Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Jackrabbits 2013

The first D37 race of 2013 did not go as planned.   I did not hurt myself or the bike but I also did not finish.

I spent the night in Ridgecrest and met up with a friend, Ron, Sunday morning.  He had driven up in the morning and was already signed up and had done a bomb run before I even arrived.

Here he is next to his awesome F-350 Dually before his first race.

We eventually got dressed and rode up to the starting line.  It appeared the expert line was just about to take off so we waited until they finally took off in a curtain of dust.  We moved upwind towards the end of the starting line to avoid the dust when our time came.

Another rider's meeting and the Ammie line took off (or so I thought.)  We rolled our bikes up to the line and a guy from Jackrabbits noticed my green bar and black numbers and asked, "Weren't you supposed to go?"  I said, "no, I am on the third line."  He said, "That *was* the third line."  Oops.  I took off about two minutes after the rest of the pack and rode slowly up the bomb - as was my plan -'just take it easy and I should be able to finish both loops'.

Just after the bomb I came upon a downed rider and another guy who was with him.  I stopped and asked if they needed anything.  They said no and the guy didn't seem like he was in trouble so I took off.

I was riding along nice and slow, enjoying the ride when I came upon another guy who was down and yet another guy attending him.  I again asked if they needed anything - no.  This guy seemed like he had rung his bell pretty good so I memorized his number and continued on.  I went through some big boulders and then started down a small hill when I saw a jeep driving around a little ways off the course.  I rode over and found out it was an EMS crew so I told them about the guy I just saw, rode back to the course and continued my nice ride through the desert.

About 20 miles in, just over half way, I stopped to enjoy the amazing views around me.  Here is one panorama shot I took - and no, this does not do it justice.

As I was looking around I heard some bikes coming up so I switched to video mode and recorded the video below.

Now realize that those guys who just passed me were on the beginner line probably another 10 or 15 minutes behind me.  They may or may not have been riding faster than me but with stopping for riders, chasing down the EMS jeep and stopping to 'smell the roses' allowed them to catch me pretty easily.

About a mile later I was passed by a few more racers and just after that one of them went down.  I stopped to make sure he was ok.  His foot was hurting and he asked if I could start his bike for him so he could get to the check - we could see it just a half mile away or so.  I tried to get it going but couldn't so I held it while he gave it a mighty kick - and he was off.

A short while later and the second loop merged in with the first and I started getting passed by the 'A' riders.  Man are they good.  As I rode through the checks I was beginning to realize that I was going to be keeping these guys out here pretty late since I was taking so long.  I picked up my pace a bit and kept moving even though my hands and arms were starting to cramp a little.

I finally made it back to the pits and they shuttled me into the finish chute for the one loopers.  I told them I was a two looper but they said the  pits were closed.  I told them the riders instructions said it was open until 1:00 and it was 12:45.  The main guy then told me the pits closed an hour after the first novice came through.  I later found out that wasn't true.  Had I not stopped for the downed riders and not stopped to take pictures I would have been back in plenty of time to make it out on the second loop.

Oh well, no good crying about it now.  I got my first DNF but I'm sure it won't be my last so it had to happen some time.  In the end it was an uneventful race for me.  I just went at a slow pace and tried to keep it on the trail.

I only had to wait a few minutes before Ron made it back so we were able to load up and head out shortly there after.  Here's a pic of Ron and the bikes after the race.

We both had a good time.  I was happy to have not crashed and Ron only went down once with no damage to him or his bike.

The next race/ride is this coming weekend.  It is a National level race and is in the past been known as one of if not the hardest race on the calendar.  I plan to attempt both loops again since one loop at a National is a DNF for their rankings and I am hoping to capture the #1 plate for 40+ C riders this year (only because I go to more races than any other 40+ C riders - not because I am the best ;)

I brought the GoPro but forgot the mount for my helmet so I did not capture any first person footage.  Next time.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

2013 - A new start and a new challenge

It is in the shadow of the 2013 Dakar that I write this entry.  NBC Sports has been showing daily 30 minute updates on the Dakar race and I've been sucked into the racing and drama like never before.  It makes the race more concrete in my mind and highlights just how far I need to go if I am ever going to take part of that most amazing race.

This year I have elected to bump myself up to a class C rider and in doing so will attempt to ride the full length of the D37 and NHHA courses.  As always the 3 main goals are to not get hurt, not damage the bike and finish all the races (by riding very conservatively).  The purpose of this year is to increase my riding skills and my endurance.

The first AMA District 37 race (the District where I live) is this coming Sunday.  The type of race is a hare scramble where the race course is one loop that is run twice.  That is a great start for my two loop debut since the loop should be made easy enough for beginners - the only thing I have to do differently this year is have the conditioning to do it twice.  Which is no small feat since every one loop race I've done to date has left me without further energy.

How am I going to run two loops when I've barely been able to do one?  Believe me, I've thought about that a lot.  The plan is to simply go slow to conserve my energy and take breaks to rest and enjoy in the scenery.  I've always pushed all the way through the race unless I had to stop for some reason and that really takes a toll.  On trail rides I rarely if ever get tired so I don't see why the strategy of going slow and taking breaks won't work.  What I don't want to happen is to get tired and shaky like last time and crash on an easy trail when it isn't necessary.

I still have a couple of last minute things to do to the bike, check the valve clearances, tape up a slow leak in the radiator fitting, change the oil, clean the air filter and check the chain tension - normal race bike maintenance.

Good luck to all the Dakar racers - the long 477 mile day 6 is already underway and I'm anxious to hear how they do.

Until next time,