefully a minute or two ahead of the next line, which would get me to the desert loop and hopefully there I could make some ground.

The course was really fun. I had been warned by some of the USRA guys who had a chance to ride it in the morning that it lacked in a few locations in regards to markings, and that there were a few sketchy points. As a result I took the first loop a little easier than I might have if it had been a USRA race. In USRA, I'm racing for points so I care a little more about my finish. With this race I was there for fun and practice, and didn't want to injure myself in the process.

It was like many of the races so far this year, whoops, more whoops et al. But there was plenty of respite from the whoops in that there was some really nice single track and some really fun washes. Not to much high speed stuff which hurt me a bit, and a couple singletrack razorback hill climbs, which definitely aren't my forte.

It wasn't long before the fast riders from the next line caught up to me. I maybe got five miles into the course before I was caught. Then a few more here and there. One of the USRA racers, Jeff Boyd (might remember him from his magic bike I borrowed a couple races back), caught me about seven or eight miles in. He had started with the 40+ Experts and was two rows behind me. He's closing in on 50 years old and he passed me like I was standing still. The guy can rip (he placed eighth overall this race by the way) - I hope I can be that fast now, let alone when I'm an "old guy" (bit of a play on words here - his license plate is custom and says OLD GUY on it).

I kept track of my overall position until I started drifting past 20th or so. Losing that many places got me geared up to push a little harder so by the end of the loop I had gotten a little tuckered out. But now I knew what was ahead because it was just repeating what I just did until the time limit was up.

I pushed much harder the second loop and took advantage of everything I had learned about the course the first time through. I made a few passes as a result, but there were still a lot of fast guys behind me that were catching up. Again not wanting to hurt myself in a race I wasn't racing for points (and glory!!!!) anytime someone that came up on me that was obviously faster than me I simply let by. I think this surprised some riders as I got many enthusiastic waves from those passing me.

I had planned to pit after this loop and Dalin was ready for the pit. I came in and filled up, got new goggles, and a few shot bloks for some additional energy needs.

Out on the third loop I didn't see as many riders. I made the occasional pass on someone who was running out of stamina and then got passed by a few more guys that had been fighting through the ranks to pass me.

I was feeling pretty good at this point - still plenty of energy and best of all I hadn't crashed yet. I was careful to try and have a crash-free race, something I have never done on the Blue Tank.

There was a guy approaching me most of the third loop and when I started the fourth loop I decided the buck stops here. I pushed hard to get some distance on him and never saw him the rest of the loop. A couple times I caught a glance on one or two guys ahead of me, but other than that never saw anyone else.

I did see someone this time though, someone I've never seen before but always heard behind me. That's right, Mr. Phantom Rider made his appearance this race. On the fourth loop I glanced behind several times when I heard Mr. Phantom approaching, and what would you know, there he was! I want everyone who has ever heard him before to know that he rides a 2008 YZF 450 special edition.

It was so crazy - I heard him so many times, looked behind me, saw him coming up fast, pulled over a bit and looked back again and there wasn't anyone there. I'm getting old or delirious or both!

About five miles from the finish I was feeling really great because I had not crashed nor stalled the bike once. About twenty feet from having this thought I came up over a little hill out of a wash and a giant gust of wind blew a huge dust cloud right into me. This was a tricky spot in loops past and with this dust cloud visibility quickly went to zero. I panicked and tried to stop quickly but stalled the bike. So much for that goal.

But I didn't crash so I quickly started it back up and kept going. The wind had picked up considerably and on one of the last stretches of trail before the finish it was blowing so hard I thought it might blow me over!

I rolled in to the finish feeling good, but beat up too. My new grips had ripped my hands to pieces in ways I've never experienced. There's always something I guess.

I ended up finishing 35th overall, third in my class, the last person to complete four loops. The Bookcliff Rattlers put on a really fun race, and many thanks to them for having me and my USRA friends! One thing I really liked was the way they did their checkpoint - it was a barcode scanner. You put a sticker on your helmet with a bar code and when you come through they simply scan it and you keep going. This was great because it gave live and official race results at the end of the race - so no waiting for two or three weeks like some of the races this last season.

In a week I'm in Page, AZ for the last race of the 2008 season. I'm sad to see it coming to end...I may have to be crazy and try a motocross race or two this winter to get my fix...

Friday, October 17, 2008

USRA Round 9: Knolls Knockdown Hare Scramble

This is a crazy sport. I usually have that thought while in the bomb run each race, but it occurred to me several more times than normal this time, and at many different times. (At Left: Pit Row in the morning...WHAT) The funny thing is every race I think I've learned enough from the previous races to do everything right next time, then next time comes and it's so completely different from anything I've done before what I've learned has little application. A tribute to my naivety to be sure, given that in reality this is only my ninth race ever (unless you count my half of a race from last year with Paul). Funny...I only intended on doing five this year.

Knolls is west of Salt Lake City about 80 miles, sort of a barren sand/salt waste land - perfect for an OHV play land. I wasn't terribly excited for this race because since it is so perfect as an OHV play land it's completely whooped out, and as you might be aware by now I'm no fan of whoops.

Originally we were going to have Ethan race this one as his first race, but then he did the Cow Dung impromptu so we weren't as set on that anymore. Luckily I didn't sign him up early, as the race date got closer the weather report looked more and more ominous with forecasts for rain. Not the most fun environment for a six-year-old to race in.

So we opted out of camping out for a family weekend again and at 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning I loaded up with Carlo and headed out. It wasn't raining when we left, but it was cold. I had purchased a good rain coat and pants the night before so I wouldn't get soaked at the race, and I needed such items anyways for other purposes.

As we got closer to the riding area something started falling from the sky. I had come expecting rain...what was falling wasn't rain. It was snow. And it was falling fast and hard. I had driven through snow on the way to race before, back in February, but I wasn't worried about racing in it then. When we were driving through it we were losing elevation so I knew the snow wouldn't be at the race. This time however elevation really wasn't changing...the snow was going to be present at the race.

As we pulled into the pits I was reminded that at least I wasn't the only crazy one. There were plenty of people there and more arriving all the time. We are all crazy! It was so cold when we got out of the car, and the wind was blowing hard and visibility was really poor.

We got an early start to the shenanigans. The mini's race was about to begin and Paul and Carlo being Desert Foxes had to get out to where they would be working. Due to the cold and KTM making the amazing decision to not include a kick starter on their motorcycles, it wasn't long before we drained the batteries of both Paul and Carlo's bikes, which meant we got to get out the tow rope and pull start them both.

I forgot to mention, the Blue Tank has been revived and so we had it with us. Yet even fresh from the mechanic's shop it had a hard time starting in the cold and it took Paul and I a couple attempts each to get it fired up. As for it's problems - turns out when we had done some engine work on it back in the summer to help the starting problem we dropped a tiny metal piece down into the engine, which then proceeded to tear the stator apart. Murphy's Law strikes again!

Two days before the race and a very large repair bill later the Blue Tank was back and ready to race. After Paul finally got it started we proceeded to try and pull start his bike. Where we had parked had a good 4 inches of snow so traction was terrible and I just ended up spinning out on him a lot. We tried going down pit row to no avail either...we just couldn't get up the speed. After several failed attempts we eventually broke Carlo's tow rope.

It then dawned on Paul to use the graded rode we drove in on. It was frozen hard, not made of sand, so provided the traction needed to build up speed. Using a couple of tie-downs we went back at it. After a few tries with stinging cold and windblown eyes we got it started, so Paul took his bike to help Carlo start his.

As they were headed off to work the mini race I got started setting up my pit area. With the foxes running the race, my normal pit crew would not be able to help out. I should really get a permanent crew anyways, but I certainly don't blame anyone that wouldn't want to do it. I had fun pitting for Paul his first race, but now I'd much rather race than wait around for someone to come in. I need to find a couple people that can have a good time hanging out together who don't want to race to do it. If you know of anyone let me know!

Expecting rain, I had brought my mom's easy-up canopy. This turned out to be one of the best things I did in preparation for the race. Due to the wind I had a difficult time getting it set up, but after much trial and error I was successful. (At Right: The lineup at the start) Since we arrived early I had a lot of time prior to race time with not much to do. Much thanks to Gary who is another Desert Fox we parked by. He had a trailer there and I spent a good amount of time in it out of the weather. Also thanks to Steve who I rode out to the race with since Carlo's car was a bit crowded, as well as for the set up with the canopy. I used his trailer to prop the canopy in place so the wind wouldn't blow it away.

I cruised around the pits a bit to warm the bike up and saw a few setups that inspired me. I went back to the canopy and tilted the wind side down and then put up a tarp against the wind. This gave me a place to park the bike in complete shelter, which was useful as I had to switch out the air filter and didn't want a bunch of snow getting in there. A little bit more routine maintenance and I was set.

I went out and walked the start and made sure to pick my line and get it this time after my debacle at Cow Dung. But as fate would have it, the way this start was set up it really didn't matter a whole lot where you lined up - it just was wide open snow/sand.

In truth though this was actually the best start setup I've ever seen, granted I haven't seen many. But it was the most fun, and great for the spectators too. Wide open and flat for the first little bit, the bomb run then snaked around several large sand dunes, so it took a while for everyone to filter through onto the course making it last longer than normal.

The mini race finished up and my race was about to begin. I dressed up and the bike was ready and it was cold, but I was racing anyways! Originally this was to be more of a hare and hound style race with different loops, but due to the weather they changed it to a three loop hare scramble so that it wouldn't be as hard to get lost and they'd have a smaller area to look through for finding anyone that got lost.

Carlo brought his camera to film the starts, so you get to see what an amazing sight this was. It truly speaks to the near insanity of all desert racers, the fact that we would continue out there in weather like this. But it gives stories that will last a lifetime for sure, so I guess it's all worth it in the end. I did the editing, and borrowed a few pictures from those at MotoUtah that came to watch/work/race. Enjoy:

Go here and click "watch in high quality" for a crisper picture.

I was worried about the bike not starting. Every time I turned it off and tried to start it again it took a few kicks to get it back to life. My worries proved correct - when the banner dropped I got nothing from the bike. A few kicks later it roared to life and I tore off the line. I wasn't the last Amateur, but I was near it.

Whether it was the poor visibility (quite likely) or just general timidness (even more likely) I was able to get to about 25th position by the first turn. If you listen carefully in the video above during the Amateur start you'll hear Carlo say, "There he is!" and then pan back a bit and follow a rider that's taken a wide line on the first turn. That rider is me. I tried to drown Carlo out when I edited it but he talks kinda loud and he was holding the camera so you can hear him. Keep it down next time! Haha just kidding - if you hadn't said that we never would have known for sure where I was in the mass of riders.

The bomb run wound around the dunes for four or five turns, and by the time we got out on the course I had moved up to about 14th or so. That's just a guess mind you, but I know I had made a lot of passes by then. I was sad the bomb run was over already - that was easily the best bomb run any race has had this year.

Since Knolls is such a heavily used area and it's mostly sand dunes, the course was on a wide enough trail that passing was neither difficult nor dangerous. As a result I kept moving up the ranks. I don't know what pushed me, but for some reason I was driven much more than normal to do well. I kept passing and passing, and suddenly I noticed there wasn't anyone else around. I had passed a fair number of Experts by this time as well.

I suspect that I was either first overall Amateur or second or third with the guys that were in front quite far ahead. I was feeling great and couldn't wait to come through to the home check point to see Paul and Carlo (where they were working) and the look on their faces when they saw how good of a position I was in.

While the bomb run was the best ever, I can't say that about the course. Due to the snow the traction was actually great (this wouldn't last however). Normally I would dread sand that deep but the snow made it really nice to ride on. What wasn't nice was the whoops. For two reasons - one, that they were the biggest whoops I've ever seen. Occasionally I swear there would be one four or five feet deep. The second reason the whoops were bad was they weren't spaced like the whoops in Jericho where a lot of the races are - there was absolutely no rhythm to these beasts, making them extremely hard to ride fast through and conserve strength.

Despite it all I was still riding fast and feeling good. Paul and I have this little start line ritual of giving each other pep-talks. At Firebird's last spring I gave him a strategy to win and he related later thinking was he was executing said strategy that I was right about it. Karma worked it's way around and this time he gave me a pep-talk. In essence he told me that he knew I was the fastest Amateur there racing that day and that I could win this one. As I was out in front feeling pretty sure that I was in first overall position for Amateurs I remember thinking, "He's right! Paul is right!"

As Murphy's Law would have it though, it was only a short distance after thinking this thought that I had a run-in with a large sage brush. The only consolation to all the whoops on this course was that they were broken up by sections of dry lake beds where I could open it up all the way. These provided brief respite from the whoop section, plus a chance to show my strength. As dumb as it is, I'm not afraid to open it all the way up and so far in my experience a lot of the Amateurs are. This is likely an effect of all my riding experiences growing up in places like Baja with fast jeep roads. I'm right at home opened all the way up.

On the down side, these sections would end all too quickly for me and I would usually come flying into the next whoop section going way faster than I was comfortable with in whoops. As it happened I thought I was first overall Amateur and thought that using the lake beds to put distance on my opponents was the best idea. I came in from an especially long lake bed into a section of large whoops going very fast. The course had a couple turns at this point in the whoops and I made the first one just fine but the second I turned too soon and collided with a very large sage brush.

Most of the time when that happens I can just ride through it as if it were another whoop. This bush was different and it basically catapulted me and the bike across the trail and halfway up a small hill. I am sure I looked like superman while flying through the air.

The impact wasn't bad - it was a very deep sandy area and so I landed on my chest and knocked the wind out of me a bit but otherwise was fine...except suddenly my eyes were cold and I then saw my goggles laying a few feet away completely covered in sand.

The bike was still running, so I grabbed my goggles quick and went to put them on only to dump a bunch of sand on my face. They were worthless now, so I wrapped them around my arm instead, figuring if I just kept a good pace I might lose a few positions but I could get them back second loop when I got a fresh pair of goggles.

I went to pick up the bike but for as much as I love the Blue Tank, it is one heavy beast. Being on the downhill side picking it up was difficult. Luckily I had put more distance on those I passed than I thought, but by now they were starting to trickle through. I kept track of them for the first five or six. Then a pack came through all at once and I lost track.

I simply couldn't pick up the bike. My footing kept giving way and I couldn't get any leverage on it. I noticed during this as well that my left hand had gone completely numb. As I was moving my arms a lot suddenly in an effort to get the bike up the feeling started coming back and that was ridiculously painful. The pain just energized me in anger and I found the strength needed to pick up the bike. I noticed the first Novice pass me at this point, which only further fueled my anger. I hopped back on and let loose but didn't move. Being on the hill, the sand being deep and soft, I simply dug a nice hole for my back tire to get stuck in.

I dug it so deep so fast I couldn't even tip it over to try and get it out. More Novices pass me and I'm now leaving the anger stage and getting to the depression stage. I pictured myself rolling into the home check to Paul and Carlo just shaking their heads. I was in first and I blew it.

To get the bike out I popped the clutch and forced it to do a wheelie and fall over backwards down the hill. This got it out of it's hole and stalled it, but put me in a position to go forwards. It took a great deal of effort to start it again, but I did and finally got going.

The rest of the loop was pretty uneventful, aside from my eyes stinging when I tried to go faster and the snow getting in. When I was in the whoops I could go at a pretty good speed and it didn't bother me too much but on the lake beds I had to putt through cause the snow was just too much.

Despite all this I was able to pass most of the Novices that had passed me. The official results aren't in yet, but I think I got them all back except maybe two or three (results are in now...I got them all back but five). (At left: Loop One, Check Point Four. Goofy Grin, Snot-Faced, the Happy Racer that is me.) I could be wrong, it's hard to tell, but I made a lot of passes surprisingly. I also got back a lot of Amateur positions as well.

As cold always does I started getting super runny nose syndrome. I rolled into check point four (see picture above) feeling pretty happy about all my passes. A couple of other friends were working that check point and they cheered me when they saw me come in. I gave them a big stupid goofy grin and thought later how retarded I must have looked. No goggles, red eyes, goofy grin, with snot all over my face. Maybe that's why they were laughing.

That check was at mile 20, and the loop was only 28 miles in total. The last eight miles were actually pretty fun and helped to make up for the last 20 of whoop-hell. There were a couple of tough hill climbs and some fun canyon tight stuff. I rolled into the home check at last and to my surprise Paul said I was around 18 overall Amateur.

I didn't have a pit crew this race as mentioned before and I didn't do any venturing out pre-race to find one. I could have easily enough, but there needs to be a lesson learned each race. This time, get a pit crew.

I filled myself up with gas, ate an energy candy, drank some water, wiped off my face, and swapped my goggles out. I took the pair around my arm to someone else's pit and begged them to clean them up for me for the next loop.

Coming out of the pits was pretty cool - there was another Amateur and a Novice coming out at the same time and we battled it out. From the pit it reconnected to the course on the start - so it was wide and open and weaving in and around the sand knolls. Being refreshed and back to the anger stage from my first loop shenanigans I turned it on and showed those two exactly who they were dealing with.

I don't know who that is exactly, but I beat them to the course and left them both far behind. On the second loop I made more passes but did give up a spot or two when a couple guys that must have had more trouble than me came by with a vengeance. I passed a lot of people who were pulled over cleaning off their goggles - while the snow slowed me down first loop it made recompense here.

On the second loop the course was starting to get bad in terms of wear and tear. It was still snowing and still really cold but with all the bikes going over it again and again it was getting torn up pretty good. The lake beds could no longer be classified as "dry lake beds" but were now starting to resemble "mud bogs". Each pass on another racer added a couple more layers of mud to my person and there were a few bizarre instances when just going on the lake beds were getting me muddy.

I made good time and came into the home check looking good. Paul stopped me to explain my position, saying I was in 15th or so and that the one person this race whom I needed to beat was about 10 places ahead of me and it wasn't likely I'd catch him unless he had problems. Paul was about to say that the race leader was coming in right behind me and that I could go out and do another loop or just wait for him to come in and then just finish with two loops instead of three and essentially finish in the same place.

But he wasn't able to get that out because Carlo yelled, "He's gotta go now!" The race leader was about 100 yards back and coming in fast. I just took off and went and ditched my goggles and picked up my other ones and went back out for loop three.

I was the last person out on the course for the third loop. I have no idea how far away anybody was but I didn't see anyone for 20 miles. The lake beds were a big slop mess and I was getting covered in mud. When I got to the 20 mile mark, check four, I saw three bikes and couple four-wheelers. With eight miles to go I felt I could pass them all. But for some reason I decided to stop and chat at check four - turns out the four-wheelers and bikes were two-loopers that I would be lapping. No need to pass them then, I'd just take it easy, there wasn't any three-looper in range.

But I can't be reasoned with it seems, even by my own mind. I took off from there going as fast as I could. I quickly passed three four-wheelers and had the first of the three bikes in my sights. I got to one of the hill climbs just out of the cool canyon track and started up it. On the second loop when I had gone up this section I thought to myself, "This is going to be real bad when I come around again."

Self-fulfilling prophecy? I don't know, but this hill was bad. All the bikes going over it had dug it down and exposed a ton of rocks that hadn't been there before and it was essentially a running river of slop and mud. (At Right: If you've been to Knolls, here's the GPS of the course. If you haven' it is anyways.) This made the rocks hard to see and suddenly I found I hit one that pointed my front tire off to the side. I figured this was just as well because off the trail would be just as easy to go up as that slop fest was.

But I was wrong. I was going pretty good until suddenly there was a rock shelf I had to get over that I wasn't going fast enough for. I was 90% of the way up the hill and the bike and I went down. But it wasn't just a nice easy go down. The spot I was on was pretty treacherous and so when the bike and I went down we gained instant momentum and started tumbling down the hill.

The course prior to this was such that you could see this hill a ways off. Somehow right as I fell over I looked back and happened to see the last four-wheeler I had passed approaching. The bike fell about halfway back down the hill - I'd say at least 100 feet.

I fell all the way down the hill thanks to the mud, and I'm certain that four-wheeler saw it. When he passed me I was so stunned still and out of breath that I hadn't moved from where I had stopped. I was amazed I wasn't injured in some way after falling that far.

But that amazment and stunnination would quickly be surpassed as the four-wheeler just drove right by me like I wasn't there. I guess not everyone is the same. I saw a crash that was similar, but not as bad, at Wendover. Only that time it was a four-wheeler that went over. After getting to the top I made sure he was okay, and made sure he didn't need any help.

This guy just kept going. The second four-wheeler came by as I was making my way back up to the bike and he just sailed on by too. I was in disbelief.

If I had a hard time getting the bike upright the first crash on the first loop, then this time was impossible. After a few tries I resorted to just dragging it down to where the hill wasn't so steep and then picked it up. Not wanting to attempt the hill climb on the hill itself I coasted down to the bottom to where I could get a run at it...and then I couldn't get the bike started.

But after a good long while I finally got everything together and got back on the trail and had a pretty uneventful finish (I was only about a mile away from it). Between the two crashes, I'm sure I lost at least 30 minutes. Really disappointing as it is, but even moreso considering how sure I was that I was in first or second overall Amateur before the first crash.

I rolled into the home check to Paul and Carlo waiting, beers in hand, saying, "This bud's for you?" It was over, and I was the last three-loop racer to come in. Still estimated at 15th overall Amateur or somewhere thereabouts (I did get 15th o/a AM, and I'll get points for 14th as one of the guys that beat me was a day passer). There had been a pretty large turnout from my class though and so I finished third in class and got a trophy as a result. This made Ethan and Matthias very happy when I got home.

Being all caught up now, be sure to subscribe to the blog! I'll probably start tracking my p90x progress again, and posting random stories from now and again. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

USRA Round 8: Sugarloafers Cow Dung Run

In recompense for the lack of pictures and video last report, I've got tons of pics and video for this one! Hope you enjoy! (At Left: A happy me at race's finish, with the trophy in the helmet, and very dirty. Yes, I'm sitting atop the "magic bike")

After the Wendover race I had installed a few new upgrades to the Blue Tank, including a new exhaust cam that would give me auto-decompression. Essentially the reason for this was to give a little boost to the power of the bike as well as make starting it easier as well. I put on a new exhaust system as well which was also intended to boost the power (plus it looks cooler haha). And finally I added a hot start lever so when I stalled it I could start it up again quicker as well.

I took all these upgrades, installed them, and headed out to Wendover with Paul on Labor Day to ride some of that course. Since he had worked that race he wanted to ride some of it so I showed him around what I could remember. The Blue Tank had worked amazingly well - there was a noticeable increase in power and the auto-decompression, while not as easy to start as I thought it would be, was very nice all the same and an improvement.

I was then excited for the Cow Dung because the bike was in tip top shape as well as my own fitness was improving all the time, I felt this would be the race where I could really show my stuff.

A week prior to Cow Dung I went to the Jordan River OHV recreation area to get some practice in for the race. A lot of people from were there and it was fun to ride there with them. After a good amount of riding I headed out on to the motocross track for a few more laps before I would leave - but I only got passed the first jump. While in the air the Blue Tank stalled and quit in a much worse sounding way than it ever had before. I nearly crashed on the landing due to this, but managed to pull off the track without a problem.

I tried starting it but to no avail - it just sounded like it wasn't getting any life in it at all. I pushed it back to the truck and loaded up, not sure what to think. I took the bike to a Yamaha dealer - South Valley Motorsports, only to be told they wouldn't be able to look at it for a few days, which pretty much meant it wouldn't be ready come race day. I left it there anyways angry and confused and not sure what to do, hoping they could look at it earlier.

There had been a noise in the engine earlier that day, and my guess was it had something to do with the new cam I had installed. After talking with Paul about it we decided to take it back from South Valley and fix it ourselves - they were going to charge a lot for the fix and I didn't want to pay too much.

Back at Paul's house we redid the cam install and made sure the timing on the engine chain was right. Putting it back together suddenly the auto-decompression was AMAZING. Even better than I thought it would be. But it still wouldn't start - I was afraid I had damaged something so badly that we were through.

But lo and behold Paul had the good idea of checking the spark plug - sure enough, no spark. No wonder it wouldn't start. I got a new plug, but the same thing - no spark. I replaced a couple of electrical parts in that area, but same thing, still no spark.

I had no bike to race Cow Dung with, which made me a sad panda. On a whim I made a post on and asked if anyone had a bike they wanted to let me race. (At Right: Paul on the start - he's on a green Kawasaki this race) To my great surprise I was offered to race Jeff Boyd's new YZ450 (really a 478cc). He was working the race so he didn't need it and I guess he likes showing it off (because well it's pretty much one of the most awesome amazing bikes I've ever ridden) so he offered to me.

So I was set and we decided to go down to the race and camp, since we had intended to camp at Wendover but were unable to do so. Ethan and Matthias were so excited to camp they couldn't fall asleep once we got there, even though we got there really late!

In the morning I got up and got signed up and everything, and looked for Jeff. He hadn't arrived yet, so I took Ethan to look at the Pee Wee race course, to see if he would have any interest in racing it. My dad had recently purchased a little Honda CRF50 for his grand kids to ride and Paul had brought it with him so Ethan could ride around. I wasn't sure he would want to, but after checking out the course and seeing that it was pretty mild, he wanted to race it. I had him out by our tent practicing for a good hour before the race so he would be used to riding in that type of terrain.

He was so cute. But instead of telling you about it - just watch it!

If you search for any of these videos in this post on YouTube , there should be a "watch in high quality" link that makes the picture much more clear.

Jeff came and found me and showed me the bike and I took it out behind camp to get a feel for it. All I can say is that Jeff is completely awesome and his bike is amazing. He has installed a lot of upgrades and mods to it that make it incredibly nice to ride and easy to handle. There's a saying that goes, "It's not the bike, it's the rider." However after this race I would challenge that wisdom! I couldn't stop talking about the bike so much that it came to get the nickname "the magic bike".

Once the Pee Wee race finished my race was about to start so I got geared up and ready to go. Paul was having troubles with his bike and ended up borrowing someone else's as well. So the Furious bros. headed off to the race on borrowed bikes - how would this affect our respective finishes?

I had taken a moment to walk the start earlier that day and found a line I liked a lot. However I made the mistake of not leaving the bike there to save a spot. Paul and I got to the line a bit late, and as such my spot was filled up with other racers. Paul went off to the far right but I decided to try and force my way in there instead. Funny how each race I learn something that doesn't necessarily transfer over to the next race. At Wendover I learned how important it was at the start to be in a spot that was a shorter or more straight shot to the course itself. So because of that I was stubborn and tried to crowd the spot I had picked out because it was a more straight shot to the course. This would prove to be a very poor decision.

Jeff's YZ starts first kick every time. It also has an automatic clutch - the reklus pro - so you can start it in gear. In essence I was guaranteed a perfect start, and I got it. However I would learn another lesson this race on starts - even with a perfect start, if you don't have a good line it won't help much. My thought was that I could crowd in that area, and beat everyone to my line even though I wasn't lined up right on it. Paul went to the far right of the start, which I had considered similar to my bad spot at Wendover. Funny how that works - he didn't even get a first kick start and still beat me to the banners.

When the banner dropped and the race started I got my perfect start, but I was pointed away from my line. I had to get around a sage brush and then try and get on the trail I wanted before anyone else. (At Left: I'm in the thick of it now...the dust starts to build) The sage brush slowed me down more than I thought it would, so I was beat to the trail. I'm also still somewhat skiddish at the starts and so wasn't aggressive and it wasn't long before four or five guys were in front of me and the dust started to build. Here's a video of my start line - notice that in the middle of it all is super dusty - I'm in the thick of that with pretty much zero visibility. At the bottom of the screen would be the right side of the start line - where Paul was. You can't see him in the video, but because he was there, even though he had further to travel than I did, he didn't have any dust, so was able to get to the front of the pack despite not starting on his first kick.

So another lesson learned - walk the start, find your spot, leave something there to save your place (your bike is the best bet), and then be real aggressive or it will all be for nothing and you'll end up eating dust.

Being at the front of pack early on can do wonders for your stamina - you're not having to fight poor visibility so you can pick your lines and save strength, you don't have to ride at the guy's pace who is in front of you (a very tiring exercise), and it separates you from other riders faster which allows you to go at your own pace.

The start is critical for sure.

So even though I had a perfect start, I got on to the course in the back half of the pack. Early on in the course there was a long bridge only four feet wide that we had to cross. This backed everyone up because you could only cross one at a time. On the plus side, it served to sort of spread everyone out a bit too which would help with the dust and visibility.

After crossing the bridge I pretty much held my position towards the back of the pack until some extremely technical riding down in a river bottom. This is where the "bike, not the rider" play on that old wisdom will come in. Had I been on the Blue Tank I am certain I would have stalled it many times, not to mention gotten considerably more tired since it's much heavier than Jeff's YZ. Thanks to Jeff's bike I went through these sections with ease, and in fact never stalled his bike once the whole race.

The tight and technical stuff really separates the skill levels. However it also makes passing much more difficult. I got into it at the end of a wagon train of riders all behind a slower rider, but there was no where to pass so we just had to wait for a chance.

I got really lucky here. And I mean extremely lucky. While going through this tight singletrack trail we came to a spot where it was uncertain where the course actually went. (At Right: More dust, though with picture editing I made it look like I'm closer to the front!) The Expert Wave had knocked down many of the markers and there were two ways to go that looked equally worn. When we got to this point I noticed someone coming back the opposite direction we were all headed, shaking his head as if to say, "This way ain't it." As he rode past me going back on the trail looking for the right way I happened to turn my head and see an opening in the trees and course markers across a little grass meadow. I quickly punched through and gunned it that direction with all I had and probably made around thirty passes there - I was now at the front of the pack and best yet, there wasn't any more dust or wagon trains!

From here it was simply a matter of keeping energy up and riding hard. The course had a great variety of terrain. There were seven or so river crossings which served as a great method of attrition, and also ensured that I got plenty muddy - something Sarah would be happy about. Not sure why, but for some reason she gets great satisfaction if I come into the pits or in from a race with a lot of mud on me and the bike.

There were a few high speed sections where you could really open it up and then of course some whoops and a few hill climbs and fun two track sections. The Sugarloafers really put together a great course.

As I was getting close to completing the first loop (the race was more of a hare scramble, a 20 mile loop that we did three times) I saw a familiar person stalled: Carlo. The joy's I get from passing him simply cannot be described! However I wouldn't get to live this joy long - I pass him and then five feet later got myself in a bit of a jam between two trees. So he got by me again but I knew he was close so I would push a little harder to pass him later on.

The last stretch of the loop included a few miles of whoops. While I'm much better at these than I used to be, I still struggle with them. While fighting a set going up a hill and losing strength and stamina a guy passed me up with a vengeance. I didn't know it at the time, but I found out later it was Paul! He had been lost back at the part where I had gotten lucky and he was one of the many I had passed there. Carlo should have been one too, but when he got lost he didn't turn around and go back to find the right way - instead he just kept going till he came to the course at another point, and ended up missing the first check point and getting docked a lap.

The very end of the loop had an interesting skill test - something you would see in an endurocross track. Luckily enough someone posted a video of it on Youtube:

Jeff's bike had a sweet suspension set up, and with the rekluse pro that section was a breeze. Add the rekluse pro to the setup of my Husqvarna please.

When I got in to the pits I was greeted with surprise. It's actually a great feeling to me - they don't expect me in that soon but there I am! Carlo was still there when I rolled in, so I knew I was really close to him. I gassed up (this is the only instance in which the Blue Tank had an advantage over Jeff's bike - the bigger gas tank...but hardly enough to warrant it in this race over the YZ) and headed out determined to get Carlo - after all, it was only matter of time before he crashed right?

At the pits they had told me that Paul was just in front of Carlo, which surprised me - either I was doing really good or he was doing really bad...keeping in mind I still wasn't aware that I had passed him when he was lost and that he had only just barely passed me back.

It wasn't long before Carlo was fixed in my sights. I followed him for a good few miles getting closer and closer. When we got to the spot where people had been getting lost a course worker had tied off the wrong way so nobody got lost anymore. Another example of the Sugarloafers really putting their work into the race.

About a third of the way into the loop I got right behind Carlo. Now just to find a good place to pass or for him to crash. (At Left: That's the other guy, the one you can barely see in blue in all the dust) It wouldn't be either this time though - we got to a hill climb that was getting pretty rutted out and he took an alternate route, only to stall his bike at the hill top. I went by him with a big smile on my face, because right after this a high speed section was coming up which was advantage: me. I never saw Carlo again the rest of the race.

Not far after this though I saw another familiar face. I had gotten stuck behind a slower rider again and was waiting for a chance to pass when I got to another hill climb and saw a Novice and an Amateur fighting to get up the hill. The Amateur was stuck in a super deep rut and looked really mad. He looked familiarly mad - like a madman, or maddeh. Wait that was Paul! He looked at me and just shook his head in anger. I felt compelled to stop and help him - for some reason it didn't feel right for me to be in front of him.

But then I remember it was a race and that I wanted nothing more than to beat him! When we had ridden together out at Wendover on Labor Day I had noticed that with him behind me I was much faster than I normally was. Perhaps to impress him, or just stay in front, I don't know, but it definitely has an effect. It's like a light switch, and as soon as I passed him it was turned on and I kicked it into gear. The guy I had been following was suddenly not an issue as I blasted past him. I caught a few more guys and passed them as well.

Back to the end of the loop with the whoops they were tiring me again, and I happened to look behind me on a corner and saw Paul. He had caught up and was flying. I tried to stay in front as long as I could - when we got to the whoops though he made his pass as I couldn't keep with him there. But instead of going back to my normal speed I was able to keep it up, and tried much harder to stay with him.

By the time we got to the Rock Garden at the end of the loop I had caught him and we hit the pits at the same time. One more loop to go, and we starting it at the same time. Well, almost. We had the same person gassing us up, and he gassed Paul first, then me. So Paul had a bit of a head start. But I was determined to catch him this time.

I caught him on a high speed section - the YZ really benefited me through the technical stuff and I was able to make a lot of ground on him there. When we got to the high speed stuff - both of our forte's, I became extremely aggressive in an attempt to take him down there. Meaning, pass him. What happened though wasn't what I would have wanted.

I noticed that this road had become really chopped up - lots of silt and deep ruts and the YZ was getting out of control. I could see Paul fairly clearly up ahead and it looked like he was having the same issues, but without any warning he suddenly went down in a huge cloud of dust.

I slammed on the brakes to avoid running over him, and had to lay the bike out in order to prevent that. I asked if he was okay and he was super mad but said he was fine. I took off and never saw him again. With him behind me, I pushed the rest of the race like I had not pushed before.

I sort of expected him to catch me in the same place that he had previously, but I was going much faster this time. When I got passed the whoops I looked behind me and couldn't see anyone, and knew I had done it - I had beaten both Carlo and Paul - and I would have been happy to just have beaten Carlo!

The funny part about this is what I had said to Paul out at Wendover on Labor Day. I had told him that he was definitely faster than me, but that I could beat him. (At Right: Me and my trophy - I put this picture up for your pleasure to make fun of me. This is how much I love my wife.) I would have to race a perfect race - no wrecks, no stalls, smooth and steady at my best speeds. He would have to have problems - stalls, wrecks, etc. I guess I'm a bit of a prophet? It happened the very next race after I said that to him.

As excited as I am about it, it still feels kinda wrong for me to be in front of him and beat him. He's most assuredly the fastest of the Furious bros., but I'll take my brief moment of glory and live it up while I can!

I ended up finishing 2nd in our class, so I got a trophy! Ethan inspired me - they give all the Pee Wee's trohpies, but he was so excited about it he carried it everywhere, so when I rolled back into camp with a trophy he knew he had been the one to get me there. I ended up getting ninth overall Amateur - my first top ten! I got points for eigth since one of the guys that beat me was a day pass rider. I ended up being 31st overall, which feels pretty cool for sure.

Next race is knolls, and we had to take the Blue Tank into a mechanic's shop after all. Turns out the problem is the stator (electrical generator). It's broken and so can't provide the electricity to the spark plug needed to make a spark to fire the engine up. The race is on Saturday - they say it will be done in time. However that's cutting it pretty close, so I'm nervous. Jeff will be racing this one, so borrowing his bike again won't be an option, and though Paul is working this one again he needs his bike (which btw, blew up, and he had to buy another just like and swap some parts in order to even have a bike...but that's another story) so I can't borrow his if the Blue Tank isn't fixed. Hopefully the Blue Tank will be ready to roll, cause I'm feeling energized, and am ready to take first overall Amateur.

For your viewing pleasure, here are the start videos from Cow Dung of the Novices and Experts, respectively (ps, I did the video editing of all the videos here, except for the Rock Garden one, so you should tell me how aweseome I am, of which there is no charge):